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Thread: Palace Hotel, Torquay - March 2020 Full Report

  1. #1
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    Default Palace Hotel, Torquay - March 2020 Full Report


    Well, we did it!

    History;

    Since the 24th August 1921, Torquay's Palace Hotel has been a leading Torquay hotel set in the heart of the English Riviera, in the South West of England. Beautifully situated among 25 acres of landscaped gardens extending to the sea, the pale green building is a local landmark with an enviable reputation for the highest standards of cuisine, accommodation and hospitality. Although opened as an hotel in 1921, the Palace is actually a considerably extended version of a private house built originally in 1841. The owner of this beautiful property was one Henry Philpotts, Lord Bishop of Exeter. Amongst his achievements were the creation of a separate diocese for Cornwall (with a cathedral at Truro) and, of course, the laying out of the lovely Bishop's Walk which winds from Ansteys Cove to the bottom of Ilsham Valley.

    From the outset "value for money" was the hotel's prerequisite, together with the provision of almost endless facilities. By 1939 the hotel had a reputation far and wide, not only for its accommodation and food, but also for the range of activities available for guests. These included the golf course, a covered swimming pool (opened in 1928), covered and open tennis courts (the covered ones opened in 1936), bowling greens, squash courts, a gymnasium and even a cinema.

    With the outbreak of hostilities in 1939, many hotels found themselves commandeered for military use. With its excellent communications and equable climate, Torquay was an obvious place for the War Ministry to look for a building suitable for conversion to a military hospital. The Palace was selected as a hospital for RAF Officers.

    On the 25th October 1942, a German bomber scored a direct hit on the East Wing, severing it almost completely from the rest of the building. Tragically, the hotel was full at the time with 203 patients. The result was that 64 people were killed, including nurses, with one person missing. The hospital was evacuated and a care and maintenance party installed while a decision was made regarding the building's future. However, on the 8th January 1943 there was another raid resulting in a direct hit and so the Palace was abandoned for the remainder of the war.

    Once the war had finished, the Palace Hotel Torquay re-opened on Friday, March 5th 1948, although the East Wing was still unusable. The new General Manager, Mr George Conquest, who had himself been with the hotel for the past 26 years in various capacities, found many familiar faces amongst the staff as virtually all the pre-war personnel had applied to rejoin as soon as they had heard that the hotel was to re-open. With 70 staff and most of its facilities restored, the Palace was reborn as one of the South West's leading hotels.

    In 2017 It was announced that a Singapore-based property and investment company called the Fragrance Group acquired the four-AA-star, 141-bedroom hotel for an undisclosed sum off a guide price of more than £10, and immediately shut it with a view to redeveloping it.



    ^ Ignore the fact it says 'today' there, that picture was pinched off Google images



    Explore;

    This is infact what it looks like today;



    I'd heard about this place from various news articles and mentions online here and there, but it was whilst on holiday in Torquay about 3 weeks ago now, that we drove past this place completely by accident; infact upon seeing it, I nearly drove into the back of the bus infront!

    We decided that, since the demolition had started, and it was a grey and dreary Sunday afternoon, the place would be deserted, and access shouldn't be a problem if indeed the diggers had begun. Turns out we were right about the access, but VERY wrong about the place being deserted. Upon arriving, we did a few drivebys and quickly discovered a group of 3 people in the grounds, and a group of 4 in the front car park, all in high viz and hard hats. We walked past the 3 in the grounds and said good morning to them, at which point, the three (relatively) young looking lads ducked their heads down, mumbled 'Hi' and quickly jumped down off the wall around the grounds and walked off away from site...! If you guys are on here, then Hey! 10/10 for effort in putting hard hats and high viz on to try and blend in with the workforce! We guessed that they'd walked up through the grounds, heard the 4 *genuine* contractors at the front of the hotel, and decided to give it a miss and come away again.

    My girlfriend and I continued to observe the site and recce our options. We knew where security were based and we knew the 4 genuine contractors were working in and around the main entrance, but by a stroke of luck, on one of our walk-arounds the site, we observed the contractors getting into their cars (1 silver and 1 black) and driving off! Great, we thought, our lucks in, they've gone, lets go! We quickly doubled back to our car to get ready, only to find the silver and black cars belonging to the contractors parked next to us! Turns out they'd all walked off down the cliff path to Anstey's Cove for lunch! By this point we'd been on site 2 hours, and were still no closer to actually getting in! I decided this was our moment and that I had to try to make an attempt, and my girlfriend would stay behind as lookout and backup.



    I quickly walked up through the grounds, and straight up to where the demolition had begun, stopping to take a quick snap of the famous fountain.



    And I was in...









    It was as I was admiring the bar that my phone vibrated... 'They're on their way back babe...' was the message...
    'Oh... spiffing' (Or similar) was whispered by myself...
    At this point the hotel door opened and the 4 contractors returned to work in the lobby, just the other side of the wall to the room I was currently in. I was complete stuck
    Half an hour passed...
    Then an hour...

    'They're contractors, working on a Sunday... they'll go home soon, right..!?' I sent to my girlfriend...
    'Hope so...' Came the reply...
    Then a laughing emoji....
    'Spiffing' (Or similar)

    Eventually, at the usual clocking off time on a Sunday afternoon, they sodded off, and the place was mine to myself. Then the phone rang. It was my girlfriend saying she'd met up with 3 lads from Plymouth who were outside, trying to find a way in, so I went to meet them. Thanks for a good day lads, enjoyed your company.

    The rest of the explore went relatively smoothly in comparison! We had the company of 2 other contractors in chemical suits working to remove asbestos from the Garage and surrounding outbuildings, so we couldn't explore those, but the hotel itself was empty and left to us 4 to explore at our leisure.

    Pictures;

    Apologies there's so many, it's a bloody big building!















    ^ Sadly we couldn't explore much of the indoor pool as the 2 guys working on the asbestos removal were just the other side of the windows on the left hand side of that picture.














































    Thanks for your time everyone,

    Fluffy.

  2. Thanks given by: cryptwitches, etc100, Hugh Jorgan, HughieD, KJurbex, krela, loulou, Mearing, Missymoo16, mrtoby, noiseboy72, Old Wilco, robbie1003, theartist
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  4. #2
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    Well done for getting that one done!
    What the hell am I doing, I mean really at my age!

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  7. Thanks given by: Fluffy
  8. #4
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    nice repoer,what a luvly place and another waste.

  9. Thanks given by: Fluffy
  10. #5
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    I do remember this hotel when holidaying in Torquay and I thought it looked grand but I stayed at another hotel, that was back in late 1980s. It looks like it will be refurbished. Well done for taking a good amount of pictures.
    When the going gets tough - the tough get going.

  11. Thanks given by: Fluffy
  12. #6
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    >We walked past the 3 in the grounds and said good morning to them, at which point, the three (relatively) young looking lads ducked their heads down, mumbled 'Hi' and quickly jumped down off the wall around the grounds and walked off away from site...!

    LOL, fake workers but couldn't quite pull it off. There should be training courses for this!

  13. Thanks given by: Fluffy
  14. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by slobberchops View Post
    >We walked past the 3 in the grounds and said good morning to them, at which point, the three (relatively) young looking lads ducked their heads down, mumbled 'Hi' and quickly jumped down off the wall around the grounds and walked off away from site...!

    LOL, fake workers but couldn't quite pull it off. There should be training courses for this!
    Agreed :D To be honest, we had to admire them for this, it's almost genius!

  15. #8
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    Wow, fantastic pictures of a great building!! Thanks for sharing these. x

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