Thinking of moving to Bedford? Here is some information on the Town
Why Move To Bedford
Set along the southern end of the great River Ouse, Bedford is often overlooked as an area of outstanding natural beauty, including stately homes and gardens, offering plenty of opportunities for woodland walks and Sunday strolls along the riverbank.
With vast improvements made to the town centre, including a £3m high street renovation project, Bedford is fast gaining traction as a desirable and up and coming area. Historically, the town was a large brick producer with many families drawn to the area to fill employment shortages at the time. As such the area is surprisingly cosmopolitan in feel and benefits from an interesting mix of cultures with many Italians, Poles, Indians and Bangladeshi calling Bedford home.
Perhaps the town’s biggest selling point, however, is its reputation as the ultimate commuter town. Its close proximity to London (little under an hour away by train) combines all the pleasures of rural countryside living while also providing easy access to the bustle of the big smoke. Train connections to the capital run every half hour and are provided by the Thameslink and services to the East Midlands are operated by East Midlands Trains.
Young professionals and families are attracted in particular by the prospect of all-round greater space. With larger sized riverside homes and apartments at far more affordable prices than London widely available, Bedford offers substantially better value for money, while also not being too far away from good amenities and excellent local schools.
Bedford is the county town of Bedfordshire, in the East of England. It is the administrative centre for the wider Borough of Bedford. According to the former Bedfordshire County Council‘s estimates, the town had a population of 80,000 in mid-2005, with 19,720 in the adjacent town of Kempston. The Bedford Built-up Area which includes Kempston, Elstow and Biddenham forms the 69th largest Urban Area in England and Wales with a population of 106,940. The wider borough, including a rural area, had a population of 153,000
Working in Bedford
Bedford was a market town for the surrounding agricultural region from the early Middle Ages. From the 16th century it became one of the main centres of England’s lace industry. Lace continued to be an important industry in Bedford until the early 20th century.
Today the towns largest employment sectors are the wholesale and retail trade with ASDA, Argos and Unilever being some of the largest employers in the area. Health and social work occupations also employ many of Bedford’s residents and its research and development facilities offer a wide range of job opportunities. Although salaries are lower than those of big cities, the cost of living is lower.
Things to do in Bedford
Famed for its unique location along the River Ouse, one of the largest rivers in the whole of the UK, Bedford offers a number of cruises, including trips to The Anchor at Great Barford, one of the town’s best pubs serving up the best of British cuisine and plenty of opportunities to grab a cream tea.
The Bedford Corn Exchange often hosts a number of live events from top-class performers in the fields of comedy, theatre and music. A brand new theatre has opened at St Lukes which showcases the latest theatre, dance, music and artwork of local Bedford students during term time.
For culture vultures and family days out, Bedford is also home to a large number of museums and art galleries, including the Higgins, the South Bank, and the John Bunyan Museum which tells the story of John Bunyan, the renowned author, pastor and preacher and showcases some of his best works.
For more ideas on things to see and do in Bedford see:
The housing market is buoyant and property values are forecast to rise by 30% by the end of 2019, and nowhere more so than in the South East. Bedfordshire, with its great housing stock and excellent transport links, is attracting both families and London commuters. The next few months are likely to see an increase of properties changing hands across the county.
Bedford Borough Council’s ‘Housing Review Report’ states that it intends to build more affordable housing for first time buyers, update and improve existing housing and it proposes to bring forward a mixed range of schemes to help improve the local housing market in general.
Bedford offers a wide range of types of property, ages and styles, from Victorian detached and thatched cottages to more modern style apartments. The average price for property in Bedfordshire currently is around £251,000 with a larger detached home costing in the region of £380,000. The most expensive homes are found on Lilleshall Drive and Tewkesbury Road. Those renting can expect to pay anywhere between £600 – £700 depending on the property’s proximity to the town centre.
The town of Kempston is adjacent to Bedford, as are the villages of Elstow, Renhold and Ravensden. Wixams is a new town which is being developed to the south of Bedford. Villages in the Borough of Bedford with populations of more than 2,000 as of 2005 were Biddenham, Bromham, Clapham, Elstow, Oakley, Sharnbrook, Shortstown, Wilstead, and Wootton. There are also many smaller villages in the borough. The villages in the borough are popular with commuters to Bedford, and also with people who commute to Milton Keynes, London and towns in Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire.
Nearby small towns include Ampthill, Biggleswade, Flitwick, and Sandy, all of which are in Central Bedfordshire as well as Rushden and St Neots in Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire respectively. The nearest towns and cities with larger populations than Bedford are Northampton to the north west, Cambridge to the east, Milton Keynes to the south west, and Luton to the south, all of which have urban area populations of 150,000 or more.
Transport in Bedford provides links between the town and other parts of England. Road access to the town is provided by the A6 road. The town is served by two railway stations and a network of bus services.
Schools & Education
Bedford has a very good range of state funded schools and colleges as well as some highly regarded independents. Balliol, Cauldwell, Hazeldene and Livingstone are all primary schools rated as ‘good’ by Ofsted, the UK’s education regulator. For those looking to go private Bedford High and Dame Alice Harpur are regarded as very strong options.
The three most highly rated schools with first class Ofsted reports are:
Bedford School – www.bedfordschool.org.uk
Bedford Modern School – www.bedmod.co.uk
Bedford Girls’ School – www.bedfordhigh.co.uk
More information on researching and finding schools in the Bedford area is available here:
Unlike most of England, Bedford Borough operates a three-tier education system in some of the area, which is arranged into lower, middle and upper schools, as recommended in the Plowden Report of 1967. The arrangement was put to the vote in 2006 with a view to moving to the two-tier model, but was rejected. On 17 November 2009, borough councillors voted 19 to 17 in favour of a two tier system, which would then be phased in. However, following the defeat of the Labour Government in 2010, the new coalition government announced that the funding necessary for the switch to a two-tier system would no longer be available. As a result, the switch is now proceeding on school by school basis where council funds allow, as national funding was due to cover most of the cost. Bedford Academy, Bedford Free School, Mark Rutherford School and St Thomas More Catholic School are all secondary schools, while Biddenham Upper School is the last remaining upper school in the town.
- Bedford School for boys aged 7–18
- Bedford Modern School, a former boys’ school which became co-educational in 2003 for pupils aged 7–18
- Bedford Girls’ School for girls aged 7–18.(Merged September 2012 – Formerly Bedford High School for Girls and Dame Alice Harpur School)
- Pilgrims Pre-Preparatory School
Smaller private institutions include Rushmoor School (boys aged 3–16, girls 3–11) St. Andrew’s School (girls aged 3–16, boys 3–9), and Polam School (boys and girls aged 12 months to 9 years), none of which are part of the Harpur Trust.
Bedford hosts a campus of the University of Bedfordshire, which prior to a merger with the University of Luton in 2006 had been a campus of De Montfort University (itself now solely based in Leicester). For further education, the town is served by Bedford College. Additionally, Stella Mann College is a private college, which offers a range of further education courses relating to the performing arts.