Art exhibition reveals how Bedford used to look - including pub where former Marks & Spencer building is now

There's also 1970s fashion as well as Bedford Regatta featured

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 2:35 pm

The Higgins Bedford is playing host to a a new exhibition celebrating artists' views of Bedford and the surrounding area.

Called Going to Town – 200 Years of Bedford’s Art, it opens on Saturday, July 10.

From Marianne Norman who painted St Paul’s Square from the window of her parents sweet shop over 100 years ago to Roberta Hart’s depiction of market day full of 1970s fashions, visitors are invited to take a walk into Bedford through 200 years of artists’ eyes and see long forgotten buildings as well as familiar sights.

John Ross Cormack (1871-1949), The White Horse, Harpur Street, 1922-1929
John Ross Cormack (1871-1949), The White Horse, Harpur Street, 1922-1929

The Embankment and its picturesque views of The River Great Ouse is one of the highlights of Bedford, with artists over the centuries capturing the beauty of the river from Bromham to Cardington Lock in their work.

Visiting artists such as JMW Turner and Thomas Hearne focused on views of the Town Bridge, while local artist, Emily Stannard, portrayed the quieter spots at the bridge in Newnham.

There's even John Ross Cormack's The White Horse, in Harpur Street - as depicted in 1922-1929 - which readers will remember being home to retailer Marks & Spencer up until May 2019.

Councillor Doug McMurdo, portfolio holder for leisure and culture, said, “Over the years, Bedford has been more than fortunate to experience a high standard of art, through artists both local and visiting. This new exhibition celebrates some of the great things that make Bedford borough the place it is today.”

Unknown Artist, Bedford Regatta, 1851

The exhibition is free to visit and will run until March 20 next year. A series of events and activities will accompany the exhibition later in the year.