Drive, The

Opposite the western end of Bainbridge Avenue, on the other side of Mannamead Road is The Drive, a principal entrance to the early-mid-twentieth century Torr Estate, but which was, as late as the 1920s still within the grand estate of Torr House. Then the Drive was, rather more simply, the Drive up to Torr House itself. Robert Bayly had bought the estate in the mid 1870s and the present Torr House (which has served as Torr Home for the Blind since 1929) was built for him in 1882, immediately behind the earlier Torr Grove House.

Curiously the old house became a part of British social history when in August 1877, Alexander Graham Bell, staying here as a guest of Robert Bayly, rigged up the first permanent telephone installation in Britain. It was between the old house and the gardener’s house and was done because Mrs Bayly felt nervous in “such a lonely place” so “deep in the country”. Queen Victoria was evidently not amused – she had wanted to have the first private connection and although some sources credit her with that honour her first telephone at the Isle of Wight summer house was not installed until January 1878.