Mr. Singer engaged a Plymouth firm of builders owned by J. Matcham who had accepted the contract to build the Wigwam Estate. He was able to pay good wages to the workmen and employed local men. Local employers were forced to increase their skilled workmen's rates of pay for they were leaving to work for Mr. Singer. In late 1871 work started on the Riding Pavilion. It was built on two levels, the lower level being situated just off the old road between Torquay and Paignton which was the North West boundary of the Fen1ham Estate.

The design was round like a wigwam with a pagoda style roof above clerestory windows which provide the light. It had a dirt floor where the horses could be exercised, and a balcony around two sides of the arena where family and friends were able to watch the horses and riders put through their paces. In the outside wall were a pair of heavy wooden doors as high as the walls. They were made of wooden planks set in a herringbone design, with a small door built into one of the large doors.

The horses, which were black stallions, were unhitched from the carriages and led around the building, down a slope into the yard where they were rubbed down before being put into their stables or stalls situated under the Exercise Pavilion.

The building was constructed of red and cream brick with a glazed earthenware, known as "faience" for decoration. Cream stone pillars supported two gas lamps on each side of the great doors. Above the first floor windows were cream stone blocks. These were the rooms of the grooms and coach drivers. Mr. and Mrs. Singer loved to entertain. They were also very fond of children. Invitations were sent out to the business men of Paignton inviting their children to attend a party in the Pavilion. There would be a Punch and Judy show and even a circus was engaged by Mr.Singer to entertain his children and his young guests.

When friends and relatives from France and America came to stay, invitations were sent to the traders and businessmen inviting them and their wives to a Grand Ball to be held in the Pavilion. The dirt floor would be covered with boards and an Italian Orchestra, resident in Torquay, was engaged to play the music. It is told that the day after such a Ball, many a lady from Paignton received a gift box containing a cameo brooch with the message "thank you for being the Belle of the Ball".

Mr.Singer still had an eye for the ladies. Again it is told, that many years later, when his son Paris owned the Wigwam, he employed a man who looked so like him, he could have been his brother. Did Mr.Singer have an affair with a Paignton or Preston lady? When Mr.Singer settled down to live in Oldway Villa and work had started on the Pavilion, he had three coaches built locally. A large one which they used to travel long distances, because he found travelling by stage coach very uncomfortable, also the new mode of travel, the train. A second, smaller coach he had built was used to take him and his wife to the races at Petitor near Babbacombe Downs, and to Totnes and even to Dartmoor. He also had a four in hand, a small coach pulled by four black stallions. He would gallop through the country lanes of South Devon, at speed.

On one such journey he came to a field where a marquee with stalls was set out. Isaac reined in his horses and asked the man at the gate, taking money from people entering, "what is going on here"? The man informed him "it's the Oddfellows Fete sir", to which he answered "open the gates to anyone who will accept my hospitality and send the bill to me". Mr. Singer was a very Generous man.

On his birthday, the 27th October, he invited all his new friends to a party in the Pavilion, and all the children that came to the house on that day were given a bag of sweets. On Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day, meat, vegetables, bread and puddings were given to his workers and local people by Mr.Singer.



© copyright Dorothy Atkinson

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