Bedford History in Old Photos and Film

Bedford Bedfordshire England UK

Bedford is one of two major population centres in Bedfordshire, which between them are home to the majority of the county’s residents.

The town has changed dramatically since the Second World War. In addition to large housing developments and a population in car ownership, the population has become more diverse. Italian migrants were later followed by the first of the Asian workers, and more recently the local Polish community has grown.

Since 1978 there has been an annual Bedford River Festival, although there is footage of a River Pageant happening back in 1920. Parades by water and road are now enhanced by both historic demonstrations and music and dance events on stage.

The town’s large Italian community holds an annual festival too, where delicious food takes centre stage. The occasional international football match success can add impromptu celebrations in local streets.

The pages in this section of our website highlight a number of videos, photo compilations and short films showing Bedford over the past century, with a particular focus on the period from the early 20th Century until the end of the 1960s.

Thanks to David Mark from Pixabay for the image above.

Bedford – Now and Then

Uploaded to YouTube on 1 Sep 2016 by All Things Beds, Herts & Bucks.

A compilation of videos from Bedford Town Centre and Embankment from the mid-1960s, 1980, 2014 and 2015.

Bedford – Now and Then 2

Another quick compilation of videos from Bedford’s past uploaded to YouTube by All Things Beds, Herts & Bucks.

Bedford – Now and Then 3

A third compilation of videos from Bedford’s past uploaded to YouTube by All Things Beds, Herts & Bucks.

Visits Queens Park Bridge, Midland Road and Greyfriars.

Bedford UK

Uploaded to YouTube on 21 Dec 2008 by marsjanin27.

Stylization of old photography.

Bedford River Pageant (1920s)

Uploaded to YouTube on 13 Apr 2014 by British Pathé.

This is a wonderful look back at the Bedford River Pageant held in the 1920s.

It shows people have long enjoyed dressing up for historic recreations.

Bedford (1950 – 1960)

Uploaded to YouTube on 7 Jun 2019 by History of the United Kingdom.

Some old memories from Bedford, in the UK, between 1950 – 1960.

Aerial view of Bedford (1953)

This video shows the town of Bedford photographed from the air on 11th May 1953.

The addition of music from that year provides a good sense of the period captured on screen.

Football, Brickworks & Local Streets (1950s/1960s)

Uploaded to YouTube on 15 Jan 2016 by Mat Guy.

Archive footage from Bedford, England during the late 1950s and 1960s

Starting with people enjoying a game of football, the footage then moves to the Stewartby brickworks.

In 1932 the Stewartby brickworks had 32 chimneys up to 70m (230ft) tall. By 1936 it was the world’s leading brickworks in terms of production output, making more than 500 million bricks a year. 

Unfortunately, the last owners of the Stewartby brickworks, Hanson, could not meet UK limits for sulphur dioxide emissions even after spending more than £1 million to tackle this issue in 2005–7. Consequently, the site closed in 2008.

On 11 October 2020, fire broke out in one of the site’s derelict buildings, causing a lot of smoke in the area. Over the next few hours Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service asked local people to avoid the area and advised those living nearby to keep doors and windows closed.

Finally, it’s a sunny day out on the streets of Bedford as people go about their business. 

Bedford (1960s)

Uploaded to YouTube on 26 Feb 2013 by britainonfilm.

Bedford Town (1960s)

Uploaded to YouTube on 22 Mar 2018 by The Ghost Dusters Uk.

This a short clip of what Bedford used to look like in the 1960’s.

Bedford Town Centre (1960s)

Uploaded to YouTube on 15 Sep 2016 by All Things Beds, Herts & Bucks.

A look around Bedford Town Centre in the 1960s.

Includes the Embankment and Market Square.

Bedford Mods (1960s)

Uploaded to YouTube on 9 Mar 2015 by Stephen Stringer.

A short compilation of photographs of Bedford Mods in the 1960s.

Also includes a video of the media hype at the time about the Mods and Rockers.

Train Travel Through Bedfordshire (1960’s) 

Uploaded to YouTube on 13 Aug 2014 by HuntleyFilmArchives.

An amateur home movie filmed from a train.

Shows the branch lines from the north of London, through the Bedford area, up to the Midlands and Northampton, and through to Cambridgeshire.

Includes shots of the following small country stations:

  • Southill
  • Cardington
  • Hatfield
  • Harpenden East
  • Bedford Midland Road
  • Turvey
  • Olney
  • Piddington
  • Northampton
  • Bedford St Johns
  • Willington
  • Blunham
  • Potton
  • Gamlingay
  • Old North Road
  • Lord’s Bridge
  • Cambridge.

Old Pleasure Boat On Bedford River (1960s) 

Uploaded to YouTube on 24 Dec 2010 by TOPCAMERAMAN.

This is 1960s footage of the old pleasure boat on Bedford River.

Queen’s Park, Bedford (1966)

Uploaded to YouTube on 5 Jun 2019 by History of the United Kingdom.

“A quick short clip of how life used to be in Queen’s Park, Bedford in the 1960s. You can see there are not many cars on the road which made for a lot more space to move around and the streets looked a lot cleaner.”

Bedford Great Ouse Floods (1968)

Uploaded to YouTube on 25 May 2014 by Emerton321.

“This is old 8m cine footage taken in 1968 by my uncle, Eric Gethins (late of Bedford/Luton, Beds UK), of floods on The Great Ouse at Queen’s Park, Bedford in 1968.”

Emerton321 on YouTube

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