The English Riviera

Registered: ​4th April 1958
Duration: 16 minutes
Feet: 1473 feet
Board of Trade Certificate number: ​​​​​​BR/E23181
Production Company: ​​​Harold Baim Productions Limited

More Film Stills: ​at baimfilms.com (opens in new window)
Stream Online: at vimeo (password required)

This is the first in a series of three films about Devon. The county of Devon is often known as the English Riviera. It is one of the most magnificent scenic areas in Britain. This film tours all the beauty spots, historical buildings and resorts.  Features Torquay the marina and harbour, people enjoying the beach and the sea; The annual waiters race with actor James Robertson Justice in attendance; Torre Abbey and the Spanish Barn, Marine Drive and Thatchers Rock. Images of the famous Devon Herd and instructions how to make Devon cream with two children enjoying the scones and cream and jam. Double deck-chairs, Anstey’s Cove with beach scene of pedalos, motor boats, sail boards etc., Beacon Cove, Babbacombe Beach, Oddicombe Beach, and the cliff railway. The Torquay Concours d’Elegance features antique cars as well as more modern vehicles; Rolls Royce, Rover, Austin Healey, Sunbeam, Jaguar etc.. The judges are Donald Healey and Russell Ham. Famous faces attending include Mary Malcolm, Tony Britton, Sheila van Damm and the Mayor and Mayoress of Torquay. The Barbecue in Torre Abbey Gardens is features (21 June 1957) and famous faces attending include Elizabeth Welsh, Frances Day, Mary Malcolm and Tony Britton.

Title and Credits:
KENNETH MacLEOD Takes You To...

Narrated by: Kenneth MacLeod
Photographed in Eastmancolor by: Alfred Burger
Music: M. De Wolfe
Script Supervision: Glenda Baum
Research: ​John Robinson
Film Processing: Rank Laboratories, Denham, London, England
Produced and Directed by
: Harold Baim


I don’t think that there is anything more exciting than when on a train journey you suddenly after miles and miles of green fields find yourself roaring out of a tunnel onto a track which runs at the side of the ocean past beaches and rocks, past sea and sun bathers and all those things which go to make up the memories of summer months. I always envy those who are already on the beaches and await with impatience the end of my journey.    

In the springtime, our destination looks like this, wherever one glances the eyes are delighted with the riot of colour which is everywhere to be seen. Hundreds of shades and hues which man has never been able to imitate.     

Flowers are everywhere in this southern paradise famed for its thirteen hundred acres of parks and open spaces. The skill of experts combines with the climate to create an exotic scented atmosphere equal to any in the world.     

Sub-tropical plants and palm trees flourish in the open. From the colour of the villas built on the hills we can easily believe we are on the Mediterranean coast of France or Italy for these pictures are certainly typical of the rivieras of both those countries.     

The promenades, the people strolling in the brilliant sunshine, or basking on the beaches are on the English Riviera where even the cinemas are named in harmony with the location.    

In nine different languages, Torquay welcomes visitors who come here from all parts of the world. Interesting streets with shops and stores and restaurants of every kind are here for the most exacting taste.     

Quaint steps branch off the modern thoroughfares compelling one to pause for a moment to take in the strange contrast.     

Enclosing a water surface of some thirty five acres, the harbour can trace its history right back to the seventeenth century. Today it rivals Monte Carlo for the splendid yachts and vessels of all kinds which safely anchor here.     

It’s rather strange to realise that until the end of the eighteenth century, nothing more than a few fishermen’s huts were to be found. The name of the hamlet was spelt T-O-R-K-A-Y, the village of Tor being about a mile inland.     

The boys of today’s brave new world are making history their own way and they’re having fun doing it.     

From a beauty spot called Daddy Hole Plain, there are enchanting views, for like Rome and Lisbon, Torquay is built on seven hills.    

There is always something going on and today happens to be the annual Waiter’s Race, complete with carnival band. A camera attracts like a magnet and they just had to have their picture taken. Just what the doctor ordered, James Robertson Justice here to start the proceedings. With their trays they wait for the off. And, they’re away! I should think this is the fastest waiter service any of the onlookers have ever seen.     

Tor Abbey was founded in 1196 by St Norbert. The mansion house, however, is dated around the sixteenth century and is now a museum and art gallery.     

The Spanish barn is so called as the captured crew of one of the armada ships were imprisoned here in 1588. The abbey ruins show that it was once a fine building in a delightful setting.     

Once part of the grounds of the old Abbey of Tor, the gardens cover an area of eight acres. Laid out as an Italian garden, the central part is one of the most wonderful examples of botanic art.     

Well-kept bowling greens are also situated within the grounds of Tor Abbey and Drake could not have wished for better. Putting greens and approach golf provide relaxation and entertainment for those that are that way inclined. Not many bowls tournaments are played out against a background of such beauty.    

This is just the right kind of sea for a regatta. National and international regattas and sailing races are organised each year. Cross-channel races are also held. There are two yacht clubs and one sailing club and there is splendid sport to be seen when the wind and sea are right.     

Torbay was once the starting point for the famous Torbay to Lisbon Tall Ships Race.    

And in the late evening they return to harbour.     

One of the loveliest residential districts is the Marine Drive. A raised road from which there are wonderful sea views. Flanking the road are the Thatcher pines which stand out in bold relief against the blue sea.     

Elegant houses are built here. And this is one of the show places of Marine Drive, and a lovelier situation would take some finding. The well laid-out gardens overlook the Thatcher Rock. Old houses have been modernised and stand serene off the roadway and twentieth century tastes have had their way next door.     

This part of England is famous for its own breed of cattle. This is the world-renowned Devon herd. Their milk is rich and creamy and you don’t have to go far for a Devon cream tea if you feel in need of one. Devonshire splits are made by slicing a fresh bun, liberally spreading it with jam and more liberally with clotted cream. Definitely not recommended for those who are slimming. And the birds know on which side their bread is buttered, jammed and creamed.     

Devonshire clotted cream is very much sought after, here’s the way to make it. Allow the milk to stand for twelve hours in Winter, six in Summer, set it on a warm stove, but do not allow it to boil. When small rings and bubbles appear on the surface, it is ready. Transfer the milk to a cold place, keep it there for twenty four hours, then skim off the cream and you have it, it’s easy to make.     

Here’s an innovation, double deck chairs, a little awkward if you are not talking to each other.     

The coastline is indented with caves and sandy bays, we are looking down upon Ansteys Cove. This has a truly Mediterranean flavour with pedalos, rafts, floats and motorboats making a perfect picture of a pleasurable playground.    

Complete in their own sheltered settings the various beaches have their own individuality. Smooth sandy stretches or finely-pebbled shores and always the clearest of blue seas.     

Another popular rendezvous is Beacon Cove close to the Marine Spa.     

So we come to Babbacombe Down. Babbacombe is described as a resort within a resort, from here can be seen eleven miles of coastline. The first time you see Oddicombe Beach you cannot resist its call and forever afterwards it beckons you.    

So down we go in the cliff railway, electrically-operated, it incorporates all the latest safety devices and descends the three hundred foot cliff at a speed of six hundred feet a minute.     

Oddicombe Beach, one of the principal playgrounds, shares its popularity with the beaches at Abbey, Corbyn, Redgate, Ansteys, Meadfoot, Beacon and Maidencombe. What lilting names they are.     

If two people start to look, you may be sure others will follow their example. In this case there’s plenty to look at, for like its Mediterranean counterparts, Torquay stages a Concours d’Elegance. Those in the first group are the ‘used to be the last word type’, which seem to be regaining popularity these days.   Charming Mary Malcolm would make even last year’s model look like next year’s.    

The ‘elegance’ part of the show now commences. Another ‘modern’ manoeuvres into position and with boxing gloves as a radiator mascot, the owner must be someone like Freddie Mills – ah it is.     

Another beautiful limousine rolls in.   Judges Donald Healey and Russell Ham watch points whilst Tony Britton evidently has his own Concours d’Elegance.     

Spick and span is the rule of the road today.     

The Mayor and Mayoress of Torquay have high hopes for their own entry.     

And who would expect to see Sheila Van Damm here? Everybody would.     

At Torre Abbey grounds a barbecue is staged. Let’s see what’s cooking. Well, this was it.     

Among those present are Elizabeth Welch, Jan Heel, Mary Malcolm, Tony Britton and Frances Day.    

The chef certainly has a sauce. In the garden party atmosphere, there is as much to eat as you like.     

Whilst a West Indian calypso group add to the spectacle of the event.     

Tony Britton and Frances Day both have books in common.     

Yes, a barbecue in the grounds of Torre Abbey on a summer’s evening is something to be remembered. ‘Barbecue’ is a Haitian word meaning ‘an open air function with lavish hospitality’ and this one lived up to its name.    

The village of Cockington is mentioned in the Domesday Book and references made to its presentation by William the Conqueror by one of his nobles.     

Good manners are always nice to see, even if it’s the case of putting the lady away for a while. Only a few minutes by car from the central seafront stands the olde-world village of Cockington. It’s preserved in its natural state and has the reputation of being the most photographed village in England. Thousands come here each year and it has become almost a place of pilgrimage. There are delightful corners where one can walk or rest, and watch the blue trout swimming in the waters of the pool.     

From the tiny fourteenth-century ivy-covered church, we move over to mullion-windowed Cockington Court set in magnificent parkland.     

The lakes here are really beautiful and the gardens are a picture of brilliant colour, the equal of any in Europe. An unusual variety of foliage, flowers and shrubs can be seen. The ducks are in a hurry to leave and we too reluctantly have to go with our store of wonderful memories of Torquay, queen of the English Riviera.

[End Credit]

All music should be cleared with 

De Wolfe Music 
Queen’s House 
180-182 Tottenham Court Road