Join the Bedford Clanger’s New Year’s Revolution

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The Bedford Clanger's New Year's Revolution. Artwork by Kristina Bullen
The Bedford Clanger's New Year's Revolution. Artwork by Kristina Bullen

Back in 2014, The Bedford Clanger launched the manifesto for its New Year’s Revolution and 10 years on, the intention still seems relevant and the artwork, designed by Kristina Bullen, is still marvellous and always worth sharing.

For its tenth anniversary, we thought we’d revisit each of our manifesto pledges and see what’s changed in the last decade…

Shop local

Use them or lose them. Whether it’s Waterstones or the Watch Cellar, Boots or Beerfly, employees of local businesses generally live locally, so will also spend locally.

It’s always devastating when a shop closes in our town centre, and the empty buildings left behind following the collapse of Beales, Debenhams and Wilkos are a constant reminder of how retail is changing. We can’t stop Big Corps going bust, but we can make those businesses that have invested in Bedford know that we love having them here.

Visit a museum

There can’t be many towns with three museums all within spitting distance of each other.

Higgins Bedford
The Higgins Bedford (image: The Higgins Bedford)

The story of John Bunyan, Bedford’s most famous son and author of the most published book in history, The Pilgrims Progress, is told at the John Bunyan Museum on Mill Street, the fascinating and secretive Panacea Society is explored at the Panacea Museum on Newnham Road and art, social history and decorative arts are on display at the Higgins Bedford. All are free to enter and we love them all!

Love your town

Over the last 10 years, social media has increasingly provided a platform for the most negative of keyboard warriors to moan about Bedford.

Fortunately, for every doom-monger, there are the optimists and the problem-solvers, the place makers and the creative sparks. These people are opening shops, running businesses, organising events, reimaging empty spaces, putting on shows, creating art and generally making us all feel good about where we live.

Thank you, good uns, you definitely outweigh the bad uns.

Use the library

According to The Guardian, around 800 libraries closed between 2010 and 2019 as a result of the government’s austerity measures. In Bedford Borough, they might be running on reduced hours, but we still have libraries in the town centre, Bromham, Putnoe and Kempston. These precious community assets are by no means safe, so let’s show our appreciation.

Watch live music

Whatever your favourite musical genre, there is something for everyone at venues across the Borough. Classical, folk, indie, rock, tribute acts, choral and more can be found almost every night of the week, plus you can be guaranteed to catch the next big thing at Esquires or underground DJs at Herd.

Back in 2014, a young Tom Grennan performed at the BedPop Record Shop at our pop up shop on Bedford High Street. I wonder what he’s up to now?…

Support indie retailers

Since we launched the Bedford Clanger in 2011 we have championed the independent businesses in Bedford. Over the last 13 years, some have come and gone, many have stayed the distance and even more have opened, expanded or adapted since the pandemic.

As shopping habits have changed, landlords have responded to the demand for smaller premises and the Edwardian Arcade and units in Silver Square have been adapted to appeal to indie shopkeepers. 

Design by mrmogs.co.uk

According to Totally Locally, if you spend a tenner in an independent business, 80% of that money remains in the local community, so shopping local really is spreading the love. Unique products, incredible customer service and our fave shopkeepers – yay for the Bedford indies! 

Support your local theatre

Bedford’s Quarry Theatre and The Place, plus the Sharnbrook Mill Theatre just outside the town centre programme a wide range of shows appealing to audiences of all ages.

Each month we highlight shows from all venues in the Borough, with the best of comedy, theatre, family-friendly shows and NTLive screenings. If you ever hear anyone complaining that “Bedford needs a theatre”, just send them our way! 

Become a hometown tourist

It’s easy to ignore the beauty of something when we see it every day, but just stepping off the beaten track or looking up when we’re walking along a familiar street can give a different perspective.

Thanks to the High Street Heritage Action Zone funding, many shop fronts have been given a new lease of life and public art has been added to walls and pavements. One shop – The Store on St Cuthbert’s Street – has even added a living wall to their premises. 

This article is featured in the January 2024 issue of the Bedford Clanger.
Available to pick up for free in indie shops, restaurants, cafes, pubs,
theatres, museums and more in Bedford.