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Living in Bedford: The Local Area Guide

With its close proximity to London, Bedford is one of the best places to live for commuters travelling to the capital for work. Unlike the big city, Bedford offers a much more laid-back and relaxed vibe, with its beautiful country views and riverside setting. The best place to take in the views is Castle Mound – the only remains of Bedford Castle. There are also a number of riverside pubs and restaurants in the town, which provide an idyllic spot to relax and dine.

The town itself is ethnically diverse and has one of the largest concentrations of Italian immigrants in the UK. As a result, the town features a variety of Italian bars and restaurants, as well as delis hosting traditional produce. It’s not just the Italians represented here though; you’ll also find Asian and other European restaurants, reflecting the town’s diverse population. However, one British tradition that remains is the tri-weekly market – which put the town on the map back in 1166.

Demographics

Bedford’s population is perhaps the most diverse of any town of its size. The population - which was recorded as 157,479 in the 2011 census - is home to many people of Italian, Asian and Eastern European descent, approximately 30% of the total. Immigration is behind the town’s cosmopolitan culture, which saw Bedford’s population dramatically change during the 20th and 21st century.

Job prospects in and around the region are good, and at the time of the census, 63% of the population were employed and just 4.4% unemployed. Almost a fifth of the population were in Professional Occupations (18.1%), 12.4% in Elementary Occupations, and 12.3% in Associate Professional and Technical Occupations.

Education

If you’re new to Bedford, you may find the education system here a little confusing. The town operated a three-tier education system up until 2009, then planned to switch to a traditional two-tier system with funding from the Labour Government. However, after the defeat of Labour in 2010, funding was no longer available – leaving some schools that had made the switch and others that hadn’t.

Despite this, the schools here remain good. There are a number of outstanding primary schools, including Priory Lower School, and equally fantastic secondary schools, such as St John’s School, an academy, and St Thomas More Catholic School. You’ll also find four private schools here too - Bedford School for Boys, Bedford Modern School, Bedford Girls' School, and Pilgrims Pre-Preparatory School. Further education is also available at Bedford College, and Stella Mann College, which specialises in performing arts.

Transport

It’s Bedford’s location and good public transportation that attract many to the region. The town has good access to major roads, including the A421, A509, A6, and A4280, and sits directly between the M1 and A1 motorways. While London is easily accessible by car, the majority choose to travel by train, thanks to the regular schedule and short journey time of 35 minutes.

Getting around Bedford and the surrounding towns and villages is made easy with its good network of bus services. There are regular buses that run from the town centre and the X5 route, which offers services to Oxford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge. Residents here also have a choice of two train stations, situated a mile apart from each other – Bedford Station and Bedford St Johns.

Amenities and shopping

Bedford’s town centre is sure to meet all your weekly shopping needs. In the town centre itself you’ll find a whole host of popular High Street shops while the town’s shopping centre, the Harpur Centre, offers even more variety. If independent shops are more your thing, then you’ll love Castle Quarter, which offers a square mile of rare and unusual finds.

Bedford’s tri-weekly market is another perk of the town with stalls of all kinds. You can pick up local produce here or head to one of the nearby supermarkets, which include Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. For the best in local shopping, head to one of the nearby cities. Northampton can be found to the north west and Milton Keynes to the south west.

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure the above information is up to date, some inaccuracies may occur. If you notice any inaccuracies please contact editor@primelocation.com

p>All information was correct at time of publication and is provided in good faith

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