Hot Tips for Cold Days in Newton Abbot, South devon
PUBLISHED: 17:20 07 January 2011 | UPDATED: 20:39 20 February 2013
Trudy Turrell found some great ways to enjoy the traditional Devon market town of Newton Abbot on a winter's day
Newton"Abbot is a real working town that serves miles of surrounding countryside, from Dartmoor along the River Lemon and Teign estuary to the coast, and theres a solid and reassuring feel to it, with plenty going on.
With its markets, parks, distinctive Victorian architecture and one of the few surviving independent department stores, there is always lots to see and do on a winters day, whether its shopping, relaxing or seeking out the quaint and quirky.
This little piggy went to market!
Come to town on a Wednesday morning, and youll catch the noisy livestock market in Cattle Street where sounds of the farmyard vie with the clanging of pens, the chatter of farmers and the speedy patter of the auctioneer a timeless reminder of Newton Abbots prosperity. The beasts start to arrive at 7am, the auction begins at around 11am and is over by 2pm when everyone disperses in search of a hot breakfast! Between March and November, and held on alternate Saturdays, is the Smallholders Market (pigs and poultry). All auctions are held by Rendells.
Undercover and outdoor stalls
If you enjoy the buzz of markets youve come to the right place as there are stalls in the market square on Wednesdays and Saturdays, a farmers market in Courtenay Street on Tuesdays, trash and treasure sales on Fridays, and car boot sales on Sundays. On Monday to Saturday every week the Food Hall is packed with specialist stalls from model railways to musical instruments, electrical goods, wool, bread and eggs. Its a great place to buy some really local produce too.
Stalls such as Ashfords Fruit and Vegetables have been trading there for over 40 years; crates of cabbages, root veg and a variety of local spuds come from Daccombe, just a few miles away. Theres also local eggs, Four Elms apple juice from near Sidmouth, and Luscombe drinks, made near Buckfastleigh. For tasty local cheeses, try Stonemans Deli: Taw Valley Tasty, Quickes, Hawkridge, Devon Oke, or the challenging Gob Burner offer an enticing lunch, paired with a few olives and local bread.
Sardines, brill, gurnard, squid, crab, haddock... drop in to Jacksons Fish Shop, traditional smoke house and ice merchants as their shopfront boasts, for an extensive choice.
The store with more
Clustered round St Leonards Clock Tower in Wolborough Street, with stores on all four corners of this crossroads, is the thriving Austins Department Store, the largest of its kind for miles. Founded by Charles Austin in 1924, it has expanded from one ground floor store to four buildings encompassing fashion, furniture, toys, crafts and homewares. Store Director Trevor Boobyer explained that the whole company is run on courtesy, and that Austins strength is its staff. We get so many compliments on our service, he adds.
A comforting and otherworldly spot to relax on a winters afternoon is The Cider Bar in East Street. Its one of only four left in Britain and sells only cider, perry and country wines. The concrete floor, tables made from barrels and array of huge oak cider casks behind the bar are plain but very welcoming. Unchanged since it opened 100 years ago, it is still home to the original Cork Social Club. Winkleigh ciders from the barrel top the bill here, with Black Rat or Suicider for the more adventurous. Parsnip, cowslip, cherry, peach Lyme Bay country wines line the bar, but beware of their potency! You could even choose something from the snuff menu with 11 different brands on offer.
Just what the doctor ordered?
Id recommend a trip to the Old Pharmacy in Queen Street not for a prescription, but for cake. There are at least three dozen different (and delicious) types arrayed behind the bevelled glass, brown paint and gilded lettering of Henry Bibbings Pharmaceutical Shop. Inside 117 small drawers are all marked with intriguing Latin names; the drugs run that line the walls. Set between Honduras mahogany fittings and mirrors, you can enjoy your porter cake, cherry bakewell or rocky road under a glittering chandelier. When not dancing under chandeliers for her recent role in Strictly Come Dancing, Ann Widdecombe frequented the Pharmacy for lunches between training sessions at a nearby dance studio. In her honour, they created Widdys Foxtrot Chicken in Madeira.
Brunel and a bandstand
Arrive here by train and you will have noticed the fine station; the decorative building topped by a clock was a major stop on Brunels line. Linking the up-and-coming resort of Torquay, Newton Abbot became a major centre for railway repair and marshalling; the yards alone employed 1,000 people and many more industries were attracted to the town. Factory owners and professionals built the fine Victorian villas that surround elegant Courtenay Park opposite. The tapestried beds and bandstand make an appropriate backdrop.
Borrow a book or catch a film
The town centre makes a pleasant traffic-free browsing space, with a few architectural treats as you go. An elaborate Renaissance-style edifice wraps the corner of Market Street. Once the Passmore Edwards Library, it housed a science, art and technical school and was built as a memorial to Passmores mother. Aptly, the building is now home to Newton Abbots library. Just opposite is the Alexandra Cinema, originally built as a corn exchange. An early evening film in its warm, plush interior is a great way to finish off your day.
Family fun and feathered friends
For a walk to encounter some local wildlife, wander out to Decoy Park, towards the Newton Road. An active ball clay quarry until 1965, Decoy now offers woodland walks beside an attractive lake, and a wonderfully varied play park that attracts families whatever the weather. Busy with windsurfers and kayakers in summer, it attracts up to 250 Canada geese plus a variety of ducks and waders each winter, and January is a great time to see and enjoy them.
Warm up in the water
Cheat the cold weather with a visit to Dyrons Leisure Centre. The large pool with flumes accommodates both swimmers and those who just want to splash about, but at a balmy 30C, the large 0.9m learners pool offers a tempting place to relax and dream of summer days.
Newton Abbot is 17 miles south of Exeter (A380) with good links to the M5.
It is on the main railway line from London.
Sat nav ref: TQ12 2QS