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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Old Paignton Photo Walk 3

Part 3 of my walk features newer and more recent old Paignton. It is still old, although not as old as the bits in Part 2. In fact one of the least old bits of my walk has already been demolished since I took these photos in February 2023. I suspect that in Britain things have now got as old as they will ever be allowed to get as we regularly build new bits and then knock them down thirty to fifty years later. Anything built after World War II is now considered fair game. If there is anyone still left a thousand years from now will they all be wondering what was built between 1945 and 2023?

I start this section here in the centre of Paignton, below, where I am fairly sure by now that this view has already been erased. Some of you will be thinking good riddance, while others may have fond memories of the place. This is what was left in February 2023 of the Crossways Shopping Centre, which when it was built probably seemed like science fiction, a Brave New World. The idea of a purpose built shopping centre designed with the motor car in mind, where you drive your car upstairs on to the roof was a complete novelty to most. It was a destination.

The centre opened in 1968 and it is clear from all the available press cuttings that it was the place to be and be seen.

Torbay Express and South Devon Echo - Wednesday 11 June 1969

SMART GIRL WANTED To open a Boutique at Crossways Shopping Centre, Paignton, where fashionable clothes could be sold in the equally fashionable surroundings of a covered precinct with overhead parking. Shop units with stores above available from only £900pa. (£12,600 today) Details from : WAYCOTTS S FLEET STREET, TORQUAY.

Torbay Express and South Devon Echo - Friday 23 May 1969

Frank Bolger invites you to spend an evening at the

Middle Room Club.

The New Night Spot in the middle of Torbay


Times of opening day time, 12.30-3 p.m.

Times of opening evenings, 6.30-1 a.m.

Car parking facilities adjoining club.

Only leading brands of Beers and Spirits available.

A super Hot and Snack Bar for inexpensive food.

Dancing until 1 a.m. except Sundays.

Application for membership must be made in person NOTE• No persons under the age of 19 shall be considered, under any circumstances for application for membership. Remember

We shall be happy to see you whether it be lunch time, early evening or later on, where people meet people in Torbay's Luxurious New Night Spot.

Over the road is the more traditional frontage, with the gilded incised fonts of A E Dey, Grocer, who moved here from Church Street in 1924. It is still a grocery store although I suspect A E Dey is long gone. Thankfully, someone who still appreciates the original signage has left it intact. Today's grocery features an Oriental and Asian Corner.

Next to Crossways on the corner of Hyde Road is the imposing red brick building with tower and clock and a stone carved date of 1927, only a year or two after AE Dey moved premises, so this area was the development hotspot of its day.

Today it is Tex Mex, "Enjoy a taste of Tex Mex made to order using the best local fresh ingredients. Make sure you are hungry as our portion sizes are not for the faint hearted!"

The corner spot houses an Estate Agents and all the shop fronts have the same Deco/Oriental style lattice window design.

Following the route around the corner I come to Crossways again. Completely boarded up now as the site is prepared for demolition.

Torbay Express and South Devon Echo - Thursday 15 August 1996

With Premier Points, shopping at Gateway Paignton Crossways is even better value. You can increase the number of points you receive by purchasing bonus products.

Just look for the specially marked items throughout the store every time you shop. Buy them and you'll boost the number of Premier Points you collect. That means even more Free Spending Money at Argos.

It couldn't be easier Pick up a leaflet in store for details.

Visit Gateway Paignton Crossways and just watch the savings add up.

Torbay Express and South Devon Echo - Thursday 02 March 1972




Suede Shop

Skirts, Trousers, Jackets, Waistcoats, Sheepskin Coats


A complete range of:

Dresses, Slacks, Blouses, Swimwear and Evening Wear.

Crossways Shopping Arcade

Whatever happened to Sheepskin Coats, and slacks? Does anyone remember the Maxi? ....and I'm not talking about cars.

Meanwhile Scots Mill House were advertising TURTLE NECK JUMPERS in Crimplene for £1.99 in their big annual sale for New Year 1973. A Tweed skirt would set you back a mere £2.25.

As if Crimplene were not shocking enough, sparks would have flown buying carpet in 1972, from the Home and Carpet Discount Centre, where the "Mayfair" a "Print Tufted Carpet with an Ultra Dense Loop Pile of 100% Nylon could be yours for £2.40 a square yard." None of your cheap imitation nylon mind you. Who could forget "Shag Pile", the butt of many a Double Entendre end of Paignton Pier joke. "Suitable for ALL ROOMS in the house", the joke that just keeps on giving.

Torbay Express and South Devon Echo - Thursday 14 December 1972

Switch to Colour....



Did you switch to colour for the Olympics? Many viewers did and found a whole new world of viewing pleasure. There are more wonderful programmes in colour now and many more are planned. There is no doubt that once again there will be a great demand for sets, so avoid delay and contact your nearest Visionhire branch -



If you want to know why people rented TVs instead of buying them just read on.

There were mixed messages at RICHARDS TOY SHOPS, "Open all day, every day, except Sunday" back in 1972.

The highlights were Sketch Master and Action Girl or Meccano and Action Man.

"At Christmas we even surprise ourselves"

The most fabulous Big Soft Toys - Yes we mean those Big Lions, Kangaroos, Crocodiles etc. the Girls from 18 months to 18 years drool over. They are all here now.


Arriving weekly are further additions to our fabulous range of Replica Models. Full Size Confederate Flag £4.80. Nazi Battle Flags £1.30. German Stick Grenades £3.95 - Original Nazi Cap Badges £1.85

"Buy it on Barclaycard Extended Credit."

How times have changed. The banks are now cancelling the accounts of ordinary mainstream thinkers.

I found an advert for electrical goods on sale at Crossways in 1972. It was a large ad. with many things priced and on offer for Christmas that year. I have only shown a selection below that caught my eye because of the staggering prices in today's values, which I acquired from the National Archive currency converter.

Torbay Express and South Devon Echo - Tuesday 12 December 1972




Hoover Junior £30.76 (£422)

Russell Hobbs Deluxe Teasmaid £30.70 (£422)

Ronson 21 Shaver £9.50 (£140)

Ronson Hair Dryer £6.97 (£98)

Philips Tin Opener £6.50 (£98)


Grundig Music Boy £31.90 (£450)

GEC Cassette Radio £40.50 (£577)


ASA 26" Colour Television £369 (£5200)

Teleton 14" Television £199 (£2800)

Murphy 24" Monochrome Television £85.95 (£1211)

Sony Tape Disc and Radio System £184.45 (£2605)




If you were wondering why people rented TV's from Visionhire instead of buying them, now you know. A radio was £450 and an ordinary black and white TV over a thousand pounds. That's entertainment.

Devon Live 14th August 2021

When it was first opened in 1969, it was the bee’s knees. Crossways was the first under-cover shopping centre in South Devon, an impressive arcade of 30 little shops and a big supermarket, all under cover.

It had a car park on top, lifts and a central staircase. There was even a nightclub on the first floor. To Paigntonians in the Sixties, it was like something from the future.

But Crossways has not worn well. For decades it has been gradually falling into disrepair, and now it is derelict - completely empty but for one brave cafe and one never-say-die charity shop. One online reviewer said it looked ‘like Beirut’ and should be deleted from the list of places worth reviewing in Torbay.

Next month a court will decide if Torbay Council should be granted a compulsory purchase order which would allow it to start knocking Crossways down to build a new complex of apartments.

My walk carries on down the curve of Hyde Road past the Paignton Model Shop selling tiny trains, towards the level crossing, where the larger version railway runs through the centre of town.

Next to the raised barriers of the level crossing is Poundland in a very sixties looking building.

I recollect my first experience of a Pound Shop many years ago, where bemused by the lack of pricing I kept having to carry items to the checkout to ask how much they were. After about the third or fourth visit whereupon the woman serving was getting visibly irate she pointed above my head to a very large banner proclaiming "Everything a Pound". Pound shops were a lot quicker catching on than I was that day.

Some useful level crossing advice here from the........

Torbay Express and South Devon Echo - Saturday 06 October 1984

Saturday Surgery

IN the second of our new weekly series the Herald Express GP examines blood pressure

AGE RISE So what is "blood pressure?" It is simply the pressure at which the blood circulates around the body. This pressure differs in different people and tends to rise with age. And the pressure varies throughout the day. Anyone stuck between the barriers at the Paignton level crossing while a train was coming would have a transient rise in blood pressure. This is the body preparing for "Fight or flight” although if a train was coming I would recommend flight rather than fight!

As Corporal Jones might have said "Don't Panic, Don't Panic"

There was a time before the South Devon Railway arrived at Paignton when the people of Torbay had to travel to Teignmouth, to access the national train network as that was as far as it had reached.

Western Times - Saturday 30 May 1846


THE Public are most respectfully informed, that on and after Saturday, 30th May, John's Reindeer Omnibus, will start from Mc Lean's Bolton Hotel, Brixham, Mornings at Eight, through Paignton and Torquay, arriving at the Railway Station, Teignmouth, in time for the Express and other Trains direct to Exeter, Bristol, Bath, Birmingham, Liverpool, and London.

Returning from Teignmouth Afternoons at Six, after the arrival of the Ten o'Clock London Train, giving Passengers from Brixham, &c, to Exeter and back the same day, nearly six hours in Exeter.

FARES : From Brixham to Teignmouth, Inside 5s.—Outside 3s. 6d.

For those of you wondering if HS2 will ever be completed, it's comforting to know that some problems are universal and timeless.

Western Times - Thursday 27 April 1882

PAIGNTON. Railway Station. —In reply to the memorial forwarded from this town in favour of better accommodation for the travelling public, the Great Western Railway Company have decided to make certain structural alterations at the Station. This is a concession to the public demand, but will hardly satisfy everybody. It is proposed to extend the Station by providing an additional waiting-room, and to improve it with a verandah over the platform. As the Company state that these works are part of a general scheme of improvement, perhaps they have in their mind's eye the near approach of the time when with Torquay, Paignton is to be placed on the main line by the cutting of the direct railway to Totnes. That scheme developing very gradually, but when it is to be presented in a complete form, persons have given up guessing.

A mere six years later.

Totnes Weekly Times - Saturday 21 April 1888

PAIGNTON. The railway station has long been a disgrace to this rising neighbourhood and the inhabitants will be pleased to learn that at last the Great Western Railway Company have awoke to the fact, and a suitable structure has been ordered to be erected as soon as the preliminaries can be arranged.

From the level crossing and the station, Torbay Road leads directly to the sea front. On this walk I turned back at this point because I have already covered that area on a previous series of posts here. At the top end of Torbay Road though is this eye catching Tattoo shop frontage.

..... and next to the station is the partly restored Paignton Picture House which I have also previously covered when it was in a sadder state than now. It is now looking splendid from outside while work continues inside. This is a piece of history and Paignton should be so proud that it was built and that it is still appreciated.

Returning to the church and there are more buildings on the route of the same era with uses or names carved in stone, from an age when things were designed to last. Some would say looking prouder than their modern counterparts have any right to claim.

As I return to Palace Avenue Park and to Winner Street which featured in Part 1 and the church which will be the sole focus of the final part of this series, I pass a Thai restaurant...

.....and the War Memorial

Ending with the facade of the Palace Theatre mostly obscured on the day of my walk by a large truck, delivering a new show.

Those of you that are glad to see Crossways gone may think that the show title was an apt description of the recent past. Others of you may think that it speaks more about the near future. Only time will tell. Part 4 features Paignton Parish Church and it's 1000 years of history.

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John Durham
John Durham
Sep 10, 2023

Such a contrast to so much of what you have visited on your walks - the "new", as it was here so often, quickly turning into the "ugly" and then abandoned.

Gethin Thomas
Gethin Thomas
Sep 10, 2023
Replying to

Hi John, yes, not sure if this is a natural progression, it's just that we don't leave them standing long enough to become liked again. Lack of maintenance certainly is the death knell though.

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