The county town of
Bedfordshire, this bustling business and
industrial centre has been an important place
since the days of the Anglo Saxons, mainly because
it lies on the River Great Ouse. The town famously
gave its name to Bedford vans made by the Vauxhall
company which opened a factory here in 1905.
The town is particularly associated with John Bunyan who was born here. The preacher was twice incarcerated in the local jail for his unorthodox views and began writing his allegorical masterpiece, ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’, in the mid-17th century while behind bars. The site of his house is marked by a plaque. There is also a Bunyan Museum.
All that is left of a
Norman castle destroyed after a six-week siege
in 1224 is the mound on which it stood.
However, the town has no less than four
historic churches and a five-arched bridge
spanning the river.
The Cecil Higgins Gallery has a superb collection of prints and decorative arts as well as a display of Victorian life; the latter includes a room created by William Burges, a leading exponent of the Gothic Revival movement.
During the Second World War the US bandleader Glenn Miller was stationed in Bedford and broadcast from the local Corn Exchange.