Bedford Athletic Rugby Football Club was formed in 1908 as successor to the Rams, the rugby team of the Bedford Bearer Company, Royal Army Medical Corps (Volunteers). A group of young men met in the Kings Arms in 1908 to form a rugby club. The men had broken away from the Royal Medical Corps team. The name 'athletic' was supposedly chosen because they were young and healthy looking. The black and white hooped colours were picked because they chattered like magpies. In the 1909-1910 season, members of Bedford Athletic 'A' team became disgruntled over team selection and split off to form their own club, the Bedford Harlequins.
The outbreak of war in 1914 brought local rugby to an end and the club did not reform until 1920, when a meeting of rugby enthusiasts was held in at Ham's Restaurant. Fixtures were obtained for that season and two teams were put on the field. The club had a very unsettled existence for the first two or three seasons. The foundations of stability were laid when Horace Otto Hauberg took over as Honorary Secretary in 1923. The club attracted many new members and was turning out three teams by 1925.
When the club first started they had no ground and all games had to be played away. A pitch was soon obtained in Bedford Park. In 1922, the club moved to a pitch behind the "Fox and Hounds" in Goldington Road where they continued to play until 1925, when a ground was hired at Newnham Avenue from the Corporation. The next season a hut was erected on the ground. It was considerably extended and called a pavilion. Newnham Avenue became the club's established base for over 40 years.
By 1932 four sides were being run. Some notable players associated with the club at that time were G.T. Daucer who toured South Africa with the British Lions in 1938; Iowerth Evans capped for Wales 1933-34; and the England trialists, R.C. Brumwell and A.H. Greenwood, both of whom played for the 1930 Midland Counties XV which defeated the otherwise unbeaten South African tourists. Once again war brought local rugby to an end in 1939 but Bedford Athletic was one of the first clubs to restart in 1945 and play a full fixture list.
During the late 1950's and early 60's the club expanded rapidly, with a peak in 1962 when on one occasion no fewer than 10 sides were fielded. The formation of a colts section in 1962 is one of the most important events in the club's history. Such a large number of sides inevitably created problems over pitches and in addition to Newnham Avenue the club had to use grounds all over Bedford. Fortunately the club were offered the lease on some land adjacent to Putnoe Wood where it was possible to lay out 4 pitches and build a new club-house in 1970.