Leighton Buzzard in 1839
LEIGHTON BUZZARD, a parish and market-town in the hundred of Manshead and county of Bedford, is seated on the right bank of the river Ouse, 17 miles west-south west from Bedford, and 38 north-west from London, near the line of the London and Birmingham Railway.
The streets are ill-paved and not lighted with gas, and the inhabitants derive their chief supply of water from wells. The trade consists in corn and timber ; the market-day is Thursday and the fairs are held in February, April, July, October and December.
The living, in the diocese of Lincoln, is a vicarage in the patronage of the prebendary of that see. Its net annual value is £193. The burgh and parish, including the four chapelries of Billington, Egginton, Heath-and-Reach, and Standbridge, contained, in 1831, a population of 5,149 persons, that of the burgh alone being 3,330.
Besides a Lancasterian school for the education of children of both sexes, and supported by voluntary contributions, there are several benevolent institutions and charitable foundations, a particular account of which is given in the Twelfth Report of the Commissioners on Charities. The principal of these are the almshouses, originally founded by Edward Wilkes in 1630, which, together with certain revenues bequeathed by him and his successors, are appropriated to the use, maintenance, and clothing of poor widows of the town of Leighton Buzzard, and the Pulford and Leigh charities for affording gratuitous instruction to poor children resident in the same town.