Bedfordshire Local  History Association


Books published by our history societies/local authors

A History of Some Faith Groups in Bedford.

A Special Issue of Bedford Local History Magazine, Edited by Bob Ricketts, CBE.

Published by Bedford Architectural, Archaeological and Local History Society. A4, 92pp, price £5 to non-BAALHS members, available from the Eagle Bookshop, 16–20 St Peter’s Street, Bedford MK40 2NN.

At the Long Ford: A History of Langford, by Michael Rutt;

Ed, Ted Martin. Paperback, 172pp incl indexes.

In 1976 Michael Rutt published his pioneering history of Langford as The People at the Long Ford. As the years went by, some of the text was overtaken by changes in the village and copies of the original book were increasingly hard to find. The Langford & District History Society has republished Michael’s story, now called At the Long Ford, brought up to date with four additional chapters, taking the book into the 21st century. They have added eight new appendices and a comprehensive Subject Index and an Index of Persons.

This book is the only one to contain the complete history of the village from Saxon times to the present day and is a must for anyone wishing to know about Langford’s past.

To purchase the book please pay by PayPal using my email address and one will be delivered, or send cash or a cheque please.

The cost for one copy to be posted is £8. Price for collection is £5. My pay pal account is as follows or you can buy one from eBay.


Bedford History Timeline, by Alan Crawley and Bob Ricketts

Published by Bedford Architectural, Archaeological and Local History Society. 2019, Paperback, 94pp, 119 illustrations. Price £8, from the Eagle Bookshop, 16–20 St Peter’s Street, Bedford MK40 2NN or £10 incl postage from Bob Ricketts, 68 Mendip Crescent, Bedford, MK41 9EP.






Bedfordshire Place Names by Anthony Poulton-Smith 

I hope some of your members may be interested in the latest title in our county place names series which has just been published in Kindle eBook format, price £2.98.

Background –  The author examines the origins of the names with which we are otherwise so familiar. Towns, villages, districts, hills, streams, woods, farms, fields, streets and even pubs are examined and explained. Some of the definitions give a glimpse of life in the earlier days of the settlement, and for the author there is nothing more satisfying than finding a name which gives such a snapshot. The definitions are supported by anecdotal evidence, bringing to life the individuals and events which have influenced the places and the way these names have developed.

Philip Gray, Fineleaf Publishing, Email:

Bedford Town Centre Statues by Stuart Antrobus

How often does a visitor to a town wonder who ‘that statue over there’ is, or a resident ask ‘what statue?’, having walked passed it everyday? These questions are answered for visitors and residents of Bedford in a new guide Bedford town centre statues: a self-guided walk with street map, by BHRS-member Stuart Antrobus.

The guide features ten statues and a door with relief panels, sculpted over two and a half centuries (1768-2009), of well-known individual Bedfordians and groups who have contributed to the town and county: the First World War memorial; the South African (Boer) War memorial; John Howard; Sir William Harpur; Glenn Miller; the Meeting Group; Verso Domani; Trevor Huddleston; Reflections of Bedford; the Bunyan Meeting bronze chapel doors; and John Bunyan.

Information about each statue is displayed over a double page with a photograph on one side and text on the other, describing the statue, what it commemorates, who the sculptor was and the circumstances in which the statue was put up. Just one page of A5 text contains a fascinating amount of information and often highlights features that it would be easy to overlook, for example the art nouveau decoration on the base of the statue of John Howard.
This guide is carefully researched, beautifully illustrated and well-laid out. It is both handy for the visitor and of lasting value to residents and those interested in the history of the town.

The booklet costs £5 and is on sale only at the John Bunyan Museum shop, Mill Street, Bedford, MK40 3EU.  Tel. 01234 270303. Tuesday to Saturday 11am to 4pm.

Beats, Boots and Thieves – A History of Policing in North Bedfordshire, By Des Hoar and Richard Handscomb.

Sharnbrook Local History Group. 2013. Paperback, 146 pp, £10 from 24 Loring Road, Sharnbrook, Bedford MK44 1JZ.

Beats, Boots and Thieves



Sharnbrook Local History Group has produced this book which tells of the establishment of a professional police force in North Beds. It may have been obvious to do this in urban areas but in the rural parishes of North Bedfordshire things were less clear-cut.

The story of how it happened is told with reference to the characters involved, both the offenders and serving police officers.

Read more


Clophill in the Great War Book – Colin Watt


Full details of the book that Colin has published are given in the poster and the following link:

Clophill in the Great War Book Purchase






Colmworth and Neighbouring Villages: Then and Now, by Colmworth and Neighbours History Society.

2018. Paperback, 46pp, 100+ illustrations, £5 + £2 postage from Dave Jarrett, 3 Collingwood Road, Eaton Socon, PE19 8JQ

Colmworth & Neighbours History 1



To celebrate our tenth birthday in 2011, the Colmworth and Neighbours History Society initiated the publication of a local history journal.  A second volume was published in 2013.





Dickens and the Workhouse

Dickens and the Workhouse

The extraordinary history of the Cleveland Street Workhouse which has now been saved, and the four plus years of Charles Dickens’s life only a few doors away, has been researched and written up in book form and published by Oxford University Press. Read more

The thousands of people worldwide who helped save the Workhouse from demolition are included in the book’s dedication. Please do ask for it at your local library, and take a look!

Camden Council has been applied to for planning permission and listed building consent for the erection of a blue plaque on Dickens’s old home on the corner of Tottenham Street and Cleveland Street, now No 22 Cleveland Street. The text on the plaque has been agreed, the house’s owners are very happy, and there is sponsorship for the cost of it. A firm date for the unveiling will be announced.


Fruit Farming in the Cam Valley by Jonathan Spain

Based on a wide range of sources for the landscape and local historian this book offers a well-researched discussion on fruit farming in Cambridgeshire. It includes a detailed survey of the spatial development of orchards in the Cam Valley from the medieval period to the nineteenth century.

The book is divided into three parts, First it discusses the horticulture of the fruit being grown in the area, including Cambridgeshire’s own ‘Cambridge gage’ and then deals with the social and economic history of orchards and fruit farming in the villages of the fruit farming area, set within a regional and national context.

It is beautifully produced, and includes detailed maps of the fruit-growing villages, identifying where the orchards could once be found. Discussion and oral history on the main farming families of the area adds a human dimension.

Gas Works History

Local gas works are now very much in the past and unknown to the younger generation but are part of our industrial history. Tony Marks has produced two booklets in 2012: The Ampthill Gas and Coke Company, 1848–1936 (40 pages) and the Three Counties Hospital Gas Works, 1857–1952 (32 pages) which give a detailed history of each concern and descriptions of the technology used where necessary. Each book is priced at £4 post free or both may be had for £7 post free from Mr A Marks, 48 Mossbank Avenue, Luton, Beds LU2 9HH.

Hoddlesden and its satellite villages

Frontisepiece 001 editedThemes in this popular book, acclaimed by local and family historians, describe and illustrate the ways in which people earned a living in rural communities countrywide (similar to the experiences in Bedfordshire where lace was a domestic industry) during late eighteenth and throughout the nineteenth centuries. Both family and local historians have found ‘Hoddlesden and its satellite villages’ to be a useful portrait for writing their own personal accounts, albeit for villages other than their own.

A Library Manager at Lancashire County Council stated ‘It is a lovely book’
Mrs Sarah Ann … commented ‘My records became alive and enhanced to the point where I was proud of the result’
Mrs J R… stated ‘ Even my family became interested in their ancestors way of life’

The book is attractively presented in hardback with stitched binding and has 240 high quality pages containing around 170 illustrations mostly in colour. Included is an extensive bibliography and all sources are referenced, some little known. The purchase price is £14.99 plus p & p £3.50. When ordering from the author please state if you require a signed copy.

This book has been compiled by Roy Parker from his PhD research entitled ‘Forgotten Lancashire…’ A work which explored over 60 rural communities in east Lancashire and was identified by the British Library as ‘of high scholarly value’; although with a ‘highly readable style’.
Contact: Dr. Roy Parker. PhD; Cert Ed.  Tel: 01204 64424. email:

Knighton Grange

Knighton Grange


An account of the joys and hardships of growing up in late Victorian rural England by Mary Wade (1877—1976) of Souldrop and Odell. Published by Carlton & Chellington Historical Society, Carlton, Bedford. Paperback: 120 pages Price: £5.00 (add £1.20 postage)

Contact Mike Meade for further information (; 01234 720070)




Langford Then and Now 2006

Published by Langford & District History Society, 2006. Paperback, 40 pp, 80+ photos, £4 from Rowena Wolfe by phone or email: 01767 312556 or

Lens Now and then


This book is a co-operation between Ralph Turner and Colin Horsler where Ralph supplied the old photographs and captions and Colin took new photographs of the same locations. They appear on the same page to show the changes that took place over 40, 60 or even 90 years.

Read more





Langford through the Lens Volume 1

Published by Langford & District History Society, reprinted with amendments 2021 to include Langford: A Village Walk. Paperback, 138 pp, 70 photos, £5, from Rowena Wolfe by phone or email: 01767 312556 or

Lens Vol 1 ptd Cover 001

This book was first published in 1990 in response to local demand There is a photograph on every text page in this book taken from the extensive collection compiled by Ralph Turner, Langford’s historian, which grew over the years thanks to the generosity of many people who donated or loaned photographs.

The book was reprinted in 2014, updated with a correction list, and in 73 text pages it delves into Langford’s past with photographs of personalities and events explained in extensive captions by David and Ralph Turner.




Langford through the Lens, Volume 2

Published by Langford & District History Society. 1992. Paperback, 80 pp, 80+ photos, £3, from Rowena Wolfe by phone or email: 01767 312556 or

Volume 2 completed the publication of Ralph Turner’s photo collection of the village and in 80 pages presents a view of Langford over the years divided into a photo tour from the Boot corner to the vicarage followed by sections on the village at work, at rest and at play.    Read more








Life in Bedford during the Second World War by Stuart Antrobus

Bedford historian STUART ANTROBUS has written a new, well-illustrated local history Life in Bedford during the Second World War, published by Bedford Architectural, Archaeological and Local History Society [BAALHS].

This large-format  paperback tells the story of how Bedfordians’ lives were affected by the dramatic upheaval of war between 1939 and 1945. Peppered with the voices and personal experiences of men, women and children who lived through this turbulent period, it captures the life-changing ways in which, while the armed forces fought around the world, people on the Home Front fought their own domestic war locally. The book is illustrated with over 80 photographs, some for the first time.

Evacuation, air raid precautions, conscription, rationing of scarce resources, volunteering, fund-raising, ‘digging for victory’ on allotments and recycling were all activities which became an everyday part of Bedfordians’ lives. Women’s roles changed as they took the place of men in vital industries or supported them in the armed forces. New words and phrases demonstrated the changed wartime world – blackout, sirens, gas masks, ‘all clear’, barrage balloons, ‘phoney war’, ‘make do and mend’, ‘is your journey really necessary?’, identity cards, ration books, GIs, ‘blitz’, ‘black market’, ‘Lord Haw-Haw’, the Home Guard and expressions such as ‘don’t you know there’s a war on?’.

The author outlines the unique impact on Bedford’s life of the presence of BBC radio’s music and religious affairs departments which brought national orchestras and leading musicians to the town, and the Daily Service broadcasts to the nation from St Paul’s Church, Bedford. Similarly, the friendly invasion of thousands of young American servicemen to the airfields of north Bedfordshire brought a new vitality to the lives of all, but especially to Bedford’s women!
On sale at £11 at The Eagle Bookshop, 16-20 St Peter’s St., Bedford, MK40 2NN. Tel. 01234 269295.
or by post,for £13(cheque payable to BAALHS) from BAALHS c/o Bob Ricketts, 68 Mendip Crescent, Bedford, MK41 9EP. Tel. 01234 313608

Stevington – The Natural History of a Bedfordshire Parish

Registered Charity Number: 1086669., 16 March 2015

Stevington Book Cover SNH 1 Feb

The book, which is lavishly illustrated with photographs by Roger Day and drawings and paintings by Jackie Gooding, will be published in November. All the illustrations are of flora and fauna photographed in the Village or drawn from specimens found in the Parish.

Priced at £27.50.
Please note: The price does not include postage. Copies can be collected at the launch or posted on request for an additional cost of £6.00 within the UK. For shipping overseas or multiple copies please ask for a quotation.

Please send cheques to me at 2 Park Road, Stevington, Bedford MK437QD or BACS transfer to Lloyds Bank 30-90-66 Account Number 02357030. Please phone or email ( to confirm when you have paid. Peter Hart, Hon Secretary.  01234 823586


The Making of the Sharnbrook Landscape

After three years of concentrated research the Local History project on the landscape of Sharnbrook Parish has been completed. The goal was to determine who owned the land in the parish at any one time and to question how it was managed/farmed. The research included a full review of all documentary evidence (wills, conveyances, gifts etc) and an analysis of the archaeology /fieldwalking done in the last thirty years. This includes both the excavations done by SLHG in collaboration with Prof. Carenza Lewis and the published findings from commercial contracts done as part of the Local Planning process. These results were further expanded by the inclusion of data from the Portable Antiquities scheme sourced by metal detectorists, from datasets available from Academia and from images generated by the National Mapping Programme made available through a licence arrangement with Bedford Borough Historic Environment Record.
The research spanned the periods from Pre-history to modern times. The analysis of spatial information was facilitated by GIS software which allowed new data to be superimposed with modern and ancient maps. The research recognised the importance of the geology and soil types of different parts of the parish and how this influenced the position of certain features.
Where relevant, the features of the landscape in Sharnbrook were compared with surrounding villages or with villages in other parts of the County.  The GIS mapping of new datasets has suggested novel interpretations of the published history of the village. In particular, the understanding as to how many ‘Manors’ existed in Sharnbrook at the 1086 Domesday survey is questioned.
The data comparisons were often expanded to include Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire.
The book includes detailed lists of field names and shows both continuity and change over the years. The text describes both the ‘common field system’ where individual tenants farmed dispersed strips and the ‘enclosed’ system, after 1809, where a few landowners concentrated their holdings into manageable estates.
The book also includes wide-ranging information about the families that owned the various estates and documents how land was passed on/ was sold/ was given away/ or even was confiscated. New information on the Triket family is included.
General conclusions are made about the social structures of the village, the dominance of certain families, the land management systems, the relationship with surrounding parishes and the deduction that Sharnbrook is frequently at the ‘edge’.
The book can be ordered via or 01234 782717.
An additional note from the BLHA Secretary:  For those that attended the Bedfordshire Local History Association GIS Workshop in Spring 2018 you will be familiar with some of the data and GIS examples Des has included in this splendid publication.  This book clearly demonstrates the value of GIS to modern historical research.

Willington in the First World War by Robert Bollington



Published by Gostwick Press. 2018. 96pp, £6 from Willington Local History Group (cheque to be payable to them) c/o Rob Bollington, 2 Beauchamp Place, Willington MK44 3QA.







Willington and the Russells by Robert Bollington


Willington Local History Group is offering a new book, Willington and the Russells by Chairman, Robert Bollington. It tells the story of Willington from 1774 to 1902 when it formed part of the Duke of Bedford’s Estates. It takes us back to a village of tenant farmers, agricultural labourers and lace-makers. It tells of the changes brought about by the Russell Dukes of Bedford, why they sold the village, and what has shaped it since that time. In telling the story of Willington, this book serves as an example of the wider political, economic and social trends affecting England in the nineteenth century.










Bedfordshire Local History Association