Torbay /tɔːrˈbeɪ/ is a borough in Devon, England, administered by the unitary authority of Torbay Council. It consists of 62.87 square kilometres (24.27 sq mi) of land,[1] spanning the towns of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham, located around an east-facing natural harbour (Tor Bay) on the English Channel. A popular tourist destination with a tight conurbation of resort towns, Torbay's sandy beaches, mild climate and recreational and leisure attractions have given rise to the nickname of the English Riviera.


Borough of Torbay
Torquay Town Hall, the home of Torbay Council
Torquay Town Hall, the home of Torbay Council
The English Riviera or Greater Torquay
"Health and Happiness"
Torbay shown within Devon and England
Torbay shown within Devon and England
Coordinates: 50°27′8″N 3°33′25″W / 50.45222°N 3.55694°WCoordinates: 50°27′8″N 3°33′25″W / 50.45222°N 3.55694°W
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
RegionSouth West England
Ceremonial countyDevon
Borough status1968
Unitary Authority1998
 • TypeUnitary authority
 • BodyTorbay Council
 • AdministrationLiberal Democrats and Independent coalition
 • HQTorquay
 • Council LeaderSteve Darling [2]
 • MPsKevin Foster (Con)
Sarah Wollaston Independent (2019)
 • Total24.27 sq mi (62.87 km2)
Lowest elevation
0 ft (0 m)
 • Total130,959[1]
 • Ethnicity
97.5% White[1]
Time zoneUTC0 (GMT)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (BST)
Postcode district


Human bones and tools found in Kents Cavern in Torquay show that the Torbay area has been inhabited since Paleolithic times. A maxilla fragment known as Kents Cavern 4 may be the oldest example of a modern human in Europe, dating back to 37,000–40,000 years ago.[3][4] Roman soldiers are known to have visited Torquay during the period when Britain was a part of the Roman Empire, leaving offerings at a curious rock formation in Kent's Cavern, known as "The Face".

Both Brixham and Paignton appear in the Domesday Book of 1086 and Paignton was given the status of a borough having a market and fair in 1294.[5] The first major building in Torquay was Torre Abbey, a Premonstratensian monastery founded in 1196.[6]

William Prince of Orange (afterwards King William III) landed in Brixham on 5 November 1688, during the Glorious Revolution, and issued his famous declaration "The Liberties of England and The Protestant Religion I Will Maintain".

Torquay's economy was, like Brixham's, initially based on fishing and agriculture, but in the early 19th century it began to develop into a fashionable seaside resort, initially frequented by members of the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars while the Royal Navy anchored in Tor Bay and later, as the town's fame spread, by Victorian society.

The historic part of Paignton is inland: the low-lying coastal fringe was originally salt marsh. Kirkham House is a late medieval stone house and the Coverdale Tower adjacent to Paignton Parish Church is named after Bishop Miles Coverdale, who published an English translation of the Bible in 1536. Paignton remained a small fishing village until the early 19th century; a new harbour was built here in 1837.

The second phase in the urban expansion of the area began when Torre railway station was opened in December 1848. The railway was extended to Torquay Seafront station in 1858, Paignton in 1859 and to Brixham in 1861. As a result of its expansion, Torquay was granted borough status in 1872, and 1902 saw its first marketing campaign to summer tourists.

Torbay Golf and Country Club (now defunct) opened in 1933. The club and course closed in the mid 1950s.[7]

Tor Bay hosted the sailing events for the 1948 Summer Olympics in London.[8]

The County Borough of Torbay was created in 1968 by the amalgamation of the Municipal Borough of Torquay, Urban District of Paignton and Urban District of Brixham, also taking in parts of the civil parishes of Coffinswell and Kerswells from Newton Abbot Rural District and Churston Ferrers and Marldon from Totnes Rural District. The County Borough became the Borough of Torbay under local government reorganisation in 1974. It was made a unitary authority on 1 April 1998 making it responsible for its own affairs.


The area is represented nationally at the House of Commons by two MPs. Torquay (along with part of Paignton) is in the Torbay parliamentary constituency which was created in 1974 and was won by Kevin Foster for the Conservatives in 2015 having been held by Adrian Sanders of the Liberal Democrats from 1997-2015. Brixham and part of Paignton fall within the Totnes constituency, with Independent (Conservative until resigning in 2019) Sarah Wollaston elected. Torbay is in the South West England constituency of the European Parliament, together with the rest of South West England and Gibraltar.

Until May 2011, Torbay Council had been headed by the first directly elected mayor in the South West region. Conservative candidate Nicholas Bye who won in October 2005, under an electoral system which was later described as "a total failure" with Bye receiving votes from fewer than 7% of the electorate.[9] However, running as an independent he was defeated in the May 2011 election by Gordon Oliver who stood as a Conservative. Oliver was re-elected in 2015.[10]

For local elections the district is divided into 16 wards.[notes 1] The Council elects 36 councillors in elections held every four years. Since the 2019 United Kingdom local elections the council has been under no overall control. The composition as of 3 May 2019:[11]

Party Seats
Conservative 15
Liberal Democrat 13
Independent 8


Torbay view
Looking towards Paignton from Torquay. Torbay palms in the foreground.

There are three main towns around the marine inlet of Tor Bay: Torquay in the north, Paignton in the centre, and Brixham in the south. These have become connected over the years, swallowing up villages and towns such as St Marychurch, Cockington, Churston Ferrers and Galmpton, though the latter maintains a rural feel thanks to tight conservation measures. The borough of Torbay is bordered by the South Hams to the south and west, and by Teignbridge to the north. Nearby towns include Totnes and Dartmouth in the South Hams, and Newton Abbot and Teignmouth in Teignbridge.

The southern limit of Tor Bay is Berry Head, and the northern limit is Hope's Nose, although Torquay itself stretches further north into Babbacombe Bay, where the beaches at Oddicombe, Babbacombe and Maidencombe can be found; these are noted for their interesting Breccia cliffs. Torbay's many geological features have led to the establishment of the English Riviera Geopark; as of July 2008, this is the sole urban geopark of the 53 geoparks worldwide.[12]

Because of the mild climate, Torbay palm trees are a common sight along the coast. However, these are in fact not palms but Cordyline australis, originating from New Zealand where it is known as "cabbage tree". These trees also flourish elsewhere in the UK. It is suggested that the popularity of cabbage trees in Torbay is attributable to their first being introduced to the UK in that region.


Torbay includes:


The 2011 census confirmed Torbay's reputation as a retirement area, with a higher proportion of all age groups over the age of 50 than nationally. However compared to 2001, age groups 75-79 and 80-85 both showed a decline of around 4%, compared to increases of 1.5% and 14% for the whole country.[1]

Some other statistics from the 2011 census:

Marital status Number of people.[13]
Single (never married) 31,809
Married or remarried 50,891
Separated or divorced 16,207
Widowed 10,030
Religion Number of people.[14]
Christian 82,924
Buddhist 389
Hindu 128
Jewish 109
Muslim 521
Sikh 41
Other 702
No religion 36,035
Religion not stated 10,110


Torbay's main industry is tourism. It has a large number of European students learning English.

The fishing port of Brixham is home to one of England and Wales' most successful fishing fleets and regularly lands more value than any UK port outside Scotland. It is also a base for Her Majesty's Coastguard and the Torbay Lifeboat Station.

Torbay has been twinned with Hameln in Lower Saxony, Germany since 1973; and with Hellevoetsluis in the Netherlands since 1989.


Torbay lacks direct motorway links and is primarily served by the A38 and A380 roads from Exeter to Tweenaways Cross, Paignton, which is dual carriageway, with a single carriageway flyover at Penn Inn roundabout, as far as Churscombe Cross. The rest of the road to Tweenaways Cross is single carriageway.

English Riviera Tours JTD395P
An open top bus advertising the "English Riviera"

Torbay's other main road links are the A379, which follows a coastal route from Teignmouth, passes through Torquay and Paignton, then goes on to Dartmouth; and the A385 road which goes inland to Totnes and the A38. The A3022 road serves all three towns and varies from dual carriageway and single carriageway.

The bus franchise is largely operated by Stagecoach South West. The other bus company operating throughout Torbay is Local Link.

Torbay has three stations on the National Rail network, operated by Great Western Railway: Torre railway station is inland on the road from Torquay to Newton Abbot, Torquay railway station is close to Torre Abbey Sands and Paignton railway station serves that town and links with the heritage Dartmouth Steam Railway to Kingswear, connecting via the Dart ferry to Dartmouth.

A new station at Edginswell was planned to open in December 2018 as part of the Devon Metro scheme but lack of funding has prevented its construction.[15]

Notable people

Famous former residents of Torbay include authors Agatha Christie (who set many of her novels in a thinly disguised version of the borough), Charles Kingsley, Edmund Gosse and Rudyard Kipling. Peter Cook, comic, (half of a famous comedy team with Dudley Moore); the industrialist and architect of the nearby Atmospheric railway, Isambard Kingdom Brunel; Prog-rock band Wishbone Ash, supermodel Lily Cole and comedian Jim Davidson. Former tennis player Sue Barker originates from the area.


  1. ^ Torbay's wards are Barton-with-Watcombe (3 councillors), Churston Ferrers-with-Galmpton (2 councillors), Clifton-with-Maidenway (2 councillors), Cockington-with-Chelston (2 councillors), Collaton St. Mary (1 councillor), Ellacombe (2 councillors), Furzeham-with-Summercombe (3 councillors), Goodrington-with-Roselands (2 councillors), King's Ash (2 councillors), Preston (3 councillors), Roundham-with-Hyde (2 councillors), St Marychurch (3 councillors), St. Peter's-with-St. Mary's (2 councillors), Shiphay (2 councillors), Tormohun (3 councillors), and Wellswood (2 councillors)


  1. ^ a b c d "Census 2011 - Torbay Profile". Torbay Council. 3 July 2013. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 13 February 2014. (Word document)
  2. ^
  3. ^ John R. Pike, Torquay (Torquay: Torbay Borough Council Printing Services, 1994), 5-6
  4. ^ Rincon, Paul (27 April 2005). "Jawbone hints at earliest Britons". Retrieved 7 November 2006.
  5. ^ Parnell, Peggy (2007). A Paignton Scrapbook. Sutton Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7509-4739-8.
  6. ^ Percy Russell, A History Of Torquay (Torquay: Devonshire Press Limited, 1960), p.19
  7. ^ "Torbay Golf & Country Club", "Golf's Missing Links".
  8. ^ 1948 Summer Olympics official report. p. 50.
  9. ^ "Mayor voting system is condemned". BBC News. 25 October 2005. Retrieved 3 April 2008.
  10. ^ "BBC News". Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Global status for Torbay (retrieved 7 July 2008)
  13. ^ "2011 Census: KS103UK Marital and civil partnership status, local authorities in the United Kingdom (Excel sheet 222Kb)". Office for National Statistics. 11 October 2013. Retrieved 13 February 2014.
  14. ^ "2011 Census: KS209EW Religion, local authorities in England and Wales (Excel sheet 270Kb)". Office for National Statistics. 11 December 2012. Retrieved 13 February 2014.
  15. ^ Abbot, HEC. "Herald Express". Retrieved 8 January 2017.

External links

2000 Torbay Council election

The 2000 Torbay Council election took place on 4 May 2000 to elect members of Torbay unitary authority in England. The whole council was up for election and the Conservative party gained overall control of the council from no overall control.

2011 Torbay Council election

Elections to Torbay Council took place on Thursday 5 May 2011. All 36 seats on the council were up for election. The previous election also produced a majority for the Conservative Party.

2015 Torbay Council election

The 2015 Torbay Council election took place on 7 May 2015 to elect members of Torbay Council in England. This was on the same day as other local elections, and the general election.

2019 Torbay Council election

The 2019 Torbay Council election took place on 2 May 2019 to elect members of Torbay Council in England. This was on the same day as other local elections, and the general election. The Conservatives lost the council to no overall control, winning 15 seats, compared with 13 Liberal Democrats and 8 Independents.


Arqiva is a British telecommunications company which provides infrastructure and broadcast transmission facilities in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, along with commercial WiFi and smart meter facilities for Scotland and the north of England. The company headquarters is located at Crawley Court in the village of Crawley, Hampshire, just outside Winchester. Its main customers are broadcasters and mobile phone network operators, and its main asset is a network of over 1,000 radio and television transmission sites. It is owned by a consortium of investors led by CPP (Canada Pension Plan) and the Australian investment house Macquarie Bank. Arqiva is a patron of The Radio Academy.Through its NOW Digital subsidiary, it operates various local digital radio ensembles.

Grade II* listed buildings in Devon

The county of Devon is divided into ten districts. The districts of Devon are Exeter, East Devon, Mid Devon, North Devon, Torridge, West Devon, South Hams, Teignbridge and the unitary authorities Plymouth and Torbay.

As there are 1,237 Grade II* listed buildings in the county they have been split into separate lists for each district.

Grade II* listed buildings in East Devon

Grade II* listed buildings in Exeter

Grade II* listed buildings in Mid Devon

Grade II* listed buildings in North Devon

Grade II* listed buildings in Plymouth

Grade II* listed buildings in South Hams

Grade II* listed buildings in Teignbridge

Grade II* listed buildings in Torbay

Grade II* listed buildings in Torridge

Grade II* listed buildings in West Devon

Grade I listed buildings in Devon

The county of Devon is divided into ten districts. The districts of Devon are Exeter, East Devon, Mid Devon, North Devon, Torridge, West Devon, South Hams, Teignbridge and the unitary authorities Plymouth and Torbay.

As there are 427 Grade I listed buildings in the county they have been split into separate lists for each district.

Grade I listed buildings in East Devon

Grade I listed buildings in Exeter

Grade I listed buildings in Mid Devon

Grade I listed buildings in North Devon

Grade I listed buildings in Plymouth

Grade I listed buildings in South Hams

Grade I listed buildings in Teignbridge

Grade I listed buildings in Torbay

Grade I listed buildings in Torridge

Grade I listed buildings in West Devon

HMS Neptune (1683)

HMS Neptune was a 90-gun second-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy. She was built under the 1677 "Thirty Great Ships" Programme and launched in 1683 at Deptford Dockyard.

List of Parliamentary constituencies in Devon

The ceremonial county of Devon,

which includes the unitary authorities of

Torbay and Plymouth,

is divided into 12 Parliamentary constituencies: 4 Borough constituencies

and 8 County constituencies.

List of schools in Torbay

This is a list of schools in Torbay in the English county of Devon.

List of towns and cities in Devon by population

This list is of towns and cities in Devon in order of their population, according to the 2011 census data from the Office for National Statistics. It comprises the Key Statistics for local authorities, civil parishes and wards that attempt to show their populations. The largest settlement in Devon is the city and unitary authority of Plymouth with a population of 256,720, whereas the smallest settlement was the town and civil parish of Beer with a population of 1,317. The city of Exeter, which is home to Exeter Cathedral, is the county town and headquarters of Devon County Council. The ceremonial county of Devon includes unitary authority areas such as Plymouth and Torbay, but the non-metropolitan county of Devon excludes such unitary authority areas. It is governed by Devon County Council, whereas Plymouth and Torbay can govern themselves on matters such as transport and education.

Traditionally a town is any settlement which has received a charter of incorporation, more commonly known as a town charter, approved by the monarch. However, since 1974, any civil parish has the right to declare itself as a town. Prior to 1888, city status was given to settlements home to a cathedral of the Church of England such as Exeter. After 1888 it was no longer a necessary condition, leading to Plymouth gaining city-status in 1928. Historical towns such as Plympton, Stonehouse and Devonport, which were merged into the city of Plymouth, have not been included, as well as Topsham, which became a part of Exeter's urban district, and St Marychurch, which was annexed by Torquay. However, the unitary authority area of Torbay recognises the three towns of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham. The ward for Ottery St Mary is also included, as it is titled Ottery St Mary Town.

Changes to population structures have, however, led to explosions in non-traditional settlements that do not fall into traditional, bureaucratic definitions of 'towns'. Several villages, which are not included in this list, have grown steadily and are more populous than many towns. For example, the ward of Fremington, with a population of 4,310. would be ranked 34 whilst its neighbour Braunton civil parish, with a population of 8,128, would be ranked 21.

Mayor of Torbay

The Mayor of Torbay was an executive mayor of the borough of Torbay in Devon, England. The post was abolished in 2019, after a referendum held in May 2016 . The last holder of the post was Gordon Oliver.


Paignton ( PAYN-tən) is a seaside town on the coast of Tor Bay in Devon, England. Together with Torquay and Brixham it forms the borough of Torbay which was created in 1998. The Torbay area is a holiday destination known as the English Riviera. Paignton's population in the United Kingdom Census of 2011 was 49,021. It has origins as a Celtic settlement and was first mentioned in 1086. It grew as a small fishing village and a new harbour was built in 1847. A railway line was opened to passengers in 1859 creating links to Torquay and London. As its population increased, it merged with the villages of Goodrington and Preston.

St. John's International Airport

St. John's International Airport (IATA: YYT, ICAO: CYYT) is in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. It is an international airport located at the northern limits of St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador that serves the St. John's metropolitan area and the Avalon Peninsula. The airport is part of the National Airports System, and is operated by St. John's International Airport Authority Inc.The airport is classified as an airport of entry by Nav Canada and is staffed by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). CBSA officers at this airport can handle aircraft with no more than 165 passengers. However, they can handle up to 450 if the aircraft is unloaded in stages.

Torbay, Newfoundland and Labrador

Torbay is a town located on the eastern side of the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.

The town is located 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) north of the capital city of St. John's and is part of the St. John's metropolitan area. Due to the Torbay's close proximity to St. John's, the town's population is quickly growing. According to the 2016 census the population was 7,899, up from 7,397 in 2011.

Torbay (UK Parliament constituency)

Torbay is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 2015 by Kevin Foster, a Conservative.

Torbay Council

Torbay Council is the local authority of Torbay in Devon, England. It is a unitary authority, having the powers of a non-metropolitan county and district council combined. It provides a full range of local government services including Council Tax billing, libraries, social services, processing planning applications, waste collection and disposal, and it is a local education authority. The council appoints members to Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority and the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Panel. Torbay is divided into 15 wards, electing 36 councillors. The whole council is elected every four years with the last election taking place on 7 May 2015 and the next election scheduled for 2019. The council was created by the Local Government Act 1972 and replaced the Torbay Borough Council of the County Borough of Torbay. Since 1974 Torbay has held borough status which entitles the council to be known as Torbay Borough Council, although it has not used this name since becoming a unitary authority. The council is unusual in that its executive function is controlled by a directly elected mayor of Torbay, currently Gordon Oliver.

Expenditure for the year 2018/19 is budgeted to be £112 million. Torbay is halting all non urgent expenditure due to a projected overspend of £2.8 million in 2018.

Torbay Council elections

Torbay is a unitary authority in Devon, England. Until 1 April 1998 it was a non-metropolitan district. Since 2005 it has also had a directly elected mayor.


Torquay ( tor-KEE) is a seaside town in Devon, England, part of the unitary authority area of Torbay. It lies 18 miles (29 km) south of the county town of Exeter and 28 miles (45 km) east-north-east of Plymouth, on the north of Tor Bay, adjoining the neighbouring town of Paignton on the west of the bay and across from the fishing port of Brixham.

The town's economy, like Brixham's, was initially based upon fishing and agriculture, but in the early 19th century it began to develop into a fashionable seaside resort, initially frequented by members of the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars while the Royal Navy anchored in the bay. Later, as the town's fame spread, it was popular with Victorian society. Renowned for its mild climate (for the U.K.), the town earned the nickname the English Riviera.

The writer Agatha Christie was born in the town and lived there during her early years and there is an "Agatha Christie Mile", a tour with plaques dedicated to her life and work.

Unitary authorities
Unitary authorities
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Major settlements
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