Barnstaple acts as a sub regional centre for North Devon and also for parts of North Cornwall, West Somerset and Mid Devon. It also acts as a centre for its resident population and local communities.
Whilst Barnstaple has a population of approximately 25,000 residents, it serves a wider population of over 130,000 people in its sub regional service role for North Devon More importantly, Barnstaple, is the main centre for public administration, health services, employment, commerce, education and culture, sport and recreation, all this success is allied to its location, road alignment and positive character.
Barnstaple has 9 Primary schools and 2 Secondary Schools along with North Devon College which is situated on a Sticklepath hill which overlooks the town. North Devon College is a Tertiary College providing sixth form education, vocational and non-vocational courses.
Along side the river close to the centre of Barnstaple is the North Devon Leisure Centre. The centre offers good car parking and has facilities for a large range of indoor leisure activities, the top floor consists of a fitness studio with the latest cardio-vascular and resistance fitness training equipment.
Local sporting facilities are on a par with the town’s other activities and there are splendid opportunities for fishing, boating, yachting, lawn tennis, putting, bowling (both lawn and ten pin) and shooting. Golf courses are located at Westward Ho!, Saunton (two courses), Libbaton, Ilfracombe, Torrington and Portmore (pay and play plus a driving range).
On the market days of Tuesday, Friday and Saturday the town is a hive of industry but there are many other things which attract visitors from the surrounding countryside. The excellent range of shops, from locally owned shops to the large national stores, the Queens Theatre, The Central Cinema, the Leisure Centre, night clubs, restaurants, museums etc., are all amenities which bring people to the town.
Barnstaple’s Long Bridge has 24 arches which date from 1834. Barnstaple was used to import timber and coal, there was also a small fishing fleet, and Coasters playing the Bristol Channel Ports. Albert Clock Tower in the Square just off the Bridge