Wadebridge (Cornish: Ponswad) is a civil parish and town in north
Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. The town straddles the River Camel
5 miles (8.0 km) upstream from Padstow. The permanent
population is 6,222 (Census 2001), increasing to 7,900 at the 2011
census. There are two electoral wards in the town (East and West).
Their total population is 8,272
Originally known as Wade, it was a dangerous fording point across the
river until a bridge was built here in the 15th century, after which
the name changed to its present form. The bridge was strategically
important during the English Civil War, and
Oliver Cromwell went there
to take it. Since then, it has been widened twice and refurbished in
Wadebridge was served by a railway station between 1834 and 1967; part
of the line now forms the Camel Trail, a recreational route for
walkers, cyclists and horse riders. The town used to be a road traffic
bottleneck on the
A39 road until it was bypassed in 1991, and the main
shopping street is now pedestrianised.
The town has a secondary school where several notable sports-people
were educated. The Royal
Cornwall Show is a three-day agricultural
show held at the nearby Royal
Cornwall Showground every June.
1.1 Early history
1.4 Eddystone Road
1.5 Historical timeline
3 Geography and transport
4 Culture and community
7 Notable people
10 External links
The initial settlement of Wade (the name of
Wadebridge before the
bridge was built) came about due to a ford in the River Camel
(Camel probably meaning "crooked one"). The early crossing had a
chapel on each side of the river, "King's" chapel on the north side
and "St Michael's" on the south side. People would pray for a safe
crossing at one of the chapels before wading across at low tide, once
they had made it the other side they would give thanks to God in the
other chapel. In 1312 a licence was granted for a market at Wade. Wade
was part of the parish of
St Breock and the river separated it from
the neighbouring parish of Egloshayle.
At some time the ford was supplemented by a ferry until the
Reverend Thomas Lovibond (the vicar of Egloshayle) became distressed
at the number of humans and animals that died during the crossing of
River Camel so he planned the building of a bridge which was
completed in 1468. Wade was now known as Wadebridge. When John Leland
Cornwall in the early 16th century he wrote that the
piers were resting on packs of wool. Begun in 1468 and completed in
1485, the bridge was traditionally known as the "Bridge on Wool"
because it was reputedly built on wool sacks. In fact, however, it has
been proven to be founded directly on the underlying bedrock.
The bridge was a strategic position in the
English Civil War
English Civil War as in
Oliver Cromwell came with 500
Dragoons and 1,000 horsemen to take
the bridge. When the bridge was first completed tolls were charged
for its maintenance. In 1853 it was widened from 3 to 5 metres (9.8 to
16.4 ft). A second widening took place in 1952 and then in
1963 it was again widened taking it to 12 metres (39 ft). In 1994
the bridge underwent a refurbishment to change the stone in the
pavement and to create a cycle track.
A serious outbreak of typhoid in 1897 caused by contamination of
drinking water led to
Wadebridge having its own town council as
decisive action had to be taken for proper water supplies and disposal
of sewage effluent.
Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway
Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway from
Wadebridge to Wenfordbridge
with branch lines to
Bodmin and Ruthernbridge was built at a cost
of £35,000 following a study commissioned in 1831 by local landowner
Sir William Molesworth of Pencarrow. The line was intended to carry
sand from the
Camel Estuary to inland farms for use as fertiliser. It
was opened on 30 September 1834 with the locomotive Camel pulling a
train load of 400 passengers (one of the first railways in Britain to
carry passengers). When the company ordered its second locomotive it
came with a name plate already affixed. It had been named the Elephant
as the makers had failed to realise that the first engine had been
named after the river and not an animal.
The last passenger train left
Wadebridge railway station
Wadebridge railway station in 1967
following railway cutbacks. The railway has been transformed into the
Camel Trail, and the
Bodmin and Wenford Railway heritage railway runs
on part of the route.
Wadebridge was the highest navigable point on the River Camel
providing the main trade route before the building of the railway, and
coasters would bring goods from
Bristol and coal from South Wales.
Timber was also imported from the Baltic, while stone from inland
was sent to destination throughout England. The first locomotives used
on the railway were also imported through the quay, being manufactured
by Neath Abbey Ironworks, and the railway initially linked with
river traffic well, having been designed to distribute sand from the
river to the local farms. This commodity, brought up from
barges, had previously been taken as far as
In 1880 there were quays on both sides of the river below the bridge,
that on the west bank being served by the railway. There was also
a "sand dock" constructed upstream of the bridge at the point where
the Treguddick Brook (Polmorla Brook) flows into the River Camel,
although this had been filled in by 1895
In the 1900s vessels such as the M.V. Florence brought cargos such as
slag (for fertiliser), grain and coal. Flour was also a regular cargo
brought from Ranks at Avonmouth. However, in the 1950s the river
silted badly so that the ketch Agnes was possibly the last vessel to
bring cargo to
Wadebridge in 1955.
In 1877, after cracks appeared in the rock on which the Eddystone
Lighthouse was positioned, a new lighthouse was commissioned from
James Nicholas Douglass. Granite quarried from
De Lank quarry
De Lank quarry was
brought down to
Wadebridge where stonemasons dovetailed each segment
of stone not only to each other but also to the courses above and
below. As each layer was completed and checked to fit with the layer
above, it was sent out to the Eddystone rocks by sea. The lighthouse
was completed in 1882. This resulted in the road where the masons
worked being called Eddystone Road.
1312 — Licence granted for Wade to hold a market.
1455 — John Leland records a ferry
1460 — Reverend Thomas Lovibond started to organise the building of
Oliver Cromwell and his men descended onto
Wadebridge to take
control of the bridge.
1793 — A shipping canal from
Fowey was surveyed.
1834 — The
Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway
Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway took its first passengers.
1845 — The
Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway
Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway became part of the London
and South Western Railway
1852 — The Bridge was widened from 10 feet to 11½ feet.
1882 — Work began on replacing the Eddystone lighthouse.
1888 — The town hall (then known as the Molesworth Hall) was
1888 — The
Wadebridge railway was connected to the Great
Wadebridge Town Football Club was founded.
1895 — The London and South Western Railway, reached
Halwill Junction and Launceston.
Wadebridge Urban District created in April.
1899 — The
Wadebridge railway was extended to Padstow.
1930 — The Cinedrome (now the Regal) opened to its first customers.
Wadebridge Camels RFC was founded.
Wadebridge was chosen as the permanent site of the Royal
Cornwall Agricultural Show.
1963 — The bridge was widened from 11½ feet to 39 feet.
1967 — The railway line was closed to passengers.
1991 — The Challenge Bridge was completed.
1993 — The
Wadebridge Bypass was completed.
Wadebridge is in the constituency of North
Cornwall which is currently
held by the Conservative MP Scott Mann. The main offices of the former
Cornwall District Council were at Trenant Road in the town.
Wadebridge was part of St Columb Rural District Council
until the creation of
Wadebridge Urban District Council in April
Geography and transport
The town straddles the
River Camel 5 miles (8.0 km) upstream from
Padstow the town centre being on the left bank of the river.
For many years
Wadebridge was a traffic-congested town (through which
the route of the A39 trunk road passed) but in 1991 the Wadebridge
bypass was opened together with the
Egloshayle bypass causing the two
settlements to regain much of their former charm. The main shopping
Wadebridge (Molesworth Street) has subsequently been
pedestrianized through construction of an inner link road, allowing
On St Swithin's day 1965 there was a flood in
Wadebridge town after
five and a half inches of rain fell in four and a half hours around
high tide. The Swan Hotel on The Platt was flooded to a depth of one
and a half feet.
Culture and community
The Challenge Bridge
The Molesworth Arms is one of the oldest Inns in Wadebridge.
Previously known as The Fox, The King's Arms and The Fountain, this
coaching Inn got its current name in 1817.
Since 2014 the first of the annual events in and around
been the MayPlay festival, a weekend of free children's activities.
Cornwall Agricultural Show is held at the Royal Cornwall
Showground, 1.5 miles (2.4 km) west of
Wadebridge over three days
in early June each year. The show began in 1793 at
Bodmin and was then
held every year in East and West
Cornwall alternately until 1960 when
it came to its present site. The showground, run by the Royal Cornwall
Agricultural Association, is used for many different functions from
Scout Jamborees to point-to-point horse racing.
The Big Lunch, organised by the local chamber of commerce, is a free
street party in the pedestrianised part of Molesworth St in the centre
of Wadebridge, where around 500–750 people get together to share
food, chat, and enjoy music and other entertainment. The idea grew out
of a project by the Eden Project, and was started by a former local
councillor, Harriet Wild. In 2012 it also served as a celebration of
the Queen's Jubilee.
Later in June, the
Wadebridge Lions organise a Beer Festival, with
brews from across Cornwall, and plenty of live music.
July sees the Rock Oyster Festival on fields just outside the town on
the Camel River. Oysters are, of course, on the menu, along with bands
from the local area, the South West and further afield.
Wadebridge Carnival is held annually in August, with a Carnival Queen.
In August there is the Eglos Craft Fayre at
Egloshayle Church, and the
Cornwall Folk Festival, one of the UK's longest-running folk
festivals started in 1973, is held over the Bank Holiday. The likes of
folk stars such as Dougie Maclean, Martyn Carthy and Cara Dillon rub
shoulders with Cornish bands. The "musician's musician" Wiz Jones and
father of the Lakeman clan Geoff Lakeman are the festival's patrons.
Depending on the tides, the Camel River Festival is held around August
or September. The main attraction is a set of raft races on the river,
with bar, food, stalls and more live music.
In October, The Bikelights procession through the town centre
showcases decorated bicycles and involves many youngsters.
In November the Prime Stock Show and the Garden Produce Association
and Chrysanthemum Show are held.
A footbridge called the Challenge Bridge links the
fields to the Jubilee fields on the other side of the river. The
bridge was constructed in 1991 by
Anneka Rice and her team for the TV
series "Challenge Anneka". Locally, the bridge is known as Anneka's
Bridge, but its real name is the Bailey Bridge.
The newspaper is a local edition of the weekly Cornish Guardian.
The town is twinned with
Langueux (Langaeg) in Brittany, France.
In April 2013
Wadebridge was short-listed as one of Britain's top
eco-towns and is home to
Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network a
grass roots enterprise aiming to make the town the first solar powered
and renewable energy powered town in the UK.
The town has two primary schools which have academy status, Wadebridge
Primary Academy which OfSTED graded as a ‘GOOD’ school in November
2012 and St. Breock Primary School. There is also a Secondary School,
Wadebridge School which has a sixth form.
There are two health care practices: the
Wadebridge and Camel Estuary
Practice and the Bridge Medical Centre. There has been a group
Wadebridge since the early 20th century; many of the early
doctors had their surgeries operating from their homes.
In the 1901 census the population of
Wadebridge was 3470, while in
2001 the population was 6222
Wadebridge is home to sporting clubs including
Football Club who play at Bodieve park,
Wadebridge Camels, who play at
the Molesworth Field in Egloshayle, and
Wadebridge Cricket Club, whose
main ground has been in
Egloshayle Park since the 1950s. The town has
a leisure centre with a programme of sports and pursuits including
The Camel estuary offers a range of water sports, including sailing,
water skiing, windsurfing, surfing and kite surfing. Golf courses
close by include
Trevose and Saint Enodoc and St Kew.
See also: Category:People from Wadebridge
The gentleman scientist and surgeon Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, who
invented the Bude-Light, lived in
Wadebridge from 1814 to 1820. A
street (Goldsworthy Way) has been named after him. Francis Hurdon
(1834–1914), a prominent figure in Canadian politics, was educated
in the town.
In media, Michael White, journalist, associate editor and former
political editor of The Guardian was born here in 1945. Andrew
Ridgeley, member of the pop music duo,
Wham! and his partner Keren
Woodward, from the girl band Bananarama, live in a converted
farmhouse near the town.
Sergeant Steven Roberts, the first soldier to die in the 2003 invasion
of Iraq, was born in Wadebridge.
In sport, Olly Barkley, the
England rugby union international player,
was raised in the town, as was Michaela Breeze, the Commonwealth
weightlifting champion. Both were educated at
Wadebridge School, as
was Annabel Vernon, the 2007 World Rowing Champion Women's Quad
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Wadebridge 1834–1978. Truro: D Bradford
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^ "Twinning". Retrieved 25 May 2009.
Wadebridge short-listed as top eco-towns West Country (W) - ITV
News". itv.com. 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2013.
^ "Cornish town aims to be UK's first to adopt solar power - struggle
becomes YouTube series - Environment". The Independent. 27 May 2011.
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^ Thomas, Liz (28 September 2009). "
Wham! star Andrew Ridgeley
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^ "BBC NEWS
England Bradford Kit delays led to soldier's death".
BBC News. London: BBC. 18 December 2006. Retrieved 12 May 2013.
Tuthill, Peter (2004) A Brief History of Wadebridge
Wadebridge Town and Police; by Peter Tuthill
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wadebridge.
Wadebridge travel guide from Wikivoyage
Wadebridge at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
Wadebridge Town Council
Cornwall Record Office Online Catalogue for Wadebridge
Ceremonial county of Cornwall
Council of the Isles of Scilly
St Columb Major
St Just in Penwith
See also: List of civil parishes in Cornwall
Population of major settlements
Places of interest
Outline of Cornwall
Index of Cornwall-related articles
Civil parishes of North
Forrabury and Minster
St Minver Highlands
St Minver Lowlands
St Stephens by Launceston Rural
St Thomas the Apostle Rural
Week St Mary