Continued Growth

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Since 1991, when the population of Bideford was 13,006, the town has seen sustained and rapid growth, reaching 15,000 in 2001 and 17,070 in 2011. Much of this growth has been in the form of new estates in East-the-Water, with the community expanding rapidly. These include areas such as those…

The Kathleen & May

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The last few sailing coasters to grace our shores all operated out of the Taw and Torridge ports. Of these, the last schooner was the Bideford registered Kathleen & May. After ending her working life in 1960 and then passing through a succession of other owners, she was bought by…

Tarka becomes a Trail

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In 1982 the rail transport of ball clay through East-the-Water finally ceased. Then, in 1987, the Taw/Torridge Country Park was established using the disused railway line between Barnstaple and Bideford, the line having been purchased from British Rail for £515,000. That was somewhat more than it cost Devon County Council…

Linking North and West Devon

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The Long Bridge had never been built to handle the size of traffic now on our roads, so in 1986-7 the A39 took a different route. To do so required the building of the Torridge Bridge, an award winning pre-stressed concrete structure, which holds its 300m spans high above the…

Initiatives to Improve the Area

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1976 saw Braunton Burrows established as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, because of its internationally important role in conservation. Ecologists have become increasingly aware that the viability of a reserve depends upon the pattern of land use in their hinterlands, so the reserve was subsequently expanded in 2002 to create buffer…

Severing Links

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27 March 1963 saw the publication of Beeching’s report “The Reshaping of British Railways,” which made the closure of the rail line to Bideford one of its recommendations. Thus, 2 October 1965 saw the last passenger service leave Bideford Station, severing a major artery into the town. As some demand…

Second World War

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The Second World War saw many evacuated to Bideford, whilst in East-the-Water the Home Guard began to plan for the possible German invasion. They decided where to site their roadblocks and they set up a hidden depot at Cleave Mine that could support covert resistance should that be needed. Quite…

Torridge becomes Tarka Country

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In 1924-5 the Long Bridge was widened and restored, but it was not long before another Torridge crossing was the focus of attention. In 1927 Henry Williamson published his most acclaimed book, Tarka the Otter. Williamson set Tarka’s birthplace as a holt beneath the Beam aqueduct, where the Rolle Canal…

Remembering the ‘War to End all Wars’

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With the onset of war in 1914 the demand for cordite shot up, as did the demand for the acetone needed to make it. In 1915 the Office of Woods and Forests established a wood alcohol plant in Bideford, which was then placed under the direct control of the Ministry…

Passing of the Potteries

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The potter James Redcliffe (or Redclift, 1833 or 34-) was also East-the Water based and at one time Henry Phillips’ partner. Redcliffe’s staff included Richard Branch and James Davis. In 1911 Phillips retired, selling the lease of the pottery, together with Prince its horse (at £1 per leg or £4…