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Places > Biggleswade

1132: Henry I granted the manors of Biggleswade and Holme to the Bishop of Lincoln to help endow the Cathedral.

1144: Biggleswade castle dates roughly to this period. It stood between the present bypass and Franklin's Mill. It was discovered by aerial photography.

1227: The right to hold a Monday market was confirmed by Henry III  toBishop Hugh of Lincoln.

1662: The market day was changed from Monday to Wednesday.

1720: Church tower rebuilt.

1757: There was riot in Biggleswade caused by the Militia Act. Able-bodied men feared they were to be conscripted into the army and sent overseas to America or India. When it was discovered that no man would be made to travel more than six miles from home the unrest died away.

1785: A great fire destroyed a large part of Biggleswade and left many homeless. It started in the Crown Hotel.

1796: Sir Philip Monoux replaced the medieval bridge with a new stone bridge.

1834: Workhouse built to house 280 persons (demolished 1972 and replaced by Adult Training Centre).

1834: Wesleyan Chapel built.

c.1840: Brook House built on the Market Square.

1842: Maythorn and Son established at Fox's Yard in Sun Street. The firm built coaches and its clients included the Royal Family. The company went into liquidation in 1932.

1843:Albert John Foster born in Biggleswade. He was the second son of John Nathaniel Foster and became well known for a number of books including 'Ampthill Towers' (1894), 'The Chiltern Hundreds' (1897), 'Bunyan's Country' (1890) and 'The Robber Baron of Bedford Castle' (1893).

1844: Town Hall built by William Twelvetrees at a cost of 800 on the vicarage garden (it later became a filling station and garage and latterly was Horace Gales shop). The architect was John Wing.

1850: Biggleswade Station built.

1850: Railway bridge built when the Great Northern Railway came to Biggleswade.

1850: Spongs Chemists, Stationers and Printers established. They printed a Household Almanack and later, the 'North Beds Courier'.

1851: Biggleswade Railway Station decorated with carrots when Queen Victoria passed through on her way to Balmoral.

1860: Biggleswade windmill built (demolished 1970).

1865: A Public Library (subscription library) formed, it lasted until 1911.

1865: Mary Tealby, one of the founders of the Battersea Dogs Home buried in St. Andrew's Churchyard.

1867: Cemetery Church built in Drove Road.

1874: A football club formed after an inaugural meeting at the Swan Inn.

1881: Fire Station built in Church Street.

1883: St. John's Church built. It was designed by Sir A.W. Bloomfield (demolished 1974).

1878: Isolation Hospital built in Potton Road, it closed as an infectious diseases hospital in 1948.  It re-opened in 1950 as a hospital for the chronically sick and was re-named Biggleswade Hospital.

1884: St. Andrew's church underwent extensive restoration.

1887: The Town Hall Clock (or Drum Clock) installed over High Street Post Office to celebrate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. It was moved to its present position in 1898.

1901: New Railway Station opened when the tracks were increased from two to four.

1906: Biggleswade Water Board built a Pumping Station at the base of Toplers Hill on the Great North Road (the building was registered as a listed building in 1984).

1909: Biggleswade Scout Group formed.

1910: Stratton Park sold and converted into Parkfield School for Boys.

1913: Empire Cinema built in Hitchin Street by Charles Thurston (closed 1958).

1923: The town's biggest fire occurred which destroyed the Maythorn Coach Works in the Market Square. The cause of the outbreak was never established but the fire cost the firm more than 100,000.

1936: Regal Cinema opened on the site of the old Maythorn Coach Works. It was erected by Messrs A. Hill and Sons and formally opened by Admiral Sir Lionel Halsey G.C.M.G.

1939: 'Mecanno' bridge erected.

1941: "Biggleswade has completed it's War Weapons Week effort with a total of 82,000 standing to its credit.  This was far in advance of the most sanguine dreams of the Savings Committee...." (Bedfordshire Times, 7th February, 1941).

1941: "A Biggleswade head teacher whose name was not disclosed to the Press, wrote to the Biggleswade Council School managers last week pointing out the bad attendances of official evacuees and that the Biggleswade children were starting to follow their example in staying away from school" (Bedfordshire Times, 7th February, 1941)

1945: Biggleswade Mill burnt down (now restored and converted into flats).

1949: Biggleswade Rugby Club formed. The first match was against RAF Henlow on October 3rd 1949.

1952: Stratton Street Railway Bridge (built 1850) renewed.

1953: The chancel of St. Andrew's Church destroyed by fire.

1955: Winston Churchill visited Biggleswade for an election campaign.

1957: Empire Cinema in Hitchin Street closed.

1958/60: Woolworths build new shop on Market Square.

1958: Last horse fair held in the town on 14th February after a history of approximately 300 years.

1959: Lawnside School opened.

1961: The Peacock Inn closes.

1966: Biggleswade open air swimming pool opened at Playfield Close.

1972: New Roman Catholic Church built in Station Road.

1976: Chapter House for St. Andrew's church built.

1977: New bus station built.

1978: Jehovah's Witnesses dedicate their Kingdom Hall in Short Street, the building was the former Memorial Hall.

1994: Sainsburys open their new store on the edge of the town.

1998: Biggleswade Twinning Association formed.

2000: Biggleswade and the German Town of Erlensee are officially twinned.

2000: A market research report by Claritas finds that Biggleswade has 'the happiest marriages' in the country with a divorce rate of only 6%.

2003: Stratton House Hotel closes suddenly after the lease is not renewed.

2005: Gale Euronics, formerly Horace Gale Ltd. closed at the end of December, the firm began trading in 1925.

2006: Asda Superstore opens in November on the site of the old Greene King Brewery.

Further Reading:

  • Biggleswade by Eric Rayner in Bedfordshire Magazine Vol. 13 No.98 p. 58

Page last updated: 23rd January 2014