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Torquay, Devon

Historical Description

Torquay, a municipal borough and fashionable watering-place, in Devonshire, with two stations on the G.W.R., 226 miles from London. The town has a post, money order, and telegraph office. It stands on a cove of Tor Bay, 2½ miles W by S of Hope Nose, and 7 SSE of Newton Abbot, and is statistically conterminate with Tor Moham parish, which has an acreage of 1465, and a population of 25,534, but really excludes large rural sections of the parish. It was a mere fishing village prior to the great war with France, became the residence of numerous families connected with the Channel Fleet under Lord St Vincent; attracted extensive notice through them for the beauty of its views, The excellence of its climate, and its general suitability for seaside residence; rose rapidly into importance as a resort of invalids, sea-bathers, and general visitors, ranks now as one of the very finest watering-places in the world; stands partly in sheltered valleys, partly on breezy hills, covers more ground, in proportion to its population, than perhaps any other town in England; consists chiefly of isolated edifices and multitudinous villas, interspersed with gardens, and spread out like an architectural forest; presents a general aspect of mingled elegance and picturesqueness; commands, from the summit of Beacon Hill and from other vantage-grounds, a magnificent prospect over sea and land; affords to invalids a choice of climate and of other advantages, in wide gradation from its lower to its higher sites; is a seat of petty sessions; publishes three weekly newspapers; and lias banks, several excellent hotels, numerous lodging and boarding houses, a great bathing establishment, a town-hall, a public hall for lectures and concerts, club and reading rooms, subscription and assembly rooms, a theatre, public gardens and pleasure grounds, winter garden and concert room, a market-place, a good harbour and promenade pier, a yacht club, good social clubs, a natural history society, a school of art, a museum, an infirmary, a dispensary, an hospital for consumptive patients, several convalescent homes, and other institutions. The town has an excellent supply of water, which was provided at a cost of £150,000, and a very complete system of drainage. The bathing establishment was constructed in 1855-57, with vast labour of excavation and of building; presents an elegant exterior, in the Roman Doric style; includes prime and ample bathing appliances, together with magnificent reading and assembly rooms, and adjoins a terrace overlooking the bay. The parish church of Torquay is St Saviour's at Tor. (See TOR MOHAM.) All Saints Church, Tor, a chapel of ease to the parish church, is a fine building erected in 1889. Upton or St Mary Magdalen Church is a fine modern edifice, in the Early English style, of Devonshire limestone faced with Caen stone, and has a spire of white Bath stone. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Exeter; gross value, £200. Patron, Lord Haldon. St Luke's Church was built in 1863, and is a picturesque structure, in the Decorated English style. The living is a vicarage; net value, £420. St John the Evangelist is an edifice of stone, in the Gothic style, and was rebuilt in 1865. The living is a vicarage; gross value, £52. Christ Church, Ellacombe, is a plain building of stone, with a tower and spire. The living is a vicarage; gross value, £500 with residence. St Matthias' was built in 1858, and altered and enlarged in 1894. St Michael's and Trinity are smaller churches in the town. The Roman Catholic church was erected in 1854, and is a building in the Decorated style. There are Presbyterian, Baptist, Bible Christian, Congregational, and Methodist chapels. Markets are held on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and a regatta in August. The harbour has been considerably improved, and the place has become a favourite yachting station. The exports are chiefly limestone from. The adjacent quarries, and marble. A new pier was opened in 1895. It is 930 feet in length, and has seating accommodation for 1000 persons. There are landing-stages for steamers at all states of the tide. A royal charter for the incorporation of the town as a municipal borough was granted in 1892. The corporation consists of a mayor, 6 aldermen, and 18 councillors. A separate commission of the peace was granted in 1893.

Torquay Parliamentary Division of Devonshire was formed under the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885, and returns one member to the House of Commons. Population, 57,450. The division includes the following:-Paignton- Brixham, Churston Ferrers, Cockington, Kingswear, Marldon, Paignton, St Mary Church, Stoke Gabriel, Tormoham; Dartmouth, municipal borough.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyDevon 
Civil parishTor Mo Hun 
Poor Law unionNewton-Abbott 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Torquay from the following:


Online maps of Torquay are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following newspapers covering Devon online:

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitation of the County of Devon in the year 1564, with additions from the earlier visitation of 1531, is online.

The Visitations of the County of Devon, comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564, & 1620, with additions by Lieutant-Colonel J.L. Vivian, published for the author by Henry S. Eland, Exeter 1895 is online.

RegionSouth West
Postal districtTQ1
Post TownTorquay