St Marychurch & District Action Group St Marychurch, Torquay, South Devon, UK.

Aindependent information website. Financed by the sole owner and copyright owner ©J.M.L. 

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Volunteers working with and for the community. 

Contact: Hon Secretary Mr D Westaway e-mail telephone: 01803 - 325750


A fully constituted, non-political Voluntary Community Partnership established in 1998. We would like more volunteers to help. New members and voluteers are always welcome. Donations and sponsors for any of the groups projects are greatly appreciated. Contact Hon Secretary if you can be of any assistance. Articles on areas action group volunteers have worked on and/or assisted over the years on this website. The group are members of Greenspace Torbay - an umbrella organisation for friends and community groups in Torbay and Torbay in Bloom who oversee horticultural and environmental improvement projects on publicly owned land throughout Torbay.

The action group thank Torbay Council, Torbay Council Parks Department, Plandscape Contractors, Torbay Probationary Service, Dartington Tech (e2e), Abbey Road Resource Centre, Devon Tree Services, Dave the Digger, BCTV, A & M Garden Machinery and the public for their support, horticultural advice and assistance.

Tessier Garden

Tessier Garden awarded the Green Flag in 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/2011 and 2011/12 Tessier Garden

Torbay Council website:

Tessier Gardens Friends Group


Although we are in the twenty first century nostalgia is an important part in the lives of many encompassing both young and old whether they reside, work, visit or in business not only in St Marychurch & Babbacombe but elsewhere. Too much now and in the past destroyed relegated into the annals of history through lack of vision and understanding of our rich heritage.

It is a privilege to live in such an outstanding area of the country. The superb range of coastal, inland, and marine habitats, diverse flora and fauna all must be preserved for all who live or visit here now and in the future. Parks, open spaces and floral displays brighten up our towns and cities. Living and working in well maintained environmental surroundings is beneficial to our well being.

Often a plethora of remarks are made when voluntary help is requested, ‘Why should I bother', 'Who cares it doesn’t affect me' and 'What in it for me’. This selfish attitude is unworthy of any further comment!

Voluntary work is a valuable contribution to a community and its resources. Any decision to become involved should not be misapplied in order to achieve monetary, financial, personal, political aspirations or to seek publicity purely for their own selfish egotrips. These attudes are unethical and could by implication hinder, alienate and compromise the integrity and credibility of those, who give freely time and effort and seek no rewards.

Participating in striving to improve the quality of life helps towards ensuring we continue to live in a healthy and democratic society. It provides an opportunity for people from diverse backgrounds to share knowledge, skills and experiences also a link to citizenship and employability.

Previous and present tides of alleged progression have swept away segments of our past leaving in its wake regret, anger, doubt and fond memories of day's gone bye. Thankfully there are more and more who are prepared to ask why is this indiscriminate destruction allowed to continue? All too frequently answers either unforthcoming or non-committal.

Encouraging, supporting environmental re-generation efforts may help our environment recover from past and present mistakes, although some damage may prove to be irreversible. Preservation and conservation is of paramount importance, we are only custodians of this planet with a moral duty to live in and leave a healthy environment. Not just for today a priceless legacy to be passed on to future generations. The alternative is a world of concrete, tarmac, pollution, and books with pictures of flora and fauna lost forever.

If you are a mover and a shaker, not a glory seeker, St Marychurch & District Action Group and the Town Action Groups need your help, be it volunteers, donations or sponsorship. This planet is our home where else can we go? J.M.L.

- Cree Indian Prophecy -

"Only after the last tree has been cut down.
Only after the last river has been poisoned.
Only after the last fish has been caught.
Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten."

Bay Blooms Plus

Formed in 1998 to forge a partnership with Torbay Council, local business, voluntary organisations and members of the public. Bay Blooms Plus is not just about flowers it covers all aspects of our surroundings its aims: To promote local pride within the bay by environmental enhancement of private and public buildings and open spaces. Seek sponsorship and community involvement. Participate, and co-ordinate with other organisations both statutory and voluntary in their environmental projects, promotions, support and promote award schemes.

Left & Right old Torquay postcards. Four Town Action Groups, Torquay, Babbacombe & St Marychurch, Brixham and Paignton endeavouring to re-introduce floral and environmental pride into Torbay. Why not join one of the Town Action Groups volunteers are always welcome email

2009 BAY BLOOMS COMPETITION Sponsors Sutton Seeds, Torbay Council and the Herald Express.  An annual horticultural event that encourages residents and businesses to improve the look of their local area. Contact: Torbay Council Parks Development Officer 01803-207992 email  Full details of the annual Torbay in Bloom  competition

Once renowed for its spectacular horticultural displays Torbay is the 'Jewel in the Crown'. Britain's premier resort.

Princess Gardens and around Torquay harbour 2007 photographs courtesy of ©Francesca.


Regrettably, at times plants are stolen by those who have some gardening knowledge as they take specific varieties. Stealing especially from a voluntary community group trying their hardest to improve areas for the benefit of all beggars, believe.

Plants are donated by kind members of the public, purchased from our limited funds, or brought and paid for by individual action group members. Replacing the stolen plants takes time, money, and resources, which could be used for improvements elsewhere. One hopes all dedicated gardeners condemn those who commit such despicable acts of theft.

Mary and Findley, Julie and Bill, Clair, Phil, Doris

There is the good side of human nature. Whilst working on the Glen Sannox Project a local elderly couple, both in their eighties, out for a Saturday morning stroll stopped to thank an action group member. In their words ' The pathways are lovely and so nice to walk upon a clean surface, thank you so much for improvements the action group is making to the area'. They gave a small donation to the groups funds and continued on their way.

Thanks to Julie and Bill from the Coombe Court Hotel in Babbacombe for a selection of shrubs and donation for the Glen Sannox project also Phil for his donation of palm trees for the project. Clair for her donation of a palm (Pheonix Canariensis) Doris an elderly lady on a 2008 holiday with friends in Babbacome who regularly visited the Rose Garden in Babbacome who gave a small donation in appreciation for the improvement to the garden.

Mary and Findley, Julie and Bill, Phil and Doris thank you for yours kind comments and donations.

Parks and open spaces have greater importance these days they are places where one can relax and get away from the stress and pressure we face in today’s hectic world. The current economic downturn has meant people are giving less both in monetary and voluntary aid as many are struggling to meet financial commitments and the uncertainty of jobs losses.

Various articles published in the local press requesting help or donations for the group seem to fall by the wayside. However when people have visited areas the group are involved with and talked with action group members on site, many thank us and appreciate the improvements being made. They have asked friends and neighbours for surplus plants rather than throw them away. Some have spare plants due to redesigning schemes or grown too large for their own gardens.
This has resulted in various types of donations roses, palms, seeds, sand, timber, trees and bird boxes etcetera particularly for the Rose Garden and Glen Sannox project. Support for the group’s voluntary work around the area albeit verbal has achieved results. Current bank interest rates are minimal. One advantages of horticultural donations is, they can be seen and enjoyed by all thus gain far more interest!

Successful Initative.

In 2006 Torbay Council initiated a pilot scheme whereby bulbs and flowers removed from council flowerbeds were offered to the community for replanting. Two bulb and flower collection points were set up by the  council for community groups and associated members of the community. It proved to be highly successful schools, churches, gardeners all across the bay benefited. The same scheme was applied in 2007 and 2008 a huge success which is being run again in 2009.

Sand grains, electron microscope magnification x 748 x 3,520 x 6,390 and  x 12,090 courtesy of ©FLVL2007.

We are but only grains of sand in a very long timescale!

RSM (Recycle > Save > Money)

Compost kitchen and garden waste at a minimal cost the result is a virtually free soil improver and fertilizer. Save time spent on journeys to the local tip, reduce vehicle fuel bills and the need to turn valuable arears into landfill sites.

Every year rainwater runs off roofs into the gutter then down into drains. Install a water butt and collect this free surplus rainwater from your roof and use it in the garden. Reduce water bills and utilise a natural resource at minimal cost.

Especially in these times of economic upheaval, why throw money on the tip or let it pour down the drain. Two practical money savers!

Royal Horticultural  Society Britain in Bloom

A competition which encourages everyone to work together to improve the environment.

2009 The South West in Bloom presentation was held at Westland Leasure Complex Yeovil on Thursday 17th September 2009. Contributers to the event Revive organic soil conditioner, South West Tourism, McDonalds, Winchester Growers Ltd, amberol and Yeovil Town Council  Special guest Trevor Peacock from 'The Vicar of Dibley'.  St Marychurch & District Action Group awarded Silver plus three RHS Neighbourhood Award Certificates: Glen Sannox project Babbacombe (Merit), Rose Garden Babbacombe (Merit) and Millennium Copse St Marychurch (Merit).

2008 In conjunction with Plymouth Council the South West in Bloom 2008 presentation was held at the Guildhall, Plymouth on Thursday 18th September 2008. Sponsored by Revive organic soil conditioner. Compêre Gordon Sparks, broadcaster and presenter BBC Radio Devon and BBC TV. St Marychurch & District Action Group awarded Silver in the RHS South West in Bloom plus three RHS South West in Bloom Neighbourhood Award Certificates: Glen Sannox project, Babbacombe (Outstanding Achievement), Rose Garden, Babbacombe (Merit) and Millennium Copse, St Marychurch (Improvement).

2007 Presentation event held at The Tregenna Castle Hotel, St Ives on Thursday 20th September 2007, hosted by Penwith District Council, compére Chris Stumbles BBC Radio Cornwall. Sponsors Royal Horticultural Society ( RHS), Cadbury Endsleigh Garden & Leisure and South West Tourism Board. St Marychurch & District Action Group awarded a Silver Gilt and a Neighbourhood Award of merit for the Rose Garden in Babbacombe.

2006 Presentation held at the Riviera International Conference Centre on Thursday 7th September 2006 St Marychurch & District Action Group awarded a Silver Gilt in South West in Bloom. Britain in Bloom organised by the Royal Horticultural Society in partnership with B & Q the largest campaign of its type in Europe aim to encourage communities to improve their local areas.

2005 Silver gilt

2004 Silver gilt and two trophies at the RHS 'Britain in Bloom' Southwest presentation ceremony held at the Bristol Flower Show on Thursday 26th August 2004. The two trophies 'London and Manchester' (outstanding contribution for environmental initiative) and the 'Youth Award' ( outstanding contribution by youths or youth groups ) in recognition of the commitment and work by teams of youths from Dartington Tech Totnes, South Devon, UK on the Glen Sannox project Babbacombe Torquay See: Glen Sannox page.

2003 Silver Gilt, 2002 Silver Medal, 2001 Commended2000 Commended,  

Torbay in Bloom Presentation ceremony Paignton Zoo 5th October 2004.

Left:  Lindsie, Lisa, Jenny, and Lee from Dartington Tech.  Right:  Kate Reeves from Carlton Westcountry TV presented Jenny Potts and Gemma Dawe delegates from Dartington Tech with the RHS South-West 'Britain in Bloom' Youth Award' trophy.

We should not categorize the youth of today under one umbrella, for that clearly is not the case. Credit to those who deserve it, we wish them all good luck and success in the future and in their chosen careers.

Dartington 'Skills for Life' Project set up to motivate and guide young people between the ages of 16 years to 19 years into work or  futher education. Based at the Dartington Organic Centre for Agriculture the Project was funded by the Government with the capability to undertake community-based projects that contain an important element of creativity and not be just a service to the community.

Young people involved needed to know that they would be involved in a long-term project with a positive outcome. Many were very de-motivated by a lack of work opportunities. It was the objective of the 'Life Skills' Project to give them a sense of achievement and 'kick-start' them into a useful life essential that they got a sense of 'getting something back' from each project they undertook. An individual's satisfactory performance would earn a C.V and a reference to help that person obtain future employment.

Deliberate Vandalism

The floral displays at Princess Gardens Torquay are the showpiece of Torbay’s floral achievements.  Maintained to a high standard by Torbay Council garden workforce and admired by both visitors and residents.  One can only imagine their dismay upon seeing some of the bedding area flattened through deliberate vandalism committed sometime during the weekend of 17th -19th August 2007.

Many are alarmed and angry over the upward surge of acts of anti social behaviour and vandalism.  Those who wish to live in a civilised society must insist that their rights are respected.  An anti social Pandora's Box continues to spill out its destructive and abhorrent contents causing injury, misery, stress, hardship, remedial work and unnecessary financial expenditure.

The lid must be closed firmly and forcibly.  If not it is admittance of the breakdown of law and order.  Our daily lives  are blighted by these acts of anti-social behaviour and others such as those who drink, urinate, litter, fly-tip and allow their dogs to defecate in our open spaces, parklands and streets.  We may not like CCTV cameras continual twenty four hour surveillance imposed upon us introduced as an aid to combat crime. The minority committing these acts are mainly responsible for there introduction. Perhaps if a national zero tolerance policy with tougher penalties were levied on anti social offenders no matter their age was instigated long ago who knows, the dramatic increase of these cameras may not have been needed or allowed.

Woodland Decimation

On Saturday the 31st March 2007 an extensive section of mature woodland area alongside the Babbacombe Cliff Railway was decimated. A swathe of woodland on the cliffside slopes felled. Apparently allegedly without permission from Torbay Council the land owner. Unauthorized entry welding chainsaws cutting all that stands before one is beyond comprehension. Felled timber now cover the area following an act of what can only be described as large scale vandalism contrary to good wildlife and conservation practice.

Athough the woodland is of recent origin Although the woodland is of recent origin probably developing over fifty years or so nevertheless this was a callous and irresponsible act of shear wonton destruction. The consequences for the flora and wildlife inhabitants especially birds nesting at that time of the year will have its effect for many years. Many residents and visitors of all age groups deplore the indiscriminate and unnecessary violation in what is supposed to be a conservation area.

It is imperative whoever was responsible held to account, all avenues explored and rigorously applied along with the full cost incurred for any remedial work. Otherwise a precedent will be set which others may copy now and in the future with disastrous consequences. We criticise some of the younger generation on their anti social behaviour but this was by no doubt adults. What an example to set for the youth of today.

West Country Garden Festival 2005

Bay Blooms Plus congratulate Jane Ripley and west county volunteers from Save the Children charity attained a silver medal for their entry The Celestial Garden at the West Country Garden Festival in June 2005. Jonathon Steel made and installed the centrepiece an eight-foot circular green oak moon gate. The gate flanked with Bamboo, one side planted in silver, blue a path through the gate lead into an area planted in vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows. Additional features included Indian stone spheres representing the planets.

'Let's Work Together' by Donna Robson Events Executive.

It was a real team effort for Save the Children when Jane Ripley from Kenton near Exeter created the celestial garden especially for the charity at the Westcountry Garden Festival.

The centrepiece of the garden was a Moongate, providing a gateway from the solar system to the stars. The garden used flowers, shrubs, and stones to symbolise the journey of hope made by children across the world as they struggle out of poverty.

Under the direction of Events Executive Donna Robson, Save the Children volunteers came on board, Media Coordinator Steve McKay worked with the Festival organisers and the local press to ensure Jane's support of Save the Children was included in media coverage. Maggie Field and her colleagues from Torbay Branch helped with the planting of the garden and distributed information about the Save the Children to festival visitors.

Everything was ready for the Judges and the Celestial garden received a silver award. Donna had the champagne on hand to celebrate Jane's success and Steve was there to take photographs to send to the press. Photographs left & right courtesy Steve McKay.

Jane Ripley said "I'm pleased with a silver prize, I'm also impressed that the Judges understood the thinking behind the design of my garden because designing gardens is what I enjoy most of all. I am already planning a garden for Save the Children for next years event" Donna Robson "Congratulations to Jane, her garden helped to raise awareness of Save the Children's vital work with vulnerable children around the world. I'd like to thank Jane, Steve, Maggie and all our volunteers who gave their time to help at the Garden Festival.

Donna Robson Marketing Executive Events email  Save the children works with vulnerable children in the UK and world-wide to create real and lasting change in their lives' If you wish to make a donation contact  or call 020-7012-6400

Article by a Resident.

THE BAY BLOOMS DISTRICT ACTION GROUP. You may not have heard of this group, but unless you walk round St Marychurch with a paper bag over your head, you must have seen the results of their labour. They are members of the St Marychurch Bay Blooms Action Group, all of whom are volunteers, and they change overgrown and neglected sites into something nice for you to look at. This may sound easy but it involves hours of hard work to prepare the ground before anything can be planted and before anyone notices.

During the cold weather when most of us sat indoors, waiting for the spring the group planted no less than five thousand daffodil bulbs. They modestly claim to do one hundred bulbs to each cup of coffee provided, maybe more if buns are included!

Next time you're out and about, start counting; there are golden heads nodding along the by-pass near the Model Village more on the opposite side by the Millennium Garden; in the Chilcote car park and even in the churchyard. As you wait to use the pedestrian crossing, at the bottom of the Shopping Precinct, you cannot fail to notice the bright colours of the flower bed on Abbey School corner.

When you see, the flowers in the planters in the Shopping Precinct spare a thought for those who do all the work. Yes, you've guessed it; the Bay Blooms group are responsible for it all. So, when you see the work being done, please tell them of your appreciation because they often get mistaken for council workers, which they aren't! Thank you, Bay Blooms Group, what a pity there aren't more public-spirited people like you around. Jackie

Letter from resident Edna White in 2002.

Springtime came early to St Marychurch this year, warm sunny days brought on such a wonderful display of crocus and daffodils the ring road was a delight, especially in the vicinity of the Abbey School, where hundreds of daffodil bulbs had been planted. Then on the corner by the traffic lights, a raised bed of various colourful plants appeared. A small bed by the car park in Chilcote Close caught my eye, built of limestone and planted with care it is a little gem.

The Millennium Wood, a wildlife haven, which has gradually taken shape over the last few years, is now thriving and providing a home for several species and a valuable source of food to the roosting birds. Watching this project develop from a waste patch of ground to a well managed wildlife haven, with paths, hand-crafted wooden signs, sturdy wooden benches providing the opportunity for young and old to sit quietly and observe.

We are so grateful to the group of dedicated enthusiasts who have given up their spare time and worked so hard in all weathers to provide these amenities for our pleasure and at their own expense, not that of the tax payer!

The Bay Blooms Group of about fourteen people are now considering their next project, the old garden of Glen Sannox, later known as Babbacombe Court; after the old house became derelict and demolished, the garden was rather neglected. Here is an opportunity to create a beautiful garden where folk might rest after their climb up from Babbacombe Beach, it could be a secluded area where one might relax just off the Babbacombe Downs. It certainly has the potential to become a charming amenity for the local residents or visitors.

We thank them for their commitment to the beautifying of this area and wish them all the very best in the future.

Edna L.White.

Information Links etc

John 'Babbacombe' Lee 'The Man They Could Not Hang'  Hardback book written by Mike Holgate & Ian David Waugh published by Sutton Publishing in February 2005. Comprehensive insight into a fascinating piece of Babbacombe's history written and researched by UK historian Ian Waugh Logon

Tessier Gardens Friends Group (TGFG)

St Marychurch Precinct Centre a registered non profit making charity for anyone who is 55's young. Open every weekday from 10am-4pm. Tel: 01803-322722

19th century directory entries St Marychurch, Torquay & Cockington collection old & new photo's local & family history information: 

Young's Park People a voluntary group, dedicated to caring for, and cherishing Young's Park in Goodrington, Paignton,

St Marychurch & District Community Partnership. Information contacts:

Tree Contractors. Hi-Line Contractors SW Ltd  Brookfield Yard, Tedburn Road, Whitestone, Exeter. EX4 2HF e-mail:  Tel: 01392-811338 (24 Hours)  Fax: 01392-811843

West Country Worms  Telephone 01803-712738 e-mail

An independant website  ©J.M.L.2005/06/07/08/9 sole owner and copyright holder.

A & M Garden Machinery, Quality Gtech Garden Machinery. Unit 1, Forches Cross, Newton Abbot, Devon UK.

Telephone: 01626-354167 e-mail

Coombe Court 67, Babbacombe Downs Road,Torquay. TQ1 3LP

Telephone:  01803 327097

Hotel De La Mer, 16 Babbacombe Road, Torquay, TQ1 3SJ Telephone 01803 327353   Fax 01803 324780 enquiries

Kelly Mine Preservation Society (KMPS)  Formed in 1984 volunteers are restoring this unique example of an early 20th century mine a important mining heritage. Many original features and machinery, Californian Stamps, water turbines, winching system, waterwheel and ore drying furnace. Visitors welcome most Wednesdays and Sundays (no access at other times) Contact Nick Walter on 01626-853127.

Torbay Council

Torbay Council recycling 

David Ogilvie Engineering Limited designers and manufacturers of decorative street furnishings

Plymouth & West Devon Records Office:

Natural England works for people, places and nature.....

Bob Hill Haulage Ltd Marlands Landfill Site, Marlands Park, Newton Road Totnes, Devon, TQ9 6LS Tel: 01803 866722

Action Stationers & Sign Shop 133, St Marychurch Road, Plainmoor, Torquay, Devon. TQ1 3HW  Tel/Fax  01803-323257 e-mail:

Dave the Digger

British Trust for Conservation Volunteers

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Suttons Seeds

Brunel Manor

Palm Radio 105.5fm South Devon

Dartington Tech

Babbacombe Beach

Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust

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St Marychurch & District Action Group> DAG Constitution

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Cliff Railway Times ©J.M.L.2005/06 issues No's > 4 October 2006  > 3 July 2006  > 2 October 2005  > 1 May 2005

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