Bedford History in Old Photos and Film

Bedford is one of two 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 interational football match success can add impromptu celebrations in local streets.

Bedford In The 1920s

Bedford River Pageant (1920-1929)

Published 13 Apr 2014 by British Pathé.

Titles read: ‘Bedford River Pageant.’

Bedford In The 1950s

Bedford (1950 – 1960)

Published 7 Jun 2019 by History of the United Kingdom.

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

Aerial view of Bedford, England, 11th May 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.

Stuck for the ideal present for someone who remembers this era? Check out the Bedford Gifts page!

Bedford, UK – Football & Brickworks

Published 15 Jan 2016 by Mat Guy.

Archive footage from Bedford, England during the late 1950s and 1960s…Showing the locals playing football, the Stewartby brickworks and some locals enjoying the sunny streets of Bedford!!

Bedford In The 1960s

Bedford in the 60s

Published 26 Feb 2013 by britainonfilm.

Bedford Town in the 60s

Published 22 Mar 2018 by The Ghost Dusters Uk.

This a short clip of what Bedford use to look like in the 60’s so much different to this day and age.

Bedford 1960s

Published 15 Sep 2016 by All Things Beds, Herts & Bucks.

A look around Bedford Town Centre including the Embankment, Market Square around the 1960s.

50 Years of Bedford Mods

Published 9 Mar 2015 by Stephen Stringer.

A short compilation of photographs of Bedford Mods plus a video of the Media hype of the Mods and Rockers in the 1960s.

Branch lines, 1960’s – Film 33399

Published 13 Aug 2014 by HuntleyFilmArchives.

Amateur home movie.

Branch lines filmed from a train from the north of London through Bedford area up to the Midlands and Northampton. Cambridgeshire. All filmed from a train – 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.


Published 24 Dec 2010 by TOPCAMERAMAN.


Queen’s Park, Bedford 1966

Published 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

Published 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

Bedford In The 1980s

Bedford River Festival 1984Pt1

Published 16 Feb 2014 by Emerton321. Bedford River Festival 1984Pt1. Crowds and parade.

Bedford River Festival 1984Pt2

Published 16 Feb 2014 by Emerton321.

Bedford River Festival 1984 raft race

Published 16 Feb 2014 by Emerton321.

Bedford UK Town Centre 1985 full version.

Published 15 May 2014 by Emerton321.

‘How to Act in Public’ A full length, stabilized and enhanced version of the Bedford  UK 1985 video. In answer to previous questions, the car was a yellow Renault of some kind, with Lee (my cousin) driving while I recorded, using a JVC video camera with a cable connector to a full-size VHS recorder running a 12v lead-acid battery. The first time this was on YT it had 37,000 hits, but it was deleted. The music was recorded by myself and Lee, we were only messing about with my synths at the time and would have done a better job had we known that people would be watching 29 years later. Lee is bass player with Bedford band ‘The Life of Riley’, check out more ancient clips on Emerton321 YouTube channel.

On The Embankment, what was the Plaza (aka Century, aka The Nite Spot) is demolished, but you can still see red paint on the wall where the projection room would have been. The building still standing was the museum at this time, although it was originally built as a skating rink (afaik, sorry if this is not strictly true). If you watch the Raft Race video on the Emerton321 YT channel, you can see the museum in the background as this was filmed from the other side of the river. 

“Further to other enquiries, I have no idea who the singing students were, we told them we were making an avant-garde film and recorded what they did!”

Emerton321 on YouTube

Bedford UK 1985 town centre

Published 4 Jul 2009 by TVBedford.

Bedford UK 1985 town centre.

Bedford UK Town Centre 1985 Part 2

Published 23 Oct 2013 by Emerton321.

Bedford In The 1990s

Last day time Bedford jiddle

Published 25 Mar 2014 by Mark Parrott.

This was the last time Effort TV hit Bedford in the day time, filmed in Summer ’95.

Effort TV again in Bedford ’94

Published 23 Mar 2014 by Mark Parrott. Effort TV hits Bedford town again meeting the diverse population of the town.

1994 Bedford Italians Celebrating World Cup.m4v

Published 27 Jan 2012 by mariocataldo123.

1994 Bedford Italians Celebrating World Cup

Bedford at night xmas ’95

Published 25 Mar 2014 by Mark Parrott. Our last ever Bedford Effort TV.

Bedford UK Town Centre 1996

Published 19 Feb 2014 by Emerton321.

The Town Through The Ages

Bedford – Now and Then

Published 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 UK

Published 21 Dec 2008 by marsjanin27.

Stylization on old photography.

Bedford In The 21st Century

Snow in Bedford UK – Feb 8th 2007

Published 8 Feb 2007 by Rob Watt.

This is the hill outside my house this morning. Watch the postman dodge the van that’s sliding down the hill on the snow.


Published 23 Mar 2012 by BedfordItalian.

“Bedford hosted it’s first Bedford Italian Festival on Sunday 13th September 2009 in Harpur Square and St Paul’s Square. Approximately 5000 attended over the course of the glorious day with Italian Speciality Food Stalls by local restaurants/suppliers, an Italian Market, Italian Car Display, Italian Music Stage and the unveiling of the Italian Statue, now residing on Greyfriars roundabout, to celebrate the arrival of the 1st & 2nd Generation of Italian Immigrants to Bedford in the early 50’s.”

BedfordItalian on YouTube

Walking to the town Bedford Italian Festival

Published 15 Sep 2009 by sezums. Bedford Italian Festival in HD.

In common with the time, the phone footage is shaky. But you can see quite a few visitors.

Bedford River Festival 2010 The Vikings

Published 12 Aug 2010 by Laurie Girling.

The Carnival Parade – Bedford River Festival 2010

Published 20 Jul 2010 by Youthcastbeds.

The Parade at Bedford River Festival 2010, filmed by Youthcast Bedfordshire, the youth-led New Media organization.

Bedford Italian Festival 2011

Published 20 Jun 2011 by mishka3380.

Gino D’Acampo posing for camera but camera says NO!. It’s Fantastico!

Bedford River Festival 2012

Published 28 Jul 2012 by

Highlights of the Bedford River Festival 2012.

River Festival – Bedford UK 16 July 2016

Published 18 Jul 2016 by Arkadiusz Janusz.

Bedford River Festival 2016

Published 17 Jul 2016 by mupet00000.

Quickly put together – a compilation of the things that went on at the river festival 2016.

Bedford’s Supermarkets

A look around the new Bedford Morrisons store

Published 16 Aug 2013 by Bedfordshire On Sunday.

Tesco Bedford Extra Staff Dance in Fancy Dress

Published 28 Dec 2012 by keith brown.

Tesco Bedford Extra staff dress up and dance for charity. Xmas 2012.

Bedford Tesco Extra Staff Dance (sort of!)

Published 31 Dec 2012 by keith brown.

Back to Bedfordshire page.

Forward to Schools In Bedford page.

Back to Home page.

Thanks to David Mark from Pixabay for the image used at the top of this page.

Bedford Local History YouTube Playlist