Tourist destination has its heritage
IT has been my great privilege to have lived for 70 years in Torbay, which in my opinion is the best and most beautiful place in the world – and I have been to exotic places.
My mother and step step-dad were self-made fairly wealthy people owning a gowns design factory, a dyeing and finishing factory and the Knighton Spinneys Hotel in Leicester.
The businesses, at the beginning of the war, were run by momma, dad and my three elder brothers. I was at a private school where the fees were 18 guineas per year (£18.90).
In September, 1939, all of our lives were to change completely. It wasn't long before all my brothers were called up. Dad was called back because of his experience as a Regimental Sergeant Major in the Royal Horse Artillery in the First World War.
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Mother was left to run all the businesses on her own, which she did through the Blitz, when my school was completely destroyed by a parachute mine and the hotel had slight damage. She kept up the role until March, 1943, when she felt so poorly that she went to her doctor.
He told her that she was on the verge of a breakdown and she must stop immediately and get away.
That night in the hotel lounge she got talking to a Polish RAF Officer. He said I have been training at a beautiful place named Torquay and recommended the Palm Court Hotel.
Momma got in touch with dad to tell him the news. He got compassionate leave and came back to take over the business in Leicester.
She arrived at Torquay and on the way to the Palm Court, must have been completely overwhelmed by the incredible beauty of Torbay.
Having only been here for about three days she made the biggest decision of her life. She phoned dad and wrote three letters to my brothers and said: "I want to live here for the rest of my life. If you wish to join me after the war, I will be delighted and will start to prepare businesses for you all to return to at the end of the war."
The first hotel to be bought was the Walcot Hotel, St Marks Road, it was operational, accommodating 55 guests, the majority being American service people on furlough. This continued through the Normandy invasion and nearly till the end of the war.
After the invasion mother continued her task because hundreds of properties that had been used by the RAF, and then the Americans, became unfurnished properties for sale, freehold.
The Hotel Medina Court, the neighbouring hotel next to the Walcot, which had kept operating as a hotel through the war, came up for sale and mother and dad bought that. The list continued and further properties were added to the list which included The Spa Hotel, Stitchill (Casa Marina), Tanglewood, Mount Tryon, Frognel Hall, June Court and the Bath Hotel, Beacon Hill.
Neither me or my three late brothers were born here but all of our children and grandchildren were and love Torbay.
In 2012, it is nice for me to see that the future of Torbay is in good hands and many things have been achieved, also the major hotel groups who are investing so much in new hotels in this area and that they have great confidence in Torbay being a top tourist destination all year round.
Nowadays, I am retired from business but continue to love living in Torbay and rent a property, which is on the level and close to town. It has uninterrupted views of the Bay and a lovely garden. It is a real Shangri-La and where I can concentrate on doing what I can to help the Turning Point Heritage Trust get the area remembered.