I remember Rolle College in the 1960s when as a teenager my friends I went there every Wednesday evening for the youth club, but many Exmothians and those that attended the college will have other memories of it.

In 1902 Southlands School moved to Fairfield, a large house on the corner of Douglas Avenue and Salterton Road which they then expanded into further residences of Brockhurst and Eldin.

The school closed in 1942 and was used for the war effort thereafter.

After the end of the second world war the government set up emergency teacher training colleges for ex servicemen.

One of these was Rolle College which opened in February 1946 and offered a Certificate in Education from Exeter University.

In 1948 it was named The Exmouth Training College by Devon County Council after they took it on and they opened it as a teacher training college for 150 women offering a two year degree course. Under the guidance of the first principal, Miss G M Croft, OBE, MA it had grown to 200 students by 1959.

This grew further to 400 students with the course now for three years and the site extended to match these numbers, occupying many local houses and seeing numerous huts being put up in the grounds.

Between 1961 and 1965 the college saw new teaching and administration buildings erected which necessitated the demolition of Fairfield and Ryll houses.

By 1965 there were 540 students and in 1966 men were admitted for the first time and saw the college become fully co educational with numbers increasing to 860 by 1972.

This year saw Miss Spicer retire and be succeeded by Frances Cammaerts and by 1975 it achieved its highest number of 907 students.

Also, by now the college the BEd course was fully recognised as an Honours degree course.

In 1976 the college was suddenly ordered to close as an economy measure. However, this order was removed after a campaign to keep it open but at the cost of a large reduction in student numbers and staff.

Out of this, initiatives grew such as the emergence of the BA degree course and the academic training of Kenyan teachers.

In May 1981 Michael Preston became what was to be the last principal.

1988 saw the end of an era when the college became part of Plymouth Polytechnic and later in 1992 Plymouth University.

The college always participated in the life of the town and its students certainly enjoyed their time in Exmouth keeping many hostelries in business.

In 2008 the college closed and everyone there relocated to Plymouth.

This came as a considerable shock to everyone involved including the town whose economy and cultural life had benefitted greatly from its presence.

Following this a Community Benefit Company (Rolle Exmouth Ltd) was set up in 2010 to find new uses for the site that would benefit the whole community and negotiations commenced with Plymouth University.

However, on 1 September 2016 it was announced that it had been sold to The Deaf Academy who relocated from Exeter.

Today, the site has much development going on in it and the face of this familiar corner in Exmouth changes once again.

Rolle College throughout its time in the town contributed greatly to the overall life and the economy of this corner of Devon and many people lament its passing.

I am indebted to the following for their assistance with this article: Leonard Fry who taught at Rolle College and still lives in Exmouth; to D J Wadmin for his Exmouth History article on the college which can be found online and to Daphne Barnes - Phillips for her book Exmouth’s Rolle, the cover of which accompanies this article.

As ever, more details can be found at Exmouth Museum or please visit the website and help your local museum if you can in this way or you can e mail me at mike.menhenitt@btinternet.com.