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The BBC in Bedford

Places > Bedford > Second World War > Music

During 1939 in the build up to World War II the Music Department (including the BBC Symphony Orchestra), the Music Production Department and the Department of Religious Broadcasting left London for Bristol. By 1940 however the bombing had become so intense that it was decided to relocate to Bedford.

The BBC used various studios in the town including the Corn Exchange, St. Paul's Mission Room in St. Loyes (later demolished), the hall adjacent to the Bunyan Meeting, the Great Hall of Bedford School and the Trinity Chapel of St. Paul's Church.

Sir Adrian Boult recalls a number of concerts broadcast from the town including a celebration of the 70th birthday of Dr Vaughan Williams with a programme consisting of 'The Lark Ascending' in October 1942 as well as premiers of new works including William Walton's 'Scapino Overture', Stravinsky's 'Symphony in C', Hindesmith's 'Symphony in E flat', Shostakovich's 'Symphony No. 8' and Bartok's 'Violin Concerto' with Yehudi Menhuin as soloist.

Other notable events included a production of 'The Pilgrim's Progress' led by Sir John Gielgud at Bedford School in 1943 and the performance of the 1944 series of Promenade Concerts led by Sir Henry Wood in his Jubilee season of the Proms.


  • Bedford and the BBC, Bedfordshire Times and Standard 27th October 1944
  • Bedford and the BBC by Sir Adrian Boult in Bedfordshire Magazine, Vol. 13  No. 100 p. 135
  • The Heritage Library, Bedford Central Library, has a selection of the programmes of the BBC Symphony Orchestra Concerts in Bedford 1941 -45

Further Reading:

The BBC in Bedford by Bedfordshire Libraries, 2005

Page last updated: 21st January 2014