Leighton Buzzard is a medium-sized town in Central Bedfordshire, directly adjoining the smaller town of Linslade. Leighton and Linslade act for almost all official purposes as a single town, and their two urban forms are indistinguishable. Nevertheless, the two have managed to maintain their separate identities. Leighton Buzzard's high street is close to the border with Linslade, and Leighton Buzzard railway station is actually located within Linslade. Geographically, the closest major towns to Leighton Buzzard are Dunstable, Milton Keynes and Aylesbury.
Layout and Services
Leighton Buzzard is built around its historic high street, which features a wide array of past architectural styles and some buildings aging into several centuries. The High Street, bypassed but not fully pedestrianised, plays host to no fewer than six charity shops, along with a number of other small stores and outlets of larger chains. The High Street also doubles as the town's main bus terminal, with the street's western end often jammed with large buses. A short distance to the west is a large Tesco superstore, straddling the border with Linslade. Both towns are passed through by the Grand Union Canal, which enters from the north and meanders through the town before heading south towards Pitstone.
Leighton Buzzard is laid out on a radial pattern, somewhat stretched on the east-west axis to form an oval town centre area. Despite the radial layout, Leighton Buzzard has no complete ring roads at any part of the town. The majority of Leighton Buzzard's modern bulk is made up from 1950s-1970s housing estates and a large industrial area to the south of the town. Historically, Leighton Buzzard was surrounded by quarries which provided the bulk of the towns economy. Many of these have now closed down, and some are being redeveloped, but a number remain operational to the north of the town, around the Heath and Reach area.
Leighton Buzzard is located on the West Coast Main Line between Hemel Hempstead and Milton Keynes (the immediate stations on either side being Bletchley in Milton Keynes to the north and Cheddington, near Ivinghoe, to the south). The railway provides direct links to London and Watford to the south and to Milton Keynes, Northampton and Birmingham to the north, all operated by London Midland. The Southern Railway also operates services from Milton Keynes to East Croydon, which call at the station. Formerly, Leighton Buzzard was the start of a branch to Dunstable and Luton. This was closed in the 1960s, but a stub remains in place at the Luton end.
Leighton Buzzard's quarries were once served by an extensive network of 2ft gauge railways. The better proportion of this system is now lost, but a two-mile long stretch of the narrow gauge railway linking the town to the countryside has been operated privately as a volunteer heritage railway since 1969. The modern steam railway acts as a major tourist attraction. When first preserved the narrow gauge railway was mostly rural, however more recent housing developments have since surrounded the town end of the line.
Leighton Buzzard is located on the A4146, a major road from Milton Keynes to Hemel Hempstead. The road passes to the west of the town as a dual carriageway, before becoming single and passing to the south. Here it meets the A505, which provides a link to Luton. Prior to September 2007, the A4146 ran directly through the town as a single carriageway. The only A-road which still does this is the A4012, which links it to Woburn. Leighton Buzzard is also the starting point of the B488 route to Ivinghoe and Aston Clinton, and the A418 route to Aylesbury and Thame.