Quiet town once famous for its bridge,
but now known for The Camel Trail & The Royal Cornwall Show
Wadebridge Town Council
Welcome to Wadebridge, one of North Cornwall's main market towns and gateway to The Camel Trail, now the third largest attraction in the whole of Cornwall. This centrally located town has much to offer visitors of all ages and interests all year round.
A pleasant shopping-town with a recently pedestrianised main street and a history as a busy river port, the glory of Wadebridge is still, as it has always been, its great bridge across the Camel. The town straddles the River Camel five miles upstream from Padstow. The population of the town was 6,636 at the 2011 census.
For many years Wadebridge was a traffic-congested town (through which the route of the A39 trunk road passed) but in 1993 the Wadebridge by-pass was opened together with the Egloshayle by-pass causing the two settlements to regain much of their former charm. The main shopping street in Wadebridge (Molesworth Street) has subsequently been pedestrianised through an inner link road, allowing traffic-free shopping.
A Brief History
One of the earliest recorded mentions of the town of Wadebridge, was in 1313 when a market and two fairs were granted to Wade, within the manor of Pawton. At this time the town was in two parishes, Egloshayle and St. Breock, either side of the River Camel. There were also two chapels, St. Michael's on the west side and King's chapel on the east. Travellers giving thanks at both sides after a safe crossing.
The bridge which must have revolutionised life in the town, was built by the Reverend Lovibond in 1460 and has seventeen arches along its 320 foot length. Legend has it that it was built on wool sacks or bales but it seems more likely that this refers to the finance for the bridge coming from wool merchants and sheep farmers. From this time the town became known as Wadebridge. The bridge was a strategic position in the English Civil War as in 1646 Oliver Cromwell came with 500 Dragoons and 1000 horsemen to take the bridge. In 1852 it was widened from 9.8 feet to 16.4 feet. A second widening took place in 1963 taking it to 39 feet.
The River Camel played an important part in the town's early prosperity as all manner of cargoes would have travelled by boat, roads being very poor. Guineaport is said to be so named because captains had to pay a guinea (£1.05) to moor their boats there. In the 1900's vessels brought cargo's such as grain and coal to the town. Flour was also a regular cargo brought from Ranks at Avonmouth. However, in the 1950's the river silted badly so that the ketch 'Agnes' was possibly the last vessel to bring cargo to Wadebridge in 1955.
Building work on the Town Hall began in 1886 and it was opened on May 31st, 1888 by Sir Paul Molesworth, initially called Molesworth Hall, costing £3000 to build. The Hall was taken over by the Town Trust and finally the Parish Council. A large mural painted by Mr. V. Harvey of St. Mabyn showing the bridge being built, is at the rear of the Town Hall.
The Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway Line was opened in 1834 with the locomotive Camel pulling a train load of 400 passengers and was one of the first built in the world, it carried the first steam trains in Cornwall and was the first in West Britain to carry passengers. On the 13th April 1840 an excursion was run from Wadebridge to see the public execution of the Lightfoot brothers at Bodmin Jail, they had been convicted of the murder of Mr. Neville Norway. Three trains were run for 1100 people. The town became a railway junction in June 1895 when the North Cornwall line was opened, which linked Wadebridge with places such as Camelford, Launceston and Okehampton. The second part of the route from Wadebridge to Padstow was opened in 1899, After operating successfully for many years, the lines began to decline from the 1950's. On the 30th January 1967 the North Cornwall line was closed for all passenger services. The route of the old railway is now known as the Camel Trail and is popular with both walkers and cyclists. Visitors can either walk to Padstow and the sea, or inland through wooded valleys to Bodmin and the moors. The new Library stands where the wagons and goods vans once stood and the old booking office and waiting room have been turned into the John Betjeman Centre. The former goods shed is now used for community projects, renamed the Betty Fisher Centre.
The Regal cinema situated at the end of The Platt in Wadebridge was built by the Pope family of Padstow and opened its doors for the first time in January 1931.
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.
A footbridge called Challenge Bridge links the Egloshayle playing 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. A by-pass was built around the town in 1993 to relieve the gridlock of traffic which occurred every summer.
Neither of the two principle churches are in the town, St. Breock church is 13th century and stands in Nancient (holy well in Cornish).
Egloshayle (church by the estuary in Cornish) church stands on low ground near the river Camel and is dedicated to St. Petroc who has several other churches dedicated to him in Cornwall and Brittany. Petroc arrived in Cornwall in about the 5th century and settled in the area for a while. The church tower is eighty feet high and was a gift from the Reverend John Lovibond.
The Royal Cornwall Agricultural Show is held at the Royal Cornwall Showground, 1.5 miles west of Wadebridge over three days in 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 John Betjeman Centre
The John Betjeman Centre has been created on the old railway station site. The poet laureate's work and love of this area of North Cornwall influenced many of his well-known works.
The Camel Trail
A tract of beautiful countryside for over 17 miles in total, The Trail goes from Wadebridge to Padstow and from Wadebridge to Pooley's Bridge. The whole of the Trail is level as it used to be part of the Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway, so it makes an ideal cycle trail. There is also refreshments along the way from the many cafes and a Public House at Bodmin. Bike hire is in plentiful supply in Wadebridge with three shops in Eddystone Road, at the start of the Wadebridge to Padstow stretch of the Trail. The Trail is also popular for bird watchers, with a purpose built bird hide half way between Wadebridge and Padstow.
Rock is only a few miles away and offers a wide range of water-sports, including sailing, water skiing, windsurfing and paracending. There are also various riding stables in the area. Four miles away is the Cornwall Karting indoor racing track at Retallack. Not to be missed are the numerous beautiful golden beaches, all along the north coast and three golf courses close by at Trevose, Constantine and Bodmin.
Wadebridge has a new and extensive sports centre in Bodieve Road, PL27 6BU, which includes a swimming pool. Other facilities are squash courts, weights room, cafe, solarium and main hall which holds various activities throughout the week.
The town's Tourist Information Centre is at Eddystone Road, PL27 7AL.
Wadebridge is an ideal location for keen walkers. The Camel Trail provides easy walking for young and old, with beautiful countryside all around it and the Trail being flat. For the more adventurous, Bodmin Moor is only fifteen miles away and has many places of interest along with some challenging walking areas. Wadebridge is also close to the famous Saints Way, a twenty six mile cross country path, forged in ancient times by Celtic Saints between Padstow and Fowey. There are also spectacular walks along The Coastal Footpath within a few miles of Wadebridge.
The gentleman scientist and surgeon Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, (1793-1875) who invented the Bude-Light, lived in Wadebridge from 1814 to 1820. A street (Goldsworthy Way) has been named after him.
In media, Michael White (1945-), journalist, associate editor and former political editor of The Guardian was born in the town.
The comedian Jethro (Geoffrey Rowe) (1948-2021) lived in Wadebridge for many years, and 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 (1970-2003), the first soldier to die in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, was born in Wadebridge.
In sport, Olly Barkley (1981-), the England rugby union international player, was raised in the town, as was Michaela Breeze (1979-), the Commonwealth weightlifting champion. Both were educated at Wadebridge School, as was Annabel Vernon (1982-), the 2007 World Rowing Champion Women's Quad Sculls.
Annual Festival of Music and Speech - Early March.
Tredinnick Steam & Vintage Rally - End May.
Royal Cornwall Show - Early June.
Wadebridge Beer Festival - Mid June.
Wadebridge Wheels - Mid July.
Wadebridge Carnival - Early August.
Cornwall Folk Festival - End August.
Eglos Craft Fayre - August.
Camel River Festival - Mid August.
The Cornish Winter Fair - Mid November.
Garden Produce Association and Chrysanthemum Show - November.
Christmas Shopping Weekend - Mid December.
Relish Food and Drink
The Shed Cafe
The Tea Shop
Wood and Green
The 16th century Molesworth Arms, a coaching inn in the centre of the town, is an ideal venue for walkers and cyclists from the Camel Trail.
The Bridge on Wool
The Swan Hotel
The Churchill Bars
The Ship Inn
The Camel Trail The John Betjeman Centre Pencarrow House Trevibban Mill St. Teath St. Tudy
Trenouth Farm Rare Breeds Centre Donkey Sanctuary Camel Creek Adventure Park Cornwall Karting
Chase Art Gallery St. Breock Gallery Mellingey Mill Porteath Bee Centre Wadebridge Museum
Bodmin Padstow Polzeath Port Quin St. Columb Major St. Mabyn The Camel Estuary St. Kew