Bedford & Attractions

Bedford is the county town of Bedfordshire. From the 1560s Bedford and much of Bedfordshire became one of the main centres of England's Lace industry, with skilled lace-makers emigrating from Europe to settle in the town and surrounding county. Lace continued to be an important industry in Bedford up until the early 20th century.

The River Ouse became navigable as far as Bedford in 1689. Wool declined in importance with brewing becoming a major industry in the town. In 1660 John Bunyan was imprisoned for 12 years in Bedford Gaol, it was here that he wrote The Pilgrim's Progress.

The River Great Ouse passes through the town centre, and is lined with attractive gardens known as The Embankment. Within these gardens stands a war memorial to the fallen of the First World War. The memorial was designed in 1921 by the sculptor Charles Sargeant Jagger and depicts a Knight vanquishing a dragon.

The Cecil Higgins Gallery, housed in the recreated Victorian home of the Higgins family of Victorian brewers and in a modern extension, has notable collections of watercolours, prints and drawings, ceramics, glass and lace. Adjacent to the Cecil Higgins Gallery is Bedford Museum, which has local history collections.

Every two years, an event called "The River Festival" is held near the river in Bedford during early July. The event lasts for two days and regularly attracts about 250,000 visitors. The event includes sports, funfairs and live music. It is the second largest regular outdoor event in the UK beaten in numbers only by the Notting Hill Carnival. The Bedford Regatta each May is Britain's largest one-day river rowing regatta.

Other annual events include 'Bedford By The Sea' (when large quantities of sand are deposited in the town centre) and the 'Bedford Kite Festival' in June. 'Proms In The Park', held in early August, is a popular musical event.

Nearby places of interest include: Woburn Abbey and Game Reserve, Kimbolton Castle, the Shuttleworth and Duxford Aircraft collections. Also within comfortable driving distance are Cambridge, Milton Keynes & Northampton.