See her Quicksands: A Memoir (2005).
City (pop., 2001: 82,488), southeast-central England. The administrative seat of Bedfordshire, it lies on the River Ouse northwest of London. It was a Roman fording station and a Saxon town. It was recaptured by the Anglo-Saxons from the Danes in 914. John Bunyan is thought to have written A Pilgrim's Progress while imprisoned there in the 17th century.
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Bedford remained a small agricultural town, with wool being an important industry in the area for much of the Middle Ages. From the 1560s Bedford and much of Bedfordshire became one of the main centres of England's Lace industry, with skilled lace-makers such as the Flemings, and then later the Huguenots 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.
The 19th Century saw Bedford transform into an important engineering hub. In 1832 Gas lighting was introduced, and the railway reached Bedford in 1846. The first Corn Exchange was built 1849, and the first drains and sewers were dug in 1864.
The River Great Ouse passes through the town centre (see also ford (crossing)), 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, opposite Rothsay Gardens. The memorial was designed in 1921 by the sculptor Charles Sargeant Jagger and depicts a Knight vanquishing a dragon.. The inscription reads
1914 † 1919
TO BEDFORDIANS WHO DIED, MANY IN EARLY YOUTH, SOME FULL OF YEARS AND HONOUR, BUT WHO ALL ALIKE GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR THEIR COUNTRY.|30px|30px||
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.
The Bedford Corn Exchange is the largest entertainment venue in the town and plays host to a variety of performances, meetings, conferences, concerts and private functions. The Corn Exchange also operates the Harpur Suite exhibition hall and the Bedford Civic Theatre which plays host to the 'Bedfringe festival', a pre-Edinburgh Fringe festival. The University of Bedfordshire Theatre is the largest theatre in Bedford and hosts many larger productions as well as projects from the university. There is an active amdram (community theatre) scene, with groups such as the Swan Theatre Company, Bedford Dramatic Club (BDC), Bedford Marianettes and ShowCo Bedford producing plays and musicals in venues like the Civic Theatre and the Corn Exchange. The Bedford Pantomime Company produces a traditional pantomime at the Civic Theatre each Christmas. Esquires (one of the town's premier live music venues) regularly plays host to many notable bands and acts from all over the UK as well as showcasing local live music.
Bedford also has its own Park and ride operation situated to the south of the town near Elstow. Currently this is the only site which has been completed, but there are plans to develop more sites around the town.
The town's bus services and major bus routes run to Northampton, Milton Keynes, Cambridge, Oxford and other towns in the region. Most of these services depart from the main bus station in the town. The bus station itself is due for major redevelopment as part of a scheme to renovate the town centre.
Local transport company, Cedar Coaches also runs services from Bedford to surrounding areas.
Bedford is home to one of the largest concentration of Italian immigrants in the UK. According to a 2001 census, 2 in 7 (1 in 3.5 or almost 30% of the town's population) of Bedford's population are of at least partial Italian descent. This is mainly as a result of labour recruitment in the early 1950s by the London Brick Company in the southern Italian regions of Puglia, Campania, Calabria, Molise, Abruzzo and Sicily. Bedford's Little Italy feel is enhanced by a wide variety of Italian bars, restaurants and social clubs throughout the town. as well as a large number of delis and grocery shops selling Italian and continental produce - and by the large Italian mission church run by the Scalabrini Fathers order. Bedford has, since 1954, had its own Italian vice-consulate.
In addition to Italian immigrants, Bedford has also been the recipient of significant immigration from South Asia (8.1% of Bedford's population), Eastern Europe (particularly in the last few years), Greece, Cyprus, the Middle East and Africa (3% of Bedford's population is of Sub-Saharan descent ), making it one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse towns in Britain and the world, particularly in proportion to its size. Bedford is home to over one hundred immigrant languages, including Italian, Punjabi, Turkish, Polish, Portuguese and both Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese.
Bedford also has a high number of Christian churches including four from the Newfrontiers network, several Polish and Italian Roman Catholic churches, and various independent churches that cater to the different ethnic and language groups. There are also Sikh, Muslim, Wiccan, Jewish and Jehovah's Witness communities. There is no longer a synagogue in Bedford, but Bedfordshire Progressive Synagogue , based in Luton, meets in Bedford once a month. The nearest Orthodox synagogue is the Luton Hebrew Congregation, a Lubavitch synagogue in Luton.
Bedford hosts a campus of the University of Bedfordshire, which prior to a merger with the University of Luton in 2006 had been a campus of De Montfort University (itself now solely based in Leicester). For further education, the town is served by Bedford College.
Unlike most of the United Kingdom, Bedfordshire operates a three-tier education system which is arranged into lower, middle and upper schools, as recommended in the Plowden Report of 1967. The arrangement was put to the vote in 2006 with a view to moving to the two-tier model, but was rejected. State upper schools include Mark Rutherford Upper School, John Bunyan Upper School, St Thomas More Catholic Upper School and Biddenham Upper School,
Nearby small towns include Ampthill, Biggleswade, Flitwick, and Sandy, all of which are in Mid Bedfordshire. The nearest towns and cities with larger populations than Bedford are Northampton to the north west, Cambridge to the east, Milton Keynes to the south west, and Luton to the south, all of which have urban area populations of 130,000 or more. Milton Keynes and Cambridge in particular are used by Bedfordians for services that are not available in Bedford, especially the shopping and leisure facilities in Milton Keynes, and advanced health services at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, a teaching hospital which has a partnership with Bedford Hospital.
Other prominent Bedfordians include:
And not born there but associated with Bedford:
Schooled in Bedford:
BEDFORD TO REGAIN SOME DMV SERVICES A DMV OFFICE OPERATED BY A PRIVATE CONTRACTOR SHOULD OPEN WITHIN THE NEXT FEW WEEKS
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BEDFORD'S D-DAY CLAIM MAY BE IMPOSSIBLE TO PROVE CALIFORNIA MAN IN 1980S MAY HAVE BEEN SOURCE OF PER-CAPITA LOSS RANKING
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