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Paignton

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Overview





Situated on the west side of Tor Bay, on England's south coast, Paignton is an extensive seaside town fronted by a small drying harbour. The harbour has a municipal pontoon, intended for small craft that can take to the bottom and it is also possible to anchor off outside.

The shape of the bay provides good protection from most sectors and, although the harbour entrance faces north, it is still exposed to swell waves from the eastern sectors. Access is straightforward, day or night at high water.



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Keyfacts for Paignton
Facilities
Water available via tapWaste disposal bins availableShop with basic provisions availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableExtensive shopping available in the areaSlipway availableShore based toilet facilitiesHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPleasant family beach in the areaCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaInternet via a wireless access point availableDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaScrubbing posts or a place where a vessel can dry out for a scrub below the waterlineBus service available in the areaTrain or tram service available in the areaRegional or international airport within 25 kilometresShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large city

Considerations
Restriction: rising tide required for accessNote: can get overwhelmed by visiting boats during peak periodsNote: sectioned off swimming area in the vicinity

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
-1.8 metres (-5.91 feet).

Approaches
4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
Shelter
4 stars: Good; assured night's sleep except from specific quarters.



Last modified
November 21st 2018

Summary* Restrictions apply

A good location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Water available via tapWaste disposal bins availableShop with basic provisions availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableExtensive shopping available in the areaSlipway availableShore based toilet facilitiesHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPleasant family beach in the areaCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaInternet via a wireless access point availableDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaScrubbing posts or a place where a vessel can dry out for a scrub below the waterlineBus service available in the areaTrain or tram service available in the areaRegional or international airport within 25 kilometresShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large city

Considerations
Restriction: rising tide required for accessNote: can get overwhelmed by visiting boats during peak periodsNote: sectioned off swimming area in the vicinity



HM  +44 1803 557812      paignton.harbour@torbay.gov.uk      Ch.14 [Paignton Harbour]
Position and approaches
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Haven position

50° 25.961' N, 003° 33.342' W

This is the head of the eat pier at the entrance where a red metal column, 5 metres in height, exhibits a light Q.R.7m3M.


What is the initial fix?

The following Paignton Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
50° 26.160' N, 003° 33.136' W
This is a ¼ of a mile northeast of the harbour entrance on the 2-metre contour.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in southwestern England’s coastal overview from Portland Bill to Start Point Route location.
  • Tor Bay is entered between Hope’s Nose and Berry Head situated 4 miles to the south.

  • The expansive sheltered bay is very straightforward. Apart from some rocks that all lie within a ½ mile off the bay's north end, it is entirely clean beyond the 5-metre contour.

  • Outside of these, the bay offers plain sailing right up to the harbour.

  • Approach from the northeast leaving the Black Rock area, marked by a lit east cardinal lattice tower, well to port.


Not what you need?
Try our Advanced Havens Search tool to find locations with the specific attributes you need, or click the 'Next', coastal clockwise, or 'Previous', coastal anti-clockwise, buttons to progress through neighbouring havens. Below are the ten nearest havens to Paignton for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line distance
  1. Torquay - 1.1 miles NE
  2. Brixham - 1.4 miles SE
  3. Hope Cove - 2 miles NE
  4. Anstey’s Cove - 2.1 miles NE
  5. Dittisham & The River Dart - 2.1 miles SSW
  6. Babbacombe Bay - 2.1 miles NNE
  7. Watcombe Cove - 2.6 miles NNE
  8. Dartmouth Harbour - 3.3 miles S
  9. Teignmouth - 4.2 miles NNE
  10. The Bight - 7.3 miles NNE
Ten nearest havens by straight line distance
  1. Torquay - 1.1 miles NE
  2. Brixham - 1.4 miles SE
  3. Hope Cove - 2 miles NE
  4. Anstey’s Cove - 2.1 miles NE
  5. Dittisham & The River Dart - 2.1 miles SSW
  6. Babbacombe Bay - 2.1 miles NNE
  7. Watcombe Cove - 2.6 miles NNE
  8. Dartmouth Harbour - 3.3 miles S
  9. Teignmouth - 4.2 miles NNE
  10. The Bight - 7.3 miles NNE
Alternatively the above can be ordered by compass direction or coastal sequence


Chart
Please use our integrated Navionics chart to appraise the haven and its approaches. Navionics charts feature in premier plotters from B&G, Raymarine, Magellan and are also available on tablets. Open the chart in a larger viewing area by clicking the expand to 'new tab' or the 'full screen' option.

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What's the story here?
Paignton
Image: Michael Harpur


Paignton is an extensive resort town bordered on either side by sandy beaches that occupy much of the west side of Tor Bay. It is fronted by a small drying harbour used by small fishing and pleasure boats. The harbour is situated on the north side of Roundham Head in the centre of the western side of Tor Bay and formed by two enclosing piers with an entrance that opens to the north. Paignton Pier, a promenade pier, extends from the shore a ¼ of a mile north of Paignton Harbour.

The harbour has 3 metres at MHWS, 1.9 metres at MHWN with its approaches shallowing to the entrance where it then progressively dries to a height of 1.8 metres at the head of the harbour. A small seasonal visitor pontoon is placed alongside the East Quay. It has limited accommodation and is intended for short period use, and is only suitable for smaller yachts of no more than 8 metres that can take to the bottom.

Seasonal pontoon alongside the East Quay
Image: Michael Harpur


The council berths are not bookable in advance and are available on a first come basis only. It is possible to call VHF Ch. 14 [Paignton Harbour], P: +44 1803 557812, E: paignton.harbour@torbay.gov.uk. Reportedly, it is also possible to pick up one of three drying visitor buoys laid outside the harbour. All of these also dry to sand.

Vessels intending on remaining afloat can anchor in deeper water outside of the harbour where good sand holding will be found.


How to get in?
Paignton Harbour with Black Rock showing and the east cardinal lattice tower
Image: Michael Harpur


Convergance Point Use southwestern England’s coastal overview from Portland Bill to Start Point Route location for seaward approaches.

Tor Bay is entered between Hope’s Nose and Berry Head situated 4 miles to the south. Tor Bay is very straightforward as, apart from some offlying rocks in the bay's northern end, covered in the coastal overview Route location and the Torquay Click to view haven entry, the bay is clean beyond the 5-metre contour. Vessels approaching from the south can clear the dangers to the south of Berry Head by keeping Hope's Nose open east of Berry Head.

Outside of this, it is plain sailing right up to the harbour entrance but keep an eye out for fishing pots. From seaward the edges of the cliffs of Roundham Head are all composed of red sandstone, so they stand prominently on the shore. Paignton's promenade pier, a ¼ of a mile north, serves to positively identify the harbour. At night the harbour entrance exhibits a light, Q.R.7m3M, on the outer pierhead.


Black Rock and the east cardinal lattice tower as seen from Fairy Cove
Image: Michael Harpur


Initial fix location The initial fix is set a ¼ of a mile northeast of the harbour entrance on the 2-metre contour. The primary danger is a rocky ledge extending 200 metres eastward of the harbour entrance. This, and the end of an outfall, are marked by an east cardinal lattice tower, black-yellow-black, Q(3)10s5m3M, the stands close to the eastern edge of the ledge.

Commence an approach on the entrance that leaves the Black Rock area well to port. The path cuts inside the 5 knots markers positioned throughout the bay. Vessels are not permitted to exceed 5 knots between these markers and the shore.

The visitor pontoon is to port once inside the entrance
Image: Michael Harpur


Haven location The visitor pontoon it to port after entering the harbour.

It is possible to anchor in the vicinity of the initial fix in Paignton Sands well outside the designated swimming area marks. Likewise to the south of Roundham Head, again outside the swimming area and well clear of the Middle Stone that extends 200 metres from the shore.


Why visit here?
The origin of Paignton’s name is uncertain. Most people believe it originates from the Anglo-Saxon personal name ‘Péga' conjoined with ‘ing’ meaning ‘the people of’, or ‘tün’ meaning an enclosure, estate or homestead, describing the original Anglo-Saxon settlement. Formerly written ‘Peynton, Payngton, Paington’ and ‘Peintone by the time of the Domesday in 1086, it continued to shift through ‘Peynton’ and then ‘Paington’ until the 19th-century when it arrived at its current form. Then, it is said, the coming of the railway finally defined its name by moving the ‘g’ to create the current spelling that neatly paralleled Teignmouth further up the line.

Medieval wall and tower of the Bishops Palace
Image: Tom Jolliffe via CC BY-SA 2.0
Human history runs deep here as touched upon in the Torquay and Brixham entries and prehistoric (Neolithic) and Roman activity is recorded in the Goodrington area close south of the headland. Paignton was thought to have been a Saxon period settlement but recently Late Iron Age pottery (c.200BC) has been found suggesting an original Celtic foundation. A series of Saxon invasions and campaigns in the 7th and 8th-centuries are thought to have displaced or subjected the Dumnonii and taken over from the earlier Celtic settlements. The Saxon settlement then grew up on the dry ground at the foot of the hills, and also as a separate hamlet in the shelter of Roundham Head, a fishing settlement.

The village was an established manor before the Norman Conquest, and Domesday recorded that Peintone, had 52 villagers, 40 smallholders and 5 pig men, as well as 36 ‘slaves’ working on the manor lands. It described no urban character, neither its parish church nor its houses are mentioned. It noted that it was held by the Bishop of Exeter and that Paignton’s assets include a salt pan, a valuable asset for helping to preserve fish and meat over the winter, along with excellent agricultural land.

Paignton shows its Victorian Legacy
Image: Tom Jolliffe via CC BY-SA 2.0
At this time Paignton was by far the largest settlement in the Bay, with both Brixham and particularly Torre being much smaller by comparison. In recognition of this King John gave Paignton the status of a borough in 1294 allowing it to have a market and an annual fair. This was a sure sign of prosperity and in part payment for the granting of the town charter, the town cooked a giant pudding boiled in a cloth, with a recipe of flour, suet, raisins and eggs. The pudding was of great size and legend has it that it took seven years in the making, seven years in the baking and seven years in the eating. The making of puddings thereafter became an annual event, but then over time the custom lapsed to once every 50 years or less.

The manor was held by the Bishop of Exeter from 1050 to the dissolution, and part of the Bishop's Palace remains today. During the time of the English Civil War, in the 1640s, the then manor owning Herbert family appear to have alienated themselves from the establishment precipitating a decline of fortunes for the area. The 17th and 18th-century court rolls, recording manorial business, the state of wells, bridges, walls etc paint a uniform picture of decline and decay from the 1660s and increasing destitution amoungst the local population.


Paignton Pier
Image: Mark Coleman


The earlier part of the 19th-century seems to begin a period of steadier development and consolidation after two centuries of neglect. The revictualling of the Channel Fleet in its Torbay haven being a major economic activity, even if the focus of the naval and military presence was to the main in Torquay and Brixham. The small fishing and farming village most noted for its productive red soils, its grapes, cabbages and cider could not have failed to have capitalised on that. Then the slow development of the seaside resort followed the end of the long French wars when several typical Regency cottages with their distinctive fenestration were built. These were followed by a number of other houses or shops that were newly built or remodelled during the 1820s and 1830s and many public service buildings. This was all capped off by the Paington Harbour Act of 1837 that led to the construction of a new harbour. During this period the town saw a rise of 60% in its population.


Paington Harbour was built in 1837
Image: Michael Harpur


In 1850 William White described the resulting town as… A neat and improving village and bathing place delightfully situated … along the shore of a beautiful bay. Paignton has risen into notice as a place of resort for invalids during the last fifteen years, and is capable of being made a first-rate watering place, having a good beach, and a large extent of contiguous ground, which may be converted into a beautiful esplanade and carriage drive. When in 1859 the railway continued finally south from Torre, giving Paignton a direct connection to London and its modern spelling, the new direction of a Victorian seaside resort was sealed, albeit getting off to a somewhat bumpy start.


Paignton Beach
Image: Juan J. Martínez via CC BY-Sa 2,0


To celebrate the coming of the railway the town turned once again to its age-old tradition of giant pudding making. The resultant pudding weighed one and a half tons and was shaped like a giant pyramid, 13ft 6in at the base and 5ft around the apex. Unfortunately, the word of the colossal pudding spread and nearly twenty thousand people turned up hoping to obtain a piece. As the crowd surged forward, the police tried valiantly to protect the pudding but were completely overwhelmed. Fights broke out and anarchy reined until only a few crumbs remained. The event became notorious in gentile Victorian society but they remained undaunted and Victorian villas and terraces extended out to cover what had been open fields to the turn of the century. The 240 metres (780 feet ) long Paignton promenade pier, complete with its customary grand pavilion at the seaward end, was opened to the public in 1879. As its population increased, it merged with the villages of Goodrington and Preston.

Fairy Cove immediately east of the harbour
Image: Michael Harpur


Today the harbour provides a location for a number of marine related businesses including a crab processing factory and recreational sailing activities. The historic part of Paignton is centred on Church Street, Winner Street and Palace Avenue which contain fine examples of its Victorian architecture. Little remains of an old Bishop's Palace in Tower Road apart from a clearly defined medieval wall as well as its 14th-century corner tower still standing to its full height. Its last tenant was Bishop Miles Coverdale, who in 1535 published the first English translation of the whole Bible. A plaque on the tower states... 'Fortification of the Palace of the Bishops of Exeter, Lords of the Manor of Paignton from 1066 to 1549'.

Paignton Zoo
Image: Ross Elliott
Not surprisingly the people of Paignton have the nickname of pudden eaters today but Paignton is most famous now for its zoo situated a short distance away from the harbour. It will celebrate its 100th birthday in 2023, and is generally believed to be one of England's best. The Zoo has solid conservation credentials, helping projects in Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Malawi among others and seventy of it's two hundred and fifty exotic species are classed as endangered. A new warmed crocodile swamp is especially impressive and never more so than on a cold day.

Another absolute joy of Paignton is the heritage Dartmouth Steam Railway that travels along 10.8 km (6.7-miles) of the former Great Western Railway branch line between Paignton and Kingswear. The service still uses the Great Western steam locomotives, passing along the coast and into the Dart Valley' stations of Goodrington Sands, Churston and Kingswear which sits opposite the pretty Port of Dartmouth and which can be accessed by ferry. Not only does it take you back to the full Victorian travel experience, but the rural scenery remains as it was at the time, truly wonderful.


Dartmouth Steam Railway passing along the coast north of Churston
Image: Geof Sheppard via CC BY-SA 2.0


From a sailing point of view, the harbour provides a good berth for smaller vessels that can come in and dry out alongside. It is also a good landing point for deeper draft vessels that anchor off with plenty to come ashore for.


What facilities are available?
Water is on supply from several points on North and East Quays and at the head of the main slipway. The harbour has two slipways, one on the East Quay and one on the West Quay. It also has a small area for boat parking and dinghy storage. Electric points are by the pontoon steps on East Quay and midway along North Quay. Electric payment cards are available from the Harbour Office on South Quay. Paignton has a public slipway above the visitor pontoon. Public toilets are at the entrance to West Quay and by the West Quay slipway (these toilets are locked at night). There are several rubbish bins located around the harbour. Should you wish to dispose of waste oil or contaminated fuel please contact the Harbour Office. There is a Marine engineer and a chandlery by the main slipway.

The harbour is about a ten-minute walk from the town centre where there are a number of cafes, takeaways, restaurants and bars surrounding the harbour and throughout the town. A small store is situated by the entrance to South Quay which also has an ATM. There is a Co-operative, on Hyde Road, and a Tesco, on Victoria Street. Seasonal passenger ferries to and from Brixham and Torquay call at the harbour. There is a branch line train to Torquay, and the Paignton to Dartmouth Steam Train service.


With thanks to:
eOceanic.


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Please zoom out to see the 'initial fix' for this location.
The above plots are not precise and indicative only.




Paignton Harbour, Devon, England
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Paignton Harbour, Devon, England
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Paignton Harbour, North Wall
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Boats at the head of Paignton Harbour
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Toilet facilities above the harbour
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Paignton Pier as seen from the harbour
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


East Quay Slipway
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Paignton Harbour Gull
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur




Aerial views of Paignton Harbour



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