Kempston “new town” developed during the 20th century and is now a mixture of Victorian villas, streets of old terraced houses and 1930s estates. In the 1980s large developments grew up on either side of the main road and consist of mixed private housing and housing association homes.
Kempston was once recorded as the largest village in England but is now a town with a population of 25,000+. The town continues to grow as brown-site areas are developed along with areas at the edge of the town which, although still part of Kempston, are outside the parish.
There is a mixed ethnic population consisting of members of a variety of cultures, many of whom are now considered as second and third generation. Over the last few years Kempston has seen an influx of Polish residents. There are relatively few racial tensions in the parish although some do exist.
As the size of the town has increased, so the sense of community has suffered but the many (mostly voluntary) organisations help to keep the community spirit alive. Kempston Calling is a well-established free community newspaper which is produced monthly and helps to maintain Kempston’s unique identity whilst trying to ensure that the town is not subsumed into Bedford
The Saxon Centre – so called because the area was once the site of a Saxon burial ground – is the most popular shopping area. It is dominated by Sainsbury’s supermarket built in 1976. The Springfield Centre also offers a variety of retail outlets and there are a number of independent shops, restaurants and fast-food outlets on the main Bedford Road. The parish is well-served with a library, schools and health care practices
The parish contains some light industry mostly in the Woburn Industrial estate on the edge of the parish. Bedfordshire Police Headquarters is situated at the edge of the parish whilst the Bedfordshire Police Traffic Control Unit has its base within the parish. The Fire & Rescue Service and the Ambulance Service also have headquarters within the parish.
There are primary schools and a secondary school in the parish whilst the local Challenger Academy although not in the parish is within walking distance. There are also two school which serve children with Special Needs. There is a Free School in Bedford and a number of independent fee-paying schools catering for pupils from 3-18 years four of which come under the umbrella of the Harpur Trust.
Clergy and lay members of the congregation have been involved in leading Assemblies at two of the local schools and the puppet ministry has been popular with the pupils and staff alike.
The elderly are well catered for with two residential homes, one of which has a day-care centre, and three warden controlled units. A monthly Communion Service is celebrated at one of the units. Members of the congregation and the clergy serve on the Board of Trustees of St John’s Homes a complex of alms-houses situated just outside the parish
Addison Howard Park is a well-loved and well-used facility which is sited opposite the church and the riverside walks provide another accessible area of natural beauty. Leisure facilities include a Youth and Outdoor Centre, a swimming pool with gym, indoor bowls centre and a number of community halls. There are facilities for football, tennis and cricket within the parish. Project 229 provides an open access community resource for the delivery of a range of services for children, young people and families from Kempston and the surrounding areas.
Kempston is approximately 2.5 miles from the market town of Bedford and buses run every 12 minutes. There are also good transport links with Milton Keynes Oxford and Cambridge.