Infobox UK place
country = England
official_name= Paignton
latitude= 50.42
longitude= -3.56
population = 47,398
unitary_england= Torbay
lieutenancy_england= Devon
region= South West England
constituency_westminster= Torbay
post_town= PAIGNTON
postcode_district = TQ3, TQ4
postcode_area= TQ
dial_code= 01803
os_grid_reference= SX8960

Paignton (pronEng|ˈpeɪntən) is a coastal town in Devon in England. Together with Torquay and Brixham it forms the unitary authority of Torbay which was created in 1998. The Torbay area is a holiday destination known as the English Riviera.

Paignton's population in the United Kingdom Census of 2001 was 47,398.


Paignton is mentioned in records dating back to the Domesday Book of 1086 AD. Formerly spelled both as "Peynton" and "Paington", the name has is derived from "Paega's town", the original Celtic settlement.

Paignton was a small fishing village until the 19th century, when in 1837 the Paington ("sic") Harbour Act led to the construction of a new harbour. It was around this time that the modern spelling of "Paignton" first appeared. The historic part of Paignton is centred around Church Street, Winner Street and Palace Avenue which contains fine examples of Victorian architecture. Kirkham House is a late medieval stone house in the town which is open to the public at certain times of year. [ [ Kirkham House : Devon : South West : View properties : Properties : Days Out & Events : English Heritage ] ] The Coverdale Tower is adjacent to Paignton Parish Church and is named after Bishop Miles Coverdale, who published an English translation of the Bible in 1536. Coverdale was Bishop of Exeter between 1551 and 1553 and is said to have lived in the tower during this period, although this is regarded as doubtful by modern historians. ["A Paignton Scrapbook", Peggy Parnell ISBN 978 0 7509 4739 8]

The railway line to Paignton was built by the Dartmouth and Torbay Railway, and was opened to passengers on 2 August 1859, thus providing Torquay and Paignton a link to London. The people of Paignton acquired the nickname of "pudden eaters" when thousands turned up hoping to obtain a piece of a huge pudding that had been baked to celebrate the arrival of the railway. A Paignton Pudding was baked in 1968 to celebrate the town's charter, and another was baked in 2006 to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Oldway Mansion is a large house and gardens in Paignton constructed in the 1870s for Isaac Merritt Singer, who had amassed a considerable fortune by dint of his improvements to the sewing machine. The building is now occupied by Torbay Council. [ [ Torbay Council - Torbay Council Web Site ] ] Other Singer legacies in Paignton include the Palace Hotel and the Inn On The Green, which were built as homes for Singer's sons Washington and Mortimer respectively.

As Paignton's population grew, it merged with the coastal villages of Goodrington and Preston. The town had its own urban district council until 1968, when the creation of Torbay Council led to a single body covering Torquay, Paignton and Brixham. The unitary authority formed in 1998 now handles all local government for Torbay, which has its own directly elected mayor.

Local economy

Paignton's economy relies extensively on tourism and the town is marketed as a location for family holidays. The main seafront area is dominated by Paignton Pier, [ [ English Seaside Piers - Paignton Pier ] ] a 780-foot long structure opened in 1879. It was designed by George Soudon Bridgman, the local architect who also designed the original Oldway Mansion. The Festival Theatre, opened in 1967, was once a seafront theatre capable of staging large summer shows. In 1999 it was converted into a multiscreen cinema. Regatta Week during early August is the peak holiday season. During this period there is a funfair on Paignton Green, along with a large fireworks display. Later in August is Children's Week, which includes a wide range of events and competitions. Paignton has a variety of holiday accommodation, complemented by numerous pubs, nightclubs and restaurants.

Paignton Zoo is one of the largest in the United Kingdom.The Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway operates steam trains from Paignton to Kingswear, from where a ferry can be taken across the River Dart to Dartmouth. The line was closed by British Rail during the cutbacks of the Beeching era in the 1960s, and is operated today as a heritage railway line.

Suttons Seeds, a major supplier of seeds, bulbs and horticultural products, is based in Paignton.

Places of interest

The Torbay Picture House (now closed) is believed to have been Europe's oldest purpose-built cinema and was built in 1907. Seat 2 Row 2 of the circle was the favourite seat of crime novelist Agatha Christie, who lived in neighbouring Torquay. The cinemas and theatres in her books are all said to be based on the Torbay Picture House. It was also used as a location for the 1984 Donald Sutherland film "Ordeal by Innocence" and the 1981 film "The French Lieutenant's Woman" (which was filmed mainly at Lyme Regis in Dorset). [ [ Ordeal by Innocence (1984) ] ] [ [ The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981) ] ]

The Royal Bijou Theatre is now demolished, but a blue plaque marking its former location can be found next to the Thomas Cook travel agency in Hyde Road. The Royal Bijou Theatre was the venue for the first ever performance of "The Pirates of Penzance" by Gilbert and Sullivan on 30 December 1879. The performance was given at short notice in order to secure the copyright on the work after problems had arisen with unauthorised performances of "HMS Pinafore" in the USA. [ [ When I was but a nursery maid ] ]

From 1889 to 1897 the mathematician Oliver Heaviside lived in Palace Avenue, in the building now occupied by Barclays Bank. A commemorative blue plaque can be seen on the wall. Heaviside is buried in Paignton Cemetery.


Paignton beach and the nearby Preston Sands are used for water sports including kite surfing and dinghy sailing.The reed beds found at Broadsands beach are a haunt of the rare Cirl Bunting. [ [ Where to watch Cirl Buntings] ] Hollicombe beach features a geological stratotype at its northern end, known as the "Corbyn's Head Member" [ [ A Review of the Geological Heritage of Torbay] ] Elberry Cove is used by jetski enthusiasts, while Saltern Cove is a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to its distinctive geology.


Paignton railway station is situated close the shops and a short walk from the beach along Torbay Road. Queen's Park Station for the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway is adjacent to the main railway station on the beach side of the level crossing. The bus and coach station face the main entrance to the railway station.

Use as a film location

Paignton was used as a location in several episodes of the television comedy series "Monty Python's Flying Circus". In Episode 23, entitled "Scott of the Antarctic", Paignton Pier and seafront can be seen. Episode 18, "Live from the Grill-o-Mat", was hosted by John Cleese from the fictional Grill-o-Mat snack bar in Paignton. During the location filming of these scenes in May 1970, the Python team stayed at the Gleneagles Hotel in Torquay, which subsequently provided John Cleese with the inspiration for Fawlty Towers.

The town has also been used for filming by Spike Milligan, Little and Large and Dick Emery. Oldway Mansion was used as a location for "Isadora" (1968), a film about the dancer Isadora Duncan.

ee also

* Kirkham House
* Torbay Picture House


External links

* [ Paignton Zoo]

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