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Local History

PAIGNTON HISTORY “The Town of Golden Sands”

At the beginning of the 19th century, Paignton (or Paynton as it was then called) was famed for growing cabbages and the inhabitants were cruelly nicknamed 'Flat-polls' after a well-known local variety.

In 1801, the population numbered 1,575, which almost double that of Torquay, but whilst their neighbour quickly provided amenities to change from a fishing hamlet into a popular seaside resort, Paignton did not follow suit until after the arrival of the railway in 1859, greated by a riot over the famous "Paignton Pudding"!

The development of the Sea Front got underway in 1867 when local landowner, Mr MacLean, made a gift of Polsham Green to the town. In return, he was assured that sea-defences would be put in place to prevent high tides from flooding the area. This move was the key to Paignton's success.

Local architect, George Bridgman, was engaged to design the sea wall along Paignton Beach. The grounds of The Green were laid out for holidaymakers, mingling with sheep which enjoyed grazing rights until 1908. Mr McLean sold other land for development. Soon, handsome villas and terraces of houses sprang up as more and more people wanted to make their home in the town.

George Bridgman continued to play an important role and among his achievements was the building of Oldway Mansion for the Singer family and Paignton Pier. For his outstanding contribution to the development of the town he became known as `The Father of Paignton'.

By 189I, the population topped the 6,000 mark. Marshland at Preston and Goodrington had been transformed into pleasure grounds and beaches which were the envy of many other seaside towns. Cabbages were a thing of the past as Paignton emerged as a holiday resort labelled 'The Town of Golden Sands'.

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