Beach House

Beach House Exmouth

Previously known as the Barn, the Beach House is a large Arts and Crafts building on Foxholes Hill in Exmouth. Pevsner refered to it as ‘a brilliant exercise in Art Nouveau domestic design’.

The building dates from 1896 and was designed by the renowned architect Edward Schroeder Prior with a floor plan in the shape of a butterfly for his client, Major Henry Wetherall.

The Barn Exmouth

Originally thatched, the roof was replaced with slate following a fire in 1906 which also resulted in the loss of many interior features.

In recent times the building was the Barn Hotel up until 2016 when it became a large holiday let known as the Beach House.

Lost pubs

Cranford Hotel, Salterton Road, Exmouth

Cranford Hotel, Salterton Road, Exmouth

Over the years Exmouth has lost a number of pubs through change of use or redevelopment. These include:

  • Albion Inn – 38 Albion Street (Now a private house).
  • Anchor – Tower Street.
  • Clarence Inn – 17 Meeting Street. Closed as a pub in 2000, now a private house.
  • Cranford Hotel – Salterton Road. Demolished after a fire in 1992.
  • Criterion Inn – Tower Street. Site now occupied by the Saveur Restaurant.
  • Foresters Arms – Chapel Street (Demolished to make way for the Magnolia Centre).
  • London Hotel – Chapel Street (Demolished and rebuilt in 1964 for retail use).
  • Volunteer – Chapel Street (Also demolished for the Magnolia Centre).

A number of Exmouth pubs have also changed their names over time. Some examples are:

  • The Bath House used to be the Deer Leap.
  • The Grapevine started out as the Queen’s Hotel and has also been known as Bar 66, Vipers, and Pitchers.
  • The Heavitree, previously known as the Hook Line and Drinker, No 13, the Oddfellows, the Heavitree Arms, and prior to about 1890, the North Country Sailor.
  • The Merchant was known as the Clipper (2004-15), Malloy’s (2000-04), and Lennard’s Bar (1955–99).

Exmouth’s oldest buildings

Exmouth originated as mediaeval fishing village and ferry station with settlement concentrated in the inland villages of Withycombe Raleigh and Littleham. This is why the oldest existing buildings are not in the centre of modern Exmouth but are set back from the coast.

Two of the oldest buildings that can currently be seen in Exmouth are almost certainly Littleham Parish Church and St John in the Wilderness.

Littleham Parish  Church

Littleham Parish Church

Littleham Parish Church of St Margaret and St Andrew has a chancel from no later than 1250 and there may have been a church in Littleham as early as 1146.

St John in the Wilderness, Exmouth

St John in the Wilderness

The present church of St John in the Wilderness is mid-14th to mid-15th Century, though this is possibly the third building on this site.

Some of the other oldest existing buildings in Exmouth include:

  • The first six houses on the Beacon (1792)
  • A La Ronde (1798)
  • Point-in-view (1811)
  • The Temple at the Imperial Hotel (1824)

Ghost signs

Ghost signs are the faded advertisements of past businesses painted directly onto walls. Exmouth has a number of these, some more legible than others.

Orcombe Point Service - Exmouth ghost sign

This sign in Imperial Road, presumably targeted at visitors arriving by train, states “Orcombe Point Service starts from here”, advertising the bus service offered by Miller’s Tours in the 1950s and 1960s.

J Denford Fish & Potatoes Merchant

Now almost indecipherable, this sign in Fore Street read “J Denford Fish & Potatoes Merchant”.

Institute Pharmacy Exmouth

The sign for the Institute Pharmacy and Stephens Dispensing Chemist can be found by the entrance of the tattoo parlour at 38 Rolle street.

Manor Theatre Exmouth

Manor Theatre Exmouth

Manor Theatre St Andrew’s Road.

Engineers - Ghost sign Exmouth

A tiled, rather than painted sign in the entrance of 8 Rolle Street. The top has been covered but the sign probably belonged to F V Davey Ltd., Builders and Contractors who were certainly resident there in the early 1970s.

Ghost sign facing the Strand Exmouth

Large faded ghost sign above the Strand which advertised Exmouth’s Indoor Market.

Aladdin's Cave Sign

Not a ghost sign as Aladdin’s Cave is still going strong, but an interesting relatively recent example of a painted sign. It is located above the path running beside the Powder Monkey pub.

Ceramic tile signs in Exeter Road, Exmouth

Again, not strictly a ghost sign, but an interesting pair of ceramic tile advertisements above Picketts Fish & Chip Shop on the Exeter Road.

Lady Nelson

Nelson House Exmouth

Nelson House. Lady Nelson lived here 1803 – 1829

Lady Nelson's grave in Littleham Churchyard

Lady Nelson’s grave in Littleham Churchyard

Frances “Fanny” Nelson, Viscountess Nelson (1758 – 4 May 1831), married Lord Nelson in 1787. The couple became estranged after Lord Nelson’s affair with Emma, Lady Hamilton and they effectively separated around 1800. After spending time in Bath and Paris Lady Nelson eventually settled in Exmouth. She died in 1831 and is buried in Littleham Churchyard.

Rolle College

Rolle College Exmouth

Derek Harper / Owen Building, Exmouth Campus, University of Plymouth / CC BY-SA 2.0

Exmouth’s Rolle College had its origins in Southlands School, which moved to Fairfield, a large house on the Douglas Avenue site, around 1902. The school grew over time and took over the former residences of Brockhurst and Eldin. Dame Elisabeth Frink, the sculptor, was one of Southland’s most famous alumnae. Southlands closed in 1942 and was commandeered for the war effort in 1943.

Rolle College opened as an emergency teacher training college for women only in February 1946. Men were first admitted as students in September 1966. In 1988 Rolle College became part of Plymouth Polytechnic which became Plymouth University in 1992. The Exmouth site closed in 2008 when the courses, students and staff relocated to the University of Plymouth’s main campus.

Rolle College Buildings

In 1946 the College started out with three main buildings: Fairfield (1988-1964), Brockhurst (1912-1957) and Eldin (listed building, 1920-).
The two year training courses started in 1948 and Brockhurst, Coonoor Lodge (sold 1962), Ryll Court (sold 1962 and then demolished) and St Hilarian (demolished 2000) were used as hostels. Later hostels included Seacroft and Seacroft Lodge (both demolished in 2011), Dunsinane (demolished 2013) and Hasledene (demolished 2009). Langstone Hall of Residence on the main site opened in 1953. The playing fields were acquired in 1955.
The Daw Building opened in 1959 and Carlton Hall burnt down in 1960. Work started on the new byuildings in 1961. The Deputy Principles House, Tamar, was purchased in 1965 and sold in 2011. Kempstone Hall (demolished 1987) and Kempstone Lodge (sold 2009) were first used in 1978. In 1979 the Spicer and Stork Buildings came into use. The Owen Building was opened in 2002.

Locations away from the main Douglas Avenue site included:

Kingsthorpe – 4 Douglas Avenue
Study Block – Douglas Avenue
Seacroft – 8 Douglas Avenue
Ferniehurst – 19 Douglas Avenue
Kempstone Hall – 17 Portland Avenue
St Hilarian – 21 Portland Avenue
Carlton Hall – 1 Salterton Road
Coonoor Lodge – 47 Salterton Road
Ryll Court – Albion Hill
St. Olan’s – 14 Cyprus Road
Haseledene Hall and Cottage – 19/21 Cyprus Road
Dunsinane – Maer Road
Midway – Fairfield Road

Recent developments on the Rolle College Site

Following the closure of the site in 2008 a Community Benefit Company (Rolle Exmouth Limited, or REL) was set up in 2010 to find new uses for the site that would benefit the community. Negotiations took place between REL and Plymouth University, however in 2016 it was announced that the entire site would be taken over by the Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education. In preparation a large proportion of the existing buildings were demolished over the winter of 2017 – 2018.

Mona Island

Mona Island - Exmouth

Mona Island

Mona Island - Exmouth

Mona Island

Mona Island - Exmouth

Mona Island

The Historic Exmouth Plaque erected by the Exmouth Society states:

“This was the location of Pratteshide (Pratt’s landing place) from where the ancient ferry to Starcross, with royal concession, operated for many centuries. Nearby stood Douste’s House, built by Roger Douste prior to 1240 AD, where all shipping dues and ferry rents were paid. In the late 19th century, the area became known as Mona Island, named after one of the cottages on the site”.

Mona Island was originally on the shore of the Exe Estuary, but is now quite a distance away following the land reclamation in the early 19th century which evetually created the area occupied by the Colonies.

Exmouth Railway Station

THere have been three distinct Railway Stations serving Exmouth.

Exmouth's first railway station

Exmouth’s first railway station

The first station was some distance South of the present building, based on two residential buildings fronting onto Imperial Road. It opened in 1861.

The second station opened in 1924 to handle increased demand. This station included two new platforms, bringing the total to four. The goods shed closed in December 1967, becoming a skating rink and later part of the Exmouth Sports Centre.

The third and present station was built to the west of the second station to make way for an urban relief road (Marine Way). This station has just one platform. It opened in May 1976.


At one time Exmouth had four cinemas. Only one survives today, the Savoy.

Savoy Cinema Exmouth

Savoy Cinema in 2018

The Savoy Cinema on Rolle Street was previously the Public Hall.

Fever and Boutique, previously the Forum Cinema

Fever and Boutique, previously the Forum Cinema.

The Forum Cinema on the Parade opened as the New Picture House in the 1920s on the site of the Little Theatre. It closed in the 1960s(?), becoming a bingo hall, the Elite Social Club and currently (2016) Fever & Boutique Night Club.

Regal Cinema

Regal Cinema

The Regal Cinema on St Andrews Road opened in the late 1920s as the Manor Theatre and closed in the early 1950s. It subsequently became a ballroom, bowling alley, night club (Samantha’s), bar and soft play area. When Samantha’s closed in 2008 plans were drawn up to convert the building into fourteen flats, however this was put on hold over concerns around parking.

Site of Royal Cinema - Exmouth

Site of the Royal/Grand/King’s Cinema in 2017

The Royal Cinema, also known in the past as the Grand and King’s was previously the King’s Hall just off the Exeter Road by Mona Island. The building had been erected in 1889 as St Margaret’s Church. After the congregation moved to the newly built All Saint’s Church the building was sold at auction in 1909. The first real film to play in Exmouth, of the funeral of King Edward VII, was shown here in 1910. This cinema was also the first in Exmouth to show a “Talkie” in January 1930. This was “The Singing Fool” which starred Al Jolson.

After closure in 1979 the Royal Cinema was demolished and replaced by housing.

Before the Second World War Exmouth’s cinemas did not open on Sundays. During the war there were however shows on Sundays for the benefit of service men in the area. In 1946 a public meeting voted against Sunday cinema, however this was overturned by a subsequent local poll (2,357 votes to 1,106) so cinemas in Exmouth have been able to open on Sundays ever since.

Gas Works

The Gas Works were constructed on Fore Street in 1842 and the Exmouth Gas, Coke and Water Company (Limited) was formed in 1844 and became the Exmouth Gas and Coke Company in 1865. By 1880 it was carbonising 1000 tons of coal a year and in 1900 produced around 40 million cubic feet of gas.

To meet demand a new gas holder was erected in 1910 with a capacity of 300,000 cubic feet. This was eventually insufficient, so in 1931 another gas holder with a capacity of 750,000 cubic feet was built on a new site in the grounds of what was formerly Llandovery on Albion Hill.

Albion Hill Gas Holder Exmouth

Gas Holder at Albion Hill, Exmouth.

The output of gas in 1950 was approximately 240 million cubic feet which would have required some 13,000 tons of coal to be carbonised.

The Gas Company was nationalised in 1949.

Today little evidence remains of the gas industry in Exmouth. The gas holders have been removed, though the Albion Hill site remains fenced off and unused. The original town centre site has largely been taken over by Jewsons.

Old British Gas South Western depot site

Part of the original Exmouth Gas Works site located close to the Famous Old Barrel in Exmouth. Due to be redeveloped, probably flats. Photo was taken in August 2014.