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Wadebridge (Cornish: Ponswad) 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.

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 become pedestrianized through an inner link road, allowing traffic free shopping. The permanent population is 6222 (Census 2001). The main offices of the former North Cornwall District Council were at Trenant Road, Wadebridge.

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 licence was granted for Wade to commence with a market. The 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 planned 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.

When the bridge was first completed tolls used to be paid for the maintenance of the bridge. In 1853, the bridge was widened from 3 to 5 metres (9.8 to 16 ft). Then in 1963 a second widening took place which took the bridge from 5 to 12 metres (16 to 39 ft). 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”. Locally, the bridge is known as Anneka’s Bridge. The bridge’s real name is the Bailey Bridge.

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 stonemasons 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.

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 of Pencarrow. 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 began in 1793 at Bodmin and then every year in East and West Cornwall alternately. In 1960 the show came to its present site, the Royal Cornwall Showground which is run by the Royal Cornwall Agricultural Association and situated 1.5 miles (2.4 km) west of Wadebridge. The showground itself is used for many different functions from Scout Jamborees to point to point horse racing.

  • 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.

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.

Annual events include:

  • Royal Cornwall Agricultural Show — June
  • Cornwall Folk Festival — August Bank Holiday
  • Eglos Craft Fayre at Egloshayle Church – August
  • Wadebridge Carnival – July
  • Prime Stock Show — November
  • Garden Produce Association and Chrysanthemum Show — November

Wadebridge is twinned with Langueux (Langaeg) in Brittany, France.

Note: this page is partly based on a Wikipedia page. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Where possible, text is being updated to original, fully referenced research. ‘Our photos’ means we took the photographs. The Street View and street map visuals are courtesy of Google.

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