Biggleswade is a historic Town and the Market Square in the Centre has always provided a focal point. Over the years it has been used for everything from horse fairs to political rallies, carnivals and Royal events. Today it is still home to a general market every Saturday and Tuesday plus a monthly farmer’s market on the third Wednesday. More recently there have also been specialty Markets. A teenage Market with stalls provided free of charge to all traders aged between 14 and 21 and street performers went well. A “Flavours of the World” market proved very popular running for two days and open into the evening. It is hoped that these initiatives will continue.
The Market Square is also the venue for key public events such as The Remembrance Day service and the Christmas Market and light switch on event. There is always an impressive turnout. In summer there is a carnival procession and the streets are packed with onlookers.
The Town centre is a thriving and lively place with a range of shops, cafes and pubs. Traditional pubs include the New Inn which has been trading for over 130 years. Also the White Hart with the restored fountain outside. Cafes are a feature of the town with plenty of options for anything from a coffee to a full breakfast or lunch. Whilst new shops have opened up, Goldthorpes for example is the longest established business currently operating in the town. It was set up by William Goldthorpe in 1869.
Many of the shops around the Market Square are in attractive converted old buildings, such as the Old Town Hall which is now a pizza restaurant. Across the road the impressive red brick George’s Hall built in 1912 now has a bar restaurant and entertainment venue above the Liberal Club.
The alleyway next to The New Inn leads to an exotic pet shop, a supermarket and the Post Office. Over the road is another walkway, Abbots Walk, with attractive small shops and a pavement café and an Italian takeaway. It leads to the other town centre supermarket and car park.
At the bottom of the High Street there are more historic buildings including the Conservative club, set in grounds with sports facilities; The Courtyard, a Centre for Health and Wellbeing with a café and St Andrew’s Parish Church.
In the centre, despite changes many historic landmarks remain. The Crown is the last remaining coaching inn in Biggleswade. It was where the Great Fire of Biggleswade started in 1785, a blaze which destroyed a third of the town. It has been tastefully restored by Pub chain J D Wetherspoon and is a popular venue with inside and outside seating plus hotel rooms.
There are some derelict buildings in Station Road and Bonds Lane and we look forward to these sites being redeveloped.
There are two health centres, one of which relocated from The Baulk to a brand new building in Chestnut Avenue alongside the Ambulance and Fire Stations and the Library. The other is in the centre over the road from the Post Office.
Biggleswade continues to grow rapidly. Baden Powell Way runs from Saxon Gate all the way to Potton Road and alongside is the thriving Kings Reach Development. Building work continues and the new houses are soon occupied. The Local Centre is now complete and as we write shops around the square are starting to be occupied. The well-equipped Orchard Centre, a community building run by the Town Council is in use for regular activities and is available for hire. Nearby is the St Andrew’s East Lower School and Pre School, There are children’s play parks and green areas plus easy access to the Green wheel. There are other new estates being built along Potton Road.
Since 2000, as announced on signs at the entry points, Biggleswade has been twinned with Erlensee in Germany and the Twinning Association runs a programme of events and arranges visits.
In the South the retail park is home to a number of well-known national stores. It is drawing people into Biggleswade from the A1 and the road access was improved with this in mind. There is also a large industrial estate and that is in the process of being extended once again.
Biggleswade 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. The increasing population has led to expansion on the school sites to accommodate increased pupil numbers and more new classrooms are now planned at the Biggleswade Academy site.
There is a selection of churches many of which comprise an active churches together group. They take an active part in community activities such as the carnival and Christmas Fair. On Good Friday there is a “Walk of Witness” followed by an open air service in the Town Centre.
Leisure facilities include a sports centre, a heated indoor swimming pool and a skate park. There are children’s play areas and plans for developments such as a splash park. The town has two football clubs, Biggleswade Town and Biggleswade United, a cricket club and a rugby club. The Green wheel around the town provides a route for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. Features include a newly planted wood and community orchard and access to the common and nearby Jordan’s Mill.
In summary Biggleswade is a residential town with local employment opportunities and good road and rail communications. It is a great place to live with everything needed available within the town. It is located on the River Ivel, in the east of Central Bedfordshire. It has good transport links, being situated on the A1 between London and the North, as well as having a railway station 41 miles (66 km) north of Kings Cross on the East Coast Main Line. The fastest train to London takes about 35 minutes. It is a thriving community with a wide range of clubs and organisations as detailed in this guide.