A History of East-the-Water, Bideford


By Michael Teare, Bob Kirby, Anthony Burt with line drawings by Lou Boulter.

Much that has been written about Bideford’s past has touched upon the story of East- the-Water, despite the long history of the wharves and their commercial importance to the local area, this is the first book to focus on their history. After introducing East-the-Water and the wharves, the book concentrates on the important strands that make up the history of the local community: timber, emigration, shipbuilding, tobacco and pottery, coal mining and gravel extraction, fisheries, agriculture, energy and enterprise as well as the changes brought about by steamships and railways.

Profit from the sale of this book supports the work of the Way of the Wharves Charity (Registered Charity Number 1188912) – researching and promoting the maritime history of the Torridge Estuary and the wharves at East-the-Water.

Free delivery in Bideford Town, Northam, Appledore, Westward Ho! and Abbotsham postcodes.



A History of East-the-Water, Bideford

By Michael Teare, Bob Kirby, Anthony Burt with line drawings by Lou Boulter.

East-the-Water (locally known as Shamwickshire) has been connected to Bideford by the long bridge since medieval times and yet still maintains its separate character. This community on the east bank of the Torridge became an important industrial and commercial hub for Bideford and the estuary. This was not just a local story:

  • Ships built here voyaged all over the world
  • Timber was exploited for manufacturing ships, leather and shells
  • Coal and limestone came from Wales, fertilizer from South America
  • North America supplied timber and imported pottery
  • North Devon families sought a better life in the New World
  • Steamers plied the Bristol Channel carrying goods and tourists

East-the-Water’s history was influenced by Britain’s wars and imperial expansion as well as the agricultural and industrial revolutions. The exploitation of natural resources, a wandering deep-water channel, and the evolution of transport networks all contributed to change – which continues to this day.

Set against the background of local and international events impacting on the history of Shamwickshire, this book is about the people and industries of East-the-Water that shaped and made its history.