Oldway Mansion squash courts set to be demolished

View of Oldway Mansion with Oldway Road in the foreground, with the squash courts left, attached to the east tower of the...

View of Oldway Mansion with Oldway Road in the foreground, with the squash courts left, attached to the east tower of the stable building - Credit: TDA/Torbay Council

Squash courts added in the 1930s to the historic Oldway Mansion in Paignton are set to be demolished.

The brick building alongside Oldway Road is in poor condition and is putting historic parts of the site at risk.

Broken, smashed roof of the squash courts at Oldway Mansion, Paignton

Roof of the squash courts at Oldway Mansion, Paignton - Credit: TDA/Torbay

Torbay Council is now seeking listed building consent to demolish the structure, which is fixed to the East Tower of the original stables near the Rotunda, a circular exercise area for horses also designed as an entertainment venue.

The mansion was built in the Victorian era by the Singer Sewing Machine Company founder Isaac Singer.

It was completed in 1873 and was later remodelled by Issac’s son Paris in the early 1900s, inspired by the design of the Palace of Versailles in France.

Gardens at Oldway Mansion

Gardens at Oldway Mansion - Credit: Ed Oldfield

The squash courts were added around 1933 when the former country home was in use by Torbay Country Club.

The estate is now owned by Torbay Council and the mansion has been closed to the public since 2013 when the council stopped using it, although the grounds have remained open for public use.

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A report from a structural engineer says the roof of the squash courts building has failed, leaving the inside exposed to the weather, masonry has cracked and the floor has collapsed.

The report says the building is a safety risk and in danger of collapse, and supports an earlier recommendation to remove it.

Inside the squash courts building at Old Mansion, Paignton

Inside the squash courts building at Old Mansion, Paignton - Credit: TDA/Torbay Council

A report from a conservation architect says the failure of the squash courts is putting the neighbouring historic buildings at risk, with damp  worsening timber decay.

It says: “The safe removal of this building is considered a structural necessity. Its careful demolition creates an opportunity for improved public visibility of the east tower and northern aspect of the Rotunda.”

A period of public consultation on the application to demolish the squash courts ends on Wednesday, February 10.

The road outside the building is due to be closed to allow the work to go ahead.

One lane of Oldway Road was closed in November because of concerns over the stability of the wall alongside the stables, towers and squash courts.

Inside the squash courts building at Old Mansion, Paignton

Inside the squash courts building at Old Mansion, Paignton - Credit: TDA/Torbay Council

The Oldway Trust has been established to progress plans for the repair and restoration of the council-owned building and estate. A volunteer group has been working to restore the garden and grounds, and a team is opening a tea room.

New funding streams were being investigated after a bid for £10million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to repair and restore the mansion was unsuccessful in 2019.