I can add a little to the history of Sports Days in Torquay in Victorian times.
These were held at least as far back as 1857 at Chapel Hill Cross - ie the current home of Barton CC and Upton Athletic FC and the ex home of Torquay CC and Torquay United FC - organised by Torquay Cricket Club. They tended to mark the end of the cricket season - which was far later than nowadays.
Torquay Athletic and Football Club later organised Sports Days at Daddy Hole Plain. I have a report of one from 1878, but they may date back to 1875.
Torquay Athletic RFC always used to claim it was founded in 1875, based on somebody "remembering" these events. Ray Batten's club history clearly stated that TARFC was not formed until 1886 - and that the earlier "Torquay Athletic and Football Club" was an entirely different organisation.
The Torquay Athletic and Football Club Sports Day moved in 1879 to "a large field near Torre Abbey" - possibly the land which was to become the Rec? The 1881 event was held at Plainmoor - report posted on the above thread.
By 1898, a Sports Day was being held by Torquay Athletic Rugby Football Club - and this was, not surprisingly, at their then home Plainmoor.
I don’t really trust them not to build more houses and then not deliver the stadium and just sod off
Good stuff. I tried John Pike's centenary history of the borough but there is no mention of athletics.
But there is of tennis - a Davis Cup match and the British hard court championship at Abbey Gardens in the 1920s. There must have been other events later at the indoor courts at the Palace Hotel, once described as the "finest covered courts in Europe". Strewth, it's almost enough to get me started with my mum's tale about meeting the teenage Sue Barker on the bus between the Strand and the Palace (rather more believable than her Fred Perry stories I might add). You'd almost expect her to claim she bought my first pair of trainers from Mike Sangster...
And what about those waiter and waitress races? Do they still have them?