Bedfordshire

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Bedfordshire
County
The flag for the county of Bedfordshire, officially recognised by the Flag Institute of 11th September 2014. Slightly different to the original flag of Bedfordshire County Council from which the design is based.
Flag
Bedfordshire UK locator map 2010.svg
Bedfordshire shown within England
Coordinates: 52°05′N 0°25′W / 52.083°N 0.417°W / 52.083; -0.417Coordinates: 52°05′N 0°25′W / 52.083°N 0.417°W / 52.083; -0.417
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Constituent country England
Region East
Established Ancient
Ceremonial county
Lord Lieutenant Helen Nellis
High Sheriff Colin Osborne Esq MBE
Area 1,235 km2 (477 sq mi)
 – Ranked 41st of 48
Population (2011 est.) 617,000
 – Ranked 36th of 48
Density 499 /km2 (1,290 /sq mi)
Ethnicity 86.3% White
8.3% S.Asian
2.9% Black
2009 Bedfordshire Ceremonial Numbered.png
Districts of Bedfordshire
Unitary
Districts
  1. Bedford
  2. Central Bedfordshire
  3. Luton
Members of Parliament List of MPs
Police Bedfordshire Police
Time zone GMT (UTC)
– Summer (DST) BST (UTC+1)

Bedfordshire (/ˈbɛdfədʃə/ or /ˈbɛdfədʃɪə/; abbreviated Beds.) is a county in the East of England. It borders Cambridgeshire to the north-east, Northamptonshire to the north, Buckinghamshire to the west and Hertfordshire to the south-east.

The highest elevation point is 243 metres (797 ft) on Dunstable Downs in the Chilterns.

The traditional nickname for people from Bedfordshire is "Bedfordshire Bulldogs" or "Clangers", the latter deriving from a local dish comprising a suet crust pastry filled with meat in one end and jam in the other.

It is the fourteenth most densely populated county of England. Over half the population of the county live in the two largest built-up areas, Bedford (102,000) and Luton (236,000).[1]

History[edit]

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.

Geography[edit]

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.

Climate[edit]

Bedfordshire is relatively dry, being situated in the east of England. Average annual rainfall is 597.6 millimetres (23.53 in) at Bedford.[2] 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.[3]

Average temperatures in Bedford range from a low of 0.8 °C (33.4 °F) overnight[2] in February to a high of 22.1 °C (71.8 °F) during the day in July.[2] In the last 20 years the highest temperature recorded was 35.9 °C (96.6 °F).[4] 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).

Politics[edit]

Police and Crime Commissioner[edit]

The Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner is Olly Martins who is a member of the Labour Party.

Local government[edit]

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.[5] 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.[6]

Emergency services[edit]

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.[7]

Parliamentary constituencies[edit]

For elections to the House of Commons, Bedfordshire is divided into six constituencies, each returning a single member of parliament:

Constituency Member of Parliament
Bedford   Richard Fuller
Luton North   Kelvin Hopkins
Luton South   Gavin Shuker
Mid Bedfordshire   Nadine Dorries
North East Bedfordshire   Alistair Burt
South West Bedfordshire   Andrew Selous

The present constituencies date from 1997.[8] The boundaries were slightly modified for the 2010 general election.[9]

Economy[edit]

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[10] Agriculture[11] Industry[12] Services[13]
1995 4,109 81 1,584 2,444
2000 4,716 53 1,296 3,367
2003 5,466 52 1,311 4,102

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[edit]

Key
AP Icon.svg Abbey/Priory/Cathedral
Accessible open space Accessible open space
Themepark uk icon.png Amusement/Theme Park
CL icon.svg Castle
Country Park Country Park
EH icon.svg English Heritage
Forestry commission logo.svg Forestry Commission
Heritage railway Heritage railway
Historic house Historic House
Museum (free)
Museum
Museum (free/not free)
National Trust National Trust
Drama-icon.svg Theatre
Zoo icon.jpg Zoo

Transport[edit]

Although not a major transport destination, Bedfordshire lies on many of the main transport routes which link London to the Midlands and Northern England.

Roads[edit]

Two of England's six main trunk roads pass through Bedfordshire:

To these was added in 1959 the M1 motorway, the London to Leeds motorway. This has three junctions around Luton, one serving Bedford and another serving Milton Keynes.

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.

Railways[edit]

Three of England's main lines pass through Bedfordshire:

There are rural services also running between Bedford and Bletchley along the Marston Vale Line.

Taxis[edit]

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.

Waterways[edit]

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.[14]

Air[edit]

London Luton Airport has flights to many UK, European, Middle Eastern and North African destinations, operated largely but not exclusively by low-cost airlines.

Settlements in Bedfordshire[edit]

Education[edit]

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.[15]

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.[16][17] The change was due to be introduced over a five-year period and be completed in 2015.[18] 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[edit]

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.[19][20]

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[edit]

Main article: Education in Luton

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[edit]

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.

Landmarks[edit]

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 the process of being refurbished.

Sports and Leisure[edit]

Main article: Sport in Bedfordshire

Bedfordshire is home to Luton Town F.C. and Bedford Blues Rugby Team amongst other various sporting teams.

Bedfordshire boasts a 40 mile (64km) walk traversing the county from Leighton Buzzard at the southern end point and Sandy, Bedfordshire/Gamlingay in southern Cambridgeshire to the east. This is called the Greensand Ridge Walk. For cyclists, a parallel route following minor country roads is also available, Greensand Cycle Way.

Notable people from Bedfordshire[edit]

Bibliographical references[edit]

  • Bedfordshire Magazine (quarterly)[21]
  • Elstow Moot Hall leaflets on John Bunyan and 17th century subjects[21]
  • Guide to the Bedfordshire Record Office 1957 with supplements.[21]
  • Guide to the Russell Estate Collections Published in 1966.[21]
  • Conisbe, L. R. (1962) A Bedfordshire Bibliography (supplement, 1967)[21]
  • Dony, John (1953) A Bedfordshire Flora. Luton: Corporation of Luton Museum & Art Gallery[21]
  • Dony, John (1942) A History of the Straw Hat Industry. Luton: Gibbs, Bamforth & Co.[21]
  • Freeman, Charles (1958) Pillow Lace in the East Midlands. Luton: Luton Museum and Art Gallery[21]
  • Godber, Joyce (1969) History of Bedfordshire 1066-1888[21]
  • White, H. O. Bedfordshire Historical Record Society (published annually)[21]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/census/census-2001-key-statistics/urban-areas-in-england-and-wales/urban-areas-in-england-and-wales-ks01-usual-resident-population.xls
  2. ^ a b c Met Office Bedford Averages 1981-2010 http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/averages/19812010/sites/bedford.html
  3. ^ Met Office: Easter 1998 - Heavy rainfall http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/interesting/easter1998/
  4. ^ CLIMATE BEDFORD - Weather http://www.tutiempo.net/en/Climate/BEDFORD/35600.htm
  5. ^ "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. 
  6. ^ "Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire and Libraries - About Your Library - Bedfordshire's Virtual Library". Galaxy.bedfordshire.gov.uk. Retrieved 2010-09-25. 
  7. ^ "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. 
  8. ^ "The Parliamentary Constituencies (England) Order 1995". Office of Public Sector Information. 1995. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  9. ^ "The Parliamentary Constituencies (England) Order 2007". Office of Public Sector Information. 2007. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  10. ^ Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
  11. ^ includes hunting and forestry
  12. ^ includes energy and construction
  13. ^ includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured
  14. ^ "Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust". B-mkwaterway.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-09-25. 
  15. ^ "Two-tier school proposal rejected". BBC News. 2006-07-13. Retrieved 2008-02-10. 
  16. ^ "Middle schools to be abolished - Biggleswade News". Bedford Today. Retrieved 2010-09-25. 
  17. ^ "'Momentous decision' for schools". BBC News. 2009-11-17. Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  18. ^ "Tiers to be shed in school restructure? - Local". Bedford Today. Retrieved 2010-09-25. 
  19. ^ "Education in Bedford". Bedford Borough Council. 2004. Archived from the original on 18 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  20. ^ "Education and Schools Information". Creating Central Bedfordshire. Central Bedfordshire Council. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Detail from a copy of History of Bedfordshire published by Bedfordshire County Council in 1969

External links[edit]