Gittisham Folk Dance Club: dance weekend at Torbay Court Hotel in Paignton, June 2016/2017. Some details are from 2016 but are substantially unchanged for 2017.

1. Details of the original 2014 event are here - this is now for historical interest only. The 2016 weekend cannot take place in Perranporth because the Ponsmere hotel is being demolished.

2. The new venue for 2016/7 is the Torbay Court Hotel, PAIGNTON, Devon.  Dates in 2016 were 10/11/12 June. Unfortunately this clashed with a Saturday dance at Willand - but dance weekends often do clash with regular events. Shortly before the dance weekend was to take place it was learnt that the first Torbay Air Show was to occur on the same dates! This produced traffic mayhem in the locality. There is no such conflict in 2017.

One enhancement from 2014/2015 is that there will be an afternoon dance on the Sunday, with the weekend ending at maybe 4pm, rather than at noon. The band and callers will be as last year (Jigs for Gigs with Gill Spence and Simon Maplesden) and Frances Oates from Cornwall will lead the workshops. The hotel is well known to many local dancers because for the last three years in October it has been the venue for the North Devon "Westward Ho!" dance weekend - the original hotel having declined any further bookings (maybe the dancers were too riotous?!).

Note added post-event and pertaining to the 2017 weekend

About 60 attended in 2016. The hall was far too hot at times because the management refused to allow external doors to be left open, citing Elf and Safety reasons. In fact, they did not wish to admit that they have a problem with complaints from neighbours about noise. This is discussed here. There was a throwaway comment about the 2016 evenings on Monty Crook's Gittisham website. It added nothing to what should be a serious debate about whether to use this hotel at all in 2017 or subsequent years. Apart from severe discomfort in hot weather there is a risk of life-threatening heatstoke - and maybe some legal implications for the committee members responsible for organising the event?

torbay1.jpg (338557 bytes) The venue is a much smaller hotel with fewer facilities - but it does claim a solid wooden dance floor of 31ft by 71ft - reducing to about 27ft by 60ft once space for chairs and the band is subtracted.

This is 150 m2 and with an allowance of 1.5 m2 per person the venue might accommodate 100 dancers. However the room is poorly ventilated with openings on one side only, so 70/80 is a sensible limit.

Most on-line reviews are positive, staff are generally helpful and the hotel is well used to dealing with dance weekends. Refurbishment has been undertaken, and is still ongoing.

One review criticised the hotel's lack of appreciation of the importance of gluten free food - maybe take your own special bread, and your own toaster.

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Amongst the attractions are the steam railway.

Various river and steam train tours can be booked in advance on their website, including to Greenway House, where you can 'step back into the 1950's'.

Details of these and other attractions are on the local tourist website.


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The hotel is well known to many local dancers because it is also the venue for the old Westward Ho North Devon dance weekend.

You can view a good quality video of one of these weekends here.

Frances Oates certainly looks happy. So does Beryl Jukes.

paignton3.jpg (487275 bytes) Although Paignton and its beach can be crowded some of the surrounding countryside is stunning. During the 2016 dance holiday the first Torbay Air Show was an added attraction - but it did bring with it traffic restrictions and increased parking mayhem - as well as 25 charges for VIP access to the few car parks....

None of this was known when the holiday weekend was first booked!

3. The cost of the 2016 weekend will be 100 per person (double rooms). Any further bookings for single rooms will attract a 15 per night supplements - thus increasing the cost from 100 to 130 per person. Deposit cheques (25 per person (or 30 single room)) should be made payable to Gittisham FDC. Balances are to be paid by the end of March. After the end of March rooms may become available if there are cancellations, on a first come first served basis, following procedures in 2015.

4. If you wish to pay the 25/30 deposit by internet banking - please use the details below and remember to PUT YOUR NAME in the reference field. Also please phone Gill Spence on (01404) 813129 to tell her you have paid in this way.

5. The venue is 26 miles or 40 minutes away from J30 of the M5 (Exeter Services). Maps are given below. By June 2016 the long awaited South Devon Link Road will have been completed.

6. Local dancers may be able to buy a 'day ticket', or just tickets for the evening dances, subject to availability. Parking can be difficult - see below.

7. Paignton is quite different from Perranporth which was the venue for the 2014 and 2015 weekends. The hotel is in a built up area with only 25 parking spaces. Some can be unavailable if coaches need them. Also your car may be 'blocked in' by others because of the design of the parking area. On road parking is difficult even in winter months.

8. For all enquiries please contact Gill Spence (01404) 813129.

For internet banking transfers please use these details: (You can also pay in cash or cheque at any Lloyds branch using these details)

Sort Code = 30-94-36

Account Number = 33097060

Payee = Gittisham FDC

Reference  = (your name)

torbay2.jpg (379907 bytes) Take the M5 south from Exeter

take the A38

merge onto the A380

follow the A380 until you get to Paignton.

Then take the first exit off the Churscombe Cross roundabout as shown.

Or you can take the A38 to Newton Abbot and then pick up the A380 from there.

Allow an hour from Exeter.

Evening attendees may find they need to use a nearby multi-storey car park - details below.

torbay3.jpg (270169 bytes) Follow the B3060, which becomes Colley End Road (see map above), and weave through town.

It is only a short walk to the beach - one reason that the few on-road parking spaces on this side of the railway line are so valued.

You cannot retrace your steps along all of this route because it includes a section of one of Paignton's many one-way systems.

torbay4.jpg (221922 bytes) The hotel is located in a cul-de-sac of several small roads with limited on-road parking and a number of other guest houses and small hotels.

There are trains and buses from Exeter (free with a bus pass?) but apparently no return bus service to Exeter on a Sunday.

A few enterprising locals are starting to earn money renting out private unused parking spaces - as is happening in many towns and cities in the UK.

Paignton parking

paignton5.jpg (316883 bytes) Location map for the Victoria multi-storey car park.

This is the only large car park within easy walking distance of the hotel.

It is the 'default' option if you cannot find an on-road parking space.

Charges in summertime are 8 per 24 hours. It is closed from midnight to 7.30am.

Please also see the photo below.

paignton4.jpg (338972 bytes) Welcome to Paignton - the Victoria multi-storey car park.

This adjoins Victoria Park and is a short walk from the beach.

Postcode TQ4 6AU.

Torbay Council parking website.


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