Torbay developed a programme of Brunel
200 activities in South Devon, which included Torbay Museums' exhibition
Iron Horse to the Sea. The exhibition, which originated at Torquay
with satellite displays at the museums in Brixham and Newton Abbot,
examined the social revolution brought by the railway age to the area.
Torbay was transformed by the railway, first by the early wealthy visitors
who came there and then by the crowds of holidaymakers. It is estimated
that nearly 13,000 people in total came to see the exhibition at the
three sites. There was also a touring version of the exhibition that
visited libraries in Torquay, Paignton, Brixham and Churston. Based
on the estimated footfall at these sites, this exhibition is thought
to have been seen by nearly 48,000 people.
During the Torbay programme, around 400 children visited the museum exhibitions on school trips, 140 pupils from the Girls Grammar and its feeder primaries saw Mikron Theatre Company’s touring production of the play Mrs Brunel and a further 120 pupils were taken on a bus tour of local Brunel sites. The bus was decorated with a specially commissioned Brunel livery, funded by Stagecoach Devon, making this a highly visible reminder of the celebrations and of Brunel’s local links. The bus was used on regular and express passenger routes, attended some Brunel 200 promotional events, including the Bristol launch weekend, went to the Dartmouth Royal Regatta and won a Best Marketing Award at a major bus rally. The livery will continue to be in service for the next three years and, among future uses, will be transporting parties from Brunel Manor on trips to Bristol. Incidentally, after the success of the open days at the Manor during Brunel 200, the gardens of Brunel’s former estate at Watcombe will continue to be made accessible to the public whenever possible.
School children at Torquay Museum.
Five new permanent interpretation boards have been produced by Torbay Museums as part of Brunel 200 that provide details of the local industrial heritage. These have been located near Broadsands Viaduct at Churston, the old paintworks and ochre quarry in Brixham, Torre Station, the former pumping station site at Long Park on Old Newton Road, Torquay and Churston Station (formerly Brixham Road station). Torbay Museums are investigating the possibility of producing larger versions of the boards, funding and time permitting. In addition a Brunel 200 South West Discovery Trail was printed in 2006 along with a high-quality Brunel 200 South Devon brochure, adapted from the general brochure used to promote the overall programme.
Museums' staff believe that the Brunel 200 celebrations provided an excellent
theme for a community-based heritage project and the programme of activities
was judged a great success. They were also pleased with the partnership
that developed with Brixham, Newton Abbot, Dawlish, Brunel Manor and Torquay
For further information, visit Torquay Museum’s website at: www.torquaymuseum.org