About UsWelcome to The Bideford & District Community Archive

Bideford Archives


The Bideford Community Archive project started in 1983 under the auspices of a Manpower Services Commission funded scheme. Run by volunteers, it continued as a charity - Bideford & District Community Archive Council - in late 1985.

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Its aim is to ‘profile and document buildings, families and events of historic interest’ and to achieve this, it holds a wealth of material on the history of Bideford and its surrounding villages. This includes books, maps, photographs, plans, censuses, trade directories and, over the past 30 years, the Archive volunteers have been compiling a unique index of Bideford Gazette newspapers from 1856 to the present day.


Where Is It & Who Is It For?

The Archive is based in the Northam Town Council Office, 1 Windmill Lane, Northam and rents rooms on the ground, first and second floors which provides access for all members of the public. The addition of 2 fireproof safes has enabled us to securely store films and microfiche. New shelving has been purchased and installed ensuring that the bound copies of the Gazette newspaper are stored in the correct (horizontal) position.

The Archive is used by many local writers as a source of reference material for their publications and receives enquiries from across the world as well as visiting researchers from the UK.

The visitors’ book for 2015 identifies 65 visits including a 12 year old undertaking research for a school project, university students preparing dissertation material and numerous family historians.

The Archive gives presentations to associations and clubs on local interest topics, and engages with other local institutions such as the Burton Art Gallery. Volunteers attend local fairs and heritage days, use social media and provide articles for publications such as My Town, Bideford Buzz and The Link.

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What Information Do We Hold?

This Archive started work as a registered charity in 1985 and over 30 years has amassed a fascinating collection of photographs and documents that tell the exciting story of our local past. Some parts of the story are told in great detail; for example, copies of The Gazette newspaper dated from 1856 to the present day give us word by word accounts of shipping disasters, murder investigations, accident inquests, festivals and civic celebrations. We have detailed accounts of badger, fox and otter hunts where the names of the dogs highlight the pace of the game.

Likewise, we have hundreds of photographs and memorabilia donated by families who wish us to be the custodian of their family history. Sadly a number of the photographs are only partly useful to us because the all-important detail, such as date, location and persons present, are missing. Perhaps this is a lesson to us all. To preserve our family histories for future generations we should ensure that relevant information is attached.

In addition we have many other local collections and sources of information:-

  • 280 Ordnance Survey maps of North Devon area dating back to 1884
  • Birth Marriage & Death announcements 1856-1978
  • Prior to 1837 Birth Marriage & Death information was only recorded by the clergy and we have copies of the Bishops Transcripts for the North Devon area.
  • A complete Census set from 1841 for all of Devon on microfiche with the four local areas transcribed.
  • Churchyard plans and memorial inscriptions for St Mary’s Appledore; St Margaret’s Northam; East the Water Bideford; & Old Town Cemetery Bideford.
  • Alphabetic lists of WW1 & WW2 casualties, War memorials & Rolls of honour.
  • Over 250 recorded conversations with local prominent people. Some unique insights are revealed!
  • Bideford Buzz back issues, Hartland Times and other village magazines.
  • Original planning applications and drawings for the rural districts of Holsworthy and Torrington as well as Bideford and Torridge.


We are grateful to Torridge District Council for their financial support towards this website

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