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Biggleswade facts for kids

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Biggleswade Town Council.jpg
Town council logo and unofficial town arms
Town council logo and unofficial town arms
Biggleswade town centre
Biggleswade is located in Bedfordshire
Population 21,700 (2019-estimate)
OS grid reference TL1944
Civil parish
  • Biggleswade
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district SG18
Dialling code 01767
Police Bedfordshire
Fire Bedfordshire and Luton
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament
  • North East Bedfordshire
List of places
52°05′08″N 0°15′21″W / 52.0855°N 0.2557°W / 52.0855; -0.2557

Biggleswade ( big-ƏLZ-weɪd) is a market town and civil parish in Central Bedfordshire in Bedfordshire, England. It lies on the River Ivel, 11 miles (18 km) south-east of Bedford. Its population was 16,551 in the 2011 United Kingdom census, and its estimated population in mid-2019 had increased to 21,700, its growth encouraged by good road and rail links to London. The King's Reach development, begun in 2010, will provide 2,000 new homes to the east of the town.


Biggleswade Wind Farm
Biggleswade wind farm, located just to the south of the town.

Biggleswade is located about 40 miles (60 km) north of Central London and 20 miles (30 km) to the west-south-west of Cambridge. Situated with a station on the East Coast Main Line, Biggleswade is around half-an-hour from the capital city by train. In 2011 the population of the town was about 16,550. The Biggleswade civil parish also includes the nearby hamlet of Holme, Bedfordshire.

The town lies just off the A1, Britain's "Great North Road" between London and Edinburgh - and the B1040, which leads to Potton in the north, runs through the town. Biggleswade is also situated on the A6001, which leads to Langford and Henlow to the south.

At the north end of Biggleswade past Shortmead House lies a solar power farm, whilst a wind farm of ten turbines sits beyond the south end of the town, towards Langford.


The area around Biggleswade is thought to have been inhabited from around 10,000 BC, with arrowheads dating from this period believed to have been found in the region.

Biggleswade is mentioned in the Domesday Book. The entry reads Bichelesuuade/Pichelsuuade: Ralph de l'Isle. 2 mills Variations on spelling include Bykeleswad, in 1396.

See also Hundred of Biggleswade

The Saxons

In the 5th century AD, Saxon invaders settled here. The spelling "Bykleswade" and its variations occur in Law records of the 15th century, e.g. in 1430.

In 2001 a gold coin bearing the name Coenwulf was discovered at Biggleswade on a footpath beside the River Ivel. The 4.33 g (0.15 oz) mancus, worth about 30 silver pennies, is only the eighth known Anglo-Saxon gold coin dating to the mid to late Anglo-Saxon period. The coin's inscription, "DE VICO LVNDONIAE", indicates that it was minted in London. Initially sold to American collector Allan Davisson for £230,000 at an auction held by Spink auction house in October of that year, the British Government subsequently put in place an export ban in the hope of saving it for the British public. In February 2006 the coin was bought by the British Museum for £357,832 with the help of funding from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the British Museum Friends making it the most expensive British coin purchased until that date.

Medieval times

St Andrew's, Biggleswade
St. Andrew's Church, still the town's main Anglican church

In 1132, Henry I granted the manor of Biggleswade to Bishop Alexander – Alexander the Magnificent – of Lincoln to help endow Lincoln Cathedral. The town was granted a charter to hold a market during the reign of King John (1196–1216) – a market is still held in the market place in the centre of the town every Tuesday and Saturday. The medieval Church of St Andrew is the town's parish church and contains the monumental brass of John Rudying with a Figure of Death. Biggleswade Castle existed in earlier times, as did a manor at Stratton Park Moated Enclosure.

On 16 June 1785 there was a large fire in the town. The fire started at the Crown Inn.

Biggleswade.The Crown Hotel
The Crown Inn, where the 1785 Great Fire started

Transport history

The Great Northern Railway opened in 1850, and Biggleswade was for a time the first and only town in Bedfordshire to have a mainline station. Later it was one of three towns in the county to have one (on the East Coast Main Line), along with Bedford and Dunstable.

The town was bypassed by road in 1960.

Buses in the town were provided by Eastern National until 1952 when the western division of Eastern National was handed over to United Counties. Other bus operators based in Biggleswade included Charles Cook European Travel who operated in the area between 1947 and 1998 and Fairway Coaches although both of these operators have ceased to operate.

Industrial history

Traditionally, Biggleswade has been a vegetable- and produce-growing area with trains often taking daily loads of vegetables to London's produce markets. Even though much of this has now stopped, Bedfordshire Growers, based on the outskirts of the town, still supplies major supermarkets with UK-grown potatoes and onions.

Biggleswade Town Centre War Memorial, Apr 2016
Biggleswade's war memorial.

Biggleswade is also the base of the Jordan's cereals business who produce their own brand of breakfast Muesli, Country Crisp and Crunchy Oats and Frusli cereal bars which are sold across Europe as well as in Canada. There used to be a Felix cat food factory located on Potton Road.

Chapel Biggleswade Cemetery
The Chapel at Biggleswade Cemetery

The town was also home to the Ivel Cycle Works, founded by Dan Albone.

Other goods which have been made in Biggleswade include Berkeley Caravans and Sportscars, who had a factory in the town, which was later used by Kayser Bondor.

In 1966, a full-sized replica of FAB 1, based on a Chinese six-wheel (four front, two back) Bedford Duple Vega coach chassis, built to transport writers-producers Gerry and Sylvia Anderson to the premiere of Thunderbirds Are Go in London was constructed by the company Toby Baxter Contracts in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire under Sylvia's supervision.

1911 Daimler 20hp 1. 14403862628
A Maythorn body on the Daimler of
Prince Louis of Hesse

Other large factories included Maythorns who were coach builders.

A much larger employer in the town was Cincinnati Milacron who had a large site between Dells Lane and the Railway.

The town had a large brewery, Wells and Winch, in the town centre for many decades; its last owners were Greene King but it closed down in October 1997 and the site is now occupied by an Asda supermarket.

Sport and recreation

The town has three association football clubs – Biggleswade Town, of the Southern League Premier Division; Biggleswade United, of the Spartan South Midlands Premier Division; and Biggleswade FC, which was promoted at the end of the 2018–2019 season into the Southern League Division 1 Central. The chairman of Biggleswade United is Sky Sports pundit Guillem Balague.

The town cricket club's 1st XI play in Division 1 of the Huntingdonshire County Cricket League. Biggleswade Rugby Club's 1st team plays in the Midlands 3 East (South) league.

Drove Road Recreation Ground is home to Biggleswade Town Bowls Club and also has three macadam play-for-free tennis courts.

Two-and-a-half miles north-east of the town on the B1040 at Sutton is the John O'Gaunt Golf Club, with two 18-hole courses. In Hill Lane across from the A1 north roundabout is the Biggleswade Golf Centre driving range.

Swimming and gym facilities are at Saxon Pool and leisure centre. A sports hall was added in 2015 and there is a skate park.

The Franklin Recreation Ground by the River Ivel is off Mill Lane. The Biggleswade Green Wheel circular walking and cycling route and the 21-mile Kingfisher Way walk pass close by.


The town is mentioned twice in the diaries of Samuel Pepys. On 22 July 1661, Pepys stopped off in Biggleswade (called 'Bigglesworth' by Pepys) to buy a pair of warm woollen stockings. John Byng, 5th Viscount Torrington often refers to the town and the Sun Inn. There are six churches in Biggleswade, which are represented by the umbrella organisation Churches Together in Biggleswade.

Nearby is the Shuttleworth Collection of vintage aeroplanes, sometimes referred to as Biggleswade Airfield. The organisation also operates the Swiss Garden and a large play area on the premises.

Biggleswade is mentioned on the TV Series Monty Python's Flying Circus during the famous Piranha Brothers Sketch

Twinned towns

  • Germany Erlensee, Germany since 2000.


Population growth in Biggleswade since 1801
Year Pop. ±%
1801 1,794 —    
1841 3,807 +112.2%
1881 4,947 +29.9%
1921 5,395 +9.1%
1961 8,050 +49.2%
2001 15,383 +91.1%
Source: A Vision of Britain through Time

At the 2011 census date the population of Biggleswade was 16,551, of which 93.4% were born in the United Kingdom. 91.8% of residents were white British compared to 79.8% for England. As to religious affiliation; 59.9% put Christianity and 1.9% other religions, while 38.2% had no religion or did not say.

The five largest employment sectors for Biggleswade residents were: wholesale, retail and vehicle repairs at 18%, manufacturing at 13%, construction at 10%, human health and social work at 10% and education at 9%. The unemployment rate was 3.5% compared to 4.4% for England.


Biggleswade has a three-tier education system with lower schools catering for ages 5–9, middle schools for 9–13, and Stratton Upper School for 13–16 year olds and a sixth form.

Stratton Upper School and Community College (formerly Stratton Grammar Technical School) opened in 1950 and converted to Academy status in February 2012. There are over 600 pupils aged 13–16 and just under 400 in the sixth form.

Biggleswade Academy, established in 2012, is a merger of Holmemead Middle, Southlands Lower, and Brigham Pre-School. Holmemead opened in 1964 as a County Secondary Modern for pupils aged 11–16 but now caters for 9–13 year olds. Southlands County Primary School opened for 5–9 year olds in 1973.

There are two Church of England (C of E) Voluntary controlled schools (VC). Edward Peake C of E (VC) Middle School opened in 1974 and is named after a 16th-century local philanthropist who left money for the education of five children in the parish of Holme. St Andrew's C of E (VC) Lower School was built on the playing field of the Victorian, Rose Lane school in 1988. A second site on the King's Reach development opened in September 2015.

Lawnside Academy is for pupils aged from 4–9 years and is a member of the Bedfordshire Schools Trust (BEST). From 1979 to December 2018 it was known as Lawnside Lower School. It opened in 1959 as Lawnside County Primary Infants School.

Ivel Valley School caters for children with moderate to severe learning difficulties and resulted from the 2010 amalgamation of Hitchmead and Sunnyside schools; which opened in 1970 and 1971 respectively. OneSchool Global, Biggleswade Campus, opened in September 2014 just outside the town on the B1040. It is associated with the Plymouth Brethren.

Public transport


A half-hourly, circular town bus service (route nos. 85 and 85A) is provided by Centrebus (South). The same operator runs an hourly through route south to Langford, Henlow and Hitchin (journey time 35 minutes) and north to Sandy via Dunton, Wrestlingworth and Potton (service 188) or Sutton, Potton, Gamlingay, and Everton (service 190). Stagecoach East runs service no. 73 to Sandy and Bedford. Frequency is normally half-hourly but the interval may be 40 minutes or an hour in the early morning or evening. The journey time to Bedford bus station is one hour. Route 74 to Bedford operated by Grant Palmer runs hourly from 7.30 am to 6 pm and route 200 runs every two hours to Shefford and Flitwick.

These services run Monday to Saturday. There are no bus services on Sundays and public holidays.

A limited community, non-profit service is provided by Whitbread Wanderbus. Its W3 and W3S (weekly, Monday) services run into the town from Campton and Clifton Park respectively. Ivel Sprinter run weekly services to St Neots and Cambridge.


Thameslink operates a half-hourly Monday to Friday service through to Horsham via London, St Pancras, London Bridge and Gatwick Airport. Journey times are 30 minutes on the quickest trains to London and 2 hours 45 minutes to Horsham. Great Northern run additional trains to and from Kings Cross for morning and evening commuters. At weekends all services terminate at Kings Cross. The service on Sunday is hourly. Northbound trains have a similar frequency of service. They terminate at Peterborough and have a journey time of 40 minutes.

Notable residents

Notable people born in Biggleswade include John Manton, Methodist minister and founder of Newington College in Sydney, Australia and Henry Ryland, the Pre-Raphaelite painter. Dan Albone, inventor and cyclist, credited with making the first practical farm tractor, the Ivel Agricultural Motor also lived and worked in the town. Charles Penrose, radio comedian and singer of "The Laughing Policeman"; the children's author Christine Chaundler; and science fiction writer Philip E. High were all born here. Others include Ian Mantle, vehicle engineer and rally driver who grew up in the town; the stage and TV music director of The Muppet Show, Derek Scott; and British Olympic rower William Windham.

Richard Walker, angling journalist, author and photographer, lived by the River Ivel in Biggleswade from 1978 until his death. Pam Rhodes, novelist and BBC Songs of Praise presenter, runs a boarding cattery in the town. Peter Kendall, Chairman of the National Farmers' Union in 2006–2014, farms land in Biggleswade.

The "Lady Farmer" Louisa Mary Cresswell was born here in 1830 and Mary Tealby (1801–1865), founder of the Temporary Home for Lost and Starving Dogs – Battersea Dogs' Home from 1871 – is buried in St Andrew's churchyard. Janet Millett, author of An Australia Parsonage or, the Settler and the Savage in Western Australia, a significant historical work about life in Western Australia in the 1860s, (published by Edward Stanford, London, in January 1872), lived in The Baulk from 1886 until her passing in October 1904 and is buried in Drove Road Cemetery.

Wally Odell, former footballer, was born in the town.

Stevie Vincent of dance act The Adventures of Stevie V is from Biggleswade. Their biggest success was the UK 1989 number 2 hit "Dirty Cash (Money Talks)".

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Biggleswade para niños

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