Monday, 16 July 2012

Torquay, Devon

Torquay is a town in Devon, England. It lies 22 miles (35 km) south of Exeter along the A380 on the north of Torbay, 38 miles (61 km) north-east of Plymouth and adjoins the neighbouring town of Paignton on the west of the bay. The town's economy was initially based upon fishing and agriculture as in the case of Brixham across Torbay, but in the early 19th century the town began to develop into a fashionable seaside resort, initially frequented by members of the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars while the Royal Navy anchored in the bay and later by the crème de la crème of Victorian society as the town's fame spread. Renowned for its healthful climate, the town earned the nickname of the English Riviera and favourable comparisons to Montpellier. Read more on Wikipedia

Lowry stayed in the resort at the Vernon Court Hotel while recuperating after his admittance to the Morteonhampstead Cottage Hospital in June 1933. He stayed in the resort up until late September. The recuperation was arranged and paid for by Arthur Lowry. Lowry did occasionally go to London and elsewhere though he was supposed to be confined to the resort. (Gordon Bowker Pursued By Furies Pg. 163). He acquired a MG F-Type Magna from Tom Forman while he was staying in Torquay. Lowry was visited in Torquay by Bob Pocock who he met through James Travers who also visited. Lowry went swimming in Torre Abbey Sands Beach while recuperating. Lowry wrote to Jan Gabrial asking her to visit him in Torquay and to travel there via Plymouth from France onboard the Paris. (Jan Gabrial Inside The Volcano Pg.22).

According to Bowker, Lowry was very unstable while staying in Torquay. (Pg. 164). He suffered paranoia whilst out swimming off Torre Abbey Sands.

Lowry wrote to Jan Gabrial in August 1931 from the Vernon Court Hotel;  "Torquay "a funny, tawdry place, on the sea, like a pub picture of China gone crazy, only its got speedboats & plenty of sea & diving boards & this afternoon a cruiser, god knows where that came from. And we shall spend some blue sea mornings here." (Collected Letters Volume 1 Pg. 137). Lowry may be referring to the visit of HMS Renown to Torbay in July 1933 when King Feisal of Iraq visited the ship.

In another letter to Jan in August 1933, Lowry wrote; "I told you that Torquay was drab in daytime but at night like a picture postcard of China. Its a loveable & laughable kind of tawdriness though: harbours full of immense toy battleships, quite cuckoo." (Collected Letters Volume 1 Pg. 138). He also tells Jan that he went to see an "American crook film" and a "dilapidated musical comedy called The Belle of New York just so as I could think about the title-" (Pg.138). 

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