Bideford and River Torridge
Bideford shown within Devon
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Police||Devon and Cornwall|
|Fire||Devon and Somerset|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
|UK Parliament||Torridge and West Devon|
The Grenville family were for many centuries lords of the manor of Bideford and played a major role in the town's development. The monument with effigy of Sir Thomas Grenville (d.1513) exists in St Mary's Church. Sir Richard Grenville (1542–1591) was born in the manor house in Bideford, formerly situated on the site of numbers 1-3 Bridge Street. He built himself a new mansion on the quayside in 1585. The family had another seat at Stow House, Kilkhampton, near Bude in Cornwall.
Long Bridge 
The River Torridge is spanned at Bideford by the Long Bridge, said to have been first built in the 14th century by Sir Theobald Grenville. The present structure is supposed to be of 15th century construction, but includes much later repairs, for example in 1638, and was widened in 1865. It has 24 arches all of different sizes. The traditional explanation is that each arch was funded by a different local guild, although there are no records to confirm this. Another theory is that the piers of the arches of the bridge were built on naturally existing and therefore randomly situated large stones in the river. A former New Year's Eve tradition was to try to run across the Long Bridge during the time taken for the bells of St. Mary's parish church to chime midnight.
By the 16th century Bideford had become Britain's third largest port. Sir Walter Raleigh landed his first shipment of tobacco here, although, contrary to popular belief, he was not the first to import tobacco to England. Several local roads and a hill have been named after Raleigh. Bideford was heavily involved in the transport of indentured servants to the New World colonies.
Witch trial 
Literary references 
This area of North Devon was home to the author Charles Kingsley, and is where he based his novel Westward Ho!. A small seaside town, named after the book, was built after the book's publication. Westward Ho!, which is the only town in the United Kingdom which officially contains an exclamation mark in its name, is approximately three miles (5 km) from Bideford. A statue was erected in honour of Kingsley near the car park of Bideford Park.
Namesakes in USA & Canada 
The city of Biddeford, Maine, USA, was named after the English town, using the original old English spelling. Also, the town of Bideford in the province of Prince Edward Island, Canada, is named after the English town.
A ferry operates between Bideford quay and Lundy Island, which lies about 22 miles (35 km) away in the Bristol Channel. The same ship, the MS Oldenburg, also provides evening cruises from Bideford along the River Torridge but in the downstream direction only as it is too big to pass under the Bideford Long Bridge.
Coast path 
The South West Coast Path National Trail runs through the town, and gives access to walks along the rugged North Devon coast.
Bus There are several bus services provided by Stagecoach South West, First Devon and Cornwall, and Beacon Bus, including:
- 21/21A NORTH DEVON WAVE - W.Ho!/Appledore - East the Water - Instow - Barnstaple - Ilfracombe (21A)
- 315 - Barnstaple - Torrington - Crediton - Exeter
- 319 - Barnstaple - Abbotsham - Woolsery - Hartland
- 85 - Barnstaple - Holsworthy
- 118 - Barnstaple - Torrington - Okehampton - Tavistock
- 70 - Weare Giffard - Torrington
- 372 - Bradworthy
- 15/16 - Bideford Town Services to Atlantic Village/East the Water
Many routes are subsided by Devon County Council.
The nearest railway station is at Barnstaple 7.5 miles (12.1 km) away. Bideford was previously connected to the national rail network, but the connection was lost in 1982 (by then only a freight branch and that was primarily due to the ball clay traffic from Meeth Quarry) with the closure of the line from Barnstaple to Torrington and Meeth quarry. Passenger services were lost in 1965 following the publication of the Beeching Report. The station still exists East-the-Water and is now managed by a preservation group, the Bideford Railway Heritage Centre. The line followed the contours of the River Torridge for much of its route to Torrington and most of it continues to exist now as part of the Tarka Trail.
Bideford, Westward Ho! and Appledore Railway 
The Bideford, Westward Ho! and Appledore Railway was an unusual and short-lived railway built entirely on this peninsula with no direct connection to the rest of the British railway network. The locomotives were fitted with skirts to protect pedestrians as at one point the line ran along the quay at Bideford. The line had eleven halts which largely served visitors wishing to enjoy the bracing air along the coast or the fine beaches around Westward Ho!. The railway, although authorised in 1896 was opened only as far as Northam by 1901 and finally opened to Appledore in 1908.
The railway fell into financial difficulties until in the First World War the War Department requisitioned all of its equipment for use in France. Bideford's 13th century Long Bridge was temporarily converted into a railway bridge to carry the locomotives and rolling stock onto the main line railway near Bideford Station.
The town of Bideford has grown to cover land on both sides of the River Torridge; the area located east of the river is known as East-the-Water. Much of the land that has been built on in recent years is drained marshland.
East-the-Water has its own primary school, local shops, a few factories, approximately 3 bars and pubs, a small health centre and a small industrial area consisting largely of locally owned businesses. The community also has its own community centre and association, both of which are self funding and run by a committee of local residents. A key historical feature is Chudleigh Fort, built by the Parliamentarian Major-General James Chudleigh during the English Civil War. The area is surrounded by agricultural land.
Bideford Town Council has 16 seats representing four unequal wards, North, South, East and South Outer. At the May 2011 local elections, seven Conservatives, three independents, two Liberal Democrats, two Labour and one Green were elected (there was one vacant seat). There is a mayor and Town Clerk. The town council received widespread attention in February 2012 when the High Court ruled that prayers as part of meetings were not lawful by the Local Government Act 1972.
Torridge District Council is the next level of local government and most decisions are made by Devon County Council. The local MP is the Conservative Geoffrey Cox and the MEP local aristocrat Tory Giles Chichester.
Bideford College 
Bideford College has approximately 1,650 pupils all of whom are in Years 7 to 11 plus sixth form, and is led by Principal, Ms Veronica Mathews. It is the only local community secondary state school in Bideford. The college was granted specialist science status in 2004. Because of its specialist status, it receives extra funding from the government for extending its wide variety of educational activities. In 2010 a £55 million new school was built on the old site and includes a media suite, library, town square, sports hall, and a huge hall known as 'The Devon Hall'. £32 million was funded from the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.
Figures published by the UK Government in February 2008, show Bideford College had made significant improvements in the Key Stage 3 exams taken by 14 year old students. Over the previous four years (2004 to 2007) the school’s aggregate score for the exams in English, Maths and Science has risen from 177 out of 300 to 237. This placed Bideford College joint 21st nationally in the table of most improved secondary schools published by the DCSF. Bideford is also in the top 20 percent of schools nationally based on the progress made from Year 7 to Year 9.
Sport and recreation 
Bideford has two King George's Fields, which are memorials to King George V. One field is used primarily as the home ground of the main local rugby union club, Bideford RFC (Chiefs) who currently play in the Tribute Western Counties West League. The other field, commonly referred to as The Sports Ground, is the home to Bideford AFC, the town's main local football club. In over 60 seasons, the club has never been relegated, a distinction it shares only with Arsenal and Everton. East-the-Water also has its own football club, Shamwickshire Rovers FC, which plays at Pollyfield.
New Year traditions 
Bideford is renowned for its New Year's Eve celebrations, when thousands of people - most in fancy dress - from surrounding towns, villages and around the world gather on the quay for revelries and a fireworks display.
Local media 
Local radio was provided by Heart North Devon, the station, originally called Lantern FM and based in Bideford in a building named "the Lighthouse", later moved to an industrial estate in nearby Barnstaple. In April 2009 the station was rebranded as part of the Heart Network losing the long-standing Lantern FM name. In August 2010, amid much controversy, the station was merged with its sister operations in other areas of Devon and all operations were moved to new studios in Exeter and renamed Heart Devon. As a result, numerous members of staff at Barnstaple were made redundant. Since then, many of the Lantern FM team, past and present, have reunited to create The Voice, a new local radio station broadcasting fron Barnstaple, on DAB and online and working towards being able to broadcast on FM once again.
Bideford is covered by two main local newspapers, the North Devon Gazette and the North Devon Journal which are published weekly. The Gazette was founded in Bideford, and was originally known as the Bideford Gazette. It is now a free newspaper, delivered to most local homes, and is now based in Barnstaple. The regional daily paper, the Western Morning News, is also available. A local newsletter, the 'Bideford Buzz,' is published monthly by a team of volunteers, and has its own website.
Notable residents 
Sir Richard Grenville is believed to have been born in Bideford in 1542. Admiral Bedford Clapperton Trevelyan Pim was born here in 1826. Temperance Lloyd, Mary Trembles and Susanna Edwards of the town were the last people to be hanged for witchcraft in England. Edward Capern (1819–1894), known as "the rural postman of Bideford", published four volumes of verse and was given a Civil List pension. Cricket umpire David Shepherd was born in the town but at the time of his death resided in neighbouring Instow. Stuart Anstis, one time lead guitarist with black metal band Cradle of Filth went to School in Bideford, and now runs a guitar shop there. Derry Brownson, formerly of the band EMF is frequently seen around town and helps run a music studio in the town called Yard 1 studios. Actor Joss Ackland lives near Bideford. T. V. Smith and Gaye Advert, from the punk band The Adverts, are from the town. Crime fiction author Hilary Bonner was also born and raised in the town. Bristol Rovers defender Gary Sawyer was born in Bideford. Also Robin Poppelsdorff, author of the novel and short stories Living in the Past.
With France 
With USA 
On 20 October 2006, British ex-patriate David Riley came to mark the '20-year link' between Manteo on Roanoke Island, North Carolina, and Bideford. The Bideford town clerk, George McLauchlan, told him that locals had never heard of Manteo and the only town Bideford was twinned with was in France. Mr Riley handed over a clock to 'celebrate' the twenty-year link, while the Manteo Town manager Kermit Skinner said the link started in the 1980s during the 400th anniversary of Raleigh’s voyages to America.
It turns out the 'twinning' of Bideford with Manteo had been established 20 years before. But the story goes back much further, 500 years, to the mysterious disappearance of a colony of more than 100 people on Roanoke Island, many of whom were migrants from Bideford. The colony was established by Sir Richard Grenville, who bought back two native Indians, one of them called Manteo which gave the North Carolina town its name.
See also 
- "Bideford & Northam profile". Devon County Council. 19 December 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2013.
- David Carter, The Grenville Reports, Nimrod Research
- Pevsner, N. & Cherry, B., The Buildings of England: Devon, 2004, p.176
- Pevsner, N. & Cherry, B., The Buildings of England: Devon, 2004, p.749
- http://This is North Devon site: [www.thisisnorthdevon.co.uk/closer-look-Bideford-s-Long-Bridge/story-12151830-detail/story.html Retrieved 2 July 2012.]
- "The Beautiful North Devon Town of Bideford". Bideford Town Council. 2010. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
- "The south west ports of England". Bristol City Council. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
- Stuckey, Douglas (1962). The Bideford, Westward Ho! and Appledore Railway 1901-1917. Pub. West Country Publications.
- J. Murray. (1879) A Handbook for Travellers in Devonshire (9th edition)
- Bideford Town Council site
- Barnstaple and Bideford Town Council election results, North Devon Gazette, 2011-05-10
- Bideford Town Council prayers ruled unlawful, BBC, 2012-02-10
- McCurrach, 2002.
- Prince, 2005.
- Coles, 2006
- "Gifts from an undiscovered US twin town", The North Devon Gazette, 2006.
- McCurrach, Ian (2002-12-08). "TravelEtc: Ring in the New". The Independent on Sunday (Independent News & Media).
- Prince, Dominic (2005-12-17). "Top 10 New Year Crackers". The Daily Mail (Daily Mail and General Trust).
- Coles, John (21 October 2006). "Massive clock up in Bideford". The Sun (News International). Retrieved 2006-10-21.
- "Gifts from an undiscovered US twin town". The North Devon Gazette (Archant Regional). 18 October 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-21.
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