Bideford has a rich and fascinating history that dates back to the medieval period.

The town played a crucial role in the export of wool and other goods during this time, and its proximity to the sea and the River Torridge made it an essential port for trade.

Today, you can explore a range of historic locations and landmarks, including the Long Bridge, St. Mary’s Church, and the Kingsley Museum. The town also has a strong association with several famous historical figures, including Sir Richard Grenville and Rudyard Kipling, pulse more recent ones too.

A Brief History of Bideford

As you sit there licking your ice cream or munching on fish & chips while watching the world go by on the quayside. you would not believe how vibrant the history of Bideford has been.

The Medieval Era

Bideford’s history dates back to the 8th century, but it wasn’t until the medieval era that the town began to grow. During this time, Bideford became an important trading port and a thriving centre for wool production.

The Golden Age of Sail

In the 16th and 17th centuries, Bideford experienced a “golden age of sail” as it became a key port for ships involved in trade with America and the West Indies. Like many ports around the UK, the town’s merchants also became heavily involved in the slave trade.

The Industrial Revolution

During the 18th and 19th centuries, Bideford became an industrial hub, with industries such as shipbuilding, pottery, and rope-making becoming major employers in the town.

The construction of the Bideford Railway in the mid-19th century helped to boost the local economy and allowed for easier transport of goods.

The World Wars

Bideford played an important role during both World War I and World War II.

The town’s shipyards were used to build and repair naval vessels, while Bideford Bay was used as a training ground for the D-Day landings in World War II.

And in Modern Times

Today, Bideford is a vibrant town with a rich history that is celebrated through its many museums and historical sites.

From the quayside and the Pannier Market to the Burton Art Gallery and Museum, there is plenty to discover about Bideford’s fascinating past.