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Cornish: Ponswad
Wadebridge Clock tower.jpg
The Platt in Wadebridge looking at the Clock Tower
Wadebridge is located in Cornwall
 Wadebridge shown within Cornwall
Population 7,900 (2011)
OS grid reference SW990725
Civil parish Wadebridge
Unitary authority Cornwall
Ceremonial county Cornwall
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district PL27
Dialling code 01208
Police Devon and Cornwall
Fire Cornwall
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament North Cornwall
List of places

Coordinates: 50°31′05″N 4°53′06″W / 50.518°N 4.885°W / 50.518; -4.885

The Old Bridge
Looking towards the Methodist church from the bridge

Wadebridge (Cornish: Ponswad[1]) 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.[2] The permanent population is 6,222 (Census 2001), increasing to 7,900 at the 2011 census.[3] There are two electoral wards in the town (East and West).Their total population is 8,272[4][5]

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 1991.

Wadebridge was connected to the railway system between 1834 and 1960; 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.


The initial settlement of Wade (the name of Wadebridge before the bridge was built)[6] came about due to a ford in the River Camel (Camel probably meaning "crooked one"[7]). The early crossing had a chapel on each 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 licence was granted for a market at Wade. The Reverend Thomas Lovibond (the vicar of Egloshayle) became distressed at the number of humans and animals that died during the crossing of the river Camel so he planned the building of a bridge which was completed in 1468. Wade was now 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.[8] 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 1963 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]


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 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![citation needed]

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. Oliver Bulleid designed his range of light pacific witch are ether named after WW2 squadrons or towns in the west country one such loco is 34007 Wadebridge witch is preserved at the Mid Hants Railway

Eddystone Road[edit]

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 was brought down to Wadebridge where stonemasons dovetailed each segment of stone not only to each other but also to the course 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.

Historical timeline[edit]

  • 1312 — Licence granted for Wade to hold a market.
  • 1460 — Reverend Thomas 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 was 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 3 m to 5 m.
  • 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 was connected to the Great Western Railway.
  • 1894 — Wadebridge Town Football Club was founded.
  • 1895 — The London and South Western Railway, reached Wadebridge from Halwill Junction and Launceston.
  • 1897 — A serious outbreak of typhoid in the town led to better water supplies.
  • 1899 — The Bodmin and Wadebridge railway was extended to Padstow.
  • 1930 — The Cinedrome (now the Regal) opened to its first customers.
  • 1955 — Wadebridge Camels RFC was founded.
  • 1960 — Wadebridge was 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 was completed.
  • 1993 — The Wadebridge Bypass was completed.


Wadebridge is in the constituency of North Cornwall which is currently held by the Liberal Democrat Dan Rogerson. The main offices of the former North Cornwall District Council were at Trenant Road in the town.

Geography and transport[edit]

The town straddles the River Camel 5 miles (8.0 km) upstream from Padstow.[9] The permanent population in the 2001 census was 6,222.[citation needed]

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 street in Wadebridge (Molesworth Street) has subsequently been pedestrianized through an inner link road, allowing traffic-free shopping.

Culture and community[edit]

The Challenge Bridge

The Royal Cornwall Agricultural Show is held at the Royal Cornwall Showground, 1.5 miles (2.4 km) 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 showground, run by the Royal Cornwall Agricultural Association, is used for many different functions from Scout Jamborees to point-to-point horse racing.

Wadebridge Carnival is held annually in July, and in August there is the Eglos Craft Fayre at Egloshayle Church, and the Cornwall Folk Festival, held during the Bank Holiday. In November the Prime Stock Show and the Garden Produce Association and Chrysanthemum Show are held.

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.

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 practice in Wadebridge since the early 20th century; many of the early doctors had their surgeries operating from their homes.

The newspaper is a local edition of the weekly Cornish Guardian.

The town is twinned with Langueux (Langaeg) in Brittany, France.[10]

In April 2013 Wadebridge was short-listed as one of Britain's top eco-towns[11] 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.[12]


Wadebridge is home to a number of sporting clubs including Wadebridge Town Football Club who play their home games at Bodieve park; and Wadebridge Camels, who play their home games at the Molesworth Field in Egloshayle. The town has a leisure centre with a varied programme of sports and leisure pursuits including Cornish wrestling.

The Camel estuary offers a wide 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.

Notable people[edit]

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.[13] The comedian Jethro (Geoffrey Rowe) lived in Wadebridge for many years,[citation needed] 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[14] near the town.[citation needed]

Sergeant Steven Roberts, the first solder to die in the invasion of Iraq, was born in Wadebridge.[15]

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 Annie Vernon, the 2007 World Rowing Champion Women's Quad Sculls.

Mixologist and bartender Tristan Stephenson is a resident, as is children's book illustrator Jago.


  1. ^ "List of Place-names agreed by the MAGA Signage Panel". Cornish Language Partnership. May 2014. Retrieved 11 January 2015. 
  2. ^ Ordnance Survey: Landranger map sheet 200 Newquay & Bodmin ISBN 978-0-319-22938-5
  3. ^ "Town population 2011". Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  4. ^ "Wadebridge West population 2011". Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  5. ^ "Wadebridge east population 2011". Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  6. ^ Mills, A. D. (1996). The Popular Dictionary of English Place-Names. Parragon Book Service Ltd and Magpie Books. p. 342. ISBN 0-7525-1851-8. 
  7. ^ Mills, A. D. (1996). The Popular Dictionary of English Place-Names. Parragon Book Service Ltd and Magpie Books. p. 65. ISBN 0-7525-1851-8. 
  8. ^ Wadebridge
  9. ^ Ordnance Survey: Landranger map sheet 200 Newquay & Bodmin ISBN 978-0-319-22938-5
  10. ^ "Twinning". Retrieved 25 May 2009. 
  11. ^ "Wadebridge short-listed as top eco-towns | West Country (W) - ITV News". itv.com. 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  12. ^ "Cornish town aims to be UK's first to adopt solar power - struggle becomes YouTube series - Environment". The Independent. 27 May 2011. Retrieved 7 July 2011. 
  13. ^ "Michael White's political blog: February 7". The Guardian (London). 7 February 2008. Retrieved 27 May 2010. 
  14. ^ Thomas, Liz (28 September 2009). "Wham! star Andrew Ridgeley succumbs to the ageing process". Daily Mail. Retrieved 23 April 2012. 
  15. ^ "BBC NEWS | England | Bradford | Kit delays led to soldier's death". BBC News (London: BBC). 18 December 2006. Retrieved 12 May 2013. 


External links[edit]