Leighton Buzzard is a town in Bedfordshire, England near the Chiltern Hills and lying between Luton and Milton Keynes. It adjoins Linslade and the name Leighton Linslade is sometimes used to refer to the combination of the two towns. For local government purposes, the town is part of the Central Bedfordshire district and is administered jointly with Linslade as the civil parish of Leighton-Linslade.
The Grand Union canal runs from London to Birmingham and passes through Linslade. Countryside walks can be taken along the towpath in both directions. Canal cruises can be booked or canal boats may be hired from local companies.
Leighton Buzzard contains All Saints’ Church, an Early English parish church dating from 1277. The church has a 190 ft spire and has been described as the ‘cathedral of South Bedfordshire’. The church was damaged by fire in the 1980s, but has since undergone restoration. The town is also known for the Leighton Buzzard Light Railway, a narrow gauge heritage railway. This narrow gauge railway runs for nearly five kilometres from the station in Pages Park, Billington Road. The railway uses restored steam engines and is great fun for steam enthusiasts and children.
The town has a combined library and theatre (called the Library Theatre) where both live events and film screenings are regularly held. Stockgrove Country Park is in nearby Heath and Reach.
Ouzel Meadows offers country walk on the edge of Leighton Buzzard in 34 acres of flood meadows with ancient pollard willows and rare black poplars. Access over a river bridge from Riverside Walk and from the Grand Union Canal towpath You can also walk along the River Ouzel from Bridge Street to Plantation Road. Leighton Buzzard has a large variety of shops selling everything from food to fashion. These include independent specialist shops as well as branches of larger national chains. Most shops are located around the High Street in the centre of town where there are many restaurants, cafes and pubs. A lively market is held in the High Street on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
After the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 Leighton Buzzard became the centre of a poor law union that consisted of 15 surrounding parishes with the union workhouse (still standing) being sited in Grovebury Road. A network of historic tunnels exists under the High Street; these are believed to date from medieval times. The tunnels have not been investigated, but one is easily accessible from the cellarage of Wilkinson Estate Agents at the top of Market Square. The cellar, probably an ice house, extends under the road by some 16 feet and is in very good condition. The tunnel is sealed for safety reasons. It goes in a southerly direction towards the former Market Tavern (now Bell) public house some 100 yards and legend has it that other tunnels from the church and other public houses link up under the street in network that covers some 500 yards.
Leighton Buzzard is represented by the sporting teams of Leighton Town F.C. who play football in the Southern League Division One Midlands. Also at the Bell Close Site are Leighton Buzzard Tennis Club who have been a part of the town since the 1930s. Leighton Buzzard R.F.C. play rugby union in Midlands 2 East (South) and the Ladies rugby team play in NC South East North 2. Leighton Buzzard Golf Club was established in 1905 and there is also an active running club, Leighton Buzzard Athletics Club. Established in 2011 Leighton Buzzard Road Cycling Club is a cycling club for riders of all abilities. Their race team LBRCC-Solgar compete in local, as well as national, cycling events.
Central Bedfordshire College has a campus near the town centre of Leighton Buzzard called the Learning Warehouse. The college provides a range of full-time and part-time courses for the local community. The college also operates a Learning Shop in the town, which offers basic IT courses.
The town is, or has at one time, been the home to various industries including B/E Aerospace (Aircraft Interiors), Polyformes, Lipton Tea which has now closed down, Gossard clothing, Lancer Boss (forklifts, etc.). The town has a sizeable sand quarrying industry. Countrywide and Connells/Sequence, the UK’s two largest estate agents’ chains, both have their head offices in the town, as does the UK branch of Tupperware.Leighton Buzzard is close to the M1 motorway and A5 road, and is served by London Midland and Southern services on the West Coast Main Line railway at Leighton Buzzard railway station (in Linslade). The Grand Union Canal runs through the town, alongside the River Ouzel.
In the west, Linslade has merged with Southcott. Leighton Buzzard is expanding eastwards: 2,500-4,500 homes including 35% affordable housing are planned for east Leighton Buzzard for the Luton/Dunstable/Houghton Regis growth area and 900 homes including 35% affordable housing are being considered west of Linslade. Leighton Buzzard now encompasses RAF Stanbridge and the former hamlet of Leedon.
The population of Leighton-Linslade was originally recorded in the 2001 census as 32,417. Part of Billington parish was transferred in 2003 to Leighton-Linslade, and the revised census result including this area was 32,753. The population is estimated to have reached 37,000 in 2009 and is forecast to rise to 39,900 by 2012. The town is expanding southwards, with the development of sites in Southern Leighton Buzzard through the Southern Leighton Buzzard Development Brief.
Pop group Modern Romance started life as punk band the Leyton Buzzards, though they originated from Leyton in London rather than Bedfordshire. One of the local quarries was used in the Hamunaptra scene in The Mummy Returns and more recently a scene for The Da Vinci Code. In addition, the town and surrounding area is referenced in Mary Norton’s popular series, The Borrowers. It is mentioned in Saki’s short story “The Secret Sin of Septimus Brope”. A ‘Leighton Beau-desart in Bedfordshire’ is mentioned in Chapter 4 of The Storm by Daniel Defoe.