Regional engineering centre

Monday 10 July 2017

SEMLEP Board member Tom Wells switched on work at a £5 million Advanced Engineering & Construction Centre at Bedford College.

£2.5 Million has been awarded by the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership towards the building.

Tom Wells, of the Charles Wells Bedford brewing family, took to the controls of a giant Continuous Flight Auger to drill piles for the foundations on the Cauldwell Street project. Joining him was Claire Cartwright, a former apprentice turned construction surveyor and now lecturer at the College. 

Bedford has a proud history in manufacturing, previously being a national and WW2 centre for engineering with companies such as WH Allen, Rolls-Royce and Texas Instruments operating in the town until the 1970’s. This history of engineering is still reflected in the businesses which successfully operate across the county today.

Bedford College is linked to this history. Today it has a dedicated apprenticeship engineering centre in the town and offers extensive built environment and civil engineering facilities at its award-winning eco designed Brundtland Building at its Cauldwell Street campus.

SEMLEP recognised how the College is leading the way in 21st Century training by working with international names such as Cranfield University and providing a BSc in Engineering with the University of Northampton.  

In partnership with international motor giant General Motors, Bedford College is also running Mechatronics Apprenticeships – the only one in the region which meets the new Government ‘standards’ for apprenticeships to match modern industry demands. 

Tom Wells said: “SEMLEP are delighted to support Bedford College with £2.5 Million Local Growth Fund investment for its new Advanced Engineering & Construction Centre.”

The Advanced Engineering & Construction Centre will house newer, lighter, analytical equipment, BIM Software and robotics. It will allow students to move through to the higher engineering and degree level training essential in today’s manufacturing and civil engineering markets. 

It will increase student numbers by an additional 300 full-time and part-time students and 150 higher level apprentices each year - thus meeting some of the huge demand from employers for skilled engineers.

The space will provide students with room to experiment with intelligent design, analyse and assess problems, and develop real life solutions in the safety of the classroom and the virtual world environment.

Ian Pryce CBE, CEO of The Bedford College Group, who has seen the College go from good to great and the No1 provider of modern education in the region said: “Successful FE colleges such as ours have stayed in the forefront of training because we work so closely with cutting edge employers. This Advanced Engineering & Construction Centre is what they want to help power the South East forward.” 

For more information on engineering opportunities at Bedford College go to