A Great Event
On Nov. 17 there was a general holiday in Bedford to celebrate the opening of the line from Bedford to Bletchley. This function had been postponed from a date previously fixed owing to the permanent way being damaged by heavy rains. Thousands of people came from all parts of the country and assembled at St. Leonard's (a name since revived for that quarter) as the L. & N .W. Station was then called, to witness the departure of the first train. Upwards of thirty carriages were crowded by 600 persons, and drawn by two "powerful engines." The start was made at noon amidst the strains of the Bedford Brass Band, the shouts of the multitude, and the merry peals of the bells in the parish churches. The journey was successfully accomplished at 1.30, and the visitors inspected the extensive works in progress to make Bletchley a "first class station." At two o'clock the return journey began, and at Bedford the venturesome travellers were received by Her Grace the Duchess of Bedford, who was accompanied by Mrs. S. C. Whitbread, Miss Whitbread, Miss Payne, and Mr. Isaac Elger. The party adjourned to the refreshment room (which to-day we search for in vain), and here Her Grace proposed "Success to the Bedford Railway " in a bumper of champagne, which toast, saith the reporter was " by the ladies present most cheerfully responded to." A, brilliant company sat down to dinner in the Assembly Rooms (now the Bedford Library). Mr. T. J. Green presided, supported by the Mayor Mr. Alexander Sharman.
Extract from: J. Hamson, Bedford Town and Townsmen 1845-1895 Bedfordshire Times, 1896
Page last updated: 22nd January 2014