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Bideford is a small port town on the estuary of the River Torridgemarker in north Devonmarker, south-west Englandmarker. It is also the main town of the Torridgemarker local government district.


The River Torridgemarker is spanned at Bideford by the 13th century Long Bridge, which has 24 arches all of different sizes.

In the 16th century Bideford was Britain's third largest port . It was rumoured that Sir Walter Raleigh landed the first shipment of tobacco there, although this is a myth, as Raleigh was not, contrary to popular belief, the first to bring tobacco to England. In honour of Raleigh, several roads and a hill have been named after him in Bideford. Today the narrow town centre streets lead down to a tree-lined quay, which bustles with fishing vessels, cargo and pleasure boats. Ball clay is the principal export loaded onto boats at Bideford. The quay was refurbished, with completion in 2006, to provide flood defence and also to incorporate a large fountain and modern public toilets.

The Bideford witch trial in 1682 involved three women,Temperance Lloyd, Mary Trembles and Susannah Edwards, accused of witchcraft and resulted in the last ever hangings for witchcraft in England.

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!marker, which is the only town in the United Kingdommarker that officially contains an exclamation mark in its name, is approximately three miles (5 km) from Bideford. A statue has been erected in honour of Kingsley by the town park's car park.

The city of Biddeford, Mainemarker, 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.


Bideford is served by the Atlantic Highway and A386 roads. The nearest railway station is at Barnstaplemarker away.

A ferry operates between Bideford quay and Lundymarker, which lies about away in the Bristol Channelmarker. The same ship, the MS Oldenburg, also provides evening cruises from Bideford along the River Torridge in the downstream direction, M.S.Oldenburg is too big to pass through the Bideford Long Bridge.

Bus services linking Bideford with other local towns and villages are provided by a number of firms: the main bus companies operating in the area are First Devon and Cornwall, Stagecoach Devon and Beacon Bus. Many services are subsidised by Devon County Council.


Map of Bideford from 1937
In 1855 the Bideford Extension Railway opened, linking the town with Fremingtonmarker, Barnstaplemarker and beyond. In 1872 the railway was extended to Great Torringtonmarker and Bideford's railway station was replaced with a new one nearer the town centre. Bideford's passenger train services ceased in 1965 and freight trains ceased in 1982 Much of the course of the former railway has been re-used as part of the popular Tarka Trail footpath and cycleway. Parts of the route are also shared by the long-distance South West Coast Path footpath.

The Bideford Railway Heritage Centre operates the heritage railway Torridge Train along a short length of track at Bideford. The new Barnstaple Western Bypass is designed to allow the Barnstaple to Bideford section to be restored should the finance and wish ever exist.

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 Francemarker. 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 Torridgemarker; the area located east of the river is known as East-the-Water. Much of the land that has been built on 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 Chudleigh during the English Civil War. The area is surrounded by agricultural land.

There are many pubs in East-the-Water which include The Blacksmiths and The Swan which is well known for its award winning food.


Bideford Town Council has 16 members representing four unequal wards, North, South, East and South Outer. There is a mayor and Town Clerk.

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 has an official youth council. The council is run like the town council with voters and candidates of less than 18 years of age, who live in Bideford.

Bideford College

Bideford College has approximately 1,800 pupils all of whom are in Years 7 to 14 and is led by Principal, Ms Veronica Mathews, 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. It is currently undergoing a £44 million project, funded from the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, to build a new school located on the same site as the current school. The building works are hoped to be completed by September 2010. New figures published by the British Government in February, 2008, show Bideford College has made significant improvements in the Key Stage 3 exams taken by 14 year old students. Over the past four years, from 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 places Bideford College joint 21st nationally in the new table of most improved secondary schools published by the DCSF. Bideford is also in the top 20 per cent of schools nationally based on the progress made from Year 7 to Year 9.

Sport and recreation

Bideford has two King George's Field, 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 Cornwall/Devon League. . The other field, commonly referred to as The Sports Ground, is the home to Bideford AFC, the town's main local football club. East-the-Water also has its own football club, Shamwickshire Rovers FC, which plays at Pollyfield.

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.

The South West Coast Path National Trail runs through the town, and gives access to walks along the rugged North Devon coast.

Local media

Local radio is provided by Heart North Devon, a station broadcasting across North Devon, originally based in Bideford in a building named "the Lighthouse", but now situated on an industrial estate in nearby Barnstaple. In April 2009 the station was rebranded as part of the Heart Network loving the long standing Lantern FM named.

Bideford has two main local newspapers, both published weekly: the North Devon Gazette and the North Devon Journal. 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 at People, a new news, blogs and views community website for the Bideford (EX39) area is launching on 29 June 2009 at This is under the wider umbrella of thelocalpeople community websites across the southern parts of the UK.

Notable people

Temperance Lloyd, Mary Trembles and Susanna Edwards of the town were the last people to be hanged for witchcraft in England.

Cricket umpire David Shepherd was born in the town but at the time of his death resided in neighbouring Instowmarker. 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 in 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.


The town is twinned with Landivisiau in Francemarker.

On 20 October, 2006 British ex-pat David Riley came to mark the “20-year link” between Manteo, North Carolinamarker on Roanoke Islandmarker and Bideford. Bideford town clerk George McLauchlan, told him 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 Manteo Town manager Kermit Skinner said the link started in the 1980s during the 400th anniversary of Walter Raleigh’s voyages to America.It turns out the 'twinning' of Bideford with Manteomarker was established 20 years ago. 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 Richard Grenville, who bought back two native Indians, one of them Manteo which gave the North Carolina town its name.


Image:Bideford-Devon.jpg|A view of Bideford and the long bridgeImage:Bideford Quay (Geograph).jpg|Bideford QuayImage:MS Oldenburg - Bideford (2006-03-04).JPG|The Lundy ferry, MS Oldenburg, at BidefordImage:Kingsley and Wonky Conker - Bideford (2006-03-04).jpg|A statue of Charles Kingsley, next to the "Wonky Conker" tree with its "helping hand"Image:Pannier Market - Bideford (2006-03-04).jpg|The Pannier MarketImage:Torridge Bridge - Bideford (2006-03-04).jpg|A view of Torridge Bridge from the QuayImage:Port monument - Bideford (2006-03-04).jpg|Port of Bideford MonumentImage:Bideford-signalbox.jpg|A replica of the original signal box at Bideford's former railway station

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