Torbay comprises of three main towns and several picturesque villages.
The towns are:
Brixham, a town that dates back to Saxon times with evidence of settlements as far back as the Ice Age. With a long history Brixham is most renown for being the landing place of William of Orange as he came to take the throne of England. Many locals have Dutch surnames as descendants of soldiers in William’s army. The town was also the major fishing port in South West England and in the 19th century developed major improvements to fishing trawlers. The distinctive red sails of the trawlers inspired a famous song “Red Sails in the Sunset” which was written on a local trawler the “Torbay Lass”. Of course the location of the port also means that this was a smugglers area and also a place of warships since the Spanish Armada. Many historic building remain to be visited, including the fort from the Napoleonic era on Berry Head.
Paignton is known as the family resort yet dates back to a Celtic settlement called Paega. There are many historic buildings and an old fishing harbour along with a Victorian pier that still provides daily entertainment for visitors. On any visitors list could be a look at Oldway Mansion, the former home of Mr Isaac Singer, of sewing machine fame, the medieval Kirkham House and of course Paignton Zoo. There is also a steam Railway that goes from Paignton to the Ferry near Brixham where passengers can take a trip to Dartmouth – another historic location.
Torquay is the largest of the three towns and bone fragments found at Kent’s Cavern may be the oldest human remains discovered in Europe. While having ancient routes the growth of Torquay came during the Napoleonic Wars where officers and their families came to the town for relaxation and benefited from the warmer micro climate of the region. The sheltered bay was used as safe anchorage for the Channel Fleet at this time and its popularity grew. Napoleon Bonaparte was anchored in the bay on his way to exile in St Helena and is said to have remarked that it reminded him of the Bay of Naples – high praise indeed from an enemy. Today Torquay has a marina, the Living Coasts Sea Zoo and access to many popular beaches and secluded coves where the sea can be fully appreciated.
Among the surrounding villages there is plenty to be seen, Olde Worlde Cocklington, St Marychurch with its charming village centre, Babbacombe with the downs, cliff railway and model village. No matter what your pleasure – the region has something for everyone.