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Barnstaple is a town and civil parish in the local government district of North Devon in the county of Devon, England, UK. It is the main town of the district and claims to be the oldest borough in the United Kingdom. Barnstaple has an eclectic and somewhat haphazard mix of buildings developed over hundreds of years with the 19th century probably now predominant. St.Anne's Chapel in the central churchyard is probably the best of the ancient buildings to survive. Barnstaple's population in the 1801 census was 3,748, in the 1901 census 9,698, and in the 2001 census, the population was 20,724.[3] The town has swallowed the villages of Pilton, Newport, and Roundswell through ribbon development between the 1930s and the 1950s. Traffic congestion in the town used to be quite severe, but in May 2007, the Barnstaple Western Bypass was opened so traffic heading towards Braunton and Ilfracombe avoids travelling through the town centre. As part of this work, the town's main square is receiving a facelift as the entrance to the town centre, and it is planned to pedestrianise The Strand . The name is first recorded in the 10th century and derives from the Old English bearde, meaning "battle-axe", and stapol, meaning "pillar", referring to a post or pillar set up to mark a religious or administrative meeting place.
The former Brannam's pottery which was sited in Litchdon Street was known for its use of "Barum" scratched beneath its interesting local pottery products. A wooden castle was built by Geoffrey de Mowbray, Bishop of Coutances in the 11th century, clearing houses to make room for it.
Built in 1855, Butchers Row consists of ten shops with pilasters of Bath Stone, and wrought iron supports to an overhanging roof.
Barnstaple railway station is near the end of the Long Bridge but on the opposite bank of the River Taw to the town centre. The surviving station was opened on 1 August 1854 by the North Devon Railway (later the London and South Western Railway), although a service had operated from Fremington since 1848 for goods traffic only.
A separate "Barnstaple" station, renamed Barnstaple (Victoria Road) in 1949, was opened to the east of the town in 1873 as the terminus of the Devon and Somerset Railway, eventually a part of the Great Western Railway. The Barnstaple bus network is privatised and run by many bus operators including FirstGroup and the Stagecoach Bus Group. On the reading of the Proclamation a large stuffed gloved hand garlanded with flowers is hung from a window of the Guildhall. Today the fair consists of rides and amusements located in the car park of the leisure centre.
Barnstaple Clock Tower, erected in 1862 as a memorial to Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria.
Barnstaple is twinned with Barnstable, Massachusetts in the USA, Uelzen in Germany, Trouville-sur-Mer in France, and Susa in Italy.

North Devon is situated at a distance from the UK's traditional areas of industrial activity and population.
Barnstaple gained a number of industrial companies in the late 1970s due to the availability of central government grants for the construction of factories and their operation on low or zero levels of local taxation. Petroc (formerly North Devon College) is a large tertiary college providing a wide range of vocational and academic further education for more than 3,000 young people over 16.
Senior rugby union is available in the town at Barnstaple RFC[18] whose first team play in the National 3 South West league.
It is the main town of the district and claims to be the oldest borough in the United Kingdom. Do want to assess your driving skills and improve your driving?  Have a look at the Drive Check and DriveCheck55 pages. Barnstaple is twinned with Barnstable in the USA, Uelzen in Germany, Trouville in France and now Susa in Italy. Because Barnstaple is the main shopping area for North Devon, retail work is a contributor to the economy. The origin of this name is obscure, but has been in use since pre-Saxon times and is probably of Roman origin.
Juhel of Totnes (Judhael) later lived in the castle and established a priory just outside its walls. Only two of the shops remain as butchers although the new shops still sell local agricultural goods. Demands for health regulation of its food market in Victorian times saw the construction in 1855 to 1856 of the town's Pannier Market, originally known as the Vegetable Market and designed by R D Gould. The station became "Barnstaple Junction" on 20 July 1874 when the railway opened the branch line through to Ilfracombe, reverting to just plain "Barnstaple" again when this was closed on 5 October 1970.
The town council meets in the Guildhall, where various toasts are honoured with a spiced ale which, according to tradition, is made from a jealously guarded recipe handed on from generation to generation.
The gloved hand represents the hand of friendship and the hand of welcome to the thousands that come to the fair.
Whilst the 1989 opening of the improved A361 (then "trunk") road connection to the motorway network has helped in some ways (notably weekend tourism), it had a detrimental effect on a number of distribution businesses.
This was only partially successful, with few of these lasting more than the few years that grants were available. There are a selection of well-regarded primary and secondary state schools, independent schools and a tertiary college in the Barnstaple area. It was founded at the lowest crossing point of the River Taw, about 3 miles (5 kilometres) from the Taw's sea fall at the Bristol Channel.

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Many generic chain stores are located in the town centre which is very typical of the area and on the Roundswell Business Park located on the western fringe of the town.
Mentioned by Shakespeare, the name Barum was revived and popularised in Victorian times, featuring in several novels of the time. It is now a terminus and much reduced in size as part of the site is now used for the Barnstaple Western Bypass. It was closed in 1898 and replaced by a nearby Barnstaple Town station at North Walk which was also the terminus of the narrow gauge Lynton and Barnstaple Railway until this closed in 1935. At 12 o'clock, a civic procession forms at the entrance to the Guildhall and the proclamation is read.
The latter previously viewed the town as a base for local distribution networks, a need that was removed with an approximate halving of travelling time to the M5. One success was the manufacturing of generic medicines by Cox Pharmaceuticals (now branded Actavis), who moved in 1980 from their traditional site in Brighton, Sussex. Its size and wealth in the Middle Ages was based on it being within the staple, a staple port licensed to export wool, though the town's name has a different derivation. The name is retained in the names of a football team, brewery, and several other local businesses. The most lasting consequence for the town was the development of, or increase to, the industrial estates at Seven Brethren, Whiddon Valley and Pottington. Its size and wealth in the Middle Ages was based on it being within the staple, a staple port licensed to export wool, and its importance is still obvious in the town's name. The wool trade was further aided by the town's excellent port, with five ships being sent in 1588 to aid the fight against the Spanish Armada. Market days are Monday – Crafts and General (April to December), Tuesday – General and Produce (all year), Wednesday – Arts Collectables and Books (all year), Thursday – Crafts and General (all year), Friday – General and Produce (all year) and Saturday – General and Produce (all year). The wool trade was further aided by the town's excellent port, with five ships being sent in 1588 to aid the fight against the Spanish Armada.

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