Flag of Bedfordshire
|Motto of County Council: Constant Be|
|Region||East of England|
1,235 km2 (477 sq mi)
- Total (2011 est.)
499 /km2 (1,290 /sq mi)
|No county council|
|Members of Parliament|
Bedfordshire (pron.: // or //; abbreviated Beds.) is a ceremonial county of historic origin in the East of England region of the United Kingdom. It borders the non-metropolitan counties of Cambridgeshire to the north-east, Northamptonshire to the north, Buckinghamshire to the west, and Hertfordshire to the south-east. For statistical purposes the county forms part of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire (code UKH2) at the level of NUTS 2.
The first recorded use of the name in 1011 was "Bedanfordscir," meaning the shire or county of Bedford, which itself means "Beda's ford" (river crossing).
Bedfordshire was historically divided into nine hundreds: Barford, Biggleswade, Clifton, Flitt, Manshead, Redbournestoke, Stodden, Willey, Wixamtree, along with the liberty and borough of Bedford. There have been several changes to the county boundary; for example, in 1897 Kensworth and part of Caddington were transferred from Hertfordshire to Bedfordshire.
The southern end of the county is on the chalk ridge known as the Chiltern Hills. The remainder is part of the broad drainage basin of the River Great Ouse and its tributaries. Most of Bedfordshire's rocks are clays and sandstones from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, with some limestone. Local clay has been used for brick-making of Fletton style bricks in the Marston Vale. Glacial erosion of chalk has left the hard flint nodules deposited as gravel—this has been commercially extracted in the past at pits which are now lakes, at Priory Country Park, Wyboston and Felmersham. The Greensand Ridge is an escarpment across the county from near Leighton Buzzard to near Gamlingay in Cambridgeshire.
Bedfordshire is relatively dry, being situated in the east of England. Average annual rainfall is 597.6 millimetres (23.53 in) at Bedford. October is the wettest month with 62.5 millimetres (2.46 in), February the driest with 36.7 millimetres (1.44 in). While there is little difference from month to month there are more wet days in autumn and winter but often heavier individual falls in spring and summer, of note were the 1998 Easter floods.
Average temperatures in Bedford range from a low of 0.8 °C (33.4 °F) overnight in February to a high of 22.1 °C (71.8 °F) during the day in July. In the last 20 years the highest temperature recorded was 35.9 °C (96.6 °F). During the cold December 2010, temperatures fell beneath −15 °C (5 °F) in parts of the county (for example, at the Met Office measurement site at Woburn).
Police and Crime Commissioner 
The Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner is Oliver Martins who is a member of the Labour Party.
Local government 
For local government purposes, Bedfordshire is divided into three unitary authorities: the boroughs of Bedford and Luton, and the District of Central Bedfordshire. Bedfordshire County Council was abolished on 1 April 2009, although the three districts continue to form a county for ceremonial functions such as lieutenancy and High Sheriff. Many services in the county, such as education and public libraries, continue to be provided jointly by Central Bedfordshire and Bedford as if they were a single unitary authority.
Emergency services 
Policing, fire and rescue services continue to be provided on a county-wide basis, with the Bedfordshire Police Authority and Bedfordshire and Luton Combined Fire Authority consisting of members of the three councils.
Parliamentary constituencies 
|Constituency||Member of Parliament|
|Luton North||Kelvin Hopkins|
|Luton South||Gavin Shuker|
|Mid Bedfordshire||Nadine Dorries|
|North East Bedfordshire||Alistair Burt|
|South West Bedfordshire||Andrew Selous|
This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Bedfordshire at current basic prices published (pp. 240–253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.
|Year||Regional Gross Value Added||Agriculture||Industry||Services|
Bedfordshire is the location of a number of notable UK and international companies who have either headquarters or major bases in the county. Autoglass, Boxclever and Charles Wells Pubs are all based in Bedford, while the Kier Group and Kingspan Off-Site are based in Sandy, and Jordans Cereals are based in Biggleswade.
The Alexon Group, Blue Arrow, EasyJet, Monarch Airlines, Thomson Airways and Vauxhall Motors are all based in Luton, while Whitbread (including Costa Coffee) is based in nearby Dunstable. UltraVision is based in Leighton Buzzard, while Moto Hospitality is based at Toddington service station.
Visitor attractions 
|Accessible open space|
|Museum (free/not free)|
Two of England's six main trunk roads pass through Bedfordshire:
- The A1 London to Edinburgh road (the Great North Road) runs close by Biggleswade and Sandy
- The A5 London to Holyhead road (Watling Street), passes through Dunstable
Former trunk roads, now local roads managed by the local highway authority include A428 running east-west through Bedford Borough, and A6 from Rushden to Luton.
There is a 2-mile automobile proving track near Millbrook in Bedfordshire.
Three of England's main lines pass through Bedfordshire:
- The West Coast Main Line has but a short section in the far west of the county. The one station at Leighton Buzzard is served by London Midland trains to London Euston and Northampton.
- The East Coast Main Line has stations at Arlesey, Biggleswade and Sandy, served by First Capital Connect services to King's Cross and Peterborough
- The Midland Main Line serves Luton and Bedford with trains to many destinations operated by East Midlands Trains and First Capital Connect.
Bedfordshire is served by a large number of taxi companies. Luton is reported to have the highest number of taxicabs per head of population in the United Kingdom with a number of firms competing for work in the town and from London Luton Airport.
The River Great Ouse links Bedfordshire to the Fenland waterways. As of 2004 there are plans by the Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust to construct a canal linking the Great Ouse at Bedford to the Grand Union Canal at Milton Keynes, 14 miles (23 km) distant.
Settlements in Bedfordshire 
The state education system for all of Bedfordshire used to be organised by Bedfordshire County Council. Unlike most of the United Kingdom, Bedfordshire County Council operated a three-tier education system arranged into lower, middle and upper schools, as recommended in the Plowden Report of 1967, although Luton continued to operate a two-tier system. The three-tier arrangement continues in the rest of the county, though in 2006 a vote was held with a view to moving to the two-tier model, but this was rejected.
After the 2009 structural changes to local government in England, Bedfordshire County Council was abolished, and its responsibilities for education were passed to Bedford Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire Council. Though Central Bedfordshire plans to continue with the three-tier model in its area, Bedford Borough Council voted in November 2009 to change to the two-tier model in its area. The change was due to be introduced over a five-year period and be completed in 2015. However, with the cancellation of the Building Schools for the Future programme in 2010, the borough has changed its proposals, and the switch is now proceeding on school by school basis where council funds allow.
Bedford and Central Bedfordshire 
Until the division into two unitary authorities in April 2009, education in the area continued to be administered by Bedfordshire County Council.
All of the two councils' upper schools offer 6th form courses (such as A Levels), though Bedford College, Central Bedfordshire College and Shuttleworth College also offer a range of further education courses. Additionally, Stella Mann College is a private college (based in Bedford), which offers a range of further education courses relating to the performing arts.
There are a number of independent schools, many of which have links to the Harpur Trust. These are Bedford School for boys (formerly Bedford Grammar School), Bedford Modern School (co-educational), Bedford Girls' School and Pilgrims Pre-Preparatory School (co-educational).
Luton also operates a three-tier education system though Luton's organisation of infant, junior and high schools mirrors the traditional transfer age into secondary education of 11 years. However most of Luton's high schools do not offer 6th form education. Instead this is handled by Luton Sixth Form College, though Barnfield College and Cardinal Newman School also offers a range of further education courses.
Higher education 
There are two universities based in the county – the University of Bedfordshire and Cranfield University. These institutions attract students from all over the UK and abroad, as well as from Bedfordshire.
The enormous Cardington Hangars are situated to the south of Bedford near the village of Cardington. They were built to house the construction of airships in WW1 and whilst one has been used for many purposes, such as a film set for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Batman Begins, and rehearsal space for Take That, the other is in severe disrepair.
Notable people from Bedfordshire 
Bibliographical references 
- Bedfordshire Magazine (quarterly)
- Elstow Moot Hall leaflets on John Bunyan and 17th century subjects
- Guide to the Bedfordshire Record Office 1957 with supplements.
- Guide to the Russell Estate Collections Published in 1966.
- Conisbe, L. R. (1962) A Bedfordshire Bibliography (supplement, 1967)
- Dony, John (1953) A Bedfordshire Flora. Luton: Corporation of Luton Museum & Art Gallery
- Dony, John (1942) A History of the Straw Hat Industry. Luton: Gibbs, Bamforth & Co.
- Freeman, Charles (1958) Pillow Lace in the East Midlands. Luton: Luton Museum and Art Gallery
- Godber, Joyce (1969) History of Bedfordshire 1066-1888
- White, H. O. Bedfordshire Historical Record Society (published annually)
See also 
- County flowers in Britain www.plantlife.org.uk
- Met Office Bedford Averages 1981-2010 http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/averages/19812010/sites/bedford.html
- Met Office: Easter 1998 - Heavy rainfall http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/interesting/easter1998/
- CLIMATE BEDFORD - Weather http://www.tutiempo.net/en/Climate/BEDFORD/35600.htm
- "The Bedfordshire (Structural Changes) Order 2008 (S.I 2008 No. 907)". Office of Public Sector Information. 27 March 2008. Archived from the original on 2 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-27.
- "Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire and Libraries - About Your Library - Bedfordshire's Virtual Library". Galaxy.bedfordshire.gov.uk. Retrieved 2010-09-25.
- "The Local Government (Structural Changes) (Areas and Membership of Public Bodies in Bedfordshire and Cheshire) Order 2009 (S.I 2009 No. 119)". Office of Public Sector Information. 28 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-27.
- "The Parliamentary Constituencies (England) Order 1995". Office of Oublic Sector Information. 1995. Retrieved 2009-03-31.
- "The Parliamentary Constituencies (England) Order 2007". oofice of Public Sector Information. 2007. Retrieved 2009-03-31.
- Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
- includes hunting and forestry
- includes energy and construction
- includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured
- "Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust". B-mkwaterway.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-09-25.
- "Two-tier school proposal rejected". BBC News. 2006-07-13. Retrieved 2008-02-10.
- "Middle schools to be abolished - Biggleswade News". Bedford Today. Retrieved 2010-09-25.
- "'Momentous decision' for schools". BBC News. 2009-11-17. Retrieved 2010-04-26.
- "Tiers to be shed in school restructure? - Local". Bedford Today. Retrieved 2010-09-25.
- "Education in Bedford". Bedford Borough Council. 2004. Archived from the original on 18 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-31.
- "Education and Schools Information". Creating Central Bedfordshire. Central Bedfordshire Council. Retrieved 2009-03-31.
- Detail from a copy of History of Bedfordshire published by Bedfordshire County Council in 1969
- North Beds Online Local Information for North Bedfordshire
- Bedfordshire at the Open Directory Project
- Images of Bedfordshire at the National Monuments Record, English Heritage