Windows in Time historic images trail 

Windows in Time Poster showing the Alphington Ponies on the Strand

Windows in Time Poster showing the Alphington Ponies on The Strand. - Credit: Torquay Museum

As part of its 175th anniversary celebrations, Torquay Museum has launched a free, historic image trail across Torquay and Paignton.

The towns have become the museum's exhibition gallery and you will be able to discover Torbay’s heritage where it actually happened!

Windows in Time uses some of the blank spaces around the town, seafront shelters, boarded-up doorways and disused shop windows as exhibition spaces.

This has given Torquay Museum the ability to tell the story of some of Torbay’s most iconic buildings, people and places where the events took place.

The images, a mixture of photographs and prints, span the 175 years the museum has existed.

The earliest image, seen on the trail poster, is an illustration of the Alphington Ponies created in the 1840s when the museum came into existence.

For around ten years, the Miss Durnford’s, Arabella and Eliza were almost a permanent fixture on The Strand and Victoria Parade, only bad weather kept them away.

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Their unusual appearance with rouged faces and unique dress sense made them a talking point as they walked arm in arm under their parasols, talking only to themselves.

They became nationally famous and were immortalised in Staffordshire pottery like many other notable 19th century characters.

It has been one of the greatest pleasures of the project to place them back at 8 Strand.

The trail has packed in some of the most important moments in the town’s history and the most iconic buildings too, some long departed but others still here, if a little neglected.

'Windows in Time' on the Pavilion showing two different views of its interior.

'Windows in Time' on the Pavilion showing two different views of its interior. - Credit: Torquay Museum

You can see Torquay’s first hotels, the magnificent interior of the Pavilion Theatre and the Toll House when it was Dyers Cottage, home of the town gardener. 

Torquay and Paignton railway stations are also on the trail with arrivals of World War Two evacuees and Arthur Wint, Jamaican Olympic gold medalist, the Usain Bolt of his era.

You can see also the largest crowd, then ever assembled in the Bay at Torre Abbey Meadows, for the 1948 Olympic opening ceremony.

Then there are the images that show the most change. Places that no longer exist or views of the town before some of its major developments had taken place can be seen along the trail.

Graphic panel placed outside Torquay Railway Station showing the arrival of World War Two evacuees in 1939.

Graphic panel placed outside Torquay Railway Station showing the arrival of World War Two evacuees in 1939. - Credit: Torquay Museum

The Palm Court Hotel, the glorious Marine Spa and its replacement Coral Island and St Michael’s Church on the corner of Pimlico - all now demolished. 

But there is also the building of Princess Gardens and Castle Circus before the town hall, a view which is almost unrecognisable.

If you would like to find all the images and walk the entire trail, you can download the trail sheet from Torquay Museum’s website or just scan the QR code and it will take you to the Windows in Time trail page.

Hidden in every image is a Torquay Museum object. Find ten objects and fill out the trail sheet and bring it to the museum when it reopens in May to claim a prize.

The hidden objects will be on show in the Secret Museum exhibition in the summer.