River/ Flow/ Connect is a project delivered by Bedford Creative Arts that aims to develop resident engagement in the areas of Kempston, Queen’s Park, Kingsbrook & Cauldwell and Great Denham with the River Great Ouse on their doorstep through artistic installations and creative activity.  

This long-term project aims to install a series of community co-commissioned, functional sculptures along the river that celebrate the community’s relationship with the River Great Ouse and encourage recreation along the riverbank. 

Throughout the last few years Bedford Creative Arts (BCA) has delivered activity in Bedford that has engaged residents in Queen’s Park, Bedford Town Centre and local schools, and has identified the river as a key theme people have told us they want to explore.   

Consultation delivered by BCA at The River Festival in 2022 identified that residents and visitors to Bedford valued the river and we received 76 reports from residents sharing poems, songs and ideas about the river they wished to explore.  Queen’s Park Academy school have highlighted opportunities for the river topic to support their curriculum teaching.  

During lockdown, many residents increased their engagement with the natural habitats on their doorstep but residents and community leaders we have consulted have stated that the stretch of the river between the well maintained and highly used Embankment and the wilder areas towards Bromham/Great Denham is less well used and maintained.    

Through creative and artistic project delivery we hope to open up a trail of artworks between these points that make the area feel loved, ‘levelled up’, safe and respected so that residents can enjoy and feel proud of their part of the River Great Ouse.  

This project is funded by the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, the National Lottery Community Fund and Ashley Family Foundation. The project is supported by BMK Waterways, John Bunyan Community Boat and Cllrs Mohammed Nawaz and Caroline White. 

Photo credit: Urban Judge 2023 & Andy Willsher 2024