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A collection of beautiful beaches and resorts on the south east coast of England

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During the 19th century's Napoleonic wars, a contingent of the Royal Navy was stationed in a bay and natural harbour called Torbay, on the south-east coast of England. While they were there they noted how pleasant the area was, with its beautiful beaches, and warm climate. Both they and their families began to spend a lot of time here, even after the wars ended, and in barely any time at all the Torbay area was well on its way to being one of the best and most popular seaside destinations in the UK. It was the Victorians who first used the phrase "The English Riviera" - because they wanted a place in Britain to rival the French equivalent.
The bay is surrounded by three different towns - Torquay, Paignton, and Brixham. Torquay is the most famous of the three - although it's difficult to tell whether that's just down to Fawlty Towers, the infamous fictional hotel from the classic sitcom. At any rate, Torquay deserves to be well-known for other reasons too. It has plenty of interesting things to see, including a zoo, and what is possibly the best model village in the country. The most famous attraction is Kent's Cavern, an extensive prehistoric network of natural tunnels and caves. It has been the site of several important archaeological discoveries, including fragments of human skeletons that are over 30,000 years old!
Paignton, just along from Torquay, is a traditional seaside town, with beach front illuminations, and its own pier, which contains a large amusement arcade and cinema. There are plenty of places to eat, or shop for souvenirs, and in the summer months, there are several different festivals and fairs. Just 500 metres from the seafront is Oldway Mansion, a large home constructed in the 19th century for Isaac Merritt Singer, a man who amassed a huge fortune by developing several improvements to the sewing machine. After the local council bought the house in 1946, it became one of the biggest attractions in Paignton.
Brixham is the last of the three towns, on the southern side of the bay. It is known for its extremely successful fishing fleet, which brings in more valuable catches than any other port in England. There are dozens of restaurants within a few minutes of the seafront, serving up the freshest fish you'll ever eat. The town's main landmark is a full-size replica of the Golden Hind, a ship that sailed round the world under the command of Francis Drake, the renowned sea captain. Nautically-inclined visitors can set sail themselves aboard one of the many boat trips on offer to the public.
The three towns of Torbay are all fascinating - but the main attractions in the English Rivera are the beaches, which regularly win awards for their high standards of water quality. There are many different areas along the shoreline, from the wide, well-populated beaches, to the smaller, secluded coves. If you're willing to explore a little, you'll never quite know what you'll come across.
Visitor Information
Paignton Tourist Information Centre, The Esplanade, Paignton, TQ4 6ED. Tel: 0844 474 2233
Brixham Tourist Information Centre, The Old Market House, The Quay, Brixham, TQ5 8TB. Tel: 01803 211211

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