The UK has the highest per capita consumption of cider in the world and although there are other areas of the UK such as East Anglia that have a tradition of producing fine cider it’s generally regarded that the counties of Herefordshire and Worcestershire in the West Midlands and the West Country in general are the areas with which it is most associated.
Devon has a long history of cider making, and although there are no large commercial businesses down here these days, there are still a fair number of smaller producers dotted about – including Paignton.
Hunts, of Higher Yalberton Farm is a good example, and I’ve been fortunate to be able to have a look around and see how their cider is made.
There are any number of things that will make a great day out in South Devon, but in my opinion, one of the best has to be the ‘RoundRobin’. It comprises of different modes of transport linking Paignton, Dartmouth, and Totnes and can be done in any order, and in any direction.
An Open Top Bus will take you from Paignton to Totnes, where you can spend some time in the town before catching the boat which sails down the River Dart to Dartmouth. You can then have another wander around before catching the ferry across to Kingswear, and then the steam train back to Paignton. It’s all very civilized and the Round Robin ticket covers everything.
You don’t have to do the whole trip in one go of course, and to describe it all in one article wouldn’t really do it justice, and so I’ve decided to just talk about the steam train journey for now.
Goodrington was another village, like Preston, that was swallowed up by Paignton, and covers the coastal area from Roundham Head to Broadsands, but just like its counterpart across the other side of town, has grown inland as well.
It has to be said that there’s not much for the ardent historian to seek out here because Goodrington primarily attracts families who just want to enjoy the beach, park and water flumes. That said, it also manages to juggle the appeal of family fun with some important conservation as well.
As I pointed out in Old Paignton, this used to be a wet, marshy area, and it’s not difficult to see why it was looked upon in years gone by as an area that needed to be tamed, but these days we treat nature with a bit more respect (sometimes) and work with nature rather than against it.
As Paignton (and Torbay in general) began to expand, then it was only a matter of time before other small adjacent villages were added to the urban area’s population. For Paignton, it included the villages of Goodrington to the south, and Preston to the north.
Preston sits between Old Paignton and the boundary with Torquay at Hollicombe, and over the years has expanded up the hill inland, but from a visitor’s perspective the main points of interest are Oldway Mansion and Preston Sands.
At low tide Preston Sands are a continuation of Paignton Beach, but is generally regarded as the shoreline between the Redcliffe Hotel and Hollicombe Head. It’s a safe beach ideal for sunbathing and swimming, as well as rock-pooling at Hollicombe Head.
The promenade is lined with Beach Huts, many of which are owned by locals, but there are also council owned huts as well which can be hired out. There is also a Green where ball games can be played if you have the energy, but generally speaking this is a quieter beach than Paignton and people are happy just to lounge around or visit the Boat House.
Paignton may have only really come to life when the railway arrived in 1859, but it’s actually much older than people think. There was a settlement here during Anglo-Saxon times and was even referred to as Peintone in the Domesday Book.
In those days, the area just inland from the beach was backed by sand dunes and marshland, which meant that the settlement grew up on dry land at the foot of the hills behind, but also with a separate fishing harbour under the protection of Roundham Head.
The origins of Old Paignton village are located around Palace Avenue, Church St, and Winner St, the names of which give a clue as to what was here.
Around 1050, Peintona became an episcopal manor under Bishop Leofric of Exeter, but back then it would have taken the best part of a day to get here from Exeter, and so when Bishop Osbern succeeded Leofric, he decided to build a palace to help him administer this large manor.