Biggleswade is a market town and civil parish located on the River Ivel in Bedfordshire, England. It is growing in population mainly because of good transport links along the A1 road between London and the North, and via Biggleswade railway station on the East Coast Main Line). New housing developments are appearing as Biggleswade continues to expand as a commuter town.[2]

Biggleswade Town Council

Town council logo and de facto town arms
Town council logo and de facto town arms

Biggleswade town centre
Biggleswade is located in Bedfordshire
Location within Bedfordshire
Population16,551 (2011 Census)[1]
OS grid referenceTL1944
Civil parish
  • Biggleswade
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtSG18
Dialling code01767
FireBedfordshire and Luton
AmbulanceEast of England
EU ParliamentEast of England
UK Parliament


Biggleswade Wind Farm
Biggleswade wind farm, located just to the south of the town.

Biggleswade is located about 40 miles (60 km) north of Central London and 20 miles (30 km) to the west-southwest of Cambridge. Situated with a station on the East Coast Main Line, Biggleswade is around an hour from the capital city by train. In 2011 the population of the town was about 16,550.[3] The Biggleswade civil parish also includes the nearby hamlet of Holme, Bedfordshire.

The town lies just off the A1, Britain's "Great North Road" between London and Edinburgh. The B1040, which leads to Potton in the north, runs through the town. Biggleswade is also situated on the A6001, which leads to Langford and Henlow to the south.

There is a solar power farm at the north end of Biggleswade past Shortmead House,[4] and a wind farm of ten turbines beyond the south end of the town, towards Langford.[5]


The area around Biggleswade is thought to have been inhabited from around 10,000 BC, with arrowheads dating from this period believed to have been found in the region. In Roman times, a loop road known as the White Way passed through Biggleswade (possibly along the course of the present-day Drove Road), linking up with the Ermine Way at Godmanchester.

Biggleswade is mentioned in the Domesday Book. The entry reads Bichelesuuade/Pichelsuuade: Ralph de l'Isle. 2 mills Variations on spelling include Bykeleswad, in 1396.[6]

(See also Hundred of Biggleswade)


In the 5th century AD, Saxon invaders settled here – the name Biggleswade is thought to be derived from Biceil, an Anglo-Saxon personal name and Waed, the Saxon word for ford. The spelling "Bykleswade" and its variations occur in Law records of the 15th century, e.g. in 1430.[7]

In 2001 a gold coin bearing the name Coenwulf was discovered at Biggleswade on a footpath beside the River Ivel.[8][9] The 4.33 g (0.15 oz) mancus, worth about 30 silver pennies, is only the eighth known Anglo-Saxon gold coin dating to the mid to late Anglo-Saxon period.[8][9] The coin's inscription, "DE VICO LVNDONIAE", indicates that it was minted in London.[9] Initially sold to American collector Allan Davisson for £230,000 at an auction held by Spink auction house in October of that year, the British Government subsequently put in place an export ban in the hope of saving it for the British public.[8][10][11] In February 2006 the coin was bought by the British Museum for £357,832 with the help of funding from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the British Museum Friends[12][13] making it the most expensive British coin purchased until that date.

Medieval times

St Andrew's, Biggleswade
St. Andrew's Church, still the town's main Anglican church

In 1132, Henry I granted the manor of Biggleswade to Bishop Alexander – Alexander the Magnificent – of Lincoln to help endow Lincoln Cathedral. The town was granted a charter to hold a market during the reign of King John (1196–1216) – a market is still held in the market place in the centre of the town every Tuesday and Saturday. The medieval Church of St Andrew is the town's parish church and contains the monumental brass of John Rudying with a Figure of Death.[14][15] Biggleswade Castle existed in earlier times, as did a manor at Stratton Park Moated Enclosure.

On 16 June 1785 there was a large fire in the town.[16][17][18] The fire started at the Crown Inn and spread rapidly through the neighbouring streets.[19] By the time the fire had been brought under control, nearly one-third of the town had been destroyed, including 103 houses leaving 332 people homeless. A national appeal was launched to raise funds for the many people who had lost their homes and their livelihoods. In the local parish church there is a stained glass window depicting the fire.

Biggleswade.The Crown Hotel
The Crown Inn, where the 1785 Great Fire started


The Great Northern Railway opened in 1850,[19] and Biggleswade was for a time the first and only town in Bedfordshire to have a mainline station. Later it was one of three towns in the county to have one (on the East Coast Main Line), along with Bedford and Dunstable.

The town was bypassed by road in 1960.

Buses in the town were provided by Eastern National until 1952 when the western division of Eastern National was handed over to United Counties. The company had a garage in Shortmead Street opposite Ivel Gardens until 1989 when it was sold for redevelopment into flats. United Counties was acquired by Stagecoach in November 1987 and moved to the current site in Hitchin Street in 1989, which was acquired from Charles Cook. Other bus operators based in Biggleswade included Charles Cook European Travel who operated in the area between 1947 and 1998 and Fairway Coaches although both of these operators have ceased to operate.


Traditionally, Biggleswade has been a vegetable and produce-growing area, with trains often taking daily loads of vegetables to London's produce markets. Though much of this has now ended, Bedfordshire Growers, based on the outskirts of the town, still supplies major supermarkets with UK-grown potatoes and onions.[20]

Biggleswade Town Centre War Memorial, Apr 2016
Biggleswade's war memorial.

Biggleswade is also the base of the Jordan's cereals business[21] who produce their own brand of breakfast Muesli, Country Crisp and Crunchy Oats and Frusli cereal bars which are sold across Europe as well as in Canada. There used to be a Felix cat food factory located on Potton Road. However, this moved away in 1970. There also used to be a glass bottle factory on Brunts Lane which was destroyed by fire in 2000.

Chapel Biggleswade Cemetery
The Chapel at Biggleswade Cemetery

The town was also home to the Ivel Cycle Works, founded by Dan Albone. This factory ultimately produced bicycles, motorbikes and light tractors. It went into receivership in 1920.

Other goods which have been made in Biggleswade include Berkeley Caravans and Sportscars, who had a factory in the town. The factory was demolished and is now a housing estate, with roads named Berkeley Close and Kayser Court after the businesses that used the factory.

1911 Daimler 20hp 1. 14403862628
A Maythorn body on the Daimler of
Prince Louis of Hesse

Other large factories included Maythorns who were coach builders. Their large site in the town centre was acquired by Deleney Galley and was latterly Gloster Saro, who made heat insulation materials for aircraft (including Concorde). Gloster Saro was renamed Insumat and relocated to London Road trading estate. It has now left the area. The original factory, which was owned by Mid Beds Council was demolished in 1987, and its site converted into shops and a car park.

A much larger employer in the town was Cincinnati Milacron, which had a large site between Dells Lane and the railway. The factory was demolished in the mid-1980s. Part of its site is now covered by the "Poets" estate (Tennyson Ave, etc.)

The town had a large brewery, Wells and Winch, in the town centre for many decades.[22] Its last owners were Greene King, but it closed down in October 1997 and the site is now occupied by an Asda supermarket.

Sport and leisure

There is an indoor pool, Saxon Pool, and a leisure centre, which replaced the old outdoor swimming pool in Playfield Close. It underwent expansion in 2015 to add a new sports hall to the back of the complex. There is also a small skatepark located behind the complex, next to the local park.

The town has three football clubs – Biggleswade Town, of the Southern League Premier Division, along with Biggleswade United and Biggleswade FC of the Spartan South Midlands Premier Division. Biggleswade United has recently been given a boost in awareness by Sky Sports pundit Guillem Balague's appointment as Director of Football. Although only formed in 2016, Biggleswade FC immediately won promotion to Step 5 – and share a ground with Biggleswade Town, located on Langford Road.

Biggleswade Rugby Club plays in the Midlands 3 East (South) league, and has 3 senior sides alongside active Mini and Youth sides from under 7 to 17 years.

Biggleswade Cricket Club, provides teams for all ages including youth teams. The club's adult teams compete in league cricket on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the season.

The Swiss Garden in Old Warden Park was created in the early 19th century, and charges a fee for entry. Over time, the gardens have seen additions by the Shuttleworth family, including major renovations in 2013/14. It is promoted by the Campaign to Protect Rural England.[23]

Cultural references

The town is mentioned twice in the diaries of Samuel Pepys. On 22 July 1661, Pepys stopped off at "Bigglesworth" to buy a pair of warm woollen stockings. On 5 August 1664, Pepys's wife, on a visit to relations in Huntingdonshire, sent him a message saying she had arrived in "Bigglesworth" on the coach from York and would be home next day.[24]

The diarist John Byng, 5th Viscount Torrington often refers to the town and its Sun Inn.[25]

There are six churches in Biggleswade, which are represented locally by the umbrella organisation Churches Together.[26]

Nearby is the Shuttleworth Collection of vintage aeroplanes, sometimes referred to as Biggleswade Airfield. The organisation also operates the Swiss Garden and a large play area on the premises.

Biggleswade is mentioned on the TV Series Monty Python's Flying Circus during a famous Piranha Brothers Sketch. This can be heard at some 9 minutes and 50 seconds into the referenced video.[27]

In the Doonesbury comic strip, the character Zonker Harris buys a British peerage which grants him the title "His Lordship the Viscount St. Austell-in-the-Moor Biggleswade-Brixham".


Biggleswade, as part of Central Bedfordshire, has a three-tier schooling system with lower schools catering for ages between 5 and 9, middle schools from 9 to 13 and Stratton Upper School continuing education up and into Sixth Form. Two of the local schools, Stratton Upper School and Biggleswade Academy, attained Academy status in 2011.

List of schools

  • Stratton Upper School and Community College (formerly Stratton Grammar Technical School)
  • Biggleswade Academy (merger of Holmemead Middle, Southlands Lower, and Brigham Pre-School)
  • Edward Peake Middle School
  • St Andrew's Lower School (including new satellite school on King's Reach development)
  • Lawnside Lower School
  • Ivel Valley School, a special school for children with moderate or severe learning difficulties, which also operates within other local schools.

Twin town

Notable residents

In birth order:

See also


  1. ^ "Town population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
  2. ^ Biggleswade Master Plan Retrieved 20 September 2017.
  3. ^ National Statistics Online
  4. ^ Operator's site. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  5. ^ Operator's site. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  6. ^ Plea Rolls of the Court of Common Pleas; National Archives; CP40/541;; second entry, second line
  7. ^ Plea Rolls of the Court of Common Pleas; National Archives; CP 40 / 677,; 7th entry, mentioned as the place where William Derlynge lived.
  8. ^ a b c "Museum's £350,000 deal for coin", BBC.
  9. ^ a b c EMC Number 2004.167, Early Medieval Corpus, Fitzwilliam Museum.
  10. ^ "Ancient coin could fetch £150,000", BBC.
  11. ^ Healey, "Museum Buying Rare Coin to Keep It in Britain".
  12. ^ 'Gold mancus of Coenwulf' on the British Museum website
  13. ^ Purchase of the Coenwulf coin in The Guardian
  14. ^ Cartlidge, Neil, A debate with death : John Rudyng's Brass in St Andrew's Church, Biggleswade, Transactions of the Monumental Brass Society., 19 (2) (2015) pp. 94–100 – University of Durham
  15. ^ Brass Monumental Brass of Death and John Rudying – Rubbings Collection – Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford
  16. ^ Bedford Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire Council (23 January 2014). "Great Fire of Biggleswade – Digitised Resources – The Virtual Library". Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  17. ^ "Our Heritage". Biggleswade Town Council. 25 November 2015. Archived from the original on 31 March 2016. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  18. ^ "The Great Fire of Biggleswade June 16th 1785". Parish Chest. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  19. ^ a b Biggleswade Conservation Area – Introduction. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  20. ^ Bedfordshire Growers website
  21. ^ Jordans: What we're about
  22. ^ Wells & Winch: Biggleswade Brewery – The National Archives
  23. ^ Members Guide 2012, published by CPRE, 2012
  24. ^ Blog publishing a day of the diary each day, with notes: Retrieved 6 August 2017. Archived 24 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ Full edited text of tours 1781–94: Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  26. ^ "Churches Together in Biggleswade". Churches Together in Biggleswade. Retrieved 18 March 2012.
  27. ^ "The Piranha Brothers pt. 2". YouTube. 4 January 2007. Retrieved 24 April 2016.

External links

2003 Mid Bedfordshire District Council election

Elections to Mid Bedfordshire District Council were held on 1 May 2003. All 53 seats were up for election. Councillors elected would serve a four-year term, expiring in 2007. The Conservative Party retained overall control of the council, winning 37 of 53 seats on the council. The Conservatives won 7 seats (5 wards) unopposed.

2007 Mid Bedfordshire District Council election

Elections to Mid Bedfordshire District Council were held in May 2007. These were the last elections to council, with all 53 seats being up for election. Councillors elected would serve a two-year term, expiring in 2009, when Mid Bedfordshire District Council was replaced by Central Bedfordshire Council. The Conservative Party retained overall control of the council, winning 37 of 53 seats on the council. The Conservatives won 8 seats (5 wards) unopposed, as did an Independent candidate in one ward.

Bedfordshire Senior Cup

The Senior Challenge Cup, also known as the Senior Cup is the county cup of Bedfordshire. According to the current rules of the competition, it is open to all clubs whose affiliation is with the Bedfordshire County FA (BCFA). The current holders are Biggleswade Town who won the 2013 competition.

Biggleswade Cemetery

Biggleswade Cemetery (also known as Drove Road Cemetery) was the main burial ground for the town of Biggleswade in Bedfordshire. Opening in 1869, the cemetery is located on Drove Road and since 1986 has been closed for burials except for interment in family plots.

Biggleswade F.C.

Biggleswade Football Club is a football club based in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, England. The club are currently members of the Southern League Division One Central. The club play at Biggleswade Town's Carlsberg Stadium.

Biggleswade Town F.C.

Biggleswade Town Football Club is a football club based in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, England. The club are currently members of the Southern League Premier Division Central and play at Langford Road.

Biggleswade United F.C.

Biggleswade United Football Club is a football club based in Biggleswade, England. Affiliated to the Bedfordshire County Football Association, they are currently members of the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division and play at Second Meadow.

Biggleswade railway station

Biggleswade railway station serves the town of Biggleswade in Bedfordshire, England. It is on the East Coast Main Line, 41 miles 13 chains (66.24 km) from London King's Cross. Biggleswade is managed and served by Great Northern.

Biggleswade station was originally built in 1850 for the Great Northern railway. This made Biggleswade the first town in Bedfordshire to have a mainline railway station. The original station consisted of two lines but was rebuilt in 1901 to allow the present four line arrangement to be built.

Biggleswade has two large platforms and four main rail lines, a pair of "up and down" slow lines used by stopping services and a pair of "up and down" fast lines used by fast InterCity East Coast passing through at high speed and Great Northern services at peak times running non-stop to/from London. A fifth line extends off the "down" slow line which links into the remaining sidings used by the Plasmor block company.The station's platforms have been lengthened so that they can cope with 12 car trains, which are now serving the station. The station currently has four 12-car services in the morning and two in the evening. Larger numbers of 12-car services will serve the station following the completion of the Thameslink Programme.

Civil parishes in Bedfordshire

A civil parish is a country subdivision, forming the lowest unit of local government in England. There are 125 civil parishes in the ceremonial county of Bedfordshire, most of the county being parished: Luton is completely unparished; Central Bedfordshire is entirely parished. At the 2001 census, there were 312,301 people living in the 125 parishes, which accounted for 55.2 per cent of the county's population.

Joe Payne (footballer)

Joseph Payne (17 January 1914 – 22 April 1975) was an England international footballer, best known as the scorer of 10 goals in a match for Luton Town against Bristol Rovers on 13 April 1936. This is still a record in The Football League. Payne later played for Chelsea and, after missing six years of his career to the Second World War, West Ham United.

Keinan Davis

Keinan Vincent Joseph Davis (born 13 February 1998) is an English professional footballer who plays as a forward for Premier League club Aston Villa. Following youth spells at Stevenage and Biggleswade Town he moved to the Aston Villa academy at the age of 17 in December 2015 and made his first team debut just over a year later against Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup in January 2017.

Langford, Bedfordshire

Langford is a village and civil parish situated alongside the River Ivel in Bedfordshire.

List of places in Bedfordshire

Map of places in Bedfordshire compiled from this list

See the list of places in England for places in other counties.

This is a list of all the towns and villages in the county of Bedfordshire. See the List of Bedfordshire settlements by population for a list sorted by population.

List of schools in Central Bedfordshire

This is a list of schools in Central Bedfordshire, a unitary authority in the English county of Bedfordshire.

Lower Caldecote

Lower Caldecote is a hamlet located in the Central Bedfordshire district of Bedfordshire, England. It also forms part of the Northill civil parish. The nearest town to Lower Caldecote is Biggleswade.

Most of Lower Caldecote is situated directly to the west of the A1 road, though one farm and a sand and gravel extraction site lie on the eastern side of the A1 extending to the River Ivel.

Mid Bedfordshire (UK Parliament constituency)

Mid Bedfordshire is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 2005 by Nadine Dorries, of the Conservative Party. Apart from four early years, the constituency has returned a Conservative since its creation in 1918.

Midlands 3 East (South)

Midlands 3 East (South) is a level 8 English Rugby Union league and level 3 of the Midlands League, made up of teams from the southern part of the East Midlands region including clubs from Bedfordshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and occasionally Cambridgeshire and Oxfordshire, all of whom play home and away matches throughout the season. Each year all clubs in the division also take part in the RFU Senior Vase - a level 8 national competition.

The division was formed for the 2000-01 when the old Midlands 4 East was split into two regional divisions called Midlands 4 East (North) and Midlands 4 East (South) and gained its current title for the 2009-10 season due to further restructuring to the Midlands League. Promoted teams tend to move up to Midlands 2 East (South) while demoted teams typically drop to Midlands 4 East (South).

Old Warden

Old Warden is a village and civil parish in Bedfordshire, England, just west of the town of Biggleswade. It has a population of 275, increasing to 328 at the 2011 Census. The village grew up under the protection of the Cistercian Wardon or Warden Abbey nearby.

SG postcode area

The SG postcode area, also known as the Stevenage postcode area, is a group of nineteen postcode districts in England, which are subdivisions of fifteen post towns. These postcode districts cover north Hertfordshire (including Stevenage, Baldock, Buntingford, Hertford, Hitchin, Knebworth, Letchworth, Much Hadham, Royston and Ware) and east Bedfordshire (including Arlesey, Biggleswade, Henlow, Sandy and Shefford), plus a small part of south-west Cambridgeshire and a very small part of Essex.

Unitary authorities
Major settlements
Settlements in Central Bedfordshire

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