Who We Are


The Society has its origins in a movement  which started in 1985 to save Primley Meadow (now Primley Park) from developers  The Meadow had been bequeathed to the people of  Paignton by Herbert Whitley but the Whitley Trust was administered by trustees who favoured the expansion of the Zoo over the terms of Herbert Whitley’s will.   The original plan – put forward by  Paignton Zoo – was to  build a  supermarket on the site and use the profits to help pay for a proposed expansion of the zoo.


In 1986, Torbay Council decided to make the land available for housing and the Zoo management again put forward proposals which would have destroyed the park and financed the Zoo’s expansion.  At this point, Pat and Bill Elwick raised a petition against the loss of the Meadow.  Peggy Parnell (Peggy Head) also had written to various officials and organisations and when the Elwicks’ health prevented them from playing a major role in the campaign, they contacted Peggy and joined forces with her.


By 1987, the threat to the Park had  become widely known.  Four ladies ( Joy Ford, Pat Gledhill, Linda Bramwell and Betty Hutton) joined with Peggy to form an ad-hoc organisation to defend the park and the terms of Herbet Whitley’s will, and in 1988 Torbay Council turned down the Zoo’s planning proposal.  By this time the Open Spaces Society had become involved and asked Peggy keep them posted on events.


Various courses of action were pursued with varying degrees of success and it was pointed out to the group that they really needed a more formal organisation and  a title.  They chose to call themselves ‘The Paignton Preservation Society’.  In July 1989, they called a public meeting at which three more volunteers came forward to help – Ivor Bond, John Pentney and Rhoda Villis.  More members were soon recruited and the campaign gathered pace.


Meanwhile, even more of Paignton’s green spaces had come under threat – notably Queens Park and Goodrington - and the Society became involved in ever more battles. In 1992, after  seven years of campaigning,  Primley Park was finally designated as such and saved, and it  was formally opened to the public on  8 November 1992.  More campaigns against inappropriate development followed together with an inevitable involvement with the history of the town. and in 1999 the phrase ‘Local History’ was added to the title.  However that made the title cumbersome, and in July 1999  when a formal constitution was adopted, a second,  shorter, name was added to the longer one – ‘The Paignton Society’


It was felt that a move to the name ‘Paignton Society’ is appropriate because the Society is increasingly concerned with matters of the local environment as whole – most recently with traffic planning in Paignton. 







The membership subscription is £10  per annum per person, renewable on anniversary of joining.  Membership Secretary:

 Mrs Anne Pentney, Flat 19, The Coach House, Steartfield  Road, Paignton  TQ3 2BG.   Email: [email protected]  

 Tel:  01803 664650