Friday, July 22, 2011
The information here is drawn from several sources including:
Alan Crawley and Ian Freeman. Bedford's Oldest Streets Parts 1 and 2. Bedfordshire Archaeology vol.18 pp.99-108 and vol.19 pp.30-39
The Story of Bedford, Joyce Godber (Luton, 1978)
History of Bedfordshire Joyce Godber (Luton, 1969)
We have also referred to several historic maps of the town. These include John Speed's Map of 1610, Jeffrey's Map of 1765 and Brayley's map of 1807. These maps are help at the Bedfordshire and Luton Archive and Record Service (BLARS)
The Newnham Priory Rental, also held at BLARS is a document from 1506/07 that lists many of the properties and streets in Bedford at that time.
Many of the street names used today were settled upon by the Improvement Commission in 1835. The Improvment Commissioners were a group of men (unelected) who were given powers by an Act of Parliament in 1803 and made various improvements to the Town Bridge and the lanes around St. Paul's Square, as well as paving and lighting in the town centre. They set themselves the task of formally listing Bedford's streets in 1835. In 1839 the powers held by this unelected group passed to the Bedford Corporation.
There is a useful list of Historic documents relating to the history of the town and borough on the BLARS website.
You can view and download all of the information easily on Google docs.
Enjoy the tour!
Aldermanbury would have been the official residence of the ‘earl’ in Saxon times. There are references to this being used for the part of Harpur Street near St Loyes during the 13th Century, although it is likely to have been used much earlier.
|The White Horse Inn 1928|
Silver Street was listed as Silver Street on John Speeds map of 1610. However it has also been known as Gaol Lane and Little Silver Street. It was called Gaol Lane because the County Gaol stood on the junction of Silver Street and the High Street.
|An excerpt from the Introduction to State of the Prisons, John Howard|
|Jeffrey's map of 1765 shows it as Goal Lane - |
the spellings were interchangeable at that time.
The arrival of the railway brought great expansion and industry to Bedford. The station at Midland Road initially had lines to Cambridge and Hitchen, this was extended to St. Pancras in 1868. Charles Dickens reported in 1867 that he was compelled to leave the train at Bedford because of the 'reckless fury of the driving and the violent rocking of the carriages.' Another traveller, James Howard, jumped to the defence of the line 'the Midland line runs as smoothy as any I have ever journeyed by.'
St Paul's’ was always central to the town and the area around it has always been used as a market. However, the market was not based on an open square but a series of narrow lanes.
|Figure 3: |
|Figure 4: |