Torquay’s local museum with a global collection

Terracotta tympanum dipicting the arts

Terracotta tympanum dipicting the arts - Credit: Archant

Torquay Museum's collections have been permanently housed in a purpose-built Venetian-Gothic building on Babbacombe Road since 1876.

Eastman's Butchers' staff in winter 1905 (PR14619.2)

Eastman's Butchers' staff in winter 1905 (PR14619.2) - Credit: Archant

One of the most intriguing architectural elements are two terracotta tympana above the upper windows depicting the arts and nature, both designed by John Philip, the architect famous for creating the Albert Memorial in London.

Another fine feature is the glass 'lantern roof', which illuminates the Upper Gallery.

Over many years the museum's collections have grown thanks to the donations of society members and the public.

The museum now holds more than 330,000 items from Torbay and around the world, of which only about one per cent is on permanent display, partly due to the lack of space.

Empire Day on Torquay Strand, 1905 (PR4936.17)

Empire Day on Torquay Strand, 1905 (PR4936.17) - Credit: Archant

These collections include Designated local cave finds and archive material, ethnography, world archaeology and global natural history with items of regional, national and even international significance.

The collections can tell many fascinating stories linked to events of global importance, from the Napoleonic Wars, the sinking of the Titanic and the role of Torbay in D-Day to the discovery of the antiquity of humans and the exploration of the planet.

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A letter written by Jane Austen, 400-million-year-old fossil corals, the earliest evidence of modern humans in Britain and much more can be found in a place that inspires never-ending discovery.

• Photographs from the museum's archive can be purchased by quoting their PR number to enquiries@torquaymuseum.org. The Museum is a registered charity and the money raised from purchasing images goes to supporting vital work looking after the collections.

The sailing ship Emily moored at Victoria Parade, c.1880 (PR6622)

The sailing ship Emily moored at Victoria Parade, c.1880 (PR6622) - Credit: Archant