Bedford High Street History Project was inspired by a BBC One series broadcast in the Autumn of 2010, Turn Back Time - The High Street. This showed how shops changed radically between the Victorian era and the 1970's. The programme makers also invited members of the public to investigate and record the history of shopping in their own locality. So with a great deal of help from Margaret Badley, a group of researchers* was set up to investigate the history of Bedford High Street.
This has been a great opportunity to pull together the reams of information about shops in our High Street which was scattered between Bedford Library, Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service (BLARS), Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum and the Historic Environment Record (HER). All of these are open to the public for further research apart from the Art Gallery & Museum which is closed for redevelopment until late 2012.
The results of all of this research can be seen in an exhibition at Bedford Central Library, which runs from 16th - 28th May 2011.
The information on this blog has been collated by Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum. It includes oral history interviews, photographs of artefacts in the museum collections and some lesser known facts about our historic High Street.
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*Stuart Antrobus, Terry Darlow, David Fowler, Sally Heard, Hilary McDonald, Cathy Moorhouse, Elizabeth Mortimer, Jennifer Salter and Barry Stephenson.