The name ‘Brickhill’ derives from ‘Brickhill Farm’ which occupied the land before the area was developed. ‘Brickhill’ may have been a reference to brick-making in the area, as the neighbourhood has a high clay content in its soils. Brick-making used to be a major industry in Bedfordshire (See Stewartby). The name may also derive from a compound of Brythonic and Anglo Saxon origins, which is a common occurrence in this part of the country. The Brythonic breg means ‘hill’, and the Anglo Saxon hyll also means ‘hill’.
Brickhill Farm was the location of Brickhill House, a 17th-century makeover of a much older manor house. The residence was the seat the Foster family, and it was in its heyday in the 1820s, when the famous American author, Washington Irving, came to pay court to the daughter of the house, Emily Foster (she turned him down). The house was eventually destroyed by fire in 1946.
Following World War II momentum grew in Bedford to plan the re-development of the town from its population of 58,000 to 75,000. This required the provision of a substantial area of land for housing development. At the time, Bedfordshire County Council (who were the planning authority) attempted to pursue Bedford Borough Council to consider development on areas of clay sub-soil around northern Bedford, and in particular across Brickhill. There initially appeared to be great resistance to this. Traditionally buildings in Bedford had been founded on areas of River Terrace gravels, and it was thought in 1949 that the cost of the foundations excavated into the Boulder Clay/Blue Oxford Clay would add approximately £70 to the cost of constructing a house. Since no viable alternative could be found by the Borough they eventually accepted the County’s proposals for development of the Brickhill area.
Houses in South Brickhill were constructed from 1959. This neighbourhood became the Birds area, with all the streets named after birds (e.g. Linnet Way, Hawk Drive, Dove Road). North Brickhill was developed from 1966, and became the Rivers area, with all the streets named after rivers (e.g. Avon Drive, Waveney Avenue, Tyne Crescent).
Previously an unparished area, Brickhill was served by an urban community council from 1993, but since 1 April 2004 it has been a civil parish, with its own parish council. Brickhill is currently the only area of Bedford town that has its own parish council.
The Charles Wells pub called the Bird in Hand which was located on Brickhill Drive closed in 2011. Charles Wells sold the pub building to Tesco who redeveloped it into a Tesco Express store. The opening of the store attracted considerable opposition from local residents and business owners.
Woodlands Park is a housing estate that was constructed from the late 2000s, and located directly to the north of Brickhill. Initially the estate was not formally part of the Brickhill parish, but was instead part of the nearby village of Ravensden. Woodlands Park formally became part of Brickhill parish in 2015, but remains part of Great Barford ward (which includes Ravensden) for elections to Bedford Borough Council.