Quiet town once famous for its bridge,
but now known for The Camel Trail & The Royal Cornwall Show
Welcome to Wadebridge, one of North Cornwall's main market towns and gateway to The Camel Trail, now the third largest attraction in the whole of Cornwall. This centrally located town has much to offer visitors of all ages and interests all year round.
A pleasant shopping-town with a recently pedestrianised main street and a history as a busy river port, the glory of Wadebridge is still, as it has always been, its great bridge across the Camel.
A Brief History
One of the earliest recorded mentions of the town of Wadebridge, was in 1313 when a market and two fairs were granted to Wade, within the manor of Pawton. At this time the town was in two parishes, Egloshayle and St. Breock, either side of the River Camel. There were also two chapels, St. Michael's on the west side and King's chapel on the east. Travellers giving thanks at both sides after a safe crossing.
The bridge which must have revolutionised life in the town, was built by the Reverend Lovibond in 1460 and has seventeen arches along its 320 foot length. Legend has it that it was built on wool sacks or bales but it seems more likely that this refers to the finance for the bridge coming from wool merchants and sheep farmers. From this time the town became known as Wadebridge.
The River Camel played an important part in the town's early prosperity as all manner of cargoes would have travelled by boat, roads being very poor. Guineaport is said to be so named because captains had to pay a guinea (£1.05) to moor their boats there.
Building work on the Town Hall began in 1886 and it was opened on May 31st, 1888 by Sir Paul Molesworth, initially called Molesworth Hall, costing £3000 to build. The Hall was taken over by the Town Trust and finally the Parish Council. A large mural painted by Mr. V. Harvey of St. Mabyn showing the bridge being built, is at the rear of the Town Hall.
The Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway Line was opened in 1834 and was one of the first built in the world, it carried the first steam trains in Cornwall and was the first in West Britain to carry passengers. On the 13th April 1840 an excursion was run from Wadebridge to see the public execution of the Lightfoot brothers at Bodmin Jail, they had been convicted of the murder of Mr. Neville Norway. Three trains were run for 1100 people. On the 30th January 1967 the North Cornwall line was closed for all passenger services. The route of the old railway is now known as the Camel Trail and is popular with both walkers and cyclists. Visitors can either walk to Padstow and the sea, or inland through wooded valleys to Bodmin and the moors. The new Library stands where the wagons and goods vans once stood and the old booking office and waiting room have been turned into the John Betjeman Centre. The former goods shed is now used for community projects, renamed the Betty Fisher Centre.
Neither of the two principle churches are in the town, St. Breock church is 13th century and stands in Nancient (holy well in Cornish).
Egloshayle (church by the estuary in Cornish) church stands on low ground near the river Camel and is dedicated to St. Petroc who has several other churches dedicated to him in Cornwall and Brittany. Petroc arrived in Cornwall in about the 5th century and settled in the area for a while. The church tower is 80 feet high and was a gift from the Reverend John Lovibond.
The Camel Trail
A tract of beautiful countryside for over 17 miles in total, The Trail goes from Wadebridge to Padstow and from Wadebridge to Pooley's Bridge. The whole of the Trail is level as it used to be part of the Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway, so it makes an ideal cycle trail. There is also refreshments along the way and a Public House at Bodmin. Bike hire is in plentiful supply in Wadebridge with three shops in Eddystone Road, at the start of the Wadebridge to Padstow stretch of the Trail. The Trail is also popular for bird watchers, with a purpose built bird hide half way between Wadebridge and Padstow.
Rock is only a few miles away and offers a wide range of watersports, including sailing, water skiing, windsurfing and paracending. There are also various riding stables in the area. Four miles away is the Cornwall Karting indoor racing track at Retallack. Not to be missed are the numerous beautiful golden beaches, all along the north coast and three golf courses close by at Trevose, Constantine and Bodmin.
Royal Cornwall Show - June
Cornwall Folk Festival - August Bank Holiday
Eglos Craft Fayre - August
Carnival - Early August
Prime Stock Show - November
Garden Produce Association and Chrysanthemum Show - November
Wadebridge is an ideal location for keen walkers. The Camel Trail provides easy walking for young and old, with beautiful countryside all around it and the Trail being flat. For the more adventurous, Bodmin Moor is only 15 miles away and has many places of interest along with some challenging walking areas. Wadebridge is also close to the famous Saints Way, a 26 mile cross country path, forged in ancient times by Celtic Saints between Padstow and Fowey. There are also spectacular walks along The Coastal Footpath within a few miles of Wadebridge. Further details of guided walks and tours, many of them free, are available from North Cornwall's Heritage Coast and Countryside Service on (01208) 74121.
Wadebridge has a new and extensive sports centre, which includes a swimming pool. Other facilities are squash courts, weights room, cafe, solarium and main hall which holds various activities throughout the week.
Places of Interest
Alfred and the cakes, Bruce and the spider, the bridge on wool, these were whimsical anecdotes that we remember about people and places. So was the bridge founded on wool? It is most unlikely. It is known that facines of brushwood were used to bind wet soils together: wool might have served the same purpose - but in comparison would have been at a tremendous cost. The suggestion that the bridge was "built on wool" means that the money used from its construction came from the wealth of the wool trade.
Wadebridge town also offers some of the best arts and crafts galleries and shops. Seek out some of North Cornwall's artists and crafts people and see vibrant landscapes, beautiful furniture and pottery.
The John Betjeman Centre
The John Betjeman Centre has been created on the old railway station site. The poet laureate's work and love of this area of North Cornwall influenced many of his well-known works.
The town's Tourist Information Centre is at Eddystone Road, Tel: (01208) 813725.
The 16th century Molesworth Arms, a coaching inn in the centre of the town, is an ideal venue for walkers and cyclists from the Camel Trail.
The Bridge on Wool
The Swan Hotel
Trenouth Farm Rare Breeds Centre Donkey Sanctuary Crealy Great Adventure Park
Chase Art Gallery St. Breock Gallery Mellingey Mill Porteath Bee Centre
Bodmin Padstow Polzeath Port Quin St. Columb Major The Camel Estuary The Camel Trail