Shops - General
1780: The firm that later became known as Taylor, Brawn and Flood established by a chemist named Robert Palgrave who opened a shop at the Castle Lane corner of the High Street. The shop had a number of premises in the town but by 1970 only one remained at the corner of High Street and Mill Street.
1817: John Bull's founded in the High Street. The business remained in the family until 1910.
1867: Golding's Ironmongers founded.
c1870: The Bedford Pantechnicon built in Midland Road. In 1897 it was acquired by Longhurst and Skinner. The shop was destroyed by fire on January 11th 1912 and rebuilt. The site is now occupied by the Pilgrim's Progress.
1882/3: George Cooper moves his seed business from Hertford to premises on St. Paul's Square. In 1890 he purchased the freehold of a piece of land in Midland Road and had his own shop built for the sum of 2,000. The firm closed in 1980.
1885: Braggins founded in Silver Street by Ezra Braggins. It operated as a family run store until 1968. In 1982 it was renamed Beales.
1901: Peacocks Auction Rooms established by Walter Molesworth Peacock. The firm started with a market in Horne Lane.
1905: The Arcade opens (linking High Street with Harpur Street). It was built by Mr. George Haynes and Mr. A.E. Anthony was the architect (Bedfordshire Times 16/12/1979)
1909: Marks' Penny Bazaar opens in the Arcade in Bedford (later re-named Marks and Spencer). The shop stayed there until 1929 when it closed shortly before the new "superstore" opened on the Midland Road/Harpur Street corner. The store did very well and was extended in 1937 and further extended in 1960 (Bedfordshire Times 18/11/1960).
1919: The Bedford Autocar Company opens in the Broadway, it later becomes known as Charles King Motors. Soon after opening Bedford's first kerbside petrol pump was installed outside the showroom, after closing time customers could insert one shilling to refill their tank (Weekend Advertiser, 19 October 1979).
1913: Henry Clifton founds Clifton's Mens' Outfitters. The first shop was at number eight Midland Road. After a number of moves the shop finally took up position in 1962 on Allhallows on the site of the former Cock Inn.
1922: Harrison and Rowley founded in Foster Hill Road. Originally the firm sold second-hand furniture and deliveries were by handcart.
1926: Arthur Day opens a fashion shop at 13 High Street.
1980: The Howard Centre opened. It cost 3 million and was developed by North Bedfordshire Borough Council.
1981: Clair Court opened. The site was formerly the furniture sales rooms of Peacocks Auctions House which had been on the site from 1903-1979.
1981: Gibbs and Dandy in the High Street close after 168 years of trading in the town (the shop was previously known as Henry Bacchus).
1986: The Boulevards shopping centre opened on the site previously occupied by the Co-Op Food Hall in the Howard Centre. The shops were closed in 1999 and the area taken over by TK Maxx.
1962: Sainsbury's store in All Hallow's opened by Lord Sainsbury.
1991: Tesco superstore in Cardington Road opens.
1992: Bedfordshire on Sunday report that there are 100 empty shops in the town as the recession bites deeper (Bedfordshire on Sunday 9/8/1992)
1993: Sainsbury's announce plans to shut their food store in All Hallows and plans to open an out-of-town food store in Clapham Road. There was a large public outcry. The shop finally closed in 2001.
1995: Wilkinson's announce proposals to open a store in the High Street.
1995: Safeway announce pans to close the Greyfriars shop making some 70+ people redundant.
1998: Lidl Supermarkets announce plans to build a new store in Bedford on the site of the old Granada Cinema (demolished 1990).
1998: Bedford and Kempston Herald reveal that there are 98 empty shops in the town.
2000: Dolcis Footware (on the corner of Silver Street), C&A, Dixons and Burtons Menswear announce plans to pull out of Bedford.
2001: Bedford town centre shops announce plans to open on Sundays from June.
2001: Mortimer's Tobacconists closes after 112 years trading in the town. At the time of the closure the shop was in the Arcade.
2002: A fire destroys the first floor of British Home Stores.
Page last updated: 22nd January 2014