Great Torrington lies in a rural landscape a few miles inland from the North Devon coast. Overlooking the Torridge river valley where many fields retain their mediaeval form, it offers spectacular views and easy access to the countryside. The town is bounded on three sides by the Great Torrington Commons with its 20 miles of paths, riverside walks, plants and wildlife; a short mile out of town runs the Tarka Trail, 180 miles around North Devon for walkers and cyclists.
Research by the University of Liverpool in 2019 concluded that Great Torrington was the “healthiest place to live in the UK” due to its easy access to green spaces, low levels of pollution, outlets encouraging health-related behaviours and good health services. [Read more]
In recent years, the town has also been recognised for its community volunteering and its high proportion of independent shops. We are a dementia-friendly town, have a Fair Trade group and are working towards plastic-free status. There is plenty of car parking close to the shops; the main car park in South Street has charging points and permits overnight stops – with views of the valley – for camper vans; we are working on improving facilities for cyclists. There are dozens of social, recreational and sporting groups across the town, catering for all age groups; our Town Council is active in supporting community life and working to create a town which is a pleasure to live in and to visit.
You might also be interested to know…
- Great Torrington is twinned with Roscoff in France through active societies on both sides of the Channel.
- The 365-acre Commons were donated to the town in 1194 and is one of only 2 feudal lands transferred to the local population by Act of Parliament.
- In Henry Williamson’s classic novel “Tarka the Otter”, Tarka was born on the River Torridge a mile downstream from Great Torrington.
- The Plough Arts Centre has been open for 40 years and has seen performances by many musicians and other artistes who are, or have become, top of their profession.
- Mayfair is a valued tradition held over three days from the first Thursday in May. The Town Square is transformed for maypole dancing and the crowning of the May Queen; there are entertainments, competitions, a travelling fair and a carnival procession.
- The Torrington Cavaliers organise charity fundraising events throughout the year. They are renowned for their spectacular bonfires and firework displays. In 2016 they won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
- Until the line was closed in 1984, you could take a train from Waterloo to Torrington. The station site is now home to the Puffing Billy Cafe, a cycle hire shop and the Tarka Valley Railway.
- The Great Torrington Bowling Club, established in 1645 and sited in the old castle grounds, is believed to be the third oldest bowling club in England.
- The Anglican parish church of St Michael and All Angels houses one of Britain’s finest church organs built by ‘Father’ Henry Willis, regarded as the foremost Victorian organ builder.
- Glenn Miller, the American big-band trombonist, arranger, composer, and bandleader, was supposed to have been a regular performer in the ‘Drill Hall’ (now the Plough Arts Centre) while stationed at the local Winkleigh aerodrome during the war.
- There are celebrities living in the neighbourhood who, we assume, are attracted to the area because of its peaceful qualities.