Welcome to Wadebridge
'WADEBRIDGE: a market town on the banks of the
Camel River' or 'a market town whose bridge is built on wool';
these are the usual introductions to this medium sized town
of 8272 people, placed halfway between Bodmin - famed for its
jail and being the ancient capital of Cornwall, and Padstow, famous
for its ancient harbour and probably the best known fish
Sadly neither description
is totally accurate these days. Wadebridge is no longer a market
town, the cattle market which had been in the town for hundreds of
years closed down during the last outbreak of foot and mouth in
2001. The bridge built on wool is disputed by many. One story is
that the foundations of the bridge were built on sacks of sheep's
wool whilst the other version describes the bridge being built on
the profit from the wool. Whichever version you believe the old
bridge is there and the centrepiece of the town. Photographed by
most visitors to the town from every angle and vantage point
The construction and
history of the bridge, which has been of immense importance to the
development and expansion of the town, has changed over the
centuries to accommodate increasing traffic and European weight
laws and restrictions. Having been built originally to provide
drovers and shepherds with easier access to the market, it is true
that payment for the bridge was achieved from the profit of the
wool from the sheep - a rich commodity in 1460AD.
Wadebridge is comprised of several hamlets
covering perhaps only a square mile; St Breock, Trevanson,
Guineaport, Wade, Whiterock and Egloshayle, the latter being cut
off from the others by the river until the construction of the
bridge by the Reverend Lovibond who also donated the 80' tower to
the only parish Church for the town of Wadebridge which is actually
in Egloshayle. The Parish of Egloshayle does not actually encompass
the village of the same name. Wadebridge Town Council is
responsible for the village of Egloshayle, the Parish of Egloshayle
has its own Council!
The Town Hall, in the centre of town, houses the Town
Council offices. When it was opened in 1888 by Sir Paul Molesworth,
it was called Molesworth Hall. Later taken over by the Town Trust,
it eventually came into the ownership of the then Parish Council.
The façade of the building changed when in 1962 refurbishment and
improvement to what had become a quite run down building was
completed. The barrel ceiling and balcony in the main hall
disappeared as did the wonderful arched window and door at the
The river, which is now
quite silted was an important part of the town's prosperity when
many cargo ships moored alongside the wharfs and harbour. It is
said that Guineaport is so named as ships' captains were required
to pay a 'Guinea' to moor there.
Its former status of being a market town
indicates to the observer and visitors to Wadebridge that the
surrounding area is one of a farming and agricultural nature. The
Town's abattoir closed even before the Foot and Mouth Crisis, at
the time of the BSE crisis, severely affecting rural business in
the whole area. Livestock is now moved to other towns whose
abattoirs have survived. Cornwall's climate however, is enhanced in
Wadebridge which enjoys something of a mini microclimate and helps
attract thousands of visitors to the town who have changed to a
great extent, the economic perspective. The Town is now known as a
cycling Mecca for tourists rather than a market town.
Tourism is a large contributor to the economic growth of
Wadebridge and is due in quite a large part to the Camel Trail, a
cycle way almost 20 miles long that stretches from the moor at
Bodmin into Padstow along a disused railway line, forming part of
the national cycle network.
The trail hugs the banks of the estuary between
Padstow and Wadebridge along a line once used by the London and
South West Railway and then turns inland passing through wonderful
countryside including the Camel Valley before joining another
historic disused line ending at the foot of Bodmin Moor near
Blisland, a pretty moorland village.
Cyclists completing the whole length will have
passed much of the County's industrial heritage in one way or
another from fishing to agriculture, china clay workings to former
quarries and of course one of the first railway lines in the world!
The Bodmin and Wadebridge Line was the first steam hauled railway
in Cornwall and the first line in the West of Britain to carry
passengers. It was officially opened on Tuesday 30 September 1834
and was really intended to carry cargo - sand, mud and coal, out of
the town and granite, tin and copper in. The second part of the
route, Wadebridge to Padstow, was opened in 1899. The line was
finally closed in 1966 in common with many others due to the
'Beeching Axe'. The buildings however, lived to see another day.
Where the Library now stands, wagons were once being loaded and
unloaded, the supermarket stands on the sidings and at the Betjamin
Community Centre, the old booking office and waiting rooms can
still be seen.
In 2006 a new walk to work route was established
at the Bodmin end of the route.
The Camel Trail is managed through a Partnership
sharing responsibility of the maintenance and upkeep involving
Cornwall Council (with the Town and Parish Councils through whose
areas the trail passes). The Partnership also includes a
Commissioner from Padstow Harbour Commissioners and representatives
from English Nature, the Environment Agency and the Forestry
Commission. Rangers are employed to patrol and manage the trail and
cycle hire is available in each of the three large towns along its
Wadebridge has been noted in the past for being
the town between Bodmin with its Gaol and Pastow famed for its
historic harbour and more recently renowned Chef. Not much to be
said about it particularly following the demise of the railway but
since the arrival of the Camel Trail, many thousands of visitors
travel to Wadebridge for its own delights.
To arrive at Wadebridge, the traveller may have
left the A30 at the Kennards House junction travelling through
Camelford and down the beautiful Allen Valley which glows blue with
the bluebells in Spring and soft green in the summer; a welcome
shaded sanctuary from the sun. In the Autumn leaves of every colour
scatter under the driver's wheels and winter is softer here than
many other parts.
That same driver might also leave the A30 at
Bodmin, following a well signed route through the town, over the
Camel Trail where once a railway level crossing dissected the road
near the 'Borough Arms' where a hearty meal can be found near
journey's end. Over the widened river bridge, up past Dunmere Wood
and on to Wadebridge.
Recreation, Sport and Leisure
See 'Latest News' for information regarding Allotments
and Wadebridge Allotment & Garden Society (WAAGS).
For those so inclined, sport features quite
heavily in the town with a fine football club near the School,
rugby club near Egloshayle Church, bowling tennis and cricket in
Egloshayle Playing Fields, swimming at the leisure centre, several
martial arts classes and many other activities to suit all
ages and abilities.
There are also several excellent golf courses
within a few miles of the town, of both Championship standard and
the less formal.
Annual Events in Wadebridge
Festival of Music & Speech This annual event
though only small is held in high esteem by other town and cities
nationally. The aim of the organisation is to encourage
participation and confidence in the arts from an early age. This
events grows each year and its extensive programme covers some 150
classes with entries from North Cornwall and beyond.
2013- Wadebridge Carnival
The carnival is usually held on the 3rd
Saturday in July. This year it will be the 4th. All competitors
assemble in the lower Jubilee car park in the town. Judging will be
at 6.15pm. The Carnival procession starts at 7pm where floats,
carnival queens and walkers will all join in the
2013- Cornwall Folk
A weekend celebration of music, dance and
entertainment. There are workshops, dances and concerts. Events are
held in the streets, pubs and village halls throughout the town.
Fun and entertainment for all ages.