Houghton Regis

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Houghton Regis
Houghton Regis is located in Bedfordshire
Houghton Regis
Houghton Regis
 Houghton Regis shown within Bedfordshire
Population 16,950 (est.)[1]
Unitary authority Central Bedfordshire
Ceremonial county Bedfordshire
Region East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district LU5
Dialling code 01582
Police Bedfordshire
Fire Bedfordshire and Luton
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament South West Bedfordshire
List of places

Coordinates: 51°54′14″N 0°31′29″W / 51.9039°N 0.5247°W / 51.9039; -0.5247

Houghton Regis /ˈhtən ˈrɨz/ is a town and civil (administrative) parish contiguous to the larger town of Dunstable to the south. Its parish council provides certain sports and open space amenities and includes the ancient hamlets of Bidwell, Thorn, and Sewell. Houghton Regis, along with its near neighbours of Dunstable and Luton form the Luton/Dunstable Urban Area, with a population over 230,000.[2]

Ancient history[edit]

Relics of Palæolithic man, such as flint implements and the bones of contemporary wild animals, suggest prehistoric settlement. At Maiden Bower within Houghton Regis CP, near Sewell, there is an Iron Age hill fort. This is clearly marked on the Ordnance Survey maps.

A 1944 OS map of Houghton Regis

Maiden Bower has some of the ramparts showing through the edge of an old chalk quarry [3] where there are Bronze Age remains of an older Fort. According to W.H. Matthews (Mazes and Labyrinths, 1922), a turf maze once existed at "Maiden Bower".[4]


Houghton Regis is considerably older than Dunstable, and it is mentioned in the Domesday Book when it was called Houstone.[5] At the time of the Domesday Survey a great part of what is now Dunstable was included in Houghton parish. When Henry I founded Dunstable he gave in compensation to the men of Houghton a wood called Buckwood.[6] At that time it paid in tax the large amount of three pounds by weight and twenty shillings of blanch silver (to the King) and one ounce of gold for the Sheriff.[7] Timeline for Houghton Regis.[8]

The men of Houghton claimed to be exempt from tolls in Dunstable market.[9] The inhabitants of Houghton Regis were for long employed in straw-plaiting. In 1689 they and those of neighbouring villages petitioned against the Bill that made it compulsory to wear woollen hats, pointing out that the straw-plaiters would be ruined and that the farmers also would suffer, as they now obtained good prices for their straw, and English wool not being suitable for hatmaking, they would not be in any way compensated.[6]

All Saints Church, Houghton Regis

Bordered by the Chiltern Hills, the town was once a small village that had its character changed when it was earmarked for a massive "London overspill" estate in the 1950s and 60s. The only remains of the manors, rectory land and cottage demesnes around the small village centre are names such as Tithe Farm Road. An indication of the planners' attempts to make the London migrants feel at home is the naming of the local estate roads after London landmarks; Chelsea Gardens is an example.

Remnants of the town's past are still apparent with, for example, the fifteenth century Parish Church of All Saints (formerly St Michaels) with an excellent example of a Norman tower[10] and the former Squire's residence of Houghton Hall, built in the eighteenth century.


Between the town centre and Dunstable this area has the Townsend Industrial Estate, built on the former farm of the same name.

Between the late 1960s and the early 1970s, many of the high street shops were demolished along with a church to make way for industrial units, many of which have since been demolished themselves. The main shop in town was the Wavy Line store, which has since been used as a motorbike and car showroom.

A fish and chip shop, Tansley's, was at the entrance to what is now the access road into the Co-op Store; the current fish and chip shop was Georges,a tobacconist and confectioner but in the early 1900s was a public house. In front of the existing graveyard there was a row of cottages that had once been the workhouses complete with village lock-up at the end of the terrace. The White House, the home a Miss Freeman, a school teacher and aunt of Gary Cooper, plus Jasper Perry's green grocer and Birds bakery stood on the opposite side of the road.

Modern times[edit]

Houghton Regis Town Council organise a Carnival every summer on the Village Green. A cycle route runs through the town. The Greenway and the route through Dunstable and Houghton Regis forms part of National Route 6 of the National Cycle Network, which provides walking and cycling routes between Milton Keynes, Luton and London.[11]

Central Bedfordshire Council (2011-2012), following at strong campaign by the community, led by a dedicated team (Houghton Regis Leisure Centre action Group) permitted Stevenage Leisure Limited, who now operate the Houghton Regis Leisure Centre as Lifestyles (@) Houghton to carry out major renovation, specialising in badminton and squash courts and increased gym facilities and studio workout sessions, removing the swimming pool at this location. Continuing the successful campaign which saved the Leisure Centre, the Action Group worked with CBC, resulting in securing the re-opening of the swimming pool, scheduled for summer 2014.[12]


Primary schools in the town include Hawthorn Park Community Primary School,[13] Houghton Regis Primary School,[14] St Vincent's RC Primary School,[15] Thomas Whitehead CE Primary School,[16] Thornhill Primary School[17] and Tithe Farm Primary School.[18] Secondary schools serving the area include Houghton Regis Academy and Central Bedfordshire University Technical College. The Chiltern School is a special school which also has a campus in Houghton Regis.

Central Bedfordshire College has a campus in Houghton Regis which offers a range of further education courses.[19]

Plans for the area[edit]

A bypass for north of Houghton Regis

The A5-M1 Link Dunstable Northern Bypass[20] is a proposed two-lane dual carriageway running east from the A5 north of Dunstable to join the M1 at a new Junction 11a south of Chalton. This proposed road aims to alleviate Houghton Regis town centre's traffic and improve the regional economy. The planned completion date for this scheme is the end of 2016.

Woodside Connection[21] (for the reference link, scroll to item 9 of the agenda). A proposed relief road by Central Bedfordshire Council would take traffic from the Woodside Industrial area (situated in the south of Houghton Regis) to the proposed M1 junction 11a. The Local Transport Plan puts a timescale of 2017 for the completion of this road.

Luton to Houghton Regis busway

The Luton-Houghton Regis guided busway, pictured, opened in 2013.[22]

Houghton Regis North Framework Plan. A proposed north of Houghton Regis urban extension of 6,950 homes and 83 ha of employment land by 2026 with potential for a further 4,050 homes and 17 ha employment land after that. In addition, further development is proposed within the existing urban area.[21] (for the reference link, scroll to item 8 of the agenda). Within the Framework Plan, the Houghton Regis Development Consortium are planning for 5,150 homes, employment, retail, infrastructure, community, facilities and leisure on cultivated farmland north of Tithe Farm estate and to the east of Parkside estate.[23]


Houghton Regis Town Council[24] has 14 elected councillors who receive no remuneration. Elections are held every 4 years.

Central Bedfordshire came into being on 1 April 2009. The first-ever elections for Central Bedfordshire took place on 4 June, when the four wards of Houghton Regis were won by the Liberal Democrats.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Houghton Regis Town Council.
  2. ^ Luton Population[dead link]
  3. ^ "Totternhoe Quarries". Disused Stations. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  4. ^ "Mazes and Labyriths: Chapter XI. Turf Labyrinths (continued)". Sacred-texts.com. 1920-04-05. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  5. ^ Domesday Book: A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 2003. ISBN 0-14-143994-7 p.1361
  6. ^ a b "Parishes - Houghton Regis | A History of the County of Bedford: Volume 3 (pp. 389-394)". British-history.ac.uk. 2003-06-22. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  7. ^ Domesday Book: A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 2003. ISBN 0-14-143994-7 p.563
  8. ^ Timeline for Houghton Regis: http://houghtonregisheritage.blogspot.co.uk/p/timeline.html
  9. ^ Ann. Mon. (Rolls Ser.), iii, 377
  10. ^ [1][dead link]
  11. ^ [2][dead link]
  12. ^ Stevenage Leisure Ltd Facilities index
  13. ^ "Hawthorn Park Community Primary School". Hawthornparkcps.co.uk. 2014-04-29. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  14. ^ "Houghton Regis Primary School". Houghtonregis.beds.sch.uk. 2014-05-27. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  15. ^ "St. Vincent's Catholic Primary School | Hammersmith Gardens, Houghton Regis, LU5 5RG". Stvincentshr.org. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  16. ^ "Thomas Whitehead CE Primary School - Home". Thomaswhitehead.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  17. ^ "Thornhill Primary School - Home". Thornhill-primary.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  18. ^ "Home | Tithe Farm Primary School". Tithefarmprimary.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  19. ^ "Campuses". Centralbeds.ac.uk. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  20. ^ A5-M1 Link (Dunstable Northern Bypass). "A5-M1 Link (Dunstable Northern Bypass) - Road Projects - Highways Agency". Highways.gov.uk. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  21. ^ a b Auth. "Agenda for EXECUTIVE on Tuesday, 2 October 2012, 9.30 a.m. - Central Bedfordshire Council". Centralbedfordshire.gov.uk. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  22. ^ [3][dead link]
  23. ^ HRN1 (2013-09-04). "HRN1". HRN1. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  24. ^ "Houghton Regis Town Council". Houghtonregis-tc.org.uk. 2014-08-05. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  25. ^ [4][dead link]

External links[edit]