Torquay inner harbour
I have said recently that I will post some more photos of the area in which we live and so I am starting with the town of Torquay, one of the three towns which together make up the Borough of Torbay, named after the bay around which the towns are situated. The other towns are Paignton and Brixham and I will post about those another time. Torbay is on Devon’s South coast, and enjoys a mild climate (well, milder than most other parts of the British Isles.)
Here you will see Torquay’s inner harbour, perhaps the most picturesque part of the town.
This photo was taken before there were pontoons in the harbour, and boats bobbed at anchor rather than being in what I refer to as a boat park! Much prettier, I think, but of course with pontoons, more boats can be accommodated.
There is a bridge between the inner and outer harbours, with sluice gates, so that there is always water now in the inner harbour and boats can come and go freely, even at low tide. When craft are not wishing to leave or enter harbour, pedestrians can walk across this bridge
This view of the harbour was taken from the Big Wheel which is erected each summer on the sea front. Here you can see the pontoons for the boats, all neatly lined up like peas in a pod
Torquay became a holiday resort during the Napoleonic Wars, the town expanding from the 1840s when the railway from London reached the nearby market town of Newton Abbot. While Torquay is not known primarily for its architecture, this doesn’t mean to say that it doesn’t have some excellent buildings. The Harvey brothers, local builder/architects, built at least two terraces: Lisburne Terrace and Hesketh Crescent. I don’t have any photos of Lisburne Terrace but Hesketh Crescent is truly elegant:
The island in the Bay (in the photo above) is called Thatcher Rock. It is only inhabited by birds. Oh, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with our late Prime Minister, Mrs (later Baroness) Thatcher.
A short distance from the harbour, and with lovely views of the Bay, is the much older Torre Abbey (photo below). “A community of white canons, Premonstratensians from Welbeck Abbey, lived here until the Dissolution, when the abbey was converted into a private house. In the 18th century it returned to Roman Catholic hands, when it became the home of the Cary family, who consecrated a church in a former guest hall. It was the Carys who entertained Nelson when he came here in 1801; they lived on in a house set on the side of the monks’ refectory until 1929, when they sold I to Torquay Corporation. It has now become the town’s art gallery and museum,” says historian, Shirley Toulson.
Torre Abbey (in the background in this photo) is a lovely place to visit and also for children as there are some inter-active displays which are informative as well as fun (the above photo was taken, of course, in spring.) There is a fine collection of paintings and other items of historical interest, including Torquay pottery. The Spanish Barn (explanation below) is the stone building on the left in this photograph.
The Children’s Holiday, c1864 by William Holman Hunt
The Spanish Barn is a former tithe barn built at the same time as the abbey in the early thirteenth century, since when it has been known as the Spanish Barn after it was used for fourteen days to hold 397 prisoners of war from the Spanish Armada in 1588.
Around the sea front there are various gardens, and I especially like the garden close to the harbour which has a splendid Victorian fountain which is about to be dismantled and renovated as it has begun to tilt. But I expect it will be back in place before the summer season 2018.
Behind the fountain you can see the town’s war memorial and the white building in the background is the Princess Theatre, built in 1961.
Here is a formal Edwardian-style sunken garden, close to Torre Abbey, and which is always well-maintained
Another view of the sunken garden, taken on another occasion with different planting
Not a garden, but just a wall in one of the streets off the sea front, but I took this photo as it shows a fine display of Valerian which grows wild in Devon, and in such profusion that it has become known as ‘Devon Pride’. The colours range from white to deepest cerise. Not everyone likes this invasive plant, but I am not one of them; I think it’s splendid and enhances grey stone walls.
Here is a road near the harbour where there is a terrace of Regency houses, in one of which Elizabeth Barrett Browning stayed in 1838. For those who are not familiar with Regency architecture, strictly speaking this period covers only the years 1811-20 when the Prince of Wales (later George IV) served as Regent, but in decorative arts and architecture terms it usually describes the period from the 1790s to 1830. You could say it’s Georgian with embellishments, such as wrought ironwork (as in the houses above) and verandas.
Torquay is lovely at any time of the year, from spring to winter. The photo below was taken in autumn a few years ago, on one of our strolls around the harbour.
As you leave Torquay, heading towards Paignton, you pass many of the hotels which now line the seafront.
The Grand Hotel, where Agatha Christie once stayed
I have only scratched the surface of this seaside town, known for it’s mild climate and pretty harbour, but there is so much to offer visitors here, from the lovely beaches to the parks and gardens, the town’s Museum (not shown here), the art gallery (Torre Abbey), and Living Coasts sea life centre. This is not an advert for the town, but just to show readers in other countries the area in which I live.
Until next time.