The towns of the English Riviera are cradled by our east facing natural harbour - Tor Bay.
The Bay has been inhabited since Palaeolithic times and the lives of residents and visitors are dominated by their relationship with the sea - whether that be as a source of food, employment or leisure activity. The sheltered natural harbours led to the growth of what, at one point, became the UK’s largest fishing port.
The early settlement’s economy was based around fishing and agriculture; from the early 19th Century it began to develop as a fashionable seaside resort. To this day thousands of visitors come annually to holiday in the mild climate, explore the sandy beaches, swim and explore the beautiful Bay which is now designated by UNESCO as the English Riviera Global Geopark in recognition of its importance in telling part of the story of the formation of our planet.
The sheltered nature of the Bay has made it a safe haven for ships and boats for many centuries, from the Royal Navy during Napoleonic Wars through to more recent day, oil tankers on their way to Rotterdam.
The beauty and conditions in the Bay led to it being chosen to host the sailing events at the 1948 Olympics. These days the tradition of the Bay being used a venue for sailing and power boat races continues, with over 50 sea based events in the Bay each year and the summer season when the horizon is filled with colourful sails.
We hope you enjoy this exhibition of works and artefacts that help celebrate the rich maritime heritage of the Bay.