infobox UK place
country = England
official_name= Torquay
population= 62,963Office for National Statistics (2001), "United Kingdom Census 2001"]
latitude= 50.4792
longitude= -3.5305
unitary_england= Torbay
region= South West England
constituency_westminster= Torbay
post_town= TORQUAY
postcode_district=TQ1, TQ2
dial_code= 01803
os_grid_reference= SX915655

static_image_caption=Part of the Torquay seafront at high tide

Torquay (pronEng|tɔrˈkiː) is a town in the unitary authority of Torbay and ceremonial county of Devon, England.

It lies 16 miles (26 kilometres) south of Exeter along the A380 on the north of Torbay, 38 miles (61 km) north-east of Plymouth and adjoins the neighbouring town of Paignton on the west of the bay. Torquay’s population of 62,963 during the 2001 UK Census made it the third largest settlement in Devon. If the Torbay area, of which Torquay forms a third, were to be recognised as a city as incumbent Torbay Mayor Nicholas Bye has proposed, it would rank as the 45th largest city in the United Kingdom with a population only slightly less than that of Brighton, which was granted city status in 2000. During the peak summer season the resort's population swells to around 200,000 [The New English Riviera, The Mayor's Vision For A New Torbay, Torbay Council Publication, 2007]

The town's economy was initially based upon fishing and agriculture as in the case of Brixham across Torbay, but in the early 19th century the town began to develop into a fashionable seaside resort, initially frequented by members of the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars while the Royal Navy anchored in the bay and later by the crème de la crème of Victorian society as the town's fame spread. Renowned for its healthful climate, the town earned the nickname of the English Riviera and favourable comparisons to Montpellier.

Torquay's name originates in it being the quay of the ancient village of Torre. In turn, Torre takes its name from the tor, the extensively quarried remains of which can be seen by the town's Tor Hill Road. [Percy Russell, A History Of Torquay (Torquay: Devonshire Press Limited, 1960), 7-8]


The area comprising modern Torquay has been inhabited since paleolithic times. Hand axes found in Kents Cavern date to 450,000 years ago, and a maxilla fragment known as Kents Cavern 4 may be the oldest example of a modern human in Europe. [John R. Pike, "Torquay" (Torquay: Torbay Borough Council Printing Services, 1994), 5-6] [cite web
title=Jawbone hints at earliest Britons
Roman soldiers are known to have visited Torquay at some point during the period when Britain was a part of the Roman Empire, leaving offerings at a strange rock formation in Kent's Cavern, known as 'The Face'. No evidence has been found of Roman settlement in the area; however, evidence of Roman settlement has been found in nearby Totnes and given the proximity of Exeter, it is possible there may have been some small scale Roman settlement in the area.Who|date=April 2008

The first major building in what was to become Torquay was Torre Abbey, a Premonstratensian monastery founded in 1196. [Russell, 19] [Pike, 6] Torquay remained a minor settlement until the Napoleonic wars, when Torbay was frequently used as a sheltered anchorage by the Channel Fleet, and relatives of officers often visited Torquay. The mild climate of Torquay attracted many visitors who considered the town a convalescence retreat where they could recover from illness away from the cold winters of more Northerly or Easterly locations. The population of Torquay grew rapidly from 838 in 1801, to 11,474 in 1851.

The second phase in the expansion of Torquay began when Torre railway station was opened on 18 December 1848. The improved transport connections resulted in the rapid growth of Torquay at the expense of nearby towns not on Isambard Kingdom Brunel's railways. status in 1872. Previously regarded as a convalescence retreat, Torquay began to encourage healthy visitors, and 1902 saw the first advertising campaign to market Torquay to summer tourists.During World War I, military hospitals were sited in Torquay - many survivors from the Battle of Gallipoli recuperated in the town - and it was also used as a troop staging area. In September 1915 King George V and Queen Mary visited. After the war had ended, Great Western Railway launched an advertising campaign to attract tourists to Torquay, and this helped the town grow to a major South coast resort.During World War II Torquay was regarded as safer than the towns of South East England, and played host to evacuees from the London area, the town did however suffer minor bomb damage during the war, mainly from planes dumping excess loads after participating in the Plymouth Blitz. The last air raid on Torquay took place on 29 May 1944 shortly before the D-Day landings in June and in the months leading up to D-Day thousands of US Army personnel arrived in Torquay with the 3204th Quartermaster Service Company being billeted in Chelston and Cockington. During Operation Overlord more than 23,000 men of the American 4th Infantry Division would depart Torquay for Utah Beach.

The water sport events of the 1948 Summer Olympics were held in Torquay, with the Olympic flame being brought from London to Torre Abbey Gardens. [Russell, 199] . Although it will not host any Olympic events for the 2012 Summer Olympics, with the sailing taking place in Weymouth, Torbay is looking to host teams as a preparation camp.

Since World War II, the nature of tourism in the United Kingdom has changed significantly. Increasing wealth has meant that holidays abroad are now commonplace, and coastal towns are now more popular for short stays as part of a touring holiday. Recently Torquay has seen an increase in foreign visitors, and is now a major destination for foreign exchange students.


Torquay is part of Torbay, an administrative area, created in 1968 as a Borough, from the amalgamation of the Boroughs of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham. making it responsible for its own affairs. For local elections the district is divided into 11 wards, 7 of them in Torquay.

Torbay Council is headed by the first directly elected mayor in the South West region, Conservative candidate Nicholas Bye becoming the first mayor elected under this system in October 2005, under an electoral system which was later described as "a total failure", Bye receiving votes from fewer than 7% of the electorate. [cite web
title=BBC NEWS | England | Devon | Mayor voting system is condemned
] He beat Liberal Democrat Nicholas Pannell in the second round of counting with a total of 7,096 votes to Pannell's 5,197. After the election, Bye noted the general apathy towards the concept displayed during the election, stating: "it is quite clear from canvassing that a lot of people did not want an elected mayor."

Torquay, Paignton and Brixham are in the Torbay parliamentary constituency, created in 1974. The constituency elects one Member of Parliament; currently Adrian Sanders (Liberal Democrat). Torquay, the rest of South West England, and Gibraltar are in the South West England constituency of the European Parliament.


Torquay is situated on the South West coast of England, forming one third of Torbay, and is primarily on the western side of the bay. It has a mild microclimate, often receiving among the highest hours of sunlight per day in the United Kingdom, winters in the town tend to be mild and wet with above average temperatures. Cabbage trees, also nicknamed 'Torbay Palms' are a notable feature of the area, the trees were introduced into the area in 1820 from New Zealand and since then have flourished, There are currently thousands throughout the town and they contribute significantly to the more Mediterranean than English feel the town has.The town is made up of a number of regions that over the years amalgamated into the town of Torquay. The town's historic core consists of the regions of Tormohun, Wellswood, The Warberries, Upton and Ellacombe and is based upon what was once the holdings of the Palk family. In 1900 the regions of Chelston and Livermead, previously part of the Cockington estate owned by the Mallocks were annexed by the town and this was swiftly followed by the absorption of the former borough of Saint Marychuch into the town. In this period Saint Marychurch consisted of more than just present day Saint Marychurch but also the regions of Plainmoor, Watcombe and Babbacombe. Finally in 1928 the Mallocks' last holdings in Cockington were integrated within the town borders. Torquay continued to expand throughout the century leading to the development of Shiphay, Hele Village, Barton and most recently from the 1990s until present day, The Willows giving the town its current layout.

Torquay is also set along a coastline renowned for its beaches, having nine popular beaches. The high standards of water quality and beach facilities mean that many carry coveted awards, including no fewer than three European Blue Flags - more than any other resort in the UK. The main beaches of Torquay are as follows:
* Maidencombe Beach
* Watcombe Beach
* Oddicombe Beach
* Babbacombe Beach
* Anstey's Cove
* Meadfoot Beach
* Torre Abbey Sands
* Corbyn Sands

The town is also noticeable for being the terminus of the Sticklepath Fault line, which runs through the rocks of Devon from Barnstaple Bay to Torquay resulting in infrequent mild earthquakes, the last of which were felt in the 1990s. The fault line emerges in the cliff face which forms part of Rock Walk before going out into the bay itself. On the Rock Walk side is Devonian Limestone on which Warren Road and Fleet Street stand. The other side of the fault line which runs down Belgrave Road is the red sandstone on which Torre Abbey stands, the fault can reach widths up to 500 metres in places.Facts|date=April 2007


Torquay has two railway stations. Torquay railway station is situated near the sea, close to Torre Abbey Sands. Torre railway station is situated a little inland adjacent to the road leading to Newton Abbot. Not all trains stop at Torre.

Torquay is connected to the UK motorway network by the A380, which traces the outskirts of the town as Hellevoetsluis Way and Hamelin Way, leading to the A38 and then on to the M5 at Exeter. The A3022 branches from the A380, leading into Torquay as Riviera Way, to the seafront as Newton Road and then Avenue Road, and then on to Paignton as Torbay Road. The A379 runs past the harbour to the Babbacombe and St Marychurch areas of Torquay, and then north along the coast to Teignmouth. Two bus routes operated by Stagecoach Devon pass through Torquay - the 'Bayline' number 12 service between Newton Abbot and Brixham, and the X46 service between Exeter and Paignton - while other routes operate within the town. [cite web
title=Devon - Timetables
publisher=Stagecoach Group


Unemployment in Torquay is high at 6.8% - this compares with 3.9% for Devon, and 5.0% for England as a whole. [Office for National Statistics, "Table CAS021: Economic activity by sex and limiting long-term illness" in "United Kingdom Census 2001" (London: Office for National Statistics, 2001)]

Many locals were employed in the Pontins holiday centre before it was sold off.

Torquay is also the home of Beverage Brands, the owners of the popular and controversial alcoholic brand, WKD, and was the home of Suttons Seeds until it relocated to the neighbouring town of Paignton in 1998.


Torquay has numerous tourist attractions, including Britain's most important Stone Age site: Kents Cavern which was home to early man for some 700,000 years. The floor is composed of several strata, with remains indicating the prehistoric coexistence there of humans and now-extinct animals. The Rev. J. McEnery explored the cave between 1825 and 1829 and put forth the coexistence theory. The cave was extensively explored from 1865 to 1880 by William Pengelly, who found evidence to support McEnery's hypothesis. The caves have attracted many famous people, among them Agatha Christie,Agatha Christie (1977), "Autobiography"] Beatrix Potter, King George V and Haile Selassie who was so impressed with his visit that he gave his guide, Leslie Powe a gold sovereign.

Living Coasts, another popular attraction, is built on Beacon Quay which has existed since 1680. In 1857 the Bath's Saloons complex was built on the promontory overlooking Beacon Cove. This included a ballroom, concert hall and sunlit conservatory and private bathing facilities with, underneath, a large public swimming bath open to the sea. The stone arches of this public bath can still be seen today and have been incorporated into the shop at Living Coasts. Development of the site as a marine animal exhibit was first proposed in the early part of 1999 in response to a call from Torbay Borough Council for submissions from interested parties. The project, developed by Kay Elliott architects, included an exhibit to house marine birds, rather than fish, due to the need to avoid duplicating the exhibits at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth. The project was subsequently taken on by Paignton Zoo Environmental Park and named Living Coasts.

Another attraction is the Babbacombe Model Village which opened in 1963. It is considered one of the best examples of a model village in England.Fact|date=April 2008

The Princess Theatre is a popular venue in the town.



Torbay Council operates Torbay Arts Base, a forum for the discussion of the arts. [cite web
title="Torbay Arts Base", Torbay Council
(link dead 2008-04-03)
] Local artists and residents interested in the arts can join the group by registering on the Torbay Arts Database, which also provides access to arts publications "The Lighthouse" and "Torbay Arts Directory". [cite web
title="Torbay Arts Database", Torbay Council
] [cite web
title="Torbay Arts Directory", Torbay Council
(link dead 2008-04-03)
] In the early years of British cinema, Torquay was home to two production companies, Cairns Torquay Films [ [ Cairns Torquay Films ] ] and Torquay And Paignton Photoplay Productions [ [ Torquay & Paignton Photoplay Productions ] ] , who in 1920 produced a total of three films between them.

Recently, Devon Films, based in Torquay, has established itself as the Bay's latest film production company. The company financed and produced "Stepdad" in 2007, starring Ricky Tomlinson and Chris Bisson among others; it was entered into the Cannes Film Festival. A new film "Snappers" set in Torquay itself and shot on location, starring Caroline Quentin [cite web
title=TV Star Lined up for Bay Comedy
] , Bruce Jones and other prominent British television actors, is in pre-production and is due to be released in March 2009. [cite web
title=Devon Films : Creators of Snappers, a British romantic comedy

The Torquay Natural History Society was founded in 1844, and in 1845 opened Torquay Museum, the oldest museum in Devon. [cite web
title=Torquay Museum - About Us
] In addition to artifacts from Kents Cavern, other local archaeology, information about Agatha Christie, and a replica old farmhouse interior, the museum has galleries dedicated to such diverse topics as ancient Egypt and world jewellery. [cite web
title=Torquay Museum - See the Museum

The Princess Theatre, which is by the side of the harbour, is owned by Torbay Council and operated by Live Nation. It is Torquay's largest theatre with approximately 1,500 seats and plays host to touring independent production companies. [cite web
title=Princess Theatre : Official Website
] TOADS Theatre Company operates the Little Theatre in Meadfoot in the converted St Mark's Church, hosting both the company's own productions and those of visiting societies. [cite web
title=Little Theatre in Torquay, Devon
] Babbacombe Theatre is located on Babbacombe Downs and describes itself as having the longest running summer season in the country, which lasts nine months. [cite web
title=Babbacombe Theatre - Let us entertain you ....


Torquay as the centre of local government in the Torbay region, is served by two radio stations both with their offices in the town, the oldest is Gemini FM Torbay, part of GCap Media's network of local radio stations, which transmits from the harbourside of the town. [cite web
title=FAQs - Gemini Torquay
] The station operates the Gemini Radio Charitable Trust, a registered charity that awards grants to community organisations in the station's broadcast area - a total of more than £529,000 since 1995. [cite web
title=Charitable Trust - Gemini Exeter
] Torquay is also served by Palm 105.5FM, owned by the London Media Company and launched in Torbay and the surrounding area in 2006, the station had a difficult start with multiple on air personality changes, but is a well known name in the region nowfact|date=April 2007 due to widespread promotion ranging from billboards at Torquay United to sponsoring the town's Christmas Lights in 2006.

The town's local newspaper is called the "Herald Express "and has been published since 1927. Its catchment area includes towns outside the Bay itself including Newton Abbot and Dartmouth, and there is also a weekly free newspaper known as "The Weekend" which is delivered to most residences every Thursday.


Torquay has a long history of holding sailing events and regattas due to the favourable easterly facing nature of the bay and its popularity in the 19th and 20th centuries; this tradition reached its height in 1948 when the water sport events of the 1948 Summer Olympics were held in Torquay, with the Olympic flame being transferred from London to Torre Abbey Gardens to reside throughout the event. [Russell, 199] Outside of naval events, Torquay is represented in the English Conference National Football League by Torquay United F.C.. The team plays their home matches at Plainmoor and have never progressed beyond the third tier of the English leagues. In 2007 they were relegated from the Football League after 80 years of membership and currently play in the Conference National; this downfall came just three years after their most recent promotion from the league's basement division and ultimately led to a change in ownership of the club to a consortium of local businessmen and fans. Notable former managers of the club include Frank O'Farrell who'd later go on to manage Leicester City and Manchester United, David Webb, Cyril Knowles, Neil Warnock and Roy McFarland. Notable former players include Lee Sharpe, Neville Southall, Garry Nelson and Eddie Kelly.

The town also houses three major football teams from the local non-league scene, including Hele Rovers, Kingskerswell & Chelston and Upton Athletic, all of whom compete in the South Devon League.

Torquay is represented in the sport of rugby by Torquay Athletic Rugby Football Club, who compete in the South West Division Two rugby league, which is five leagues below the Guinness Premiership.

Torquay also hosted the World Snooker European Open 2003 at the Palace Hotel, which was won by Ronnie O'Sullivan, In the same year, the Palace Hotel also hosted the World Snooker Championship Qualifiers. Recently the resort has become popular among the Powerboat community and has held various national championships in various classes over the past few years.

Torquay in English culture

ocial issues


Torquay, as one of the three main towns of Torbay, is run by Torbay Council which has its town hall at the top of the Torquay high street. Currently the Conservative Party is the party in power, with the Liberal Democrats in a distant second place and Independent candidates, a very distant third. [ [ BBC NEWS | Election 2007 | Local Council Elections | Torbay council ] ]

From the 1920s until 1997 Torbay constituency was a safe Tory seat until Adrian Sanders overturned spy novel writer Rupert Allason's majority by just 12 votes, widened to 6,708 in 2001.During the 2005 general election, Conservative leader Michael Howard visited the town. However, Sanders retained the seat with 40.8% of the votes (19,317, down from 23,012 in 2001). A swing of 9.7% away from the Liberal Democrats was split between the Conservatives (with a 4.9% swing), Labour - who gained a substantial increase in their vote as support for Lib Dems in 1997 and 2001 moved back and the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), whose candidate Graham Booth improved on his deposit-losing 2001 performance with a 4.7% increase in his vote.

In 2005, a referendum was held to appoint Torbay's first Elected Mayor. In the ensuing election in October 2005, the winning candidate was a former Liberal Parliamentary Candidate, Nicholas Bye, who won the election as a Conservative.


There are five main secondary schools in the town. One is Torquay Community College, previously known as Audley Park. This school has had its troubles in the past and has in the past two years come out of governmental special measures. Its 2004 exam results are available [ Here]

The other mainstream secondary school in Torquay is Westlands Secondary School and Technology College. This is a combined secondary college and 6th form that takes students of all variations and has recently moved to a brand new modern building. Its 2004 exam results are available [ Here]

Torquay's other three state secondary schools are more selective. They are St Cuthbert Mayne School, a secondary school exclusively open to followers of the Roman Catholic and Church of England faiths, and Torquay Boys' Grammar School and Torquay Grammar School for Girls' which are available only to those that pass the 11+ intelligence test and the schools' own standardised test. The 2004 results for St Cuthbert Mayne school are available [ here] , the Boys' Grammar School results [ here] and finally the Girls' Grammar School [ here] . There are also a number of private schools in the area including Stoodley Knowle School and the Abbey School.

For further education, students can either go to one of the sixth forms at the previous mentioned Westlands, St Cuthbert's Mayne or Grammar schools, or they can go to South Devon College which is based in Long Road in Paignton on a new campus that fully opened in January 2006.

Should students pass through school or college and wish to continue in their education at university, they will have to leave Torquay. Should they wish to continue living in Torquay they have the option of applying to either Exeter or Plymouth universities, each roughly an hour train journey from Torquay train station.


Information taken from 2001/2002 crime figures in Torbay, available [ Here]


Torquay's healthcare needs are seen to by NHS-run Torbay hospital which is situated on the main road out of Torquay and the private, non-emergency Mount Stuart on St Vincents Road.

Twin towns

Because it is part of Torbay, Torquay has two twin towns. The year each relationship was formed is shown in parentheses below.


ee also

* Babbacombe Cliff Railway
* Kents Cavern

External links

* [ Virtual Tour of Torquay]
* [ Wikitravel - Torquay] "Tourism"
* [ Torbay Council]
* [ English Riviera Tourist Board] "History"
* [ History of Torquay]
* [ Torquay Museum]
* [ Torbytes "Bytes Of Torbay's Past"]
* [ Geology of Torquay & Torbay]

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