Bedford Modern School

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Not to be confused with Bedford School.
Bedford Modern School
Bedford Modern School - Crest.jpg
Motto Floreat Bedfordia
(May Bedford Flourish)
Established 1764
Type Public School and Independent day school
Religion Interdenominational
Headmaster Michael Hall
Location Manton Lane
MK41 7NT
DfE number 822/6011
DfE URN 109728 Tables
Ofsted Reports
Students 1207
Gender Coeducational
Ages 7–18
Houses      Oatley,      Mobbs,      Tilden,      Farrar,      Rose,      Bell
Colours Black and red
Publication The Eagle/ The Sports Eagle/ The Eaglet
Former pupils Old Bedford Modernians
School Song "School of the Black and Red"
Unofficial Motto "Modern 'till I Die"

Bedford Modern School (often called BMS) is an HMC independent school located in the county town of Bedford, Bedfordshire, England.[1] BMS comprises a junior school (years 6–11) and a senior school (years 11–18).[1]


Bedford Modern School has its origins in The Harpur Trust, born from the endowments left by Sir William Harpur in the sixteenth century.[2] Since the separation of Bedford School and BMS in 1764, the School has had four names – the Writing School, the English School, the Commercial School and finally Bedford Modern School, the last change being made in 1873 to reflect the School's modern curriculum, providing an education for the professions.[3] BMS provided education not only for the locality but also for colonial and military personnel seeking good education for their young families.[3]

Bedford Modern School: Blore Building

In 1834 BMS moved to buildings designed by Edward Blore in Harpur Square, Bedford.[3] The successful growth of the school meant that the buildings became increasingly cramped and in 1974 the school moved to new premises in Bedford.[3] The Foundation Stone for the new building was laid by Margaret Thatcher.[3] On 11 May 1976, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II unveiled a commemorative panel at the new school building during her visit with H.R.H. Duke of Edinburgh.[3]

BMS became a coeducational day school in 2003. In 2014, BMS celebrated the 250th anniversary of its separation from Bedford School.[4]

School houses[edit]

The Harpur Window, Bedford Modern School

Following a tradition of over a hundred years the Senior School Houses of BMS were: North, South, East, West, County and United Boarders.[3] This last comprised the combined boarding houses: Culver, Shakespeare, and School House.[3] The day boy houses often, though not always, reflected the parts of the town or county from which the boys hailed and were mentioned in the chorus of the school song.[3]

A decision was made in October 1997 for the House system to play a more central role in the School and to reinvigorate internal competition whilst upholding its fine traditions.[4] Six Heads of House were appointed from the staff under the direction of a Senior Head of House, with the brief to establish a modern House system to be integrated into a new school structure and working week, beginning in September 1998.[4] A competition was launched to establish the new house names. The Houses were named in honour of six Old Bedford Modernians who had gained national or international recognition in their field.[4]

     Oatley,      Mobbs,      Tilden,      Farrar,      Rose,      Bell

Each house has its own tie which consists of stripes of the three school colours and their own house colour.[4] Inter-house sports cover all major and minor sports run by the school, at both Junior and Senior level, and range from rugby and hockey (major sports) to shooting and fencing (minor sports).[4] There are also non-sporting events such as quizzes and Music and Drama competitions.[4] Students take leadership roles as House Captain or House Deputies.[4]


Commemorative Edition of the The Eagle, 1974

Monitors are selected, following a written application process, from students in the Upper Sixth.[4] Each team of monitors works with a specific year group, and are led by two Senior Monitors, appointed by the Head Master.[4] Senior Monitors, along with the Heads of School, are entitled to wear a red trim on their blazer.[4]


Boys in years 7 to 11 wear their house tie and school blazer alongside black trousers and a white shirt.[4] Girls may wear the school shirt or black trousers with the school blazer (girls' blazers have a red and black braid). Sixth form students wear a business suit.[4]


Until 2003, BMS was a day and boarding school for boys.[4] Following 12 years of discussions, Bedford Modern School closed its boarding houses and became coeducational in September 2003.[4] In 2013, BMS celebrated 10 years of coeducation, with a play written by Mark Burgess commissioned to celebrate the event.

Extracurricular activities[edit]


BMS is notable for both rugby union and rowing, competing regularly against other schools such as Bedford School, Berkhamsted School, Bishop's Stortford College, Eton College, Hampton School, Harrow School, Kimbolton School, Haileybury, Merchant Taylors, Oakham School, Oundle School, St Albans School and Stamford School. Other popular sports include athletics, fencing, rugby fives, football, swimming, table tennis, tennis and water polo.

Bedford Modern has a strong sporting tradition with many former students going on to compete at national and international levels including two former Captains of the England Rugby Team and a former Captain of the England cricket team:

Bedford Modern School Boat Club Rowing Blade
Bedford Modern School, Cricket Pavilion

The school was selected as an official training site for the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics. The Maldives National Olympic Committee based its competing athletes in Bedford, while Paralympic athletes from Angola, the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, The Gambia, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Jamaica, Lesotho, Morocco, Niger, Pakistan, Senegal, Tunisia and Uganda were also based in the area.[5] With the exception of Weymouth (which hosted various sailing events) Bedford accommodated more Olympic teams in 2012 than any other town or borough in the UK.[5]

Performance arts[edit]

BMS Drama Website Bedford Modern celebrates a national reputation for excellence in the performance arts. Each year, the school puts on two major productions, normally musicals, with full orchestra and set, in its 300 seat auditorium. It also hosts its own Shakespeare Festival, in which local schools are invited to take part. The Sixth Form has its own theatre company, Theatre in Transit, which puts on a piece of theatre each year at professional venues. Music also thrives at BMS, with over 20 bulbs including the School Orchestra, Choir, Chamber Choir, and Concert Band. The Music School also features a recording studio, and individual practice rooms. In September 2014, the Chamber Choir performed The Armed Man at the Royal Albert Hall as part of Sing UK's 'A Mass for Peace'.

Combined cadet force[edit]

The School's CCF is one of the oldest in the country, having existed since 1863. BMS is one of very few schools in the UK to have all four arms of the Service within its Corps: Army, Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and Royal Marines. Bedford Modern CCF also invites students from nearby Rushmoor, St Andrew's and Bedford Free School to be part of the Corps.

Old Bedford modernians[edit]

Academic and educational[edit]

Actors, directors and entertainers[edit]

Adventurers and aviators[edit]

Architecture and art[edit]

Armed forces[edit]

Industry and commerce[edit]






Public office in church and state (home)[edit]

Public office in church and state (overseas)[edit]


List of headmasters[edit]

Notable masters[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Underwood, Andrew (1981). Bedford Modern School of the Black and Red. Bedford Modern School. ISBN 0-9507608-1-1. 

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Bedford Modern School Official Website
  2. ^ Joyce Godber (1973). The Harpur Trust 1552–1973. ISBN 9780950291703. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Bedford Modern School of the Black And Red, Andrew Underwood, 1981
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o School of the Black And Red by Andrew Underwood 1981, reset and updated by Peter Boon, Paul Middleton and Richard Wildman in 2010
  5. ^ a b On Your Marks! Bedford Borough to host teams from around the world ahead of London 2012 Bedford Borough Council, Feb 2012
  6. ^ [1] Wolfson College, Cambridge Announcement
  7. ^ Who's Who 2014
  8. ^ [2] St Albans School Announcement, 8 October 2013
  9. ^ [3] The Peerage
  10. ^ a b Who Was Who, Published by A&C Black Limited
  11. ^ a b c Who's Who 2014, Published by A&C Black Limited
  12. ^ [4] Mark Burgess at the IMDb
  13. ^ [5] Independent School Parent, 16 January 2012
  14. ^ [6] Jason Riddington at the IMDb

Coordinates: 52°08′53″N 0°28′55″W / 52.148°N 0.482°W / 52.148; -0.482