The history of TLH Leisure Resort goes back to 1947 when the Murrell family first started the business as a 28 bedroom hotel. Today, although greatly expanded from its small beginnings, TLH is still owned and managed by Laurence Murrell and his family. So many memories and so much hard work and dedication to build TLH Leisure Resort into what it has become today.
The Derwent is the largest of the TLH hotels, and as you might have guessed it was originally a series of separate properties. Belgrave Terrace (known commonly as Belgrave Road) was built during the late 1800s by a Mr J Harvey and featured mainly private accommodation with a few select “boarding establishments”. The black and white picture at the top of this page shows Belgrave Road aka Belgrave Terrace circa 1899.
The name "Derwent" can be traced back to 1913 when the owner of a property further up the road a Mrs F Gibbs, moved into the property and brought along the name “Derwent Private Hotel and Boarding Establishment.” The Murrell family took ownership of the Derwent in 1947, when it was a boarded up building containing just 28 bedrooms, considerably less than the 175 we have today! Food, of course, was also rationed and the first guests had to bring their coupons with them. Guests used to stay for full board from Saturday to Saturday at the cost of 7 guineas (the equivalent of £1.05 per day for those of you too young to remember).Within twenty years of opening, the Derwent could boast 160 rooms, and all of them en-suite, which was considered a luxury at the time.
The Murrell family still run the Derwent to this day, and now also have three other hotels under their belt which co-exist as part of the TLH group; The Victoria, The Carlton and The Toorak.
2 of the images at the top of this page shows the Derwent in days gone by.
The Victoria Hotel. much like the Derwent, has a long history of growth and change. The name itself has been shortened from the original name of “The Victoria and Albert Hotel”, created shortly after Prince Albert’s death in 1861. In 1867 the hotel was ready to be opened as apartments with many guests bringing their own staff with them who were able to stay in accommodation on lower floors.
Within ten years a young architect by the name of Senge Souden Bridgeman came to work on the expansion of the site. Why is this name relevant? Well during the year of 1870/1871 the Victoria had a celebrity stay with them, Isaac Merrit Singer, the founder of the Singer Sewing Machine Company.
If you have had time to explore the local area you may have visited Oldway Mansion in Paignton, this elaborate home was built for Isaac Merrit Singer by none other than the Victoria’s architect Senge Souden Bridgeman, unfortunately Singer died shortly after completion and the styling of Oldway Mansion was later changed by his third son to mirror the Palace of Versailles.
1978 is the year the Victoria became the second hotel of the group and still features many of the benefits listed in the advert from 1929.
Our advert (right) is from the Torquay Guide circa 1929
Toorak is an Aboriginal word meaning “The swamps where the tea tree grows.” Luckily our Toorak is built on sturdier ground! The name cam about from the owner of the building in 1877 Mrs E Porter - whether she was inspired by James Jackson’s house in Melbourne, Australia is unknown.
Unlike the Toorak today, originally there were 3 separate buildings which can be seen in the advert alongside from 1955.
This advert shows The Toorak (central) connected to the Pendreath (right). The Pendreath had been added as an annex to the Toorak some point before 1924 when it was then sold to Mr Edmonds in 1955; it was still however not connected to the building on the left of the image, Vista Linda, until sometime later. The three buildings which formed the Toorak were a luxurious, hotel with large rooms and a series of amenities seen in the 1955 advert.
The Toorak was purchased by the Murrell family in 1986 and a year later became part of Torquay Leisure Hotels, which at this time had the Derwent and Victoria as members. With the addition of the Carlton in 1992, and the Aztec Indoor Pool, the company later became TLH Leisure Resort in 2000.
The Toorak today still maintains itself as a luxury hotel with close links to the Riviera International Conference Centre (RICC) and Torre Abbey located opposite. The outdoor pool may now have gone but the hotel still prides itself on its gardens and stunning views to the sea.
The Carlton is the most recent addition to the TLH family, joining in 1992 and today features the luxurious Aztec Spa, Pool and dance Studio.
The history of the building dates back to 1878 when it was known as the Belgrave Hall, featuring apartment style accommodation with board. Although it could boast superior living accommodation the idea did not seem to be too popular. By 1929, it too had converted to a Superior Board Residence as can be seen from the advert.
The hotel’s name changed to the Carlton in 1963 as the manager a Mr J.J. Brockett felt that Belgrave Lodge was too similar to the Belgrave Hotel situated on Belgrave Road. The Carlton became part of the PPD group in 1972 with Mr Page–Dove as the managing director. By 1977 they had built the outdoor pool featured in the advert below which now forms part of the outdoor terrace with the Derwent Hotel today.
After the company went into receivership the Murrell family purchased the Carlton in 1992, and our hotel now boasts a total of 55 en-suite bedrooms as well as ten hotel apartments.
Our image shows The Belgrave Lodge circa 1929
- Was impressed by every member of staff we came in contact with. The fact that the whole staff, worked together as an efficient, helpful and cheerful TEAM – impressive
Mr Roberts - Lancing
- We’ve been coming here for 10 years, AND we’ll be back
Mr & Mrs R Graham - Llantarnam
- A friend told me about your establishment and I’m so glad she did. This is our 4th visit and I can’t wait for our 5th!
Mrs L Cottrell - Bristol
- Excellent short break. Fab value for money
Mrs S Baker - Newport