Bedfordshire facts for kids

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Bedfordshire
County
Bedfordshire's Flag.svg
Flag
Bedfordshire UK locator map 2010.svg
Bedfordshire in England
Coordinates: Template:Coord/display/title, inline
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Country England
Region East
Established Ancient
Ceremonial county
Lord Lieutenant Helen Nellis
High Sheriff Charles Whitbread
Area 1,235 km2 (477 sq mi)
 • Ranked 41st of 48
Population (2005 est.) 582,600
 • Ranked 36th of 48
Density 472/km2 (1,220/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 is a ceremonial county and a historic county, covered by three unitary authorities: Bedford, Central Bedfordshire, and Luton.

Bedfordshire is bordered by Cambridgeshire to the east/northeast, Northamptonshire to the north, Buckinghamshire to the west and Hertfordshire to the east/southeast. It is the fourteenth most densely populated county of England, with over half the population of the county living in the two largest built-up areas: Luton (236,000) and the county town, Bedford (102,000). The highest elevation point is 243 metres (797 ft) on Dunstable Downs in the Chilterns.

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

History

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

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

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

Average temperatures in Bedford range from a low of 0.8 °C (33.4 °F) overnight in February to a high of 22.1 °C (71.8 °F) during the day in July. In the last 20 years the highest temperature recorded was 35.9 °C (96.6 °F). The lowest temperature on record in Bedfordshire is −20.6 °C (−5.1 °F) at Woburn on 25 February 1947.

Visitor attractions

Key
National Trust Owned by the National Trust
English Heritage Owned by English Heritage
Forestry Commission Owned by the Forestry Commission
Country Park A Country Park
Accessible open space An Accessible open space
Museum (free) Museum (free)
Museum Museum (charges entry fee)
Heritage railway Heritage railway
Historic house Historic House
  • EH icon.svg Bedford Castle
  • Bedford Corn Exchange
  • Museum icon.svg Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum
  • Bedford Park
  • Cardington (R101 hangar)
  • HH icon.svg Chicksands Priory
  • UKAL icon.svg Chiltern Hills
  • EH icon.svg De Grey Mausoleum
  • NTE icon.svg Dunstable Downs
  • Museum icon (red).svg Elstow Moot Hall
  • CP icon.svg Harrold-Odell Country Park
  • EH icon.svg Houghton House
  • HR icon.svg Leighton Buzzard Light Railway
  • HH icon.svg Luton Hoo
  • Museum icon.svg Luton Museum & Art Gallery
  • UKAL icon.svg Marston Vale Community Forest
  • Museum icon.svg Mossman Collection
  • CP icon.svg Priory Country Park
  • Museum icon.svg RAF Henlow
  • RSPB The Lodge, Sandy
  • EH icon.svg Someries Castle
  • Museum icon (red).svg The Shuttleworth Collection
  • Museum icon.svg Stockwood Craft Museum
  • UKAL icon.svg Wardown Park
  • UKAL icon.svg Waulud's Bank
  • Zoo icon.jpg Whipsnade Wildlife Park
  • NTE icon.svg Whipsnade Tree Cathedral
  • NTE icon.svg Willington Dovecote & Stables
  • HH icon.svg Woburn Abbey
  • Zoo icon.jpg Woburn Safari Park
  • Zoo icon.jpg Woodside Farm and Wildfowl Park
  • EH icon.svg Wrest Park Gardens

Transport

See also: List of future transport developments in the East of England

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

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

  • The A1 London to Edinburgh road (the Great North Road) runs close by Biggleswade and Sandy
  • The A5 London to Holyhead road (Watling Street), passes through Dunstable

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.

Railways

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

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

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.

Air

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

Landmarks

Cardington airship sheds

The enormous Cardington airship sheds are situated to the south of Bedford, near the villages of Cardington and Shortstown. They were originally built for the construction of large airships during WW1. Since falling out of their intended use, one has been used for many purposes including housing film sets for 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' and 'Batman Begins' and as a rehearsal space for Take That, with the other having been extensively refurbished and now accommodating Hybrid Air Vehicles, a British modern airship design and manufacturing company.

St Paul's Church Bedford

St Paul's Church, Bedford is a Church of England parish church and the Civic Church of the Borough of Bedford and the County of Bedfordshire. Located on St Paul's Square, the large medieval and later church of cathedral proportions and iconic spire dominates the town and area, exercises a ministry of welcome to thousands of visitors and pilgrims from far and wide each year, and is a focus for special commemorations and celebrations in the borough, county, region and wider community, as well as being a central venue for concerts, recitals and exhibitions. Historically, St Paul’s played a key part in the life of the British nation during the Second World War as the church of the BBC.

Millbrook Proving Ground

The Millbrook Proving Ground, near Junction 13 of the M1, has 70 kilometres (43 mi) of varied vehicle test tracks.

Sports and Leisure

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

Bedfordshire boasts a 40-mile (64 km) 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.


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