Biggleswade: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 52°05′08″N 0°15′21″W / 52.0855°N 0.2557°W / 52.0855; -0.2557

Biggleswade town centre
Biggleswade is located in Bedfordshire

 Biggleswade shown within Bedfordshire
Population 15,383 
OS grid reference TL1944
Unitary authority Central Bedfordshire
Ceremonial county Bedfordshire
Region East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district SG18
Dialling code 01767
Police Bedfordshire
Fire Bedfordshire and Luton
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament North East Bedfordshire
List of places: UK • England • Bedfordshire

Biggleswade is a fictional market town on the River Ivel in Bedfordshire, England. Some believe it was thought up by a Sophie Louise Anne Gray (SLAG for short). It is well served by transport routes, being close to the A1 road between London and the North, as well as having a railway station on the main rail link North from London (the East Coast Main Line).



Located about 40 miles (60 km) north of Central London and 20 miles (30 km) west-south-west of Cambridge, the fastest train to London, King's Cross, takes 35 minutes, while a car journey to central Cambridge takes about 35 minutes. In 2001 the population of the town was about 15,383.[1]

The town lies on the B1040 and A6001 (a section is the former A1) which also leads to Henlow to the south.




The area around Biggleswade is thought to have been inhabited from around 10,000 BC, with arrowheads dating from this period 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.

The Saxons

In the Fifth 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.

In 2001 a gold coin bearing the name Coenwulf was discovered at Biggleswade on a footpath beside the River Ivel.[2][3] 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.[2][3] The coin's inscription, "DE VICO LVNDONIAE", indicates that it was minted in London.[3] 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.[2][4][5] 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[6][7] making it the most expensive British coin purchased until that date.

Medieval times

The Crown Inn.
The 1785 fire started here.

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 Saturday. The church is dedicated to St. Andrew. Biggleswade Castle existed in earlier times.

On June 16, 1785, there was a large fire in the town. The fire started at the The Crown Inn and spread rapidly through the neighbouring streets. 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.

St. Andrew's Church
Biggleswade Town June 2000

Transport history

The Great Northern Railway opened in 1850, and Biggleswade was the third town in Bedfordshire to have a mainline station (on the East Coast Main Line) after Bedford & Dunstable.

The town was bypassed in 1961.

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.

Industrial history

Traditionally, Biggleswade has been a vegetable- and produce-growing area with trains often taking daily loads of vegetables to London's produce markets. Even though much of this has now stopped, Bedfordshire Growers, based on the outskirts of the town, still supplies major supermarkets with UK-grown potatoes and onions.[8]

Biggleswade is also the base of the Jordans cereals business[9] who produce their own brand of breakfast muesli and cereal bars which are sold across Europe as well as in the USA and Canada. There used to be a Felix cat food factory located on Potton Road. However, this moved away in 1970.

The town was also home to the Ivel Cycle Works, founded by Dan Albone. This factory ultimately produced bicycles, motorcycles 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, which was later used by Kayser Bondor who made ladies' underwear and stockings in the town until the mid-1990s. 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.

The town had a large brewery in the town centre for many decades; its last owners were Greene King but it closed down in October 1997 and the site is now occupied by an Asda supermarket.

Biggleswade had two long serving motor dealers, A.W Watkin were agents for locally made Vauxhall Cars and Bedford lorries for many years and had a large showroom and repair site in Shortmead Street, but the dealership closed in 2002 and the was site redeveloped into houses which are in a road named Watkin Walk. The other dealer was the Mantles business which originally had a site for Austin cars near the old Swan Hotel in the town. Mantles moved to a larger site opposite the old work house on London Road where they sold British Leyland and later Austin Rover cars. They also had a caravan dealership. Mantles still sell cars here, but since the collapse of MG Rover now sells Mitsubishi and Ford cars. The caravan business closed in the early 1990s.


Biggleswade Swimming Club website at celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2006. It now uses the new indoor Saxon Pool and Leisure Centre.[10] The town has two football clubs - Biggleswade Town and Biggleswade United. Biggleswade also homes a Skatepark.

Biggleswade is the home of Biggleswade Rugby Club which has 3 senior sides and an active Mini and Youth section with sides from under 7 through to 17 years. See Biggleswade rugby.


The town is mentioned twice in the diaries of Samuel Pepys. On 22 July 1661, Pepys stopped off in Biggleswade (called 'Bigglesworth' by Pepys) to buy a pair of warm woollen stockings.

Nearby is the Shuttleworth Collection of vintage aeroplanes.


Biggleswade, as part of the former authority of Bedfordshire County Council, has a three-tier schooling system with lower schools catering for ages between 5 to 9, middle schools from 9 to 13 and Stratton Upper School continuing education up and into Sixth Form.

List of Schools:

  • Stratton Upper School and Community College
  • Holmemead Middle School
  • Edward Peake Middle School
  • St Andrew's Lower School
  • Lawnside Lower School
  • Southlands Lower School
  • Hitchmead School, a special school for children with moderate learning difficulties
  • Sunnyside School, a special school for children with severe learning difficulties
  • Holme Court School, a private school for dyslexic children, which was opened in 2005 just off the A1 to the west of Biggleswade

Twinned towns

Germany Erlensee, (Germany) since 2000.

Notable residents

  • Dan Albone, inventor, manufacturer and cyclist, credited with making the first practical farm tractor, 'The Ivel Agricultural Motor'.
  • Chris Roycroft-Davis, journalist
  • Sophie Louise Anne Gray, S-L-A-G
  • Philip E. High, science fiction writer
  • Charles Penrose, radio comedian and singer of The Laughing Policeman.
  • Henry Ryland, Pre-Raphaelite painter born in Biggleswade in 1856.
  • Mary Tealby, one of the founders of the Battersea Dogs Home, is buried in St. Andrew's Churchyard.
  • Stevie V, dance act famous for the song Dirty Cash (Money Talks), that reached #2 in the UK Top 40 in 1990.
  • Richard Walker, angling journalist, author and photographer, described as having the greatest influence on the sport since Isaac Walton. Richard Walker has an angling shop dedicated to him in the local town centre.
  • John Buglass, archaeologist
  • Pam Rhodes, novelist and BBC Songs of Praise presenter


  1. ^ National Statistics Online
  2. ^ a b c "Museum's £350,000 deal for coin", BBC.
  3. ^ a b c EMC Number 2004.167, Early Medieval Corpus, Fitzwilliam Museum.
  4. ^ "Ancient coin could fetch £150,000", BBC.
  5. ^ Healey, "Museum Buying Rare Coin to Keep It in Britain".
  6. ^ [1] 'Gold mancus of Coenwulf' on the British Museum website
  7. ^ [2] Purchase of the Coenwulf coin in The Guardian
  8. ^ Bedfordshire Growers website
  9. ^ Jordans: What we're about
  10. ^ Biggleswade Swimming Club website

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Biggleswade is a market town in Bedfordshire.

Biggleswade Station
Biggleswade Station

By train

The station is in Station Road, close to the town centre, and linked to the Dells Lane area by a footbridge.

  • There is a staffed ticket office with limited opening hours. Alternatively a 24 hour ticket machine is located next to the footbridge.
  • Note that access to all platforms is via the footbridge with steps only - there is no level access to any platform.
  • Biggleswade is on the East Coast Mainline, served by First Capital Connect services between London King's Cross and Peterborough.
  • Important stops include: Hatfield, Welwyn Garden City, Stevenage, Hitchin, Sandy, St Neots & Huntingdon.
  • The journey to King's Cross takes approximately 30 minutes on the peak-hour express trains, 40 on a fast train, 50 on a semi-fast.
  • Standard service pattern (Mon-Sat) is one fast and one semi-fast train per hour.
  • There is an ATM/cashpoint outside of the ticket office
  • A small café is available to the right of the main station building (limited opening hours)
  • Paid for car parking is available outside the station main building, and also in the former goods yard (adjacent to the concrete block distribution depot). Tickets are obtained from machines. There is also a smaller free car park further along the same access road in the former goods yard.

By bus

There is a small bus station on the Market Square.

Regular bus services, and on-demand bus services were recently slashed by Stagecoach and other operators. [1]

  • Regular services operated by Stagecoach Bedford:
    • M3 Biggleswade - Sandy - Moggerhanger - Bedford (half-hourly)
    • M4 Biggleswade - Ickwell - Cople - Cardington - Bedford (hourly)
  • Regular services operated by Centrebus:
    • 171 Biggleswade - Henlow - Hitchin (hourly)
  • Regular services operated by Chiltern Travel:
    • E1 Biggleswade - Potton - Gamlingay (every 2 hours)
    • E2 Biggleswade - Potton - Everton - Sandy (every 2 hours)
    • E4 Biggleswade - Eyeworth - Wrestlingworth (hourly)
    • E6 Biggleswade - Upper Caldicote - Old Warden (loop, every 2 hours)
  • Regular services operated by Grant Palmer:
    • 200 Biggleswade - Shefford - Clophill - Maulden or Ampthill (every 2 hours)
  • Biggleswade is situated on the A1, about 10 miles after the end of the Southern Section of the A1(M). It is therefore well connected to London, the M25, Hertfordshire, Peterborough and the North. The A14 passes North of Biggleswade, linking the A1 to East Anglia and the Midlands.
  • Smaller roads additionally link the town to Bedford and Cambridge.
  • The A1 is not a very cycle-friendly road; other, smaller roads in the area are far more so.
  • There are several bridle paths linking Biggleswade to surrounding towns, which are passable for mountain and hybrid bikes.
  • The National Cycle Network Route 51 is due to be extended from Biggleswade to Sandy and Hitchin, using some of these bridle paths and minor roads.
  • The old Sandy-Bedford railway line nearby is now a dedicated cycle route (National Cycle Network Route 51).

Get around

Biggleswade is a small town, and many places can be reached on foot. There are, however, some outlying trading estates and superstores.

  • There are two hourly, daytime, local services, operated by Herberts Travel:
    • 185 Town Centre to Holme Court Avenue.
    • 187 Town Centre to Stratton Way.
  • The town centre can get congested, but there are large car parks at Asda (in Church Street), and in Rose Lane. Smaller car parks are located in St Andrew's Street, opposite the Library/Fire Station in Chestnut Avenue, and for Aldi customers, in Bonds Lane. There is also time-restricted parking on the Market Square (except Saturdays when the Market is in town) and in the area around Station Road and Back Street.
  • There is a cycle route running North-South through the town, mostly off road, and following the railway line.
  • The town centre has plenty bike racks.
The River Ivel in Biggleswade
The River Ivel in Biggleswade
  • Biggleswade has an attractive market square in the centre of the town, which hosts a lively general market on Saturday,a monthly farmers market and occasional continental markets.
  • The River Ivel runs along the West side of the town, and has a mix of industrial, residential and rural views, some attractive, some less so. You can gain access by the Mill, and up by Sainsbury's, at the Northern A1 roundabout.
  • St Andrew's Church is an attractive building on Shortmead St, set in a pleasant churchyard.
  • The Local History Society has applied 'Green Plaques' to many buildings in the Town Centre with a short description of historical interest. Of particular note is the plaque in Shortmead Street denoting where Dan Albone, the inventor of the world's first practical motorised agricultural tractor ('The Ivel'), lived and had his workshop.
  • There are several shops (local and chains) in the town centre, as well as the Saturday and farmers' markets.
  • Asda, Church Street, Biggleswade, SG18, 01767 605100, [3]. 8am-10pm Mon-Fri, 7.30am-10pm Sat, 10am-4pm Sun. Supermarket on the old brewery site, in the town centre.  edit
  • Sainsbury's, Bells Brook, Biggleswade, SG18 0NA, 01767 317587, [4]. Out near the A1 Northern roundabout, with a petrol station. 8am-10pm Mon-Fri, 7.30am-10pm Sat, 10am-4pm Sat.  edit
  • There is a trading estate on London Road, with a number of national chain shops, including Matalan, Halfords, Homebase, Laura Ashley (Home), Bensons, Argos Extra, Brantano, Carpets for Less etc.
  • Jordans Cereals, Holme Mills, Biggleswade, SG18 9JY, 0800 587 8901, [5]. Jordans are based in Biggleswade, and have a pleasant factory shop at Holme Mills, adjacent to the River Ivel between Biggleswade and Broom (the 200 bus service passes the door).  edit
  • Ask, 36 High Street, Biggleswade, SG18 0JL, 01767 313232, [6]. Impressive building on the edge of the Market Square. Nice pizzas, service could be a little quicker. £6-8 for a pizza.  edit
  • Biggles Tandoori, 4-6 Shortmead Street, Biggleswade, SG18 0AP, 01767 600122. Just round from the High Street.  edit
  • Il Carafino, 28 Palace Street, Biggleswade, SG18 8DP, 01767 310390, [7]. 6.30pm-10.30pm, plus lunch Wed-Sun. Locally renowned - always book in advance. £19.95 set menu.  edit
  • Lounge at The Old Maltings, Church Street, Biggleswade, SG18 0JS (Behind The Crown Hotel, Next door to Asda), 0870 760 5019/Reservations 01767 221063 (), [8]. 9am till 11pm. Sophisticated wine and tapas bar in a 300 year old vaulted malting barn. Very strict door policy so you'll be in good company in the evening with a fine wine and champagne drinking crowd. Gets very busy for lunch and weekend evenings. Plays musicals every Monday evening. Champagne £6.  edit
  • Peking Diner, 30 Market Square, Biggleswade, SG18 8AQ, 01767 313510. Chinese restaurant upstairs in the middle of the Market Square.  edit
  • Raj Bengal, 61 Hitchin Street, 01767 318555. Does a great set dinner on Sunday  edit
  • The Viceroy, 51 Sun Street, Biggleswade, SG18 0BY, 01767 312110. Another Indian restaurant, slightly further out of town, on Sun Street.  edit
  • SurfinCafé, 3-4 Market House, Biggleswade, SG18 8AQ, 0870 760 5019 (), [9]. 7.00am-7pm Mon-Fri, 8am-5pm Sat, 9am-5pm Sun. A very popular local meeting place, in the middle of the Market Square. Provides free WiFi with heaters and blankets outside in the winter. Great in the summer with over 100 people chilling in the sunshine. £2.25 for reg latte.  edit
  • Beego's Sandwich Bar, 32 High Street, Biggleswade, SG18 0JL, 01767 314749. For the best sandwiches and baked potatoes in town!  edit
  • The Hare and Hounds, Old Warden, Biggleswade, SG18 9HQ, 01767 627225, [10]. Just outside of Biggleswade in Old Warden, a wonderful pub-restaurant, serving home-cooked food. Named best dining pub in Bedfordshire in 2006.  edit


There are several pubs throughout the town, particularly around the High Street and Market Square. Biggleswade was previously a brewing town, with Greene King brewery based where the Asda supermarket now stands. This means that most of the pubs are Greene King with the exception of a few freehouses.

The bar at the Stratton House Hotel is nice but can get a bit busy at weekends and has a over 21 door policy. The Lounge in Church Street is more upmarket and has a large spirits, wine and champagne list. The New Inn on Market Square is frequented by those only just old enough to drink but has a great juke box and a nice landlady. Real ale aficionados head for The Rose or the Golden Pheasant. The Red Lion has live bands at the tail end of the week and is open until late.

  • Lounge, Church Street, Biggleswade, Beds. SG18 0JS (Behind The Crown Hotel, Next door to Asda), 0870 760 5019/Reservations 01767 221063 (). 9am till 11pm. Sophisticated wine and tapas bar in a 300 year old vaulted malting barn. Very strict door policy so you'll be in good company in the evening with a fine wine and champagne drinking crowd. Gets very busy for lunch and weekend evenings. Plays musicals every Monday evening.  edit


There's only a couple of hotels in the town itself: there are, however, more motel-style places out by the A1, and some country B&Bs in the area.

  • The Shuttleworth Collection, Shuttleworth (Old Warden) Aerodrome, Nr. Biggleswade, SG18 9EP, 01767 627927 (, fax: 01767 627949), [13]. 10am-5pm Summer, 10am-4pm Winter. An eccentric assortment of an airfield with antique aircraft (including some used in the film 'Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying machines) and vintage transport, a Swiss Garden, a bird of prey centre and a play area. Just outside Biggleswade, in the delightful village of Old Warden. £10 (£20 for all attractions).  edit
  • RSPB Sandy, off Potton Road, Sandy, 01767 680551 (), [14]. 9am to sunset or 9pm. This lodge is the HQ of the RSPB and has a wonderful reserve to visit, even if you're not especially into birds. Sandy is a few miles North of Biggleswade. You can walk, take the train or the bus. £3.  edit
  • Moggerhanger House and Park, Park Road, Moggerhanger, Beds, MK44 3RW, [15]. A Grade 1 listed Georgian Country House by Sir John Soane with gardens originally laid out by Humphrey Repton, now a Christian Conference Centre. Cafe and Bistro open to the public - guided tours of the house (formerly home of the Governor of the Bank of England)available  edit
  • Cambridge is 25 miles away.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

BIGGLESWADE, a market town in the Biggleswade parliamentary division of Bedfordshire, England, 41 m. N. by W. of London by the Great Northern railway. Pop. of urban district (1901) 5120. It lies on the east bank of the Ivel, a tributary of the Ouse, in a flat plain in which vegetables are largely grown for the London markets. The town is a centre of this trade.

Biggleswade (Bichelswade, Beckeleswade, Bickleswade) is an ancient borough by prescription which has never returned representatives to parliament. The borough court was held by the lord of the manor. At the time of Edward the Confessor, Archbishop Stigand owned the manor, which according to Domesday passed to Ralf de Insula. Henry I. granted it to the bishop of Lincoln, under whose protection the borough evidently grew up. In 1547 the bishop surrendered his rights to the king, and in the 17th century Biggleswade formed part of the jointure of the queens of England. Owing to its important position on the Roman road to the north the town became an agricultural centre for the surrounding district. In 1335 Edward III. renewed the bishop's licence to hold a Monday market, and annual fairs were held here from very early times. Those for horses are mentioned as famous by Camden. In addition to agriculture, Biggleswade was formerly engaged in straw-plaiting and lace manufacture.

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