Heritage Centre

The Heritage Centre is the ideal place to come to find out about Bude and the surrounding area before setting out to explore the town, canal wharf, beaches and to take lovely cliff walks.

The Making of North Cornwall
The Heritage Centre opens with the wonderful natural history and world famous geology of the north Cornish Coast. From surf to rock pools and grand cliff-top panoramas, learn about the origin of this dramatic landscape.

The Early Years . . .
of sand, sea and canal. How the canal brought trade to Bude and transported beach sand to inland Cornwall for fertiliser. Over two miles of canal are still open to the public.

Three figureheads of locally wrecked ships are on display, together with a Rocket Brigade pistol, Breeches Buoy and a multi-media display of some the stricken vessels. There is a display about Bude’s most famous wreck, that of the “Bencoolen” in 1862. She was wrecked on Summerleaze beach – the very beach The Castle overlooks.

You can also listen to the Reverend Hawker, vicar of Morwenstow, recount the horror of witnessing a shipwreck on the beach below the storm lashed cliffs.

Local Crafts
Shipwright tools and navigation equipment used by Bude’s ships.

Lifesaving . . .
has a long tradition in Bude, from 1837 when a lifeboat station was established with a lifeboat funded by King William IV, right through to the R.N.L.I’s inshore lifeboat of today.

Sir Goldsworthy Gurney
Cornwall is renown for its brilliant inventors and resourceful engineers. The greatest of these was Richard Trevithick, arguably the ‘real’ inventor of the steam engine. Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, met and was inspired by Trevithick, and in the Heritage Centre you can find out about his many ingenious innovations. A Bude legend tells how Gurney was challenged to build his new house on sand, the locals saying that it couldn’t be done. ‘Wait and see’ was Gurney’s reply. That was in 1830. One hundred and eighty years and still standing – not a bad prediction and a ‘proper job’ done.

The English Civil War
Admire the colourful costumes copied from the Civil War and meet the Cornish Giant ‘Anthony Payne’ who fought in the crucial 1643 Battle of Stamford Hill. It was here, after an epic ten-hour battle, that the exhausted Royalists managed to defeated the larger Parliamentarian force and secure Cornwall for the king.

The Sealed Knot
was originally a secret resistance movement fighting to restore the Monarchy after the Civil War and the beheading of Charles I. In 1972, the local Sealed Knot commissioned the famous artist, Robert Lenkiewicz to paint them. The result is the stunning canvas which now hangs on the first floor of the Heritage Centre.

Bude as a Holiday Resort
Bude’s fortunes changed in the 19th Century with the ‘new trend’ of healthy, bracing seaside holidays. In 1898 the Southern Railway arrived in Bude, bringing with it an increasing volume of holidaymakers. Bude prospered until the 1970’s when overseas holidays became popular. But ever resilient, beautiful Bude and Cornwall are trendy again especially with the surfing fraternity.