In the early 1960’s the first Muslims came to Bedford mainly for employment at the local brickyards. As more and more began to come over there was a clear need for a communal place of worship (Mosque).
A committee was formed and a house on Ford End Road was purchased (which still stands). This was a huge milestone for the local Muslims as most came from very poor backgrounds and they were supporting their families back home and trying to make ends meet in the UK. This then developed to not only a place for prayer, but also somewhere for the children to come and learn the Quran.
Original Ford End Road Mosque (now converted into a shop)
By the early 1980’s the Muslim population of Bedford began to grow further, mainly due to the employment opportunities in and around the town. As a result of this, large congregations such as the Friday prayer and Eid, were no longer able to be held at the current Mosque due to the lack of space. To overcome this, another building was purchased, known as the “Green Hall”, on the corner of Fairfax Rd and Iddesleigh Road.
The Green Hall
This hall served the community for many years; however, the community soon outgrew this.
In the mid 1990’s, this issue was raised in the local community and it was agreed to pursue the building of a new purpose built Mosque. Land on Westbourne Road had already been purchased a few years earlier; so, as soon as the announcement was made, the community began to work around the clock to help raise money for the new building. Many women even donated personal gold jewellery to be sold so money raised could be used for the building; this further motivated the community.
In 1999, the initial foundations were laid and work progressed very quickly, during which period the local community ensured funds never depleted. In 2001, Jamia Masjid Gulshan-E-Baghdad was completed; becoming the first purpose built Mosque in Bedford with a capacity of over 1200 people, and this has served the community ever since.
The Mosque today
Today the Mosque is used for Funeral Prayer, Eid Celebrations, Friday Prayers, Arabic Classes, English Islamic Classes, School Visits and many more events to help serve the local community and is still self-funded.
Many thanks are therefore due to the committed members of the community who have provided continuous support and allowed the project to become successful.