I’m not somebody who likes to lie around on the beach much these days, but for families, Paignton seafront has all the ingredients to make a perfect holiday.
The sunny, south facing beach has sand that’s perfect for making sandcastles, and its Blue Flag status makes the sea perfectly safe for even the tiniest of tots to paddle and swim in.
If the youngsters get tired of playing on the beach, then there’s always the 780 ft long Pier to wander along. It first opened in 1879 and was initially used as a place for music and dancing, but those days have long gone, and instead there are now traditional slot machines, the latest video games, and a children’s play park with ‘rides and slides’ including a helter skelter. Since the 1980s the pier has been constantly upgraded and is as popular as ever.
The Esplanade separates the beach and pier from Paignton Green, which is used for a variety of different things. When it’s not being used for special events, the Green reverts back to being an open space ideal for playing ball games or just lazing around. There’s also a cinema, popular Pirate’s Bay crazy golf course, and the even more popular Geoplay Park.
Based on the theme of the English Rivera’s Geopark status, the playground brings education and fun together. It’s somewhere kids of different age groups can play, jump, and swing their way through the various geological time periods: Since it was installed in 2012 it’s been a huge success, and sometimes I’m convinced that there are more kids playing in the Geoplay Park than there are on the beach.
During the summer holiday period the seafront comes alive with a host of events to suit all ages. The funfair arrives to complement the Paignton Festival and Paignton Regatta, which always ends with a firework display, but probably the best thing to look to the skies for are the aircraft that take part in the Torbay Air Show which usually includes a Typhoon, Battle of Britain Memorial Fly-past, and the ever-popular Red Arrows.
One event that won’t be coming back after raising money for local charities since 2002 is BMAD. ‘Bikers Make a Difference’ was a weekly event during the summer months when nigh on half a mile of motorbikes lined up along the Esplanade each Wednesday evening. The idea was for each rider and pillion to pay £1 to park up along the seafront and have a chat and check out each other’s bikes. No cars were allowed but there was no stipulation about what sort of bikes could come along, but as you can imagine, there were some weird and wonderful specimens that turned up – and some of the bikes were unusual too!
In May BMAD had their very own festival when literally thousands of bikers turned up to enjoy special performances such as the Wall of Death, live bands, and of course, the funfair. There was never a hint of any trouble, probably because most of them were teenagers around fifty years ago.
It therefore came as a bit of a blow to all those who enjoyed ‘Bike Nights’ that the organizers had to call it a day in 2019. In the 17 years that it was running they collected over £600,000 for local charities.
Outside of the holiday season the seafront takes on a much more relaxed atmosphere: The hustle and bustle of the summer season is just a distant memory and sometimes all you can hear are the waves gently lapping the shore and seagulls overhead.
The days of getting sand between my toes are well behind me now, but there’s still nothing better than to take a stroll along the prom first thing in the morning when the sun is rising and there is just me and the gulls for company. Now that’s what I do like about Paignton Seafront.
ORIGINAL POST – MAY 2018
LATEST UPDATE – AUGUST 2020