Torbay Libraries Local Studies


The main collection of Local Studies materials is held at Torquay Library. The libraries at Brixham, Churston and Paignton have smaller collections covering general topics about Devon and works specific to the locality. 

The service is available to everybody as the majority of the resources may not be borrowed. Services on offer include: 

  • Local Studies index to newspapers 
  • Census information 
  • Local parish registers 
  • Family history and house history 
  • People & places 
  • Local News Card Index  

This service is an index to major articles in local newspapers. The newspapers are mainly the Herald Express and Western Morning News, however; where articles have been traced in other newspapers e.g. The Brixham News, Mid Devon Advertiser and Totnes Times, these too have been indexed. (Please note-the actual articles are not displayed, but may be held in the Reference Library's resources as hard copy or microfilm.) 

The database has both current and historical content and roughly covers the geographical area of Torbay, but with some material on the South Devon area. 


Census Information 

Torbay census data from 1841 to 1901 is available on microfilm or fiche at Torquay Reference Library. The exact area covered varies with each census, but for most years the parishes within a five-mile radius are covered. The 1901 Census covers the enumeration districts of Totnes, Newton Abbot and Kingsbridge, which includes Torbay, parts of the South Hams, and Teignbridge. 

Census information can also be accessed via the Ancestry service, which is available via all library computers. 

Ancestry Online


Family History and House History 

If your relatives came from Torbay or South Devon, the Local Studies section has various resources to help you. You may also like to contact the Registrar's service for information on local birth, marriage and death certificates. 


Parish Registers 

A number of records are held on microfiche. The material includes parish and non-parochial registers. The area covered includes Torbay and the adjacent area extending as far as Newton Abbot, Kingswear, Dartmouth and Combeinteignhead. Within this span the coverage is wide but not complete: The fiche are on deposit from the Devon Heritage Centre. 


Death Notices Index 

At present this is only complete for our holdings of the Torquay Times, although there is some coverage of other local newspapers and work is continuing; the index also covers a small, but growing, number of obituaries. The arrangement is alphabetical by surname. 


Genealogical Research 

Torbay Libraries is unable to undertake genealogical research on enquirers' behalf. The services of a genealogist may be secured at cost through the Devon Heritage Centre. 


House History 

If you are interested in tracing the history of your house, the Local Studies Library has the following resources: 

  • Newspapers and directories: directories and some of the early newspapers contain alphabetical listings by street. 
  • Houses database for Torquay arranged by name of property and/or street. This is a relatively new index and does not claim to include the whole of Torquay. 

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