[Wadebridge (Ponsrys) is a town in North Cornwall, England, UK, located on the Camel Estuary some 5 miles (8 km) upstream from Padstow. For many years Wadebridge was a traffic congested town 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 street in Wadebridge (Molesworth Street) has subsequently become pedestrianized through an inner link road, allowing traffic free shopping. The permanent population is 6222 (Census 2001).
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 two chapels either side of the river "Kings" 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 license was granted for Wade to commence with a market. The local Reverend Thomas Lovibond (the vicar of Egloshayle
) started to become distressed at the number of humans and animals that had died during the crossing of the river Camel so he initiated the building of a bridge which was completed in 1468. Wade was now known as Wadebridge.
The bridge was to become a strategic position in the English Civil War as in 1646 Oliver Cromwell himself came with 500 Dragoons and 1000 horsemen to take the bridge.
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.
History of the bridge
The bridge is said to be built on wool. One of the public houses in Wadebridge is actually called "the Bridge on Wool". However no one is actually sure if this means that the bridge is actually physically built on sacks of wool as a foundation. What is much more likely is that the bridge was built on the profits of the wool trade. However when the bridge was extended in 1963 some wool was found in one of the core samples taken, although some people say that the core sample was just a hoax. When the bridge was first completed tolls used to be paid for the maintenance of the bridge.
In 1853 the bridge was widened from 3m to 5m. Then in 1963 a second widening took place which took the bridge from 5m to 12m. More recently in 1994 the bridge underwent a refurbishment to change the stone in the pavement and to create a cycle track along the length of the bridge.
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 by Anneka Rice and her team for the TV series "Challenge Anneka".
In 1882 cracks started to appear in the rock on which the Eddystone Lighthouse
was positioned. Therefore a new lighthouse had to be built. Granite was quarried from De Lank quarry
and brought down to Wadebridge. The stone masons in Wadebridge dovetailed each segment of stone not only to each other but also to the course above and below. As each layer had been completed and checked to fit with the layer above it was sent out to the Eddystone
rocks from Wadebridge by sea. The Lighthouse was completed in 1882. This resulted in the road where the masons worked being called Eddystone Road.
History of the railway
The Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway
from Wadebridge to Wenfordbridge with a branch line to Bodmin
was built at a cost of £35,000 following a study commissioned in 1831 by a local landowner and revolutionary parliamentarian Sir William Molesworth
. The line was intended to carry sand from the Camel estuary to inland farms for use as fertiliser
. The line 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
in 1967 following railway cut backs. The railway has been transformed into the Camel trail
, and the Bodmin and Wenford Railway
heritage railway runs on part of the route.
The Royal Cornwall Agricultural Show
The Royal Cornwall Agricultural Show
began in 1793 at Bodmin and then every year in East and West Cornwall alternately. In 1960 the show came to its present site on the edge of Wadebridge where it has stayed. The showground itself is used for many different functions from Scout Jamborees
to point to point horse racing.
- 1312 — License granted for Wade to commence with a market.
- 1460 — Reverend Lovibond commenced building the bridge.
- 1646 — Oliver Cromwell and his men descended onto Wadebridge to take control of the bridge.
- 1793 — A shipping canal from Wadebridge to Fowey is surveyed.
- 1834 — The Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway took its first passengers.
- 1845 — The Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway became part of the London and South Western Railway
- 1852 — The Bridge was widened from 3m to 5m.
- 1882 — Work began on replacing the Eddystone lighthouse.
- 1888 — The Town Hall (then known as the Molesworth Hall) was completed.
- 1888 — The Bodmin and Wadebridge railway connected to the Great Western Railway.
- 1894 — Wadebridge Town Football Club was founded.
- 1897 — A serious outbreak of typhoid in the town led to better water supplies.
- 1899 — The Bodmin and Wadebridge railway is extended to Padstow.
- 1930 — The Cinedrome (now the Regal) opens to its first customers.
- 1960 — Wadebridge is chosen as the permanent site of the Royal Cornwall Agricultural Show.
- 1963 — The Bridge was widened from 5m to 12m.
- 1967 — The railway line was closed to passengers.
- 1991 — The Challenge Bridge is completed.
- 1993 — The Wadebridge Bypass is completed.
The Camel estuary offers a wide range of water sports, including sailing
, water skiing
and kite surfing
. Golf courses close by include Trevose
and St Enodoc
and St Kew.
Wadebridge has a leisure centre which has a varied programme of sports and leisure pursuits including Cornish wrestling.
Wadebridge is home to the following sports clubs:
- Royal Cornwall Agricultural Show — June
- Cornwall Folk Festival — August Bank Holiday
- Eglos Craft Fayre at Egloshayle Church— Friday 22nd to Monday 25th August 2008
- Wadebridge Carnival — July 19th, 2008
- Prime Stock Show — November
- Garden Produce Association and Chrysanthemum Show — November
Wadebridge has two primary schools, St Breock primary
and Wadebridge county primary
Wadebridge has just one secondary school Wadebridge School
which has a sixth form.
There has been a group practice in Wadebridge since the early 1900s. Many of the early doctors had their surgeries operating from their homes.
Today there are two health care practices in Wadebridge. The Wadebridge and Camel Estuary Practice and the Bridge Medical Centre.
Politics and administration
Wadebridge is in the constituency of North Cornwall
which is currently held by the Liberal Democrat Dan Rogerson
Notable former and present residents
- Tutthill, Peter (2004) A brief history of Wadebridge