Bedfordshire ( or ;
abbreviated Beds.) is a ceremonial county of historic origin in England that forms
part of the East of England region.
Cambridgeshire to the North East,
Northamptonshire to the North, Buckinghamshire (and the Borough of
Milton Keynes) to the West and Hertfordshire to the South East.
highest elevation point is on Dunstable Downs in the Chilterns.
As part of a 2002 marketing campaign, the plant conservation
chose the Bee Orchid
as the county
The traditional nickname
for people from
Bedfordshire is "Bedfordshire Bulldogs" or "Clangers
", this last deriving from a
local dish comprising a suet crust dumpling filled with meat or jam
The first recorded use of the name was in 1011 as
", meaning the shire or county of
Bedford, which itself means "Beda's ford" (river crossing).
Bedfordshire was historically divided into
the nine hundred: Barford, Biggleswade, Clifton, Flitt, Manshead, Redbournestoke, Stodden, Willey, Wixamtree, along with the liberty and borough of Bedford.There have been several minor changes to the
county boundary; for example, in 1897 Kensworth and part of Caddington were transferred from Hertfordshire to Bedfordshire.
Geology, landscape and ecology
southern end of the county is part of 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
from the Jurassic
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
Park, Wyboston and Felmersham.
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 584.4mm at Bedford. Rain falls
more frequently than every other day in autumn and winter but falls
are normally light, conversely spring and summer generally sees
more dry days but heavier individual falls of rain, of note were
the 1998 Easter floods. In most years there is a spell lasting
between 2 and 3 weeks in which no rain at all falls. Between
November and April some snow can be expected from time to time but
it is rarely heavy.
Average temperatures in Bedford range from a minimum of 0.6C
overnight in February to 21.5C during the day in July and August.
In the last 20 years the lowest temperature recorded was -9.5C and
the highest 35.9C. These temperatures are significanlty higher than
the temperatures recorded in previous winters, temperatures below
-20C were recorded in the winter of 1947 in the county.
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
Policing, fire and rescue services continue to be provided on a
county-wide basis, with the Bedfordshire Police Authority
Luton Combined Fire Authority
consisting of members of the
elections to the House of Commons, Bedfordshire is divided into six constituencies,
each returning a single member of
The present constituencies date from 1997
. The boundaries
will be slightly modified for the next United Kingdom general
This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of
Bedfordshire at current basic prices published
(pp. 240–253) by Office for
with figures in millions of British Pounds
Moto Hospitality is based at Toddington service station. The Kier Group is based in Sandy. Whitbread is based
||Regional Gross Value Added
not a major transport destination, Bedfordshire lies on many of the
main transport routes which link London to the
Midlands and Northern
Two of England's six main trunk roads
pass through Bedfordshire:
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.
Three of England's main lines pass through Bedfordshire:
rural services also running between Bedford and Bletchley along the Marston Vale Line.
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.
Ouse links Bedfordshire to the Fenland waterways. As of 2004 there are plans by the
Milton Keynes Waterway Trust to construct a canal linking the Great Ouse at Bedford to the
Canal at Milton Keynes, 23 km distant.
Airport has flights to many UK, Europe, North America
and North African destinations, operated by low-cost
Settlements in Bedfordshire
Very large towns (population Over 50,000)
Large settlements (population between 5,000 and 49,999)
Mid-size settlements (population between 1,000 and 4,999)
Small settlements (population under 1,000)
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
into lower, middle and upper schools, as recommended in the
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
After the 2009
structural changes to local government in England
County Council was abolished, and its responsibilities for
education were passed to Bedford
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 will be
introduced over a five year period and be completed in 2015 .
Bedford and Central Bedfordshire
Until the division into two unitary authorities in April 2009,
education in the area continued to be administered by Bedfordshire
the two councils' upper schools offer 6th form courses (such as
A Levels), though Bedford
College, Dunstable 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
are a number of independent
schools, many of which have links to the Harpur
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 also offers a range of further education courses.
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 is home to Luton Town
amongst other various sporting teams.
Notable people from Bedfordshire
- History of Bedfordshire 1066-1888 by Joyce Godber
- A Bedfordshire Bibliography by L R Conisbe published
in 1962 with a supplement in 1967
- Bedfordshire Historical Record Society by H O White
- Guide to the Bedfordshire Record Office 1957 with
- Guide to the Russell Estate Collections Published in
- Elstow Moot Hall leaflets On John Bunyan and 17th Century Subjects
- A Bedfordshire Flora by John
- Luton and the Hat
Industry by John Dony
- Pillow Lace in the East Midlands by Charles Freeman
- Bedfordshire Magazine (Published Quarterley)
- County flowers in Britain
- Met Office Bedford Averages 1971-2000
- Met Office: Easter 1998 - Heavy rainfall
- CLIMATE BEDFORD - Weather
- Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
- includes hunting and forestry
- includes energy and construction
- includes financial intermediation services indirectly
- Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust
- Detail from a copy of History of Bedfordshire
published by Bedfordshire County Council in
1969 with no ISBN