Issac Merritt Singer who was born in Pittslow, New York in 1811. After success in America he opened up a sewing machine factory in Glasgow in 1867 in an attempt to corner the European market.
In 1871 the multi-millionaire purchased an old estate in Paignton and demolished all the buildings. He then appointed an architect to design him a mansion.
Isaac wanted a theatre in his mansion as he was an actor and he loved everything about the stage. He sourced the finest materials from all over the world for his new project.
The mansion was set in 17 acres and had Italian style gardens laid out with a grotto waterfall and a maze made out of hedging, and sub tropical plants were imported and thrived because of Paignton’s mild climate.
Sadly, poor old Issac died in 1875 aged 64 just before it was finished. Such a pity really as it could have been a happy home for the ever unfaithful Issac and his 24 children, wives and mistresses.
His third son Paris took over the building between the years 1904-07 who wanted it to look in the style of the Palace of Versailles with an exuberant French design.
A grand staircase was installed made out of marble with bronze spindles and the ceiling was decorated with an ornate painting almost the exact same as in Versailles with parquet flooring .
A horse riding pavillion was constructed and no cost was spared.In 1917, Paris left for the USA for Tax reasons and Oldway changed into a Military hospital to help the World War One wounded.
In 1929, it became Torquay Country Club and Tennis courts and a Bowling green was added. In 1933 it became the club house for the local Golf Club and it closed in the early 1950’s.
Paignton Council purchased it in 1946 from the Singer family for £46,000 and had to spend £300,000 on it to make it fit for purpose. It remained Council offices and the Wedding Registry office until 2013.
Oldway has been empty for the last 5 years and now the Council pay £10,000 per month for 24/7 security and utililites for the Grade II listed building.
Plans to change it into a Hotel fell through maybe it could be made into Luxury Apartments , but it looks like it could be Auctioned off.
Lets hope we can all save Oldway.