- History of Torquay
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 4may be oldest example of a modern human in Europe.Little is known of its early history until the arrival of the Roman Empirein Britain during the Claudian Invasion of 43. Roman soldiers are known to have visited Torquay at some point during this period, leaving offerings at a strange rock formation in Kent's Cavern, known as 'The Face'. It's possible these soldiers could have been part of the Legio II Augusta, commanded by the future Emperor Vespasianduring the invasion of Britain in 43 considering his extensive actions in the South West, during which according to the Roman historian Suetonius"He reduced to subjection two powerful nations, more than twenty towns, and the island of Vectis" [Suetonius, De Vita Caesarum (The Lives of the Twelve Caesars)]
No evidence has been found of Roman settlement in the area, however Roman finds have been uncovered in nearby
Totnes, Newton Abbotand on Berryhead across the bay in Brixham, a cache of Roman coins was discovered in 1730, including among others, a coin of the Emperor Claudius[Magna Britannia: volume 6: Devonshire (1822), pgs CCCVI-CCCXXIII] which would date this find to the same period as Vespasian's activity in the area. These finds, the proximity of the Roman military town of Isca Dumnoniorum, founded by Vespasian himself, and the presence of the Roman road of Ikeneld Street skirting the northerly reaches of modern Torquay after fording the Teign just south of modern day Newton Abboton the way to Totnes[Magna Britannia: volume 6: Devonshire (1822), pgs CCCVI-CCCXXIII] , make it possible there may have been some small scale Roman settlement in the area and almost certain that occasional military patrols passed through the region, furthermore the Roman settlement of Statio Teno mentioned in the Ravenna Cosmography(as Statio Deuentiasteno) has also been hypothesised to have existed on the border between Torquay and Newton Abbot[http://www.romanmap.com/htm/nomina/Stadio%20Deuentia%20steno.htm] .
After the departure of the Roman administration from Britain, around 410, a
Brythonickingdom emerged in the West Country based on the old Roman civitas surrounding Exeter. It was called, in Latin, Dumnoniaand, in the native Brythoniclanguage, Dyfneint: pronounced ‘"Dove-naynt"’ and eventually corrupted to Devon, the region in which the modern town of Torquay is situated would have been a part of this Sub-Roman kingdom.
The date that the
Anglo-Saxonsbegan to settle in Devon is not uncontroversial. The Brythoniccemetery in Exetermay have been attached to the monastery attended by the young St. Boniface(a native of Crediton) in the late 7th century. However its Abbot had a purely Saxon name, suggesting it was an Anglo-Saxon foundation. Raids from Wessexcertainly seem to have started around this time. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle refers to a battle at "Peonnan" in 658. This could just about have been at Pinhoe(north-east of Exeter), although Penselwood (on the Wiltshire- Somersetborder) or Penn(near Yeovil) further east are generally favoured because the Chronicle suggests that the British were then pursued to the River Parret (in mid-Somerset). Three years later, however, a battle at "Posentesburg" may have occurred at Posbury, near Crediton. By 682, the Anglo-Saxons claimed that the British were driven “as far as the sea” at a location which is not defined. Some believe this to mean across Devon to North Cornwall, but others suppose it to be across Exmoorto the Bristol Channel. The conquest of Devon by Wessexwas, however, a gradual process, whose chronology is unclear but which had been completed by the early ninth century. The Kings of Dumnonia appear to have retreated to what became the Kingdom of Cornwall.
By 825, the
Anglo-Saxon Chroniclerecords the Defnas (men of Devon) as fighting against the Wealas (literally foreigners or strangers) at the Battle of Galford(originally Gafulford). Although Wealas is generally used to describe the native British Celts, it should be noted that the term Defnas is itself also essentially Brythonic, and so these may simply have been Britons under a Saxon commander, fighting the neighbouring Cornish.
The British certainly survived in Devon beyond this date.
William of Malmesburyclaimed that "the Britons and Saxons inhabited Exeter"aequo jure" (as equals) in 927. Although King Athelstan expelled the British from the walled City of Exeter at this time, the British remained in the area, and apparently re-entered the City walls later, as an area was known as 'Brittayne' until the 18th Century, the cultural links with the former residents of the area were not to die out either with the Celtic language being reputed to have survived in parts of Devon until the Middle Ages.
Vikingincursions occurred throughout Devon over the latter Anglo-Saxon era until the Norman Conquest, however there is no evidence of the Vikings having ever visited the region of Torquay or Torbay.
In the early 10th century, King Athelstan had refounded the monastery at
Exeterand gave the whole of old Dumnoniato the diocese of Sherborne, Roman Catholicismgradually took over from Celtic Christianityas minster churches were established across the county. Devonwas given its own bishopric in 905, initially at Bishop's Tawton, though it quickly moved to Crediton. As part of the general move towards urban cathedrals in the late Saxon period, Bishop Leofriceventually transferred his see to the old abbey at Exeterin 1050.
Medieval and Renaissance era
Various regions in Torquay are mentioned in the
Domesday Book, including Cockingtonor "Cochintone" as it is described in the book, which was owned by an Anglo Saxon by the name of Alric in the reign of Edward the Confessorand by a Norman under the name of William de Falesia at the time of the book's creation. Maidencombe was the property of an Elmer during the Anglo-Saxon period before passing to Hamond, under William Chievre following the Norman Conquest and St Marychurchor "St. Marie Cherche" was owned by the Bishop of Exeterthroughout the period. [Magna Britannia: volume 6: Devonshire (1822), pgs XLIX-LXXXI]
Torre Abbeywas founded as a Premonstratensian Monastery by William Brewer. The abbey owned much land in the area, and by the Dissolution was the richest monastery of its Order in England[English Riviera Website(http://www.englishriviera.co.uk/site/about-the-area/torquay/history)] . The monastery itself was partly built with quarried stone from nearby Corbyn Head under the permission of the De Cockington family of nearby Cockington manor [Cockington, The Prettiest Village in England, Pg 2(http://www.torbay.gov.uk/libcockington.pdf)] . It remained that way until February 1539 when it suffered the same fate as all other monasteries, surrendering to the ministers of Henry VIII during the dissolution of the monasteriesfollowing his split from Rome. The canons of Torre Abbeyfounded the nearby town of Newton Abbotin the early thirteenth century as the New Town of the Abbots.
Torquay itself developed around the Saxon hamlet of Torre (from ‘tor’ meaning hill or craggy peak). Water from the River Flete or Fleete (meaning stream) flowed from Barton to the sea and was used to grind corn at Fleet Mill (standing near what is now the main shopping centre at the junction of Union Street and Fleet Walk) until it was demolished in 1835. The monks of Torre Abbey are credited with building the first fishing quay, hence the name Torquay, which evolved through various spellings, including Torrequay and Torkay before settling on the almost modern day version of Tor Quay by 1765. [Torbay Council Website (http://www.torbay.gov.uk/index/leisure/heritage.htm)]
Torre Abbey was bought by Sir George Cary in 1662 and remained with the family until 1929 when Colonel Lionel Cary died and it was bought by the Torquay Corporation, the Cary family were prominent Torquinians and also owned most of the village of
Cockingtonfrom as far back as the 14th century which included the modern day areas of Shiphay, Chelston and Livermead within its boundaries, certain evidence traces the family's ancestry to the son of the Roman Emperor Carus, who served as a general in Britannia during his life. [Herald Express (Herald Express, 13/3/2008)]
Although the family would go on to lose Cockington after the
English Civil War, as Henry Cary sold it to Exeter goldsmith Roger Mallock to cover debts and heavy fines imposed upon the family, incurred when Henry raised an army for
The Tormohun region of the town belonged to William de Briwere, or Brewer, during this period. Briwere was a powerful baron in the reigns of Henry II, Richard I, John, and Henry III, until the marriage of his younger daughter and co-heiress brought the ownership of Tormohun to the Mohun family thus forming the basis for its future name of Tor-Mohun. The land was given to Torre Abbey by John de Mohun in the years following the
Black Death. In 1540 Tormohun was purchased by John Ridgway, whose grandson, Thomas, was created a baronet in 1612, in 1616 the Lord Ridgway and finally in 1622, Earl of Londonderry, making Tormohun the seat of the Earls of Londonderry [Magna Britannia: volume 6: Devonshire (1822), pgs 520-538] until its sale to the Palk family.
In 1521, a William Cary of the Cockington Carys married Mary Boleyn, the sister of
Henry VIII's second wife Anne Boleynand thus became the uncle of the future Queen Elizabeth I when Anne Boleyn gave birth in 1533. [Cockington, The Prettiest Village in England, Pg 3(http://www.torbay.gov.uk/libcockington.pdf)]
After the failed
Spanish Armadaof 1588 during the Anglo-Spanish War, a part of Torre Abbey was used to house 397 Spanish prisoners of war, this building has now been named the "Spanish Barn" in recognition of this.
In 1605 a resident of the Cockington area, George Weymouth explored the coastline of
Maineand caused a sensation when he returned to Plymouthwith a group of Native Americans. [Cockington, The Prettiest Village in England, Pg 4(http://www.torbay.gov.uk/libcockington.pdf)]
Almost exactly 100 years after the failed armada of the King of Spain, William III landed at
Brixhamin Torbayon 5 November 1688before passing through Torquay during his march to London, on his way to gaining control of the country in the ' Glorious Revolution', with Rawlyn Mallock MP of the Cockington Mallocks one of the small band of peers to greet him. [Cockington, The Prettiest Village in England, Pg 2(http://www.torbay.gov.uk/libcockington.pdf)]
In 1690, following the French Admiral Anne Hilarion de Tourville's victory over an Anglo-Dutch fleet at the
Battle of Beachy Head, the French fleet anchored in Torbay and some of the galley fleet travelled the short distance up the coast and attacked Teignmouth, razing the town and taking part in what would become the last invasion of England by a foreign power.
In 1785 the Keyberry Turnpike Trust opened the road from Barton to Newton Bushell (Abbot), increasing contact between the nascent towns and the regional capital of
Exeter. [Torbay Methodists Website(http://www.torbay-methodists.org.uk/torquay/blueplaque/index.htm)]
Napoleonic Wars and early development
An early visitor to Torquay in 1794 is recorded as saying "“Instead of the poor uncomfortable village we had expected, how great was our surprise at seeing a pretty range of neat new buildings, fitted up for summer visitors, visitors here can enjoy carriage rides, bathing, retirement and a most romantic situation.”" [English Riviera Website(http://www.englishriviera.co.uk/site/about-the-area/torquay/history)] Another early visitor exclaimed "It is not
England, but a bit of sunny Italytaken bodily from its rugged coast and placed here amid the green places and the pleasant pastoral lanes of beautiful Devon’."
Torquay owes much to
Napoleon Bonaparte, the Napoleonic warsmeant that the rich elite could no longer visit continental Europeand looked for local destinations to visit instead. Torbay, the large bay of which Torquay is located on the Northern side of, alongside the other towns of Paigntonand Brixham(together founding the Unitary Authority of Torbay), was ideal as a large sheltered anchorage for ships and was frequently used by the Channel Fleetwhich protected Englandagainst invasion by Napoleonand due to this wives and relatives of officers often visited Torquay to be near their loved ones in the fleet. During this period the Royal Navy ship HMS "Venerable" was wrecked while sheltering in the bay on the 24 November 1804.
Torquay's initial development owes a great deal to the efforts of
Sir Laurence Palk, owner of the manor of Tormohun, it was on his initiative that the first real development in the town commenced taking the form of the erection of a new harbour to replace the dilapidated old harbour, for which an act of parliament was required, the work commenced in 1803, completed in 1807 [A Topographical Dictionary of England (1848), Samuel Lewis, pgs 377-380.] , and designed by John Renniewho would go on to design London Bridgelater in his career [Torquay And Paignton: The Makings Of A Modern Resort, Henry James Lethbridge, Pg 34] , proposals were also put forth for the construction of a canal to Newton Abbotat the same time as the harbour development, but nothing came of this [Torquay And Paignton: The Makings Of A Modern Resort, Henry James Lethbridge, Pg 34] . The entire cost of the work was estimated at roughly £27,000, a costly sum in the mid nineteeth century [Torquay And Paignton: The Makings Of A Modern Resort, Henry James Lethbridge, Pg 34] .
During this period the first town plans for the area were drawn up for Palk and after a Grand Tour of
Europe, Palk brought back from Italyarchitectural ideas which he incorporated into his villa designs. These designs were brought into fruition by "‘The Maker of Torquay’", William Kitson, who became chairman of the newly formed local authority, acting on behalf of the absentee landlord Palk. As a result of these plans, an exclusive residential area was created in the Warberries and Lincombes which retains its character to the modern day with several of these original properties still standing among the tree-clad hills, notably Hesketh Crescent. Completed in 1848 with its sweeping Regency façade it was described as the "‘finest crescent of houses in the West of England’". [Torbay Council Website (http://www.torbay.gov.uk/index/leisure/heritage/torquay-history.htm)]
After Napoleon was captured following the
Battle of Waterloohe was held on the warship HMS "Bellerophon", nicknamed Billy Ruffian in Torbay for two days, upon his first sight of the Bay the former Emperor has been quoted as exclaiming Quel Bon Pays (what a lovely country) [Torquay, Queen of the Watering Places, Pg 2 (http://www.torbay.gov.uk/libtorquay.pdf)] and he compared to favourably to Porto Ferragoon Elba[Torquay And Paignton: The Makings Of A Modern Resort, Henry James Lethbridge, Pg 34] , he was later taken to Plymouthand then to St. Helena. Napoleon also helped the prosperity of Torquay in another way, local smugglers did very good business 'importing' French brandy during the Napoleonic Wars and since then smuggling of one kind or another has not completely stopped, was during these wars Admiral Nelsonvisited the town on 18 January 1801, visiting Torre Abbey Mansions and later dining in Cockington.
A nascent holiday resort (1821-1848)
In 1821 there were still fewer than 2,000 people living in Torquay [Devon, W.G.Hoskins, 1954] but it was to experience a massive rate of growth in coming years, in 1822 Torquay's second hotel was opened on the site of the modern day Queen's Hotel, objections were raised by the Vicar of Torre who believe that Two hotels in the town would be detrimental to its moral health.
The atmosphere of these years is well conveyed in Octavian Blewitt's book A Panorama of Torquay, published in 1832. He tells us, among other things, that those who wished to avoid the fatigue of the long coach journey from London, travelled to Portsmouth by coach and there took the Brunswick a steam vessel of considerable power directly to Torquay. [Devon, W.G.Hoskins, 1954]
In 1832 Torquay acquired its first bank, The Torbay Bank, run by
William Kitson, already a partner in the town's premier solicitors Messrs Abraham and Kitson, founded in 1823 and soon to be land agent of the Palk family. [Torquay And Paignton: The Makings Of A Modern Resort, Henry James Lethbridge, Pgs 47, 48] In the very same year, future British Prime Minister William Gladstonewas staying in the town, when summoned to fight the election in Newark for the Conservative Party, the journey north to Nottinghamshiretook him three days by coach. [Years of Expansion, British History 1815-1914, Michael Scott-Baumann, Pg 180]
Throughout the 1830s and 1840s Kitson would shape the way that Torquay developed to such an extent that he is known to this day as the 'Maker of Torquay', acting in the place of the abseente Palk who had by now fled to
Dieppeto avoid debts, Kitson was essentially given free hand to develop Torquay along his own line after being put in charge of the Palk estates in 1833. Alongside his roles as a banker, solicitor and manager of the Palk's affairs, he was elected as commissioner to an early form of local government in 1835, where he introduced many basic amenities to the town such as most of the central road network of the town, a sewer system, a regulated water supply and street lighting [Torquay, Queen of the Watering Places, Pg 3 (http://www.torbay.gov.uk/libtorquay.pdf)]
In 1833, Princess Victoria herself visited the town for the first time, with modern day Victoria Parade named in honour of the place where the future queen first stepped ashore. [Torquay, Queen of the Watering Places, Pg 4 (http://www.torbay.gov.uk/libtorquay.pdf)] At this time, the mild winter climate and fresh air in Torquay attracted many visitors in ill health who visited the town for its apparent cleansing nature and the town started to develop its character of a health resort for the wealthy rather than its former naval links and it would retain this character for the rest of the century, the town's ever increasing popularity from the early part of the century to the middle of it, caused a population boom with the population rapidly growing from 838 in 1801 to 11,474 in 1851 and by 1850 there were about 2,000 bedrooms in the small hotels of Torquay.
During this period, the town was by and large owned by three families, namely the Mallocks who owned the Cockington region, the Carys who owned Babbacombe, St Marychurch and the old monastery at Torre Abbey and the Palk family which owned central Torquay or Tormohun. Tor Mohun takes its name from the tor or conspicuous hill known as Tor Hill today, and its suffix from the Mohuns who acquired the manor from the Brewers in the 13th century. [Devon, W.G.Hoskins, 1954]
The Mallocks, resisted the changes convulsing Torquay for a long time, they did not want a town on their rural property, and they threw away a fortune rather than have it, not until 1865 did one of them consent to grant a building lease, and that only to a family connection. [Devon, W.G.Hoskins, 1954]
Disturbances and continued growth (mid-19th century)
In the 1840s
railwaymania hit Torquay, it is difficult for us now to imagine how important railwayswere to the 19th century, perhaps the situation was best described by a noted English historian G.M. Trevelyanwho wrote: "The railwayswere England's gift to the world." In fact, a large proportion of the world's trainsstill roll along tracks manufactured in the last century with the words 'Made in Birmingham' stamped on them.
The people of Torquay knew that the railways would bring visitors and prosperity and they wanted the
railwayto come to their town. Finally, on 18 December 1848, the station in Torre (some distance from the sea) was opened and Torquay was connected to the rest of the country for the first time in its history. By 1850 the town was calling itself The Queen of Watering Places and The Montpellier of England. [Devon, W.G.Hoskins, 1954] . Between 1841 and 1871, the population of the town rose by over 5,000 in each decade. [Devon, W.G.Hoskins, 1954]
On a Saturday morning in 1852 a town meeting decided to continue the railway down to the sea, to the harbour. The people at the meeting imagined Torquay as an industrial town, importing raw materials through the harbour and transporting finished articles inland. This decision caused great controversy, and in the afternoon of the same day another meeting was held cancelling the decision of the morning and deciding to continue the railway to the sea but not to the harbour. As a result Torquay kept its character as a tourist town and became the place it is today, The new railway station was opened on
2 August 1859with the line to Paigntonbut remained a distance away from the town center and harbourside, although ideally placed for Torre Abbey Sands.
The railways also had a great effect on the surrounding towns and countryside and as the years passed Torquay grew in importance because of the railway links, with many of the formerly important towns of Devon looking on desperately as the trains passed by them without stopping, taking their former prosperity with them, within decades these towns had died economically and their populations migrated away, many to the growing conurbation of Torquay boosting its population further.
Isambard Kingdom Brunelwas an important figure in Torquay's history during this period, he built the nearby Atmospheric railwayand the rail links to Torquay, and had began buying up large areas of the Watcombe district of Torquay where he had planned to retire in his old age, unfortunately the great man died an early death and never reached his retirement. [Torbytes Website (http://www.torbytes.co.uk/op/tm2/lv2/item963.htm)] While the well-to-do and privileged enjoyed life in the Lincombes and Warberries and other desirable locations with pleasing vistas, the labouring classes of Torquay lived below in overcrowded tenements, such as in George Street, Swan Street and Pimlico. These fetid dwellings in alleyways with open sewers were the homes of the unemployed and the domestic servants, labourers, artisans and others who, although made the town tick, were nevertheless condemned to live in conditions where hunger and sanitary problems were a constant threat. In one year 66 lives were lost in six weeks in a choleraepidemic.
It is little wonder that many desperate Devonians tried their luck abroad, with the sailing ship Elizabeth, Isabella and Margaret taking emigrants from Torquay Harbour to America and
Canada. Those they left behind faced a bleak future of low pay in insecure employment with few rights.
The basic diet of working class families in those days consisted mainly of bread and whatever else could be had, usually cheese and a few vegetables, so when the staple food supply was scarce or too expensive to buy then just surviving was made even harder.
In 1846 the potato crop failed and there was a bad harvest, resulting in the price of bread going up steeply and causing 'a great distress among the poor', especially in
Irelandwhere famine followed. But while affluent Torquinians collected over £4,000 for the relief of the Irish, many Devonians were less than happy about their own situation and decided to do something about it.
Rumours of disturbances had spread around the town but no heed had been taken, so when at 7.30 p.m. on
May 17a crowd assembled in Lower Union Street the authorities were caught off guard as attacks were made on bakers' shops and women carried off the spoils in their aprons. As night drew on the rioters took advantage of the dark.
Several thousand 'roughs' then swarmed down Fleet Street and attacked other shops, smashing shutters and windows as they went. Then they turned and marched to Torre, at the top of the town, before they were finally challenged by a posse of tradesmen headed by two magistrates. During the ensuring violent confrontation the Riot Act was read and those who had been taken prisoner were locked up in the Town Hall.
The following day a party of 60 navvies who were working on the railway just outside of Torquay marched down to the Town Hall to free their comrades who had been arrested. After a tense standoff their leader, James Hart, was seized and coastguards and 40 members of the 5th Fusiliers, just arrived from
Exeter, helped restore order.
A report in the Torquay and Tor Directory on
May 21 1847accepted that 'the high price of provisions' had provoked the disturbances, but displayed little magnanimity in claiming that 'steps had been taken for relieving the sufferings of the poor and it will be far more grateful to the right-minded poor to know that the relief which we trust will shortly be afforded to them was not exacted by intimidation, but voluntarily determined upon before'.
A handbill circulated at the same time, headed 'To The Poor of Tor and Torquay', informed them that the crop failures were down to His hand, and that they should put their faith in 'God's Providence'.
In January 1854, further rioting occurred at
Barnstaple, Tiverton and Exeter, when the military was called out again. Trouble had been anticipated in Torquay but this time the magistrates took the precautions to nip it in the bud, though five years later an attempt was made to burn down the Town Hall.
There was a gruesome footnote to the 1847 riot when, in 1863, a shallow grave was found in the Torre area containing the remains of a young man who was said to have been killed on that fateful night 16 years earlier and in the following year two more skeletons were unearthed in the town. [Herald Express Bygones (Jack Critchlow, Herald Express Bygones Articles, 22/5/2007)]
Torquay's Golden Age (late 19th century)
With the town becoming increasingly popular amongst the rich and privileged of
Europeit started attracting more prestigious visitors, the Russian Romanoff noble family built themselves a private holiday home in the town called the Villa Syracusa (now the Overmead Hotel) at which they would often entertain. While the Romanoff family was in residence, they entertained the Russian Royal Family at the Villa. During their absences, the villa was often let privately. In August 1864 the Prince of Wales visited the Grand Duchess Maria of Russia while she was staying at the Villa Syracusa, amongst her party staying at the villa was the Count Gregoire Stroganoff and Countess Alexandra Tolstoy, the wife of noted novelist Leo Tolstoy.
The Imperial Hotel also welcomed many famous guests during this period of the town's history such as Emperor
Napoleon III of France, the Queen of the Netherlands and King Edward VII, Benjamin Disraeliwas also a prominent visitor to the resort through his political career.
Growth slowed up in the 1870s and 1880s, mainly because the upper classes, for whom Torquay catered to the exclusion of all others, now began to take their summer and winter holidays abroad. Meanwhile, the adjacent parish of St. Marychurch, had taken the overflow of Torquay, and had grown from 800 people at the beginning of the century to nearly 7,000 at the end. In the same period, Cockington had been transformed, in a milder degree, from a deep country parish to a villa-strewn suburb, though the old village remained untouched. [Devon, W.G.Hoskins, 1954] In 1870, Sir Lawrence Palk commissioned the building of a new harbour in Torquay, which made the town popular amongst yacht sailers. [Torquay, Queen of the Watering Places, Pg 4 (http://www.torbay.gov.uk/libtorquay.pdf)] Whilst not as commercial as nearby Brixham, the harbour at Torquay was heavily involved in importing coal and wool from
Australia, which was then sent to the mills in the North of England. [English Riviera Website(http://www.englishriviera.co.uk/site/about-the-area/torquay/history)] The upper class nature of the resort and the huge wealth of its residents during this period was further established when Worth's Tourist Guide To Devonshire (1886) declared of Torquay 'in proportion to its population [it is] the wealthiest town in England' [Torquay And Paignton: The Makings Of A Modern Resort, Henry James Lethbridge, Pg 63] Edward Cardwell, 1st Viscount Cardwell, the MP who reformed the British military after the debacle of the Crimean War, was a prominent resident of Torquay during his latter years and passed away in the town on February 15, 1886. In later years Queen Victoria reviewed the entire Royal Navyin the waters of Torbay.During this period, Torquay attracted a number of literary talents whose works reflected their stay in the town, Charles Kingsley, author of " The Water Babies" and "Westward Ho! (novel)" lived in the Livermead region of the town, Elizabeth Barrett Browningsettled in Torquay in 1838 for health reasons, during her time in the bay she wrote literary work such as De Profundisand The Cry of the Children. Rudyard Kiplinglived at Rock House, Maidencombe, in 1896 following a stressful period in his life, the building is thought to have been his inspiration for his story The House Surgeonin 1909. [Torbay Council Website(http://www.torbay.gov.uk/index/leisure/heritage/famouspeople.htm)] Furthermore two classic pieces of English literature Oscar Wilde's A Woman of No Importanceand Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervillesare reported to have been created while staying in Torquay, finally Charles Darwincompleted the last sections of The Origin of Specieswhile staying at Hesketh Crescent in the Ilsham area of Torquay. [ BBC Devon (http://www.bbc.co.uk/devon/outdoors/walks/walk_through_time/09.shtml)]
The next few years would see development in the recreational landscape of Torquay, with the town's first sporting arena, the Recreation Ground being opened in 1888 with a rugby match between Torquay Athletic and local rivals Newton Abbot. [Torquay, Queen of the Watering Places, Pg 4 (http://www.torbay.gov.uk/libtorquay.pdf)] Then in 1889 the Winter Gardens were built to provide entertainment for winter holidaymakers,the cast-iron and glass structure could seat up to 1,000 people for the concerts held by an Italian band, and also featured three
tenniscourts and a bowlingalley. However, the Winter Gardens were not very successful and in 1903 the building was sold to Great Yarmouth. The structure was shipped by barge from Torquay without the loss of a single pane of glass and is still in use today (including a brief period during the 1990s as a nightclub, under the management of Jim Davidson). The Victorian walls of the base are still in their original position in Torquay, and are now the walls of the bar, under the Yardley Manor Hotel on Museum Road. Agatha Christiewas born in the town on September 15 1890, and was christened at All Saints Church, Bamfylde Rd, Torre on October 20 1890, she would go on to be one of the world's best selling and most famous novelists and based many of her novels in a thinly veiled version of Torquay.
In 1892 two events took place which were to radically change both the appearance and outlook of Torquay, through trains were introduced and Torquay was granted
Boroughstatus by a Royal Charter, adopting the motto Salus et Felicitas (Health and Happiness). The town was now ready for expansion and to start building a new image, the healthy were encouraged to come as well as the ailing and the Victorian watering place soon transformed into a holiday resort.
In 1899 with the turn of the century approaching the town acquired its first professional sports team with the founding of
Torquay Unitedby a group of school leavers under the guidance of Sergeant-Major Edward Tomney. After a season of friendlies the club joined the East Devon League and moved into the Recreation Ground, their home for the next four years. They would go on to join the Football Leaguein 1927.
Early 20th century
The early part of the new century saw a change in the character of the town, in 1902 the first advertising campaign to bring healthy visitors to Torquay, rather than people recovering from illnesses was launched and Torquay changed in character from being a winter holiday resort to being a summer holiday resort aimed at families from the industrial midlands and north of England, this led to a steady increase in rail traffic until the advent of
World War I.
Torquay had been steadily increasing in size over this period and in 1900 the regions of Chelston and Livermead, previously part of the Cockington estate owned by the Mallocks had been annexed by the town and 1903 saw further expansion of Torquay's political size and power, as the former borough of
St Marychurchwas amalgamated into the towns borders, having long since been residentially and commercially intermingled with the town due to its rapid expansion in the latter half of the past century. Rumour has it the catalyst for the merger was that Torquay wanted a steamroller and could not afford its own, unlike its smaller neighbour, however this has never been verified.
Finally in 1928 Cockington itself was integrated within the town borders, with this expansion the political entity of Torquay now covered more than twice the size as previously, incorporating the modern day regions of Livermead, Cockington, Chelston
St Marychurch, Plainmoor, Babbacombe, Watcombe and Maidencombe as well as the historical core of the town and has largely maintained this outline to the modern day, aside from the post World War IIdevelopments of Hele Village and Shiphay and the development of the industrial and residential estate of The Willows on the outskirts of the town throughout the 1990s and early 21st century.
electrical engineer, mathematician, and physicist Oliver Heavisidelived in the town from 1909 until his death in 1924, after moving from nearby Newton Abbotdue to failing health.
In 1905 over 113 warships of the
Royal Navyanchored in the bay in an awe inspiring sight [English Riviera Website(http://www.englishriviera.co.uk/site/about-the-area/torquay/history)] and the Royal Family and the Royal Navy once again descended on the town, as King George V reviewed the Home Fleet in the waters of the bay, before war broke out with Germanyand Austria-Hungaryin mid 1914.
World War I
In the early days of the war while patriotism was still high and many believed it would be over by Christmas, many volunteers signed on for military service and columns of young men were seen marching through the town following recruiting campaigns on their way to the nightmares of Northern France and Belgium
As the war progressed Torquay began to see the effects of it, and in August 1914, the
Red CrossHospital opened in the Town Hall with 50 beds and the first convoy of wounded arrived on 21 October 'when a hospital-train arrived at Torre Station with eight British officers and 40 wounded men from France'. The officers went to Stoodley Knowle, owned by Torquay's MP Colonel Burn, but they were greeted by the Hon. Mrs Burn and Miss Burn "who were attired as Red Cross nurses". In addition to Stoodley Knowle, other war hospitals were set up at the Mount (but later moved to Rockwood); the Manor House (Lady Layland Barratt); Lyncourt (Hon. Helen Cubitt) and the "Western Hospital for Consumptives". There was also a home at Royden, described as a "Convalescent Home for Blinded Soldiers and Sailors". In the latter part of the year during November, Queen Mary visited the Town Hall and Oldway Mansions while visiting injured servicemen.
One of the units which was later to be involved in the ill fated attack on
Gallipoliarrived in the town in December, the 1,100 men of the Royal Dublin Fusiliershad been relocated from the naval port of Plymouthand before they left the town for the frontlines, their commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Rooth, handed over the regimental colours to the town Mayor for safe-keeping.
They did not go to
Franceas was expected but were reassigned to be part of the ill-fated attack against the Ottoman Empire and many would never return to reclaim the regimental colours, during this period recruits for Lord Kitchener's New Army (Men of the Royal Army Medical Corps) had been flooding into the town and were a large presence during the Christmas of 1914.
In September King George V and Queen Mary visited the Town Hall and Stoodley Knowle hospitals where they saw wounded soldiers from the campaigns in
France, Flandersand Gallipoli. There were then five hospitals, two of which "flew the Red Cross Flag" (the Town Hall and Rockwood). By this time the Western Hospital had become the "Auxiliary Military Hospital" (with an annex at Underwood).
There were so many casualties that the Torbay Hospital had allocated more than 50 beds for warwounded. The civilian population was also caught up in the struggle for men to serve in France after those, and other, battles. The Torquay Local Tribunal was set up under an ex-Service (or other) chairman to hear cases of local men seeking deferment. The grounds had to be good ones and, in the case of those seeking it for health reasons, supported by two doctors. One case before Mr F. J. Crocker in June 1916 warranted the granting of 'conditional exemption only'. It concerned a William Rowe of Ilsham Manor Farm, who sought to delay his registration because he and his two sons 'had to deal with 46 cows. The farm had 340 acres of which 200 were arable; 70 were tilled with corn, 25 with roots and five with potatoes, which were of importance' this was just one of many cases heard from those wishing to avoid the war.
From May onwards wounded soldiers from the
New Zealand Expeditionary Forcebegan to arrive and entered a permanent convalescent camp at St Marychurch, a "Special YMCA" being opened for their use.
The continuing presence of the New Zealanders resulted in the opening of a YMCA in Torquay at Maycliff in St. Luke's Road in April and, a month later, the Kia Toa Club (now the Victorian Arcade) for those awaiting repatriation. The Council gave each serviceman "suitably inscribed views of Torquay"; in all, 22,000 were distributed. which was anchored well out in the Bay.
September 1918 saw a serious outbreak of the
Spanish Fluwhich was ravaging the world at the time, over 100 American servicemen died at the Oldway Hospital in a fortnight from the disease, they were buried in Paigntoncemetery but were exhumed later and taken back to the United States.
Armistice was declared on November 11th and some weeks later there was excitement at the harbour when the German submarine
U161arrived while British 'water-planes flew in the air [and] descended on to the water' (possibly an early example of the 'victory roll'). These were seaplanes from the base on Beacon Quay which had been there throughout the War, the Coastlines shed being altered for use as a hangar. It was operated by the RNAS with Short 184 seaplanes but became "239 Squadron RAF" after the amalgamation of the RFC and RNAS.
There was a sad final act to Torquay's war experience, when on
Boxing Day1918 the town mayor handed back the regimental colours of the Dubliners to a Guard from the 1st Dublin Fusiliers, the colours having hung in the Council Chamber for four years now, and out of a battalion 1,100 strong that had arrived in Torquay those few years ago, only 40 were now left, the regiment having been decimated at the landing at Suvla Bay during the Gallilopi campaign.
Inter War Period
After the Great War an effective advertising campaign by the
Great Western RailwayCompany was responsible for making Torquay a major resort, the interest in Torquay culminated on August Bank Holiday in 1938, just before the outbreak of World War II, when 20,000 passengers arrived in Torquay station, followed by 50 trains the next day.
During this period Torquay also encountered political developments, with Oswald Mosley's
British Union of Fascistsattempting to move into the region following great success in the city of Plymouthwhere the Union had upwards of 1,500 members in 1933 and Mosley spoke to packed meetings in Plymouth's Guildhall and the Drill Hall in Millbay to great acclaim.
The Torquay branch of the Fascists never took off to quite the extent the Plymouth branch did and at its peak in 1933 only had 34 members, and by 1935 had been absorbed back into the folds of the Plymothian branch.
An odd coincidence with the growth of the fascist party in Torquay, was the presence of
A.K. Chesterton, as editor of the Torquay Times, Chesterton was to play a prominent role in far right wing British politics over the next three decades, founding the League of Empire Loyalistsand co-founding the National Front which is still active in modern times and he was a prominent figure in the Union before a schism with Mosley and his departure in 1938. However during the period of Fascist activity in the resort Chesterton had already departed for London and appears to have played little part in the fascist attempt to cultivate a support in the town. [Blackshirts in Devon, Todd Gray, 2006 ISBN 978-190335646-3] .
World War II
Although training in 'air-raid precautions' started as early as 1935, recruiting only began in earnest in January 1939. Wardens were recruited and every house in the town was visited with between 20,000 and 30,000 civilian gas respirators fitted. In March the Torbay ARP Committee decided to purchase Upton Primary School as headquarters for the Torbay Area at a cost of £3,350, trained volunteers totalled 2,033 and there were then on order 2,200 sandbags, 200 suits of clothing, 69,000 respirators and 140 steel helmets with 'the Home Office was waiting for an address to sent them to'.
1 September, two days before War was declared, permanent 'Wardens' Posts' were established and sand-bagged throughout the town, just eight days later, the first air-raid exercise took place simulating a German attack in which a mustard gasbomb was dropped in St. Marks Road.
Within days of the declaration, plans were announced for rationing meat and petrol throughout the country, the books issued for the latter covered two months but did not say how much each coupon would be worth. Coal and coke rationing was added to the list before the end of the month.
The possibility the enemy might use gas was a real one and the town's Wardens went from house-to-house preparing residents for wearing their respirators, residents of the town also had to deal with two other war time measures before the end of the year; in late September the 'Food Control Office' opened in the Electric Hall (Present Day AMF Bowling) and 'Registration Day' was on the 29th, every inhabitant received a Registration Card with his/her own unique number despite the curtailing of personal freedoms represented by this measure, there was little or no adverse comment.
Not long after this, in October, the Palace Hotel was requisitioned by the government and opened as a convalescent hospital and training facility for RAF officers, originally with 48 beds but soon expanded to nearly 250. It was later renamed RAF Hospital, Torquay, until it was bombed in October 1942, many aircrew recovered and trained there, including
James Nicholson, the only RAF VC.
In 1940 Wrighton of Walthamstow took over Sansom's garage opposite the Chilcote Memorial and up to 300 people worked there manufacturing parts of aircraft (including the Short Sunderland flying-boat) for the war effort. After the
Fall of Francethe invasion of Britain became a real possibility and machine-gun posts and pill-boxes were built across the coastline of Torquay and the Bay (in Torquay the work was done by the Royal East Kent Regiment nicknamed 'The Buffs')and naval guns were also placed on Corbyn Head, in a repeat of its fortification against the troops of Napoleon over a century past.
In May, then Secretary of State for War
Anthony Edenmade his historic broadcast appeal asking those men between the ages of 17 and 65 who were not already on War Service to join the Local Defence Volunteers, they would be unpaid but would wear uniforms and be armed. In two days 400 men had joined and by Monday the 20th the register had closed with 600 on the books. In July the name was changed to the Home Guard.
Torquay's major contribution to the war effort was by providing hotels for the RAF in which to train aircrew. In addition to the previously mentioned RAF Hospital at the Palace Hotel, No 1 ITW (Initial Training Wing) was formed at
Babbacombein June 1940. Headquarters were at the Norcliffe Hotel, the Sefton, Oswalds, Trecarn, Foxlands and Palermo Hotels being used for sleeping, etc. Postings were made from Babbacombe to Elementary Flying Training Schools (including overseas in Canadaand Southern Rhodesia) where they became pilots, observers, W/T operators and wireless operators/air gunners.
From the first intake of 579 recruits in July 1940, almost a further 27,000 airmen were to trained there before the Wing left Babbacombe. No 3 ITW also came to Torquay in June. Its headquarters were at St. James' Hotel (now Harbour Point). Hotels in Beacon Terrace were requisitioned, together with Park Hall Hotel and the Regina Hotel (which was slightly damaged during a "tip and run raid" in June 1942); the Dorchester and Devonshire Hotels were requisitioned later, from February 1943. St. Vincents' Hotel (now flats) was taken over for use by the WAAF. Some 8,000 trainees passed through before it was disbanded in February 1944.
A third ITW was No 5. which also moved to Torquay in June 1940. Headquarters were in Castle Chambers, later moving to Hotel Metropole (now the Cavendish). A full list of hotels used is not known but they included the Majestic and Stanbury Hotels which were damaged on 30 May 1943 and had to be evacuated. Some 10,000 men completed their training at No 3 ITW.
During the early part of 1941, he first "War Weapons Week" was held and on the first day raised £150,007 towards the £500,000 it was eventually hoped for, also during this period evacuees began to flood into to Torquay from
Bristoland Plymouth(during the Blitzof both cities). The deteriorating war situation resulted in a survey of railings "available for munitions" (i.e. melting down), their removal started later early the next year.
22 April 1941Torquay had its first serious raid (at the time of the Plymouth Blitz) when the house of the chief warden in the Warberries was destroyed and two of his children killed. On 4 Maythere was another when 31 HE (High Explosive) bombs were dropped in Forest Road, the Daison and at Maidencombe. Most of these early attacks were from Luftwaffepilots jettisoning spare bombs left over from the raids on Plymouth, while returning to their bases in France and the Low Countries.
No 13 ITW was formed in Torquay in June 1941 and trained pilots, observers and navigators principally from the Commonwealth and Allied Air Forces, the intakes were smaller and the courses longer, so only about 3,000 passed through the Wing. The Headquarters were in the Belgrave Hotel at first and later at Torre Abbey, the logbook of this Wing also records the first arrival of American troops in Torbay where they would remain until 1944 and the D-Day landings.
In March 1942 a small vessel, intended as a "block-ship" across Torquay Harbour, was sunk in an air-raid and in May a British Typhoon aircraft crashed-landed on Meadfoot Beach, the pilot being uninjured. However, when a German fighter was shot down on to Tor Abbey Sands and caught fire, its pilot perished because the barbed-wire and other defences on the promenade prevented any rescue attempt being made.
No 39 Air-Sea Rescue unit was based in Torquay Harbour (which is possibly why a blockshipwas kept ready). Later, in 1944, HSL No 2511 was on station at Torquay; it was a 67-ft Thornycroft vessel,similar to the famous Whaleback designed by Hubert Scott-Payne. There was also thought to have been a Sunderland flying-boat based in the Harbour for a short time, a landing platform being moored near Haldon Pier for use by the crew.
On the 7th June, Torquay was again attacked, the beaches and sea front were crowded when four raiders flew in low over the sea and dropped four bombs and were gone nine minutes before the siren sounded. One exploded behind the amusement arcades near the Torbay Hotel, no one was injured here but there were casualties elsewhere.
A further air-raid on August Bank Holiday caused considerable damage and casualties, so too did the early evening raid on
4 Septemberwhen properties were destroyed in Tor Hill Road and Rosery Road and the main gasholder at Hollacombe was set on fire, later Mr Denton and Sgt. Richardson (of the Home Guard) were each to receive the George Medalfor gallantry in fighting the fires that raged as a result of this attack.
Yet another major raid on Torquay took place on
25 October, during this raid RAF Hospital, Torquay based at the Palace Hotel was severely damaged during a bombing run, when 19 people lost their lifes and a total of 43 casualties were sustained. The East Wing of the hotel was severely damaged and the building was put out of action for the rest of the war. The empty hotel was damaged again in a second raid just months later which confirmed the abandonment of the facility. This event was recently commemorated with a memorial service at the Palace Hotel on the 25th October to mark 65 years since the tragedy [Herald Express, 27/10/2007 (http://www.thisissouthdevon.co.uk/displayNode.jsp?nodeId=134822&command=displayContent&sourceNode=237837&home=yes&more_nodeId1=134831&contentPK=18788947)] .
One of the worst tragedies to hit the local population during the year of 1943 was the "Rogation Sunday" attack which destroyed the Parish Church at
St. Marychurchand resulted in the deaths of 21 children, one of the German aircraft involved in the bombing raid accidentally touched the spire of the Catholic church nearby and crashed into houses in Teignmouth Road causing the large death toll.
Morrison and Anderson shelters were delivered in all the Torbay towns later in the year as a result of the increase in bombing raids targeting the town. Morrison indoor shelters 'would be issued free to those employed in an occupation compulsorily insured under the NHI Acts and whose earnings did not exceed £350 per annum, Others could purchase them for £7' (a year later, with
D-Dayover, the various Councils collected them for use in London which was suffering attacks by 'V' weapons). At the end of 1943 those evacuated from the South Hams Battle Area began arriving in the Torbay towns.
Early the in year of 1944, The first of thousands of US Army personnel arrived in Torquay preparing for the build up of forces in Southern England that would ultimately result in the launch of
Operation Overlord. Men of the 3204th Quartermaster Service Company were billeted mainly in Chelston and Cockington. Seven GIs were in "Cypress Heights" with Mr DeSuanne; others were at "Greenhaven" and "Combe Martin" with Mr Meadow in Vicarage Road and at small homes in Sherwell Lane, Rathmore Road, Avenue Road, Old Mill Road and Tor Park Road. Another unit was the 618th Ordnance Ammunition Company, 6th Amphibious Engineers, the men being billeted in private homes in St. Marychurch and Upton.
The 257th Ordnance MM Company, attached to the 6th Engineer Special Brigade, arrived in Torquay on
3 February 1944"on a very warm winter day". They too went into private homes in St. Marychurch. Little is known about the 31st Chemical Corps, also billeted in Upton and which served in Normandy as part of the 6th Engineer Special Brigade.
In February 1944 the No 13 ITW Wing moved to Bridgnorth, and first the Rosetor (now the Riviera Centre), followed by the Belgrave shortly after were handed over to the US Army. Another ITW, No 21, was also hosted in the town for a brief spell during the spring and summer of 1944, numbers trained were small, only about 1,000 but it helped to raise the total number of airmen trained in Torquay to some 49,000 throughout the war.
In the build-up to D-day, German raids on coastal areas were expected and Torquay's took place on
29 Maywhen some 20 planes are believed to have been in Torbay laying mines, some carried bombs and these were dropped around the Harbour, in Chelston and elsewhere. Nos 4 and 5 Park Crescent were destroyed but the worst affected property was "Bay Court Hotel" where rescuers dug for days for survivors. This was fortunately to be the last recorded raid during the war in Torquay but throughout the past four years the air attacks had resulted in well over 700 'air raid alerts' being sounded in the Bay.
Early in 1944 a coast ban, from The Wash to Cornwall, had come into force and visitors were only allowed in if possessing appropriate permits, this was to ensure absolutely security surrounded the preparation of
Operation Overlordand the D-Day landings. Torquay played a vital role in the landings, more than 23,000 men of the American 4th Infantry Division would depart from Torquay for Utah Beachduring Overlord.
The visiting restrictions was lifted in early July soon after the beach-head in Normandy had been established following the
D-Daylandings, and the American and Commonwealth troops billeted in the town had departed for Northern France and Nazi occupied Europe.
Soon after the lifting of restrictions, Great Western Railways announced We expect a big rush of holidaymakers to the South West but unfortunately here are no arrangements for running extra trains. It opened the floodgates, a fortnight later a display board outside Paddington Station reported 'Paddington overcrowded. Please use alternative routes'.
Although there were still signs of war damage to be repaired throughout the town, Torquay was declared 'open to visitors' when peace was declared in May having made a massive contribution to the war effort through its training of RAF personnel and its role in the preparations and ultimate success of
1945 to present day
Since the war tourist patterns have changed considerably. Many more people have the money to travel abroad for their holidays and nearly everyone has a car. This means that fewer visit British holiday resorts but when they do they do usually travel by car. The British holiday has become a touring holiday with visitors staying only one or two days in each place. The visitor does not bother to book a hotel, but prefers to stay at one of the numerous cheap bed & breakfast establishments instead (b&b's).
With its unrivalled Bay, the
English Rivierahas been famed for its watersports for many a year and in 1948 the watersportsevents of the 1948 Summer Olympic Gameswere held here. The Olympic flamewas brought from Londonand burned for the duration at Torre Abbey Gardens.
Torquay was also hoping to be a part of the
London 2012 Summer Olympic Gamesby being the official warm up venue for the sailing events. The actual events during the Olympics will be held in Weymouthunlike in 1948. However they also missed out on this opportunity and it seems the town will play little part in the Olympics.
In 1950 the
EBU, a coalition of 23 broadcasting organisations from Europe and the Mediterranean was formed in Torquay following a conference held by the BBCat the Imperial Hotel on the seafront, the EBU's most well-known production in the modern age is probably the Eurovision Song Contestorganised by its Eurovision Network.
In recent years Torquay has become better known abroad and has received more foreign tourists who usually tour in cars like the British holidaymakers. It is also a major destination for foreign language students, who visit the town for the summer to learn English and see the sights of
In October 2005, Torquay as part of Torbay chose its first ever directly elected mayor,
Nicholas Bye, under an electoral system which was later described as "a total failure", Bye receiving votes from fewer than 7% of the electorate. [BBC News, 25/10/2005 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/devon/4374914.stm)] . 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 that "it is quite clear from canvassing that a lot of people did not want an elected mayor."
Since the expansion of the EU in 2004, Torquay has undergone a dramatic demographic shift with large numbers of Eastern European migrant workers settling in the region, prominent amongst this wave of newcomers are workers from
Polandand the Czech Republic, with recent estimates suggesting as many as 5,000 Poles in the region as of late December 2005 [BBC News 31/12/2005http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/devon/4571762.stm)] with that number expected to have increased since then. The nature of this demographic tends to be transient with most returning to their native country after a set period of work, however increasing numbers are opting to remain in the country and settle down, reflecting this shift in the population the local newspaper " The Herald Express" now publishes a weekly Polish column (Polak dla Polakow) and a Polish shop (Polski Sklep) has opened on Lucius Street to cater for the migrants needs.
Members of Parliament
"Members for South Devon"
Lord John Russell(Whig) 1832-1835
* John Crocker Bulteel (Whig) 1832-1835
* Sir John Yarde Buller (Conservative) 1835-1858
* Montagu Edmund Parker (Conservative) 1835-1849
* Sir Ralph Lopes (Conservative) 1849-1854
* Sir Lawrence Palk (Conservative) 1854-1868
* Samuel Trehawke Kekewich (Conservative) 1858-1868
"Members for East Devon"
* Sir Edward Courtenay (Conservative) 1868-1870
* Sir Lawrence Palk (Conservative) 1854-1880
* Sir John Henry Kennaway (Conservative) 1870-1885
* Lt. Col William Hood Walrond (Conservative) 1880-1885
"Members for Torquay"
* Lewis McIver (Liberal) 1885-1886
* Richard Mallock (Conservative) 1886-1895
* Commander Arthur Phillpotts (Conservative) 1885-1900
* Francis Layland Barratt (Liberal) 1900-1910
* Colonel Charles Rosdew Burn (Unionist) 1910-1923
* Captain Piers Gilchrist Thompson (Liberal) 1923-1924
* Charles Williams (Conservative) 1924-1955
* Frederic Bennett (Conservative) 1955-1974
"Members for Torbay"
* Sir Frederic Bennett (Conservative) 1974-1987
Rupert Allason(Conservative) 1987-1997
Adrian Sanders( Liberal Democrats) 1997-
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