South West

Barnstaple is the oldest borough in the UK, and it was founded at the lowest crossing point of the River Taw, about 3 miles from the River Taw's seafall into the Bristol Channel. By the time of the Domesday Book, Barnstaple had its own mint. Its size and wealth in the Middle Ages was based on it being 'wool staple', a town licensed to export wool, and its importance is still obvious in the town's name.

Today Barnstaple is the main service centre for North Devon, with its economy centred on manufacturing, with several large employers in and around the town, as well as employment within the retail sector and the public sector.

The visitor economy in North Devon is centred on the North Devon coast, and there is an opportunity for Barnstaple to attract tourism spend by having a stronger ‘maritime heritage’ offer. This will be explored and developed by the Coastal Community Team.

In addition there is an opportunity to develop the maritime economy in the longer term, building on Barnstaple’s historic strengths around ship building, as well as increasing the community and health benefits of river-based recreational activities.

The Coastal Community partnership will work together to identify projects that can increase footfall and spend, to provide jobs, skills and training, and promote the town’s links with the Taw estuary and the coast beyond.

Contact Details:

Ellen Vernon

North Devon Council, Brynsworthy Environment Centre, Roundswell, EX31 3NP

01271 388368

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