Leighton Buzzard

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Leighton Buzzard
15 Century market cross, Leighton Buzzard - geograph.org.uk - 956627.jpg
Market Square
Bedfordshire UK location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Leighton Buzzard
Location within Bedfordshire
Population37,469  [1]
OS grid reference SP921250
Civil parish
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district LU7
Dialling code 01525
Police Bedfordshire
Fire Bedfordshire and Luton
Ambulance East of England
UK Parliament
List of places
51°54′59″N0°39′42″W / 51.9165°N 0.6617°W / 51.9165; -0.6617 Coordinates: 51°54′59″N0°39′42″W / 51.9165°N 0.6617°W / 51.9165; -0.6617

Leighton Buzzard ( /ˈltənˈbʌzərd/ ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ) LAY-tən BUZ-ərd) is a market town in Bedfordshire, England, in the southwest of the county and close to the Buckinghamshire border. It lies between Aylesbury, Tring, Luton/Dunstable and Milton Keynes, near the Chiltern Hills. It is 36 miles (58 km) northwest of Central London and linked to the capital by the Grand Union Canal and the West Coast Main Line. The built-up area extends on either side of the River Ouzel (here about 2 metres wide) to include its historically-separate neighbour Linslade, [1] and is administered by the Leighton-Linslade Town Council.



Foundation and development

The Old Town Hall The Market House, Leighton Buzzard (geograph 3451357).jpg
The Old Town Hall

It is unclear when the town was initially founded, although some historians believe that there may have been settlement in the area from as early as 571. [2] 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. [3] 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 Theobald de Busar and so over the years the town became known as Leighton Buzzard. The other Leighton became Leighton Bromswold. [4] In the Domesday Book , Leighton Buzzard and Linslade were both called Leestone.

Leighton Buzzard developed into a thriving market town supported by good road, canal and, later, rail links to the agricultural hinterland and London. The town's market charter was granted in 1086 and is still active today. [5] The town's high street is home to numerous historical buildings, more than 70 of which are listed. [6] They include the notable Bank Building on the Market Square (now home to Barclays Bank), [7] designed by the eminent architect Alfred Waterhouse, designer of London's Natural History Museum, London. They also include the Old Town Hall, later used as a fire station and now as a restaurant. [8]

Rothschild family

The town has had a long association with the Rothschild family, since Lionel de Rothschild bought neighbouring farmlands to the west of the town in 1873. [9] Over time the farm developed into the Ascott House estate located less than 2 miles (3 km) from the town. Over the years several members of the family were resident in the town including Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild at Leighton House on the High Street (demolished) and the widowed Lady Rothschild who, in 1832, moved to Southcourt House on Orchard Drive (also now demolished). [10] The family still maintain links with the town through their ownership of Southcourt Stud in Southcote.


The town has a strong history of dissenters and is home to one of the oldest Friends meeting houses in the region. Established in the 18th century, local Quakers continue to meet in the Meeting House on North Street. [11]

Poor law union

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. [12]

World War II

During World War II, a secret codebreaking and communications facility, described as "the largest telephone exchange in the world", similar to nearby Bletchley Park, operated from Oxenden House (now demolished) [13] off Plantation Road. [14] The facility employed up to 500 people during the war, although it was shrouded in secrecy.

The Great Train Robbery

The Great Train Robbery took place in 1963 at Bridego Bridge just outside Leighton Buzzard. The robbers were held at the Old Police Station on Wing Road Linslade while waiting to be seen by the local magistrate after being captured a month after the robbery. [15]

Leighton Buzzard station was the location for part of the film Robbery , which is based on the ‘Great Train Robbery’.

Telephone exchange

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.


The population of Leighton-Linslade was originally recorded in the 2001 census as 32,417. [16] Part of Billington parish was transferred in 2003 to Leighton-Linslade, and the revised census result including this area was 32,753. [17] At the 2011 census, the population of the Leighton-Linslade built-up area was recorded by the Office for National Statistics as 37,469, [1] and was estimated to have reached 43,203 in 2020. [18]

The town is expanding southwards, with the development of sites in Southern Leighton Buzzard [19] through the Southern Leighton Buzzard Development Brief. [20] It is also expanding eastwards, with several developments forming the Eastern Leighton Linslade Urban Extension Scheme. [21]

Places of interest

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. [22]

The Grand Union Canal runs through the town, alongside the River Ouzel.

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." [23] The church was damaged by fire in the 1980s, but has since undergone restoration.

The town has a combined library and theatre (called the Library Theatre) where both live events and film screenings are regularly held. [24]

Rushmere Country Park and Stockgrove Country Park are in nearby Heath and Reach. The National Trust-operated country home Ascott House is located 2 miles (3 km) from the town in neighbouring Buckinghamshire.


The NatWest bank at Leighton Buzzard in the style of an Italian palazzo is an example of Neo-Renaissance architecture. NatWestLB.JPG
The NatWest bank at Leighton Buzzard 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) designed by Alfred Waterhouse. LBhighSt.jpg
High Street, Leighton Buzzard. The former "Bassett's Bank" (now Barclays) designed by Alfred Waterhouse.

Leighton Buzzard is close to the M1 motorway and A5 road, and is served by Southern and London Northwestern Railway services on the West Coast Main Line railway at Leighton Buzzard railway station (in Linslade). The railway operates non-stop commuting services to Euston railway station, with the fastest peak journey times less than 30 minutes.

The majority of Leighton Buzzard’s bus services are operated by Arriva Shires & Essex. Services F70 and F77 provide a direct Bus rapid transit service to Luton via the Luton to Dunstable Busway, with an onward connection to Luton Airport and also to Milton Keynes. [25] Arriva also operate the 150 service through the town between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes, as well as several local town services. Grant Palmer, Z&S and Star Travel also operate bus services into Leighton Buzzard which serve local estates and surrounding villages. [26] [27] [28]


Leighton Buzzard is now home to several UK head offices for national and international firms. Connells Group, the estate agents' chains, have their head offices in the town, as do the UK operations of Tupperware and Grundfos. FTSE 250 company Rightmove had their first ever office in the town, which at the time consisted of just 25 employees. Leighton Buzzard is also home to the Vinci SA Technology Centre, where technology for London's new Crossrail stations was tested. [29] Since 2014, the town has had its own brewery. [30]

The town has a sizeable sand quarrying industry, with good enough quality building sand to export to Egypt. The town is, or has at one time been, the home to various other industries including B/E Aerospace (Aircraft Interiors), Polyformes, Lipton Tea which has now closed down, Gossard clothing, and Lancer Boss (forklifts, etc.).


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. [31]


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 [32] 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 [33] and the Ladies teams play in the 5 Counties Hockey League. [34] Leighton Buzzard Hockey Club [35] 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 play in NC South East North 2. [36]

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. [37] Established in 2000, Leighton Linslade Croquet Club, a member of the Croquet Association, have three croquet lawns in Pages Park next to the pavilion.

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. [38] [39] The date of closure is not known.


Lower schools

Middle schools

Upper schools

Other schools

Further education

Twin towns

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 people

Nearby places


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

Climate data for Leighton Buzzard
Average high °C (°F)6
Average low °C (°F)3
Average precipitation mm (inches)69.3
Source: [45]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – Leighton Buzzard (built-up area) (E34003354)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics.
  2. William Page, ed. (1912). "Parishes : Leighton Buzzard". A History of the County of Bedford. Victoria History of the Counties of England. Vol. 3. London: Constable & Co. Ltd. pp. 399–417.
  3. Wedgwood, Hensleigh (1855). "On False Etymologies". Transactions of the Philological Society (6): 67.
  4. "Our Building – All Saints Leighton Buzzard". allsaintslb.org.uk. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  5. "About | Leighton Buzzard Markets" . Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  6. "Listed Buildings in Leighton-Linslade, Central Bedfordshire". britishlistedbuildings.co.uk. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  7. "Alfred Waterhouse". Leighton Linslade Town Council. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  8. Historic England. "Fire Station, Market Square (South Island Site) (1114566)". National Heritage List for England . Retrieved 19 December 2021.
  9. "Ascott, Buckinghamshire, England | Rothschild Family". family.rothschildarchive.org. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  10. "Leighton Buzzard Historical Society Autumn Newsletter" (PDF). 2011.
  11. "The Society of Friends in Leighton Buzzard". bedsarchives.bedford.gov.uk. 21 June 2019. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  12. "Leighton Buzzard Union Workhouse". bedsarchives.bedford.gov.uk. 21 June 2019. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
  13. Oxenden House, Leighton Buzzard. 1962–1974.
  14. Norton-Taylor, Richard (18 November 2014). "After Station X and Cumberbatch, comes Q Central". The Guardian. ISSN   0261-3077 . Retrieved 13 November 2020.
  15. "Leighton-Linslade Past Times - Tour". www.leighton-linslade.com. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
  16. Office for National Statistics, 2001 Census Parish Headcounts for Leighton-Linslade.
  17. Bedfordshire County Council, Urban Area Profile for Leighton Linslade Archived 12 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine .
  18. "Leighton Buzzard". CityPopulation.de.
  19. "Southern Leighton Buzzard -". slb.uk.com.
  20. "CMIS Home". agendas.luton.gov.uk. Customer services, Town Hall, George Street, Luton, Bedfordshire, LU1 2BQ. Archived from the original on 11 August 2011. Retrieved 10 June 2010.
  21. "East of Leighton Linslade Framework Plan" (PDF). centralbedfordshire.gov.uk. 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 November 2018. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  22. Train site retrieved 7 August 2007
  23. Express, Britain. "Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire". Britain Express. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  24. Theatre Site retrieved 7 August 2007
  25. "F70 Timetable". bustimes. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
  26. "F77 Timetable". bustimes. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
  27. "Routes & Timetables". Busway. Luton Borough Council . Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  28. "Bus timetables and bus routes". centralbedfordshire.gov.uk. Central Bedfordshire Council . Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  29. "Glimpse of the future as mock-up Crossrail station revealed". Crossrail. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  30. "Craft Beer | Bedfordshire | Leighton Buzzard Brewing Company". Leighton Buzzard Brewery. Retrieved 4 February 2018.
  31. Council Website: Council tax Archived 21 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine retrieved 7 August 2007
  32. "Leighton Buzzard Hockey Club". pitchero.com.
  33. "South Hockey League - Welcome". south-league.com.
  34. Administrator. "Welcome to the 5 Counties Women's Hockey League". 5counties.co.uk.
  35. "Leighton Buzzard Hockey Club". pitchero.com.
  36. http://www.buzzardrugby.co.uk/2011a/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=467:ladies-rugby&catid=21:ladies-rugby-news&Itemid=34 [ dead link ]
  37. "LBRCC". Members.lbrcc.co.uk. Archived from the original on 18 April 2013. Retrieved 4 April 2013.
  38. Barnes, Julia (1988). Daily Mirror Greyhound Fact File. Ringpress Books. ISBN   0-948955-15-5.
  39. "Leighton Buzzard Greyhound Racing Association - 24 July". Bucks Herald - Aylesbury. 1931.
  40. "Ofsted – Leighton Middle School". ofsted.gov.uk. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  41. "Mary Norton - Author - Leighton Buzzard , Beds - Blue Plaques on Waymarking.com". www.waymarking.com. Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  42. Dunn, Matthew (10 August 2012). "Charlotte Dujardin's lost days at school". Express.co.uk. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  43. "Trusty Rusty".
  44. "Leighton Buzzard snooker player blasts pandemic risk takers who are putting lives in jeopardy". www.leightonbuzzardonline.co.uk. Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  45. "Averages for Leighton Buzzard". Archived from the original on 29 January 2013.

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