Leighton Buzzard

Leighton Buzzard (/ˈltən ˈbʌzərd/ LAY-tən BUZ-ərd) is a town in Bedfordshire, England, near the Chiltern Hills and lying between Dunstable and Milton Keynes. Situated in the southwest of the county and close to the Buckinghamshire border, it adjoins Linslade and the name Leighton Linslade is sometimes used to refer to the combination of the two towns; parts of this article also apply to Linslade as well as Leedon. 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.[2]

Leighton Buzzard
15 Century market cross, Leighton Buzzard - geograph.org.uk - 956627.jpg
Market Square
Leighton Buzzard is located in Bedfordshire
Leighton Buzzard
Leighton Buzzard
Location within Bedfordshire
Population37,000 [1]
OS grid referenceSP921250
Civil parish
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtLU7
Dialling code01525
FireBedfordshire and Luton
AmbulanceEast of England
UK Parliament
List of places
51°54′59″N 0°39′42″W / 51.9165°N 0.6617°W / 51.9165; -0.6617Coordinates: 51°54′59″N 0°39′42″W / 51.9165°N 0.6617°W / 51.9165; -0.6617

The town is home to the Leighton Buzzard Light Railway, a narrow gauge heritage railway, one of England's longest at just under 3 miles (4.8 km) long and oldest narrow-gauge lines, with an extensive collection of locomotives and rolling stock. The Great Train Robbery happened at Bridego Bridge just outside Leighton Buzzard. The Grand Union Canal is another feature of the town, as is All Saints' Church, an Early English parish church dating from 1277. The church is the starting point for the annual Wilkes Walk, described as "a curious procession of the church choir, clergy, and churchwardens across town to the alms houses in North Street."[3]


There are a number of theories concerning the derivation of the town's name; "Leighton" came from Old English Lēah-tūn, meaning 'farm in a clearing in the woods', and "Buzzard" was added by the Dean of Lincoln, in whose diocese the town lay in the 12th century, from Beau-desert, which later turned into "Buzzard".[4] Another version is that having two communities called "Leighton" and seeking some means of differentiating them, the Dean added the name of his local Prebendary or representative to that of the town. At that time it was a Theobald de Busar and so over the years the town became known as Leighton Buzzard. The other Leighton became Leighton Bromswold.[5]

Leighton Buzzard is also famous as the Grand Union Canal was opened there. More recently, Leighton Buzzard station was the location for part of the film Robbery, which is based on the so-called "Great Train Robbery" (1963), whereas the actual robbery took place just outside the town, at Bridego bridge, Ledburn. In the Domesday Book, Leighton Buzzard and Linslade were both called Leestone.


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'.[citation needed] 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.[6]

The town has a combined library and theatre (called the Library Theatre) where both live events and film screenings are regularly held.[7]

Rushmere Country Park and Stockgrove Country Park are in nearby Heath and Reach.

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.


Leighton Buzzard is represented by the sporting teams of Leighton Town F.C. who play football in the Spartan South Midlands Football League. Also at the Bell Close Site are Leighton Buzzard Tennis Club who have been a part of the town since the 1930s. Leighton Buzzard Hockey Club[8] established in 1901, play field hockey and run 4 Men's and 4 Ladies teams of all ability. The Men's teams play in the South Hockey League[9] and the Ladies teams play in the 5 Counties Hockey League.[10] Leighton Buzzard Hockey Club[11] also have junior sides; starting age of 5. Leighton Buzzard R.F.C. play rugby union in South West 1 East and the Ladies rugby team[12] 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.[13] Established in 2000, Leighton Linslade Croquet Club ([2] www.leightonlinsladecroquet.org.uk), a member of the Croquet Association, have three croquet lawns in Pages Park next to the pavilion. The club takes part in many national croquet competitions and is a member of the East Anglian Croquet Association (EACF).

A greyhound racing track was opened by the Leighton Buzzard Greyhound Racing Association. The track which was located on Bridge Meadows, a flood plain and wharfage between the Grand Union Canal and the River Ouze, south of Bridge Street and is believed to have opened during 1931. The racing was independent (not affiliated to the sports governing body the National Greyhound Racing Club) known as a flapping track, which was the nickname given to independent tracks.[14][15] The date of closure is not known.



Leighton Buzzard experiences an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb) similar to almost all of the United Kingdom.

Climate data for Leighton Buzzard
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 6
Average low °C (°F) 3
Average precipitation mm (inches) 69.3
Source: [16]


Lower schoolsEdit

  • Beaudesert Lower School – Apennine Way
  • Clipstone Brook Lower School – Brooklands Drive
  • Greenleas School – Derwent Road
  • Greenleas School, Sandhills – Kestrel Way
  • Dovery Down Lower School – Heath Road
  • Heathwood Lower School – Heath Road
  • Leedon Lower School – Highfield Road
  • Linslade Lower School – Leopold Road
  • Mary Bassett Lower School – Bassett Road
  • Pulford VA C of E Lower School – Pulford Road
  • St George's Lower School – East Street
  • St Leonard's (Heath & Reach) V A Lower School – Thrift Road
  • Stanbridge Lower School – Tilsworth Road
  • Southcott Lower School – Bideford Green

Middle schoolsEdit

  • Brooklands Middle School – a school near the south east edge of the town.
  • Gilbert Inglefield Academy – next door to Vandyke Upper School.
  • Leighton Middle School[17] – in the centre of the town, Mary Norton, who wrote 'The Borrowers' books, lived there in her childhood.
  • Linslade Middle School – Situated over the road from Cedars.

Upper schoolsEdit

  • Cedars Upper School – Located on the west edge of town, in Linslade, adjoined to Tiddenfoot Leisure Centre. Cedars was once a grammar school.
  • Vandyke Upper School – Situated on the east edge of town, on Vandyke Road. As of late 2006, the school has been undergoing a £2½ million refurbishment.

Other schoolsEdit

  • Oak Bank School – located on Sandy Lane.

Further educationEdit

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 NatWest Bank at Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, England in the style of an Italian palazzo is an example of Neo-Renaissance architecture.
High Street, Leighton Buzzard. The former "Bassett's Bank" (now Barclays Bank) designed by the eminent Victorian architect Alfred Waterhouse.

Leighton Buzzard is close to the M1 motorway and A5 road, and is served by Southern and West Midlands Trains 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. Leighton Buzzard is served by the F70 bus route, operated by Arriva Shires & Essex, which provides a direct Bus rapid transit service to Luton via the Luton to Dunstable Busway, with an onward connection to Luton Airport.[18][19]


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, with good enough quality building sand to export to Egypt. The first and only TXE1 telephone exchange was developed by the General Post Office and went into service in 1968. To meet the growing demand it was added to by two TXE2 exchanges and a TXE6 exchange on the night of 18 August 1971. A third TXE2 was added later but everything was replaced by a TXE4 exchange around 1977. Some of the TXE2 equipment was used to provide a new TXE2 at West Mersea Island in Essex. The large building, built on the site of the former Lake House, that housed all these TXE exchanges and the current digital exchange can be found in Lake Street.

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. FTSE 250 company Rightmove had their first ever office in the town, which at the time consisted of just 25 employees.

Since 2014 it has had its own brewery.[20]


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.[21] Part of Billington parish was transferred in 2003 to Leighton-Linslade, and the revised census result including this area was 32,753.[22] The population is estimated to have reached 37,000 in 2009 and is forecast to rise to 39,900 by 2012.[23]

The town is expanding southwards, with the development of sites in Southern Leighton Buzzard[24] through the Southern Leighton Buzzard Development Brief.[25] It is also expanding eastwards, with several developments forming the Eastern Leighton Linslade Urban Extension Scheme.[26]

Twin townsEdit

Leighton Buzzard was twinned with Coulommiers in France in 1958. The twinning was renewed in 1982. It was also twinned with Titisee-Neustadt in Germany in 1991.

Notable peopleEdit

In popular cultureEdit

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.

A 'Leighton Beau-desart in Bedfordshire' is mentioned in Chapter 4 of The Storm by Daniel Defoe.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ 2009 estimate for Leighton-Linslade. See the Expansion section above for further information.
  2. ^ Council Website: Council tax Archived 21 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine retrieved 7 August 2007
  3. ^ Express, Britain. "Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire". Britain Express. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  4. ^ Wedgwood, Hensleigh (1855). "On False Etymologies". Transactions of the Philological Society (6): 67.
  5. ^ "Our Building – All Saints Leighton Buzzard". allsaintslb.org.uk. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  6. ^ Train site retrieved 7 August 2007
  7. ^ Theatre Site retrieved 7 August 2007
  8. ^ "Leighton Buzzard Hockey Club". pitchero.com.
  9. ^ "South Hockey League - Welcome". south-league.com.
  10. ^ Administrator. "Welcome to the 5 Counties Women's Hockey League". 5counties.co.uk.
  11. ^ "Leighton Buzzard Hockey Club". pitchero.com.
  12. ^ [1][dead link]
  13. ^ "LBRCC". Members.lbrcc.co.uk. Archived from the original on 18 April 2013. Retrieved 4 April 2013.
  14. ^ Barnes, Julia (1988). Daily Mirror Greyhound Fact File. Ringpress Books. ISBN 0-948955-15-5.
  15. ^ "Leighton Buzzard Greyhound Racing Association - 24 July". Bucks Herald - Aylesbury. 1931.
  16. ^ "Averages for Leighton Buzzard". Archived from the original on 29 January 2013.
  17. ^ "Ofsted – Leighton Middle School". ofsted.gov.uk. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  18. ^ "Routes & Timetables". Busway. Luton Borough Council. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  19. ^ "Bus timetables and bus routes". centralbedfordshire.gov.uk. Central Bedfordshire Council. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  20. ^ "Craft Beer | Bedfordshire | Leighton Buzzard Brewing Company". Leighton Buzzard Brewery. Retrieved 4 February 2018.
  21. ^ Office for National Statistics, 2001 Census Parish Headcounts for Leighton-Linslade.
  22. ^ Bedfordshire County Council, Urban Area Profile for Leighton Linslade Archived 12 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  23. ^ Central Bedfordshire Council, Population of Central Bedfordshire Archived 10 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  24. ^ "Southern Leighton Buzzard -". slb.uk.com.
  25. ^ 546000, Customer services, Town Hall, George Street, Luton, Bedfordshire, LU1 2BQ. Tel: 01582. "CMIS > Home". agendas.luton.gov.uk.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  26. ^ "East of Leighton Linslade Framework Plan" (PDF). centralbedfordshire.gov.uk. 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 November 2018. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  27. ^ Dunn, Matthew. "Charlotte Dujardin's lost days at school". Express.co.uk. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  28. ^ "Trusty Rusty".


External linksEdit