Torquay and Paignton, The Making of a Modern Resort, by Henry James Lethbridge
Published by Phillimore in 2003, 214 pages. Hardback with Dust Jacket (N3510)
Brand New Book
RRP (As shown on inside fly leaf): £18.99
Torquay and Paignton have changed dramatically over the past two centuries. In 1793 the Revd John Swete was charmed by the lush, peaceful countryside of this part of the South Devon coast, but within decades these ancient settlements and, to a lesser extent, Brixham had been developed into what became known as the English Riviera. This important new book, while briefly reviewing the earlier history, describes and explains that transformation in fascinating detail.
It is also the story of the three families who, despite their uneasy relationship with each other, were largely responsible for the emergence of Torbay as a celebrated and elegant Victorian resort. Patronised by English and European royalty and aristocracy, and distinguished Victorians, from Disraeli to Dickens and Wilde, it also attracted wealthy invalids who came to enjoy the sea air. Although turnpike roads were opening up the area to coaches, many still came by sea, and the Palks, the largest landowners, sank a vast sum of money into enlarging Torquay’s dilapidated harbour, thus creating the nucleus of the resort. William Kitson, banker, solicitor and agent for the Palks, was the driving force behind much of the development, but the Carys of Torre Abbey and the Mallocks of Cockington Court both allowed much building on their land. Paignton was shaped by the energy of Arthur Hyde Dendy, and Isaac Merritt Singer and his son, Paris.
The book explores all aspects of Torbay’s Victorian society and the changes wrought by the 20th century. During the inter-war years small hotels proliferated, attracting a different type of visitor, while Paignton saw the introduction of cheap seaside holidays. Surprisingly active in the Second World War, the famous old resorts struggled to find a place in the post-war world. That they have done so is due to a new generation of enterprising men and women. What is intriguing is that each town has kept its own character, as the author reveals in this readable and very welcome new account of their past.
Please note that although this book is new, it does have some bumping across the top right hand corner where it has been stored on the shelf.