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The Town Hall, Camelford - - 1348974.jpg
Camelford Town Hall
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Population 2,945 (Town Census, 2011)
OS grid reference SX101831
Civil parish
  • Camelford
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district PL32
Dialling code 01840
Police Devon and Cornwall
Fire Cornwall
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament
  • North Cornwall
List of places
50°37′01″N 4°40′59″W / 50.617°N 4.683°W / 50.617; -4.683

Camelford (Cornish: Reskammel) is a town and civil parish in north Cornwall, England, United Kingdom, situated in the River Camel valley northwest of Bodmin Moor. The town is approximately ten miles (16 km) north of Bodmin and is governed by Camelford Town Council. Lanteglos-by-Camelford is the ecclesiastical parish in which the town is situated (not to be confused with Lanteglos-by-Fowey). The ward population at the 2011 Census was 4,001. The town population at the same census was 865.

Camelford is in the North Cornwall parliamentary constituency represented by Scott Mann MP since 2015. Until 1974, the town was the administrative headquarters of Camelford Rural District. From 2009 to 2021, the town was represented on Cornwall Council by the Camelford division. From the 2021 local elections, it will be represented by the Camelford and Boscastle division.

The two main industrial enterprises in the area are the slate quarry at Delabole and the cheese factory at Davidstow and there is a small industrial estate at Highfield.

The A39 road (dubbed 'Atlantic Highway') passes through the town centre: a bypass has been discussed for many years. Camelford Station, some distance from the town, closed in 1966; the site was subsequently used as a cycling museum.


Early history

Camelford has been linked to the legendary Camelot, and the battle of Camlann, but historians have refuted these suggestions. The name comes from the original, Brythonic name of the river (Allen) in combination with cam- = crooked and the English 'ford', though this is not accepted by all.

Camelford has sometimes been linked to Gafulford the site of a battle against the West Saxons which is more likely to have been at Galford in Devon.) Nearby Slaughterbridge has been supposed to be the site of a battle; an error arising because the derivation of "slaughter" in this case from an Anglo-Saxon word for "marsh" was not understood.

Modern history

The town elected two members to the Unreformed House of Commons: the first MPs sat in the Parliament of 1552. It was later considered a rotten borough, and in 1832 the Camelford parliamentary constituency was abolished and the town became part of the East Cornwall constituency.

The seal of the borough shows: Arg. a camel passing through a ford of water all proper with legend "Sigillum Vill: de Camelford".

Water pollution incident

In July 1988, the water supply to the town and the surrounding area was contaminated when 20 tons of aluminium sulphate was poured into the wrong tank at the Lowermoor Water Treatment Works on Bodmin Moor. An independent inquiry into the incident, the worst of its kind in British history, started in 2002, and a draft report was issued in January 2005, but questions remain as to the long-term effects on the health of residents. Michael Meacher, who visited Camelford as environment minister, called the incident and its aftermath, "A most unbelievable scandal."


Map of stations on the North Cornwall Railway

Its position near the highest land in Cornwall makes the climate rather wet. On 8 June 1957, 203 millimetres (8.0 in) of rain fell at Camelford. Roughtor is the nearest of the hills of Bodmin Moor to the town and numerous prehistoric remains can be found nearby as well. The Town Hall was built in 1806, but is now used as a branch public library. By the riverside is Enfield Park; hamlets in the parish include Helstone, Tregoodwell, Valley Truckle, Hendra, Lanteglos, Slaughterbridge, Tramagenna, Treforda and Trevia. The economy depends largely on agriculture and tourism; there is a china clay works at Stannon.

Manor of Helston in Trigg

Helstone (or Helston in Trigg) was in the Middle Ages one of the chief manors of the Hundred of Trigg and perhaps in Celtic times the seat of a chieftain. In the Domesday Book this manor was held by Earl Robert of Mortain: there were 2 hides, land for 15 ploughs; the lord had 4 ploughs & 18 serfs; 20 villagers & 18 smallholders had 8 ploughs; 10 acres (40,000 m2) of woodland; 6 square leagues of pasture; five kinds of livestock, in total 195 beasts. The manor of Penmayne was a dependency of this manor. It was one of the 17 Antiqua maneria of the Duchy of Cornwall.

Places of interest

Lanteglos DSC 8613
Lanteglos parish church
North Cornwall Museum and Gallery - - 1755007
North Cornwall Museum and Gallery

Camelford is the home of the North Cornwall Museum and Gallery which contains paintings and objects of local historical interest. To the northwest at Slaughterbridge is an Arthurian Centre and at nearby Camelford Station is the Cycling Museum (temporarily closed since 2010). To the east are the hills of Roughtor and Brown Willy and to the south the old parish churches at Lanteglos and Advent.


The main road through Camelford is the A39 (Atlantic Highway) and there is a thrice-daily Western Greyhound bus service from Newquay to Exeter via Launceston that serves the town. A tentatively-planned bypass is on hold; traffic problems continue to crowd the town especially during summer weekends. From 1893 to 1966 the town had a station on the North Cornwall Railway. The nearest national railway station is Bodmin Parkway, 14 miles distant.

Notable people associated with Camelford

The naval officer Samuel Wallis was born near Camelford (among his achievements was the circumnavigation of the world). Francis Hurdon, the Canadian politician was also born at Camelford. Two members of the Pitt family held the title of Baron Camelford: Thomas Pitt, 1st Baron Camelford (1737–1793) and Thomas Pitt, 2nd Baron Camelford (1775–1804). Samuel Pollard, missionary to China was also born in Camelford. Jason Dawe, former presenter of Top Gear, is from the town.

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