Bedfordshire Local History Association

Local Books

Bedford Town Centre Statues

Bedford Town Statues
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 in Bedford at the Tourist Information Centre, the The Higgins Bedford gallery and museum and the John Bunyan Museum shop. Proceeds go to the British Schools Museum in Hitchin and can also be purchased from the museum by sending a cheque for £5.60 payable to Hitchin British Schools Trust and posted (with own address, marking the envelope ‘Statues booklet’) to Admin, British Schools Museum, 41/42 Queen Street, Hitchin, Hertfordshire, SG4 9TS.(From BHRS blogspot Thursday 31st October 2013)

To visit the BHRS blogspot click here

Beats, Boots and Thieves – A History of Policing in North Bedfordshire

[ezcol_1third]Beats, Boots and Thieves[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_2third_end]

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.

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Colmworth and Neighbours History


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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.

The price of the CNHS Journals are £5 + p&p £1.60. Please contact the secretary on, Bramble Cottage, Chapel Lane, Colmworth, Bedford MK44 2JY

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Dickens and the Workhouse

[ezcol_2third]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.[/ezcol_2third] [ezcol_1third_end]Dickens and the Workhouse[/ezcol_1third_end]

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


Themes 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:[/ezcol_2third] [ezcol_1third_end]

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Knighton Grange

[ezcol_1third]Knighton Grange[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_2third_end]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)

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Langford Through the Lens Volume 1

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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.

2014   £5


Langford through the Lens, Volume 2


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.



[/ezcol_2third] [ezcol_1third_end]Lens Vol 2 cover[/ezcol_1third_end]  Read more

Langford Then and Now 2006

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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.

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Stevington Historical Trust
Registered Charity Number: 1086669
16 March 2015

Later this year the Trust will publish its latest work entitled: “Stevington – The Natural History of a Bedfordshire Parish.” We are now taking advance subscriptions.
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.
We expect the book to run to about 350 pages, 300mm x 240mm in size and printed on 130gsm silk paper with a hard cover. The initial print run is to be 350 copies and all books will be numbered. Numbered books will be allocated on a first come first served basis.
Until 30 June 2015 the price will be £25.00 for orders received on or before that date. Thereafter the price will be £27.50. Anyone who purchases a copy before that date will be recorded in the book as a subscriber and will receive an invitation to the launch of the book to be held in St Mary’s Church on Saturday 14 November 2015.
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.
To ensure you receive a subscriber’s copy of the first print run please make your payment by 30 June 2015 by
(a) cheque, payable to Stevington Historical Trust
Please send cheques to me at 2 Park Road, Stevington, Bedford MK437QD
(b) 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

Stevington Book Cover SNH 1 Feb


Willington and the Russells

[ezcol_2third]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. [/ezcol_2third] [ezcol_1third_end]Willington and the Russells [/ezcol_1third_end]

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