Northam, Devon

Coordinates: 51°02′21″N 4°12′37″W / 51.0393°N 4.2104°W / 51.0393; -4.2104
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Northam is located in Devon
Location within Devon
Population12,356 (Parish, 2021)[1]
5,190 (Built up area, 2021)[2]
OS grid referenceSS450290
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townBideford
Postcode districtEX39
Dialling code01237
PoliceDevon and Cornwall
FireDevon and Somerset
AmbulanceSouth Western
UK Parliament
List of places
51°02′21″N 4°12′37″W / 51.0393°N 4.2104°W / 51.0393; -4.2104

Northam (/ˈnɔːrðəm/) is a market town, civil parish and electoral ward in Devon, England, lying north of Bideford. The civil parish also includes the villages of Westward Ho!, Appledore, West Appledore, Diddywell, Buckleigh and Silford, and the residential areas of Orchard Hill and Raleigh Estate.


Northam is thought to have been the site of an Anglo-Saxon earthwork fortification, and an area between Northam and Appledore is conjectured to have been where the Danish Viking Ubba (or Hubba) was repelled during the reign of Alfred the Great. This is commemorated in local place names like Bloody Corner and Hubba's Rock (or Hubbleston), which is supposed to be the site where Ubba was killed.[3] It was also the site of the Battle of Northam in 1069 where the sons of Harold Godwinson were defeated. St Margaret's church is the Anglican parish church for the town and has been a Grade I listed building since 1951.[4]

In 1832 a meeting was held in Northam to protest an attempt by Augustus Saltren-Willett, lord of the manor, to take ownership of the commons of Northam Burrows.[5]

Royal North Devon Golf Club was formed at Northam Burrows in 1864; its course is the oldest on its original site in England.[6]

Between 1901 and 1917, the town and golf course were served by Northam railway station.


There are three tiers of local government covering Northam, at parish (town), district and county level: Northam Town Council, Torridge District Council (based in nearby Bideford) and Devon County Council (based in Exeter). The town council is based at the Town Hall at 1 Windmill Lane.[7]

Town Hall, 1 Windmill Lane

Northam was an ancient parish.[8] Until 1867 the parish was governed by its vestry in the same way as most rural areas. In 1867 a local board was established for the parish.[9] Local boards were converted into urban district councils in 1894. Northam Urban District Council built itself a headquarters on Windmill Lane in 1934, initially called the Council Offices.[10]

Northam Urban District was abolished in 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, with the area becoming part of the new district of Torridge. A successor parish was created covering the former urban district, with its council taking the name Northam Town Council.[11] The town council continues to be based at the 1934 building on Windmill Lane, but has renamed it Town Hall.[7]

Northam Burrows[edit]

A Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI),[12] Northam Burrows is a saltmarsh and dune landscape, adjacent to the Torridge Estuary.

It is part of the North Devon Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and sits within North Devon's Biosphere Reserve.

It is also home to the oldest golf course in England, the Royal North Devon Golf Club.

Sport and recreation[edit]

Northam has a King George's Field as a memorial to King George V.

Torridge Leisure Centre, off Churchill Way, has lane and learner pools. It also has a gym and sauna.


Northam has a public library. This burned down in 2005 destroying the building and 90% of the books, in a fire believed to have been caused by the action of a hands-free magnifier on a pile of leaflets.[13] The public library was threatened with closure in 2014 due to cuts in the County's budget.[14]


The Bideford, Westward Ho! and Appledore Railway (B,WH&A,R) was most unusual amongst British railways in that although it was built as a standard gauge line it was not joined to the rest of the railway network, despite the London and South Western Railway having a station at Bideford, East-the-Water, meaning on the other side of the River Torridge from the main town.

The line was wholly situated on the peninsula made up of Westward Ho!, Northam and Appledore with extensive sand dunes the Torridge and Taw estuary. Northam station and the line closed in 1917 having been requisitioned by the War Office, and is now used as part of the Tarka Trail cycle route which forms part of the South West Coast Path.

Bus services[edit]

  • Stagecoach 21= Ilfracombe to Westward Ho!
  • Stagecoach 21A= Ilfracombe to Appledore
  • Stagecoach 16 = Bideford - Westward Ho! - Appledore

Westward Ho! Buses serve The Square, Sandymere Rd and Atlantic Way.

Appledore Buses serve Lenards Rd and Churchill Way.

The 16 Bus service serves Morwenna Park Road, Sea View Road, Windsor Road and JH Taylor Drive

Notable residents[edit]


  1. ^ "Northam parish". City Population. Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  2. ^ "Towns and cities, characteristics of built-up areas, England and Wales: Census 2021". Census 2021. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 8 August 2023.
  3. ^ Prince, John, (1643–1723) The Worthies of Devon, 1810 edition, London, pp.564-5, biography of Lethbridge, Christopher, p.565
  4. ^ Church of St Margaret: A Grade I Listed Building in Northam, Devon Archived 2 September 2018 at the Wayback Machine - Historic England database
  5. ^ "North Devon Chronology (1824-1999)". Archived from the original on 9 April 2018. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  6. ^ Dowell, Phil, The English Golf Coast, Melrose Books, 2006, ISBN 1-905226-43-8.
  7. ^ a b "Contact us". Northam Town Council. Retrieved 9 August 2023.
  8. ^ "Northam Ancient Parish / Civil Parish". A Vision of Britain through Time. GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 9 August 2023.
  9. ^ Kelly's Directory of Devon and Cornwall. London. 1914. p. 362. Retrieved 9 August 2023.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  10. ^ "Northam Council's new offices: The opening ceremony". North Devon Journal. Barnstaple. 28 March 1934. p. 5. Retrieved 9 August 2023. Building formally opened 22 March 1934 by Councillor P. K. Harris.
  11. ^ "The Local Government (Successor Parishes) Order 1973",, The National Archives, SI 1973/1110, retrieved 9 August 2023
  12. ^ Northam Burrows SSSI
  13. ^ "Missing title". The Times. 17 July 2005.
  14. ^[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ Hannah, P. (2021). A Treasure to the Service- Admiral Keats. Adelaide: Green Hill. pp. 244–6. ISBN 978-1-922629-73-9.
  16. ^ "Serial killer's tortured Northam childhood - North Devon Journal". 10 December 2015. Archived from the original on 10 December 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2018.


Stuckey, Douglas (1962). The Bideford, Westward Ho! and Appledore Railway 1901-1917. Pub. West Country Publications.

External links[edit]

Media related to Northam at Wikimedia Commons