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Newton Abbot, a town steeped in history

Originally named New Town of the Abbots when residents of Torre Abbey began trading here, Newton Abbot is a town steeped in history.  Evidence suggests a history stretching back to the Neolithic period, through its life the town has seen Romans, monks and Brunel.

In the town centre, you can’t help but be impressed by St Leonard’s Tower, the town’s best known landmark.  Believed to be part of a larger building at one time the tower dates back to the 13th century, when the town was also first granted the right to hold markets and truly became established. The town still has a strong market scene with the livestock market every Wednesday, outdoor markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays, a Trash and Treasure Market featuring bric-a-brac and antiques on Fridays and a thriving farmers market selling good quality local produce every Tuesday in Courteney Street.  The same street is also home to Austins, an independent family run department store first established in Newton Abbot in 1924.  The store has a fantastic range of goods, stocks high quality brands and the most helpful staff.  Back over in Market Street, the Passmore Edwards Library in its Renaissance splendour is extremely striking.  Built by journalist and philanthropist John Passmore Edwards to commemorate his mother, who was born in Newton Abbot, the building opened in 1904 and was then home to the library and a Science, Art and Technical School. Passmore Edwards was certainly keen on libraries, having commissioned nine in his home county Cornwall.

Famed for its connection with South Devon Railway and the Great Western Way, the town is reached by train along the beautiful and dramatic coastal track which runs between Exeter and Plymouth. It was engineered by Brunel and reached Newton Abbot in 1846.  This is a trip that is more than worth the train fare!  The town grew rapidly during the Victorian era, and the railway was a huge employer in the area.  Brunel himself came to love the area and his legacy is commemorated to great effect by the Newton Abbot Town and GWR Museum.

The town is bordered by two country parks Decoy and Stover, which each have distinct qualities.  Pick a day when you are feeling energetic to explore the award winning country park Decoy, with its wide range of sporting facilities including watersports on the lake or trying out the BMX bowl.  Stover is commended for its diverse plant and wildlife – particularly waterbirds, dragonflies and damselflies.  There is plenty to explore at Stover with the Park also offering trails including a Heritage Trail which forms part of the 18 mile The Templer Way and the Ted Hughes Memorial Trail which features sixteen specially-designed 'poetry posts', each displaying a poem on a theme relating to the natural world.

And after all that walking a visit to The Passage House Inn will be most welcome. Named as it marked a tidal ford, allowing passage across the Teign, the pub was built in 1761, though there is believed to have been an inn at the same site since pre-Roman times.  Today, visitors can enjoy the relaxed and friendly atmosphere with picturesque views over the River Teign.

Located slightly above the inn is the Devon Hotels Association member Best Western Passage House Hotel. With a wealth of facilities including a leisure club and a range of different dining options, the Hotel has something for all.  The leisure club is fully equipped with a swimming pool, steam room, sauna and beauty treatments, and a fitness suite.

Top 5 things to do in Newton Abbot


Decoy Country Park

A quiet countryside recreation space with opportunities for walking, wildlife watching, duck feeding and picnics.

Rock Garden Caves and Nursery

These gardens can be found in the extensive Palace Quarry which has about 8 acres of wild gardens, a rock walk with great views from the top, ponds, waterfalls and a small interesting illuminated cave to discover.

Stover Country Park and Nature Reserve

Containing over 114 acres of woodland, heathland, grassland, lake and marsh and a substantial variety of wildlife, this is the perfect place for a refreshing country walk


Newton Abbot Town and GWR Museum

Owned and funded by Newton Abbot Town Council this is a small, but lively, museum with a focus on the town and the history of the Great Western Railway.

Plant World Gardens

Located between Torquay and Newton Abbot, the Garden is laid out to represent the five continents of the world. These inspirational gardens contain countless rare and exotic plants seldom seen outside their native lands.

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