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Bedford is a riverside town in the south of England, under an hour’s north of London by train. With plenty of pubs and restaurants, Bedford has a lively and multicultural atmosphere. The University of Bedfordshire has a campus in Bedford.
Bedford is the administrative centre of Bedfordshire and the county’s second biggest urban area. Its history dates back to the Roman era, when it was a fording station across the River Ouse. Bedford received its royal charter in 1166 from Henry II and grew into an important regional market town.
The influential Christian writer John Bunyan was born near Bedford in 1628 and began work on The Pilgrim’s Progress while imprisoned in Bedford County Gaol for his nonconformist religious views. You can find out more about his life and work at the John Bunyan Museum in Bedford.
In the 20th century, the London Brick Company was a major presence in Bedford, eventually becoming the largest brickworks in the world. Many Italian migrants arrived in Bedford in the 1950s to work at the London Brick Company, and even today the town has a distinctly Italian character. Bedford is also one of the most diverse places in the UK, with around 57 ethnicities in the Borough of Bedford.
Bedford takes full advantage of its riverside location, with the annual Bedford Annual Regatta involving a series of competitive races down the River Ouse. The Bedford Rowing Club, meanwhile, caters for rowers of all abilities. Rugby is arguably the most popular sport in Bedford, and the Bedford Blues feature prominently in the RFU Champions (the second tier of English rugby union).
The University of Bedfordshire, a public research university, has a campus in Bedford (as well as nearby Luton, Milton Keynes and Aylesbury), offering a range of postgraduate programmes. It was established in 2006 as the result of a merger between the University of Luton and the Bedford campus of De Montfort University, and can trace its heritage to the Bedford Training College for Teachers, founded in 1882. Today, the University of Bedfordshire has more than 20,000 students from over 150 countries.
Cranfield University is based around 10 miles outside Bedford, specialising in postgraduate programmes relating to technology, business and management. With a host of world-class facilities, Cranfield University prides itself on its connections to industry.
The Bedford area has a diverse, vibrant economy, with multinational companies like Fujifilm and 3M maintaining a presence nearby. Unilever’s global research and development centre is at Colworth Park, 10 miles north of Bedford.
Bedford is well-positioned for access to London, Milton Keynes and Cambridge, enjoying good transport links to these places and the rest of the country.
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