The Journey From Bunyan To The Brickworks

The Journey From Bunyan To The Brickworks


April 2017 - October 2017 and beyond


A journey which spans nearly 350 years


On Tuesday 18th April a new partnership project between John Bunyan Museum and The Bedford Chronicles, and made possible by funding from the National Lottery was launched.


The Journey from Bunyan to the Brickworks brings together two key aspects of Bedfordshire heritage; the journey John Bunyan envisioned as he was persecuted and imprisoned for his beliefs, and the journeys of people who came to Bedford after the Second World War to work at The London Brick Company, often escaping persecution and hardship to make the journey to, hopefully, a better life.


John Bunyan lived during a time of intense social, civil, and religious upheaval, through the English Civil War, the Commonwealth, and the restoration of the monarchy. After the Restoration, Bunyan was imprisoned for 12 years, and wrote The Pilgrim’s Progress.  He told the allegorical story of Christian’s journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City, and the trials and lessons he learns on his way. It is at its heart a story of escaping evil and journeying to a better life.

Following the Second World War over one million refugees could not be repatriated to their original countries. These included, amongst others, Poles, Ukrainians, Croats and Czechs who feared persecution by the new communist regimes in their countries. The United Kingdom accepted over 80,000 ‘Displaced Persons’ as part of various labour import programs.

In Bedford the demand for labour for the brick companies was high, and many of these people moved and settled in Bedford. There was also mass migration from the south of Italy, were unemployment was high and standards of living poor. Many could not afford the costs of emigration, and so “paid passage” schemes by London Brick were a strong magnet, a ticket to a better life.

The project culminated in a two week exhibition in The Basement @ Bunyan Gallery. The exhibition displayed art work and written materials created by schools, as well as artefacts collected from the community. This celebrated the contribution made to Bedford by people living 350 years apart yet sharing a common bond.


Two large 'stained-glass' effect window, in the style of the stunning windows in the Bunyan Meeting church were created, and formd the centre-piece of the final exhibition. In addition two films were recorded documenting the memories of those who came and their journey.


The project worked with schools to bring the two parts of Bedford's heritage to life through interactive talks and workshops.


For more information on the project please email


Visit the John Bunyan Museum website here



The Journey


April - The Project Launched in the Beds On Sunday




May - Our school assemblies are in full swing with visits thus far to Marston Vale Middle School, Putnoe Primary, Daubeney Academy and Queens Park Academy.




May - Filming for one of two films being created as part of the project has begun, with filming at Castle Newnham School.




June - Our workshops have begun and are coming to a school near you




July - Steve Lowe hosts some 'How to be a Journalist' workshops ready for the Journey Open Morning




July - Filming at the Journey Open Morning was a huge success and we welcomed many people

to the John Bunayn Museum to take part in filming with Future Legend Media. Students from Daubeney Academy did a brilliant job of being interviewers.





July - We were delighted to meet Marco - he has been on our Journey posters etc since

day one in a photo taken over 50 years ago. On Saturday 22nd July we met him in person

as he took part in the Journey film!





August - ITV Anglia News featured the project on both their evening bulletins.

Click the image below to view the report.





September - Alasdair took on the difficult job of judging the winner of the Journey From Bunyan To The Brickworks stained glass window competition.
It was an incredibly tough decision as the standard of work was so high! Huge congratulations to all the entrants from our 7 partner schools - amazing work. 
After much discussion and deliberation, our winner was chosen. This will be announced at the exhibition launch night and then displayed at the John Bunyan Museum as part of the - Pride Inspiration Hope - Exhibition which opens on Tuesday 24th October.






October - The Exhibition - Pride Inspiration Hope - was launched

The evening was attended by many people from the local community who had links to the brickyards as well as school children and their parents who had been involved in the project. The evening was one of celebration and remembrance for all those who came to Bedford from across the world to work at the brickyards.

The project has worked closely with the seven partner schools as well as with the wider Bedford community to create the exhibition Pride Inspiration Hope.

The exhibition displayed artwork created by schools including two new 'stained glass' windows as well as artefacts collected from the community.





The Journey From Bunyan To the Brickworks Film which was shot as part of the project can now be viewed on YouTube





October - The Exhibition - Pride Inspiration Hope - opened at The Basement At Bunyan.

The exhibition ran for 2 weeks and was visited by hundreds of people




November - All the films created as part of this project are available to view on the YouTube Channel - Bedford's Got History. Click the image below to follow the link to view.











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