Our Area

Torquay is one of the three towns in the unitary authority of Torbay lying 20 miles to the south of Exeter and 32 miles north east of the city of Plymouth.

The town's economy was initially based on 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 and later by the crème de la crème of Victorian society as the town's fame spread. Renowned for its healthful climate, the town and the nickname of the "English Riviera" and favourable comparisons to Montpellier and Nice. Torquay was the home of the writer Agatha Christie, who lived most of her life here. The town now contains an "Agatha Christie Mile", a tour with plaques from Corbyn Head round to the Harbour area.

The area comprising modern Torquay has been inhabited since Palaeolithic times. Hand axes were found in Kents Cavern and a maxilla fragment may be the oldest example of modern humans in Europe. Roman soldiers are known to have visited Torquay at some point during the period when Britain was part of the Roman Empire, leaving offerings at a curious rock formation in Kents Cavern known as "The Face".

The first major building in what was to become Torquay was Torre Abbey, a monastery founded in 1196. 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 and easterly locations.

For many years Torquay was regarded as a "spa town". It has a mild microclimate, often receiving the highest hours of sunlight per day in the UK. Winters in the town tend to be mild 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.

After World War II several private apartment blocks were constructed above the Rock Walk and Harbour, giving the area a "Monte Carlo" feel. In the late 1980's Fleet Street was rebuilt as the Fleet Wall Shopping Mall which features street level shops and an upper level shopping deck. The long curved building which follows the street is magnolia coloured and in mock Victorian style.

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. More recent projects include the £26million improvement scheme completed in March 2006 in the Torquay Harbour area. Torquay Harbourside is widely recognised as the heart of the town and is often referred to as Torquay's town square. A focus for a wide range of maritime activities and businesses, the area is also a hub for restaurants, cafes, specialist shopping and entertainment. The regeneration comprised three phases of work, with major elements including a cill holding water in the tidal inner harbour, stylish harbour footbridge, new slipway and Heritage Walkway over the World War II slipways.

Over the past few years Torbay Development Agency has successfully completed significant schemes, including the new Paignton Library and Information Centre, Royal Terrace Gardens and Brixham Fish Quay.

Restoration work to the Royal Terrace Gardens, effectively known to locals as Rock Walk, restored the listed gardens to their former glory with a contemporary treatment suitable for 21st century use showcasing the site as a significant feature in Torbay's internationally recognised Geopark. The gardens have been fully replanted with a Mediterranean theme to reflect the original planting - opening up the area and removing the vegetation which had become overgrown. Newly laid paths with styled seating areas and public art have been developed to encourage visitors to the area. The ambitious stabilisation and restoration of one of Torbay's favourite spots for both tourists and residents presented an immense challenge, the likes of which have not been undertaken anywhere else on the world. Specialist engineers were called upon to enable the safe installation of new stairs and cantilevered footpaths, with viewing platforms to accommodate visitors when major events such as the Red Arrows display take place in Torquay annually.

Tor Bay

Tor Bay

Torquay harbour

Torquay harbour

Torquay Harbour at night

Torquay harbour by night