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Places > Clapham

Prehistoric period: In 1987 an archaeological excavation took place on the site of Ursula Taylor School.  2,000 square meters were stripped to reveal archaeological features from the medieval period to the Iron Age.

1177: The original church pulled down by the Normans who rebuilt a new structure with just the nave and chancel.

1861: Birth of Jeremiah William Haddock, Vicar of Clapham until his death in 1913, educationalist and antiquarian.

1861-62: The main part of the church rebuilt by Sir Gilbert Scott.

1872: Clapham Parochial School opened; financed partly by money from the Ursula Taylor Charity later to be known as Ursula Taylor School;  on the 8th October with Betsy Bower Stone as Head Teacher, 55 boys and 50 girls were enrolled on the first day with the number rising to 121 by the end of October.

1876: Methodist Chapel built at a cost of 1,000, the opening service was held on the 29th November.

1880: Clapham Social Club founded with a sum of 900 given by James Howard.

1901: Woodlands Manor House rebuilt, during the Second World War it was the temporary home of Sir Adrian Boult and musicians of the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

1920s: Henmans Garage opened by George Henman who had been a cabinet maker together with his son Harold, an office worker at W.H.Allens, Bedford.   

1934: By the North Bedfordshire Review Order part of Clapham transferred to the Borough of Bedford.

1939-45: Before the war, Twinwoods Airfield  had been looked at as a possible site for a municipal airport. The RAF constructed a satellite airfield in 1941 with three runways. The airfield's major role was as a satellite for Cranfield based No.51 Operational Training Unit. It was used as the main drop off point by Glenn Miller's Orchestra who were billeted three miles away in Bedford. The band gave a concert at the airfield on the 27th August 1944. On the 15th December 1944 a Norseman in which band leader Glenn Miller was a passenger departed for Paris and was never seen again. The airfield was closed down in June 1945. The control tower has been restored and is now The Glenn Miller Museum.

1950: The Royal Aircraft Establishment opens in Clapham.

1958: Methodist Chapel renovated. Clapham Park House sold to the Daughters of the Holy Ghost. 

1976: The Vicar of Wakefield Public House closes in April.

1985: Clapham Park Convent put up for sale. The Daughters of the Holy Ghost were forced to put the house on the market because of the dwindling number of women entering the Holy Orders.

1989: New School opened, the Head Teacher was Mrs Molly Gibson and there were 172 children on the school roll.

1991: Clapham Park House put up for sale. Clapham Hospital closes.

2001: Yarl's Wood Immigration Detention Centre which will house up to 900 men, women and children takes in its first residents. (Bedfordshire on Sunday,  25th Nov.)

2001: Work starts on the Clapham Bypass.

2002: While fires burned and riots rages on Thursday night at least 23 men and five women escaped from Yarl's Wood Immigration Centre. (Bedfordshire on Sunday 17th Feb.)

2002: Clapham Bypass opens at a cost of 26 million. (Bedfordshire on Sunday 15th Dec.)

2003: The undamaged section of Yarl's Wood Immigration Detention Centre re-opens. (Bedfordshire Times, 26th Sept.)


  • The newspapers cuttings collection at Bedford Central Library.

  • PICKFORD, C.  Bedfordshire Churches in the 19th Century. Beds Historical Record Soc. Vol.73 1994.

  • GOLDSMITH, A.  A Ramble Through the History of Clapham.  1978.

  • PICKERING, J.F.  Clapham Through Two Centuries.  2001.

Page last updated: 23rd Janaury 2014