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Torquay

TORQUAY, a chapelry, in the parish of Tor-Mo-Hun, union of Newton-Abbott, hundred of Haytor, Paignton and S. divisions of Devon, 7 miles (S. E. by S.) from Newton-Bushell, and 23 (S.) from Exeter; containing 4085 inhabitants. This town, about half a century since an insignificant fishing-hamlet, is now a fashionable and attractive watering-place, situated in the most northern cove of Tor-bay, and occupying a somewhat irregular but singularly beautiful site. The first great improvement was the erection of a pier and quay, for which an act of parliament was obtained by Sir Lawrence Palk, to whom the town is greatly indebted; it was commenced in 1803, and completed in 1807, and another pier has since been constructed, forming a secure basin 500 feet long and 300 broad. A considerable portion of the town, consisting of neat and comfortable residences (principally lodging-houses) and shops of the best description, is built at the sides of the basin and on the strand. On the north, east, and west sides, the town is completely sheltered by hills, on whose declivities are terraces and detached houses, some of them very handsome buildings; and the heights being richly clothed with wood, their appearance from the pier-head is strikingly beautiful. A regatta takes place about August, at which the principal prize is a gold challenge cup, of the value of £100, with an accumulated fund added. There are two excellent hotels, some warm and cold baths, and a library with billiard and news rooms. An assembly-room, erected in 1826, is much frequented during the season, which is from September to May. The salubrity and mildness of the air of Torquay, arising from its contiguity to the sea and its sheltered situation, render it a most desirable winter residence for persons of a consumptive habit, or others for whom a mild climate is necessary; and it is usually, at this period of the year, very full of company. It is adequately supplied with water.

Torquay has a trifling share in the Newfoundland trade; and in addition to several coasting-vessels employed in the importation of coal and other commodities, it has a weekly communication by water with Loudon, and the advantage of steam-boats passing four times in the week. An act was passed in 1846 for a branch to Torquay, four miles in length, of the South Devon railway. There is a small but very convenient marketplace, well furnished with provisions at the customary markets, which are on Tuesday and Friday: a fair is held at Easter. The living is a perpetual curacy; net income £204; patron, the perpetual Curate of Tor-Mohun. The chapel, dedicated to St. John, being found insufficient to accommodate the increasing population, and, from its confined situation, being incapable of enlargement, another dedicated to the Holy Trinity, has recently been erected; they are both handsome structures. The living of Trinity chapel is in the gift of the Rev. R. Fayle. There are places of worship for Calvinistic Methodists and Wesleyans; and a national school. In the cliffs in the neighbourhood are some remarkable fissures, or openings, particularly one of extraordinary magnitude, called Kent's Hole, comprising numerous caves of various elevations, to which are several openings, one of them 93 feet deep, 100 wide, and 30 in height, containing many interesting specimens, both stalactital and organic, and fossil remains of the elephant and other animals. Druidical knives have also been discovered.


Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858.