The Recreation Ground
With Torquay rapidly expanding during the late nineteenth century, then the call for recreational activities increased, leading the council to open the Recreation Ground in 1888. Typical of its age, it provides facilities for sporting pastimes, including cricket, bowls, and most notably, Rugby Union. Football was once held there when Torquay United moved to the ground in 1900, lasting four years before Torquay Athletic RFC took over the lease in 1904, remaining tenants ever since.
It was whilst visiting Torquay that i managed to come across it, not that it's difficult to miss, sitting literally yards from the train station, and no more than a conversion kick from the seafront. The history of the ground itself seems difficult to come by, as with many Rugby Union grounds, so if anyone can fill anything in then it would be appreciated, but the centrepiece of the ground sits in the centre of the rugby pitch's touchline... the Grandstand, surely dating back to around about the time that the grounds were opened.
It is actually two stands put together, difficult to spot until you get closer and notice the awkward join in the middle of the roof. The main section is raised from pitch level, with changing rooms and a bar underneath, whilst wooden bench seating provides an elevated view for spectators. The far end is unfortunately closed off now and in need of a good clean after birds seem to have been using the roof beams for shelter, with the inevitable mess below, but from the outside then it's still a magnificent sight, painted in the same black and white colours that the club play in.
Torquay United were looking to move back here at one time and create a joint ground with the rugby club, but those plans seem to have been dropped in favour of staying at Plainmoor, however Athletic themselves also have plans of their own, hoping to add a gym, bars and function suites to create a more prosperous future. Those ideas seem to rest on buying the lease from the council, so whether that happens remains to be seen, although it would be a shame to spoil the Victorian ambience with modern buildings, however much benefit they might bring.
Welcome to Torquay Athletic RFC
Entrance to the Grounds
The Bowls Club Pavilion
Rear of the Grandstand
Entrance to the Rugby pitch
Looking across the Grandstand
The Recreation Ground Panoramic