Torquay is a seaside town in Devon, England, and is part of the unitary authority area of Torbay. It lies 18 miles (29 km) south of the county town of Exeter and 28 miles (45 km) east-north-east of Plymouth, on the north of Tor Bay, adjoining the neighbouring town of Paignton on the west of the bay and across from the fishing port of Brixham. In the 2011 UK Census, Torquay's population was 65,245, about half of that of the whole of Torbay.
The town's economy, like Brixham's, was initially based upon fishing and agriculture, but in the early 19th century Torquay 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. Later, as the town's fame spread, it was popular with the crème de la crème of Victorian society. Renowned for its healthful climate, the town earned the nickname of the English Riviera and favourable comparisons to Montpellier in France.
Torquay was the home of the writer Agatha Christie, who was born in the town and lived there during her early years.
Torquay is the administrative headquarters of Torbay, which was created in 1968 as a County with Torquay being the county town. In 1974 it was returned to Devon County Council control. Torbay was formed from the amalgamation of the Boroughs of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham. Torbay was again made a unitary authority on 1 April 1998 when it became responsible for its own affairs. For local elections Torbay is divided into 11 wards, 7 of them in Torquay itself.
The town is made up of a number of small settlements that amalgamated into the town of Torquay. The town's historic core consists of Tormoham, Wellswood, The Warberries, Upton and Ellacombe and is based upon what were once the holdings of the Palk family. In 1900 Chelston and Livermead (part of the Cockington estate owned by the Mallocks), were annexed by the town and this was followed by the absorption of the former borough of St. Marychurch. (In this period St Marychurch covered Plainmoor, Watcombe, Babbacombe and Kingskerswell.) In 1928 the Mallocks' last holdings in Cockington were integrated into the town borders. Torquay expanded throughout the century leading to the development of Shiphay, Hele Village, Barton and, since the 1990s, The Willows, and from 2010 onwards Edginswell and into Kingskerswell giving the town its current layout.