The complete tale of Exmouth’s Elizabeth Hall is told in a new book which has been released.

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Exmouth Local History Group has produced its first publication, From Exmouth Club to Elizabeth Hall, which tells the story of the building from its inception to the present day and its impending demolition.

Earlier this month, Premier Inn was chosen by East Devon District Council as its preferred bidder for the site on Exmouth’s seafront, and could open a 60-room hotel and restaurant as early as spring 2014.

They were chosen ahead of Friends of Elizabeth Hall, who wanted to retain the building for public use, and Churchill Retirement Living.

The Exmouth Club was founded in 1889, and the original building was erected later that year.

The club was very definitely for ‘gentlemen’, and was so successful that an extension was built in 1906 to cater for the increased membership.

All the great and the good of Exmouth were members, and the book contains brief biographies of many of the more notable.

Inevitably, however, changing circumstances brought changing needs, and the club could not adapt.

Local historian Ian Cann, who wrote most of the narrative, said: “In 1958, it was wound up and the premises were sold to Exmouth Urban District Council, which intended to impose some restrictive covenants and then sell the property as soon as possible – 54 years later, its aim appears to be about to be achieved!”

As things turned out, the council laboured long and hard to find a use for the building – it turned down at least 27 prospective users – and eventually, following a theft of lead from the roof, demolished the eastern section.

In the early 1970s East Devon District Council took over from EUDC and the building was renovated and re-opened in 1980 as the Elizabeth Hall, named in honour of the Queen Mother’s 80th birthday - since when it has served as Exmouth’s community centre.

Ian added: “Although the book is a work of historical research, with substantial appendices detailing things like newspaper articles and council minutes, we have managed to unearth some very interesting, and occasionally amusing, stories about the building and some of the personalities associated with its early days. We think it is a good read.”

Most of the printed copies of the book, which has many illustrations, mostly in colour, will be presented to local libraries, museums and record offices.

But there are a few available for purchase at a cost of £15.

There is also a CD version, which shows the book in PDF format, and is available for the bargain price of £5.

Either version may be obtained by phoning 01395 260442 or e-mailing mdclaredale@tiscali.co.uk

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