Bedford History in Old Photos and Film

Vintage postcard of Bedford High Street, England

Glimpse history through old images of Bedford, in Bedfordshire, England.

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.

Old Pictures of Bedford

Old Photos of Bedford

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.

Bedford’s WW1 Women Workers

Inspection Of Women War Workers (1914-1918) – British Pathé on YouTube

Bedford – Now and Then

Part 1

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

Bedford Now and Then – All Things Beds, Herts & Bucks on YouTube

Part 2

Bedford Now and Then Part 2!! – All Things Beds, Herts & Bucks on YouTube

Part 3

Part 3 visits Queens Park Bridge, Midland Road and Greyfriars.

Bedford now and then Part 3 – All Things Beds, Herts & Bucks on YouTube

Bedford River Pageant (1920s)

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 River Pageant (1920-1929) – British Pathé on YouTube

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.

Aerial view of Bedford, England, 11th May 1953 – YouTube

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

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 UK – Football and Brickworks – Mat Guy on YouTube

Bedford (1960s)

Bedford in the 60s – britainonfilm on YouTube

Bedford Town (1960s)

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

Bedford Town in the 60s – The Ghost Dusters Uk on YouTube

Bedford Town Centre (1960s)

A look around Bedford Town Centre in the 1960s. Includes the Embankment and Market Square.

You’ll notice how few cars are on the road compared to today.

Bedford 1960s – All Things Beds, Herts & Bucks on YouTube

Bedford Mods (1960s)

A short compilation video using photographs of Bedford Mods in the 1960s. Also includes a video of the media hype at the time about the Mods and Rockers.

50 Years of Bedford Mods – Stephen Stringer on YouTube

Old Pleasure Boat On Bedford River (1960s) 

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

Bedford River 1960s The Old Pleasure Boat The Good Old Days – TOPCAMERAMAN on YouTube

Bedford Great Ouse Floods:1968

In 1968, the late Eric Gethins recorded flooding on the Great Ouse at Queen’s Park on 8mm cine film.

Bedford Great Ouse Floods 1968 – Emerton321 on YouTube

Bedfordshire Gifts

Gifts for the loveliest grandma in Bedfordshire, from Redbubble.

More about Bedfordshire


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