Charles Kingsley's 'Little White Fishing Village' in North Devon

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 Along the quaint, narrow streets and drangs of Appledore there are many fishermen’s cottages, some of which date back to the Elizabethan era.

Where the Taw and Torridge rivers meet, sits the delightful quayside village of Appledore, next to the River Torridge. Appledore boasts a small but great range of shops, pubs, guesthouses and art galleries. A thriving fishing and trading village since the 14th century, Appledore has been a famous boat-building centre for many years and the shipyard is still active today. Picturesque Appledore provides a peaceful base from which to explore North Devon, and is close to surf beaches plus the ancient market towns of Bideford, Barnstaple and Great Torrington.

The Quay is very central to life in the village and it is here you will find many activities including fishing trips, crabbing contests on the quay, and sometimes Morris Dancers. This quaint fishing village  has a maze of narrow streets leading to the quay. A settlement here can be traced back to Saxon times, and Viking raiders lead by Hubba the Dane, were defeated here in the Battle of Bloody Corner circa 878 AD (a plaque to the battle is visible between Appledore and Northam on the Churchill Way corner near the swimming pool. 

In Elizabethan times, Appledore along with Bideford, was the largest importer of tobacco, and tales of smugglers and a nautical air can be found around every corner!

Don't forget the delicious Hocking's ice-cream made in Appledore and most times available from their van on the quay!


Appledore is located on the west bank of the tidal River Torridge at its confluence with the River Taw; jointly they flow NW for 4 km to Bideford Bay. Bideford town and port lies 4 km upstream.  

One of its earliest place names was Tawmutha - the mouth of the Taw; its present name is believed to have Celtic origins - a settlement by a pool of water.
The town has a long maritime history associated principally with ship building; an industry that remains the dominant employer to the present day.

Whilst Appledore has a long association with the sea there was no formal quay until 1845 when property owners on the eastern side of Market Street joined their garden walls together to form the Market Quay.

In 1939-40 the old quay was doubled in width and in 1997-98 a flood defence scheme was constructed raising the height of the quay by one metre.

Until the mid 19th century the riverbank was crowded with boat builders and ship repair yards; these have all disappeared with the last boatyard being redeveloped for housing in the 1990s.  Today ship building is limited to the Appledore Shipbuilders Yard which, when completed in 1970, was the largest covered dry dock in Europe.  The yard was constructed following the closure of the Richmond dock (constructed in 1855) a Grade II* building which at its opening had itself the largest dry dock in the Bristol Channel.

The settlement's population in 2001 was 2091.

[Source: Torridge District Council website]

Copyright 2002 - 2017 Linda Smith - Last Updated April 2017