The first major building in Torquay was Torre Abbey, a Premonstratensian monastery founded in 1196.

They were initially powered by the unusual Dolter stud-contact electrification so as not to disfigure the town with overhead wires, but in 1911 was converted to more conventional overhead-line supply.

The line was extended into Paignton in 1911 but the network was closed in 1934.

A statement on the River Cottage Facebook account said: "Our events barn at River Cottage HQ was destroyed in a fire last night. Thank you." The events barn is described on the River Cottage website as: "A beautifully restored threshing barn, with its oak floor and large windows, is a glorious space at any time of the year.

"Of course the River Cottage Kitchen Team never disappoint, cooking up wonderful celebratory dinners, using the very best local produce." The fire service spokesman added: "The fire was extinguished by fire crews using four breathing apparatus wearers, one main jet, three hose reel jets, one compressed air foam systems jet via a water shuttle.

Photo: SWNS A spokesman said: "Late last night a serious fire severely damaged the events barn at River Cottage Park Farm Headquarters in Axminster. "Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is away on a long distance filming trip and will be informed as soon as he can be contacted.

"The large kitchen attached to the back of the barn, which is used for cookery demonstrations and large dinners, was destroyed. "The River Cottage Team would like to say a big thank-you to the fire brigade who were on the scene quickly and worked hard to contain the fire.

Previously regarded as a convalescence retreat, Torquay began to encourage summer visitors, and 1902 saw the first advertising campaign to market Torquay to summer tourists.

Torquay Tramways operated electric street trams from 1907.

Torquay's name originates in its being the quay of the ancient village of Torre.