Cinemas

At one time Exmouth had four cinemas. Only one survives today, the Savoy, managed by Scott Cinemas.

Savoy Cinema Exmouth

Savoy Cinema in 2018

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

Popworld - Exmouth

Popworld, 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, Fever & Boutique Night Club and currently (2020) Popworld.

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. This gas holder was demolished in October 2010.

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.

Clock Tower

Exmouth Clock Tower

Exmouth’s Jubilee Clock Tower was erected to the design of architects Kerley and Ellis to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. The Hon. Mark Rolle provided most of the £350 needed for construction and Lady Gertrude Rolle laid the foundation stone on the 15th of September 1897.

The clock was originally hand wound by a council employee, but is now electric. The original mechanism can be seen in Exmouth Museum.

The Tower became a grade II listed building in 1978.

Seafront Swimming Pool

Exmouth’s open air swimming pool opened in 1932 on the seafront site of what is now Ocean at the end of Carlton Hill. It originally used water pumped from the sea and was the scene of many galas and home to the Exmouth Swimming and Life Saving Society, who previously had had to use the Docks for their activities.

The sea water was replaced in the 1970’s with a fresh water system. In 1985 the council gave up running the pool and for a few years after that it was run privately before closing permnanently.

Ocean

Ocean now covers the site of Exmouth’s open air swimming pool

In 1889 building work started on a swimming pool at the end of Camperdown Terrace (now the site of the Buoy Store). However, while superintending the works, Thomas Redway (of brickworks fame), died suddenly and what was know as the “Saloon Pool” was never completed.

B & Q

B & Q - Exmouth

The Exmouth B & Q DIY store closed on the 7th of November 2015 with the loss of 50 jobs. The Liverton Business Park outlet closed as part of a national downsizing exercise by the Kingfisher Group, which owns B & Q, following news of a rent increase by the owners of the site, Clinton Devon Estates.

The building, after an extensive refurbishment, is now home to The Range.

Pankhurst Engineering

Once one of Exmouth’s largest employers, Pankhurst Engineering, closed in September 2008.

Pankhurst Engineering

The Littleham Industrial Estate factory at its height employed around 300 workers. Plans were submitted in 2013 to use the site for 50 residential units, which included 20 affordable homes.

Pankhurst Engineering

The factory made farm equipment and special dies, tools and jigs related to injection moulding.

Pankhurst Engineering site at the end of 2018

Pankhurst Engineering site at the end of 2018 after demolition of buildings

Clarks Shoe Factories

The first Clarks shoe factory was located in the centre of town, across from the “First and Last” pub close to the Exmouth Post Office. This opened in January 1961. (Thanks to Art Hine for this information).

The next factory was on the site of the Salterton Road Tesco Store.

The final factory was built in 1990 on the Liverton Business Park (Unit 6) and at its peak the 17,500 sq ft building employed upwards of 200 people. It closed around April 1999 and the building was taken over by the Seattle-based company Medical Equipment Incorporated followed by Homemaker (2006 – 30/06/2010), and Mooreways (28/12/2011 – 2013). The building currently houses a branch of the retail chain Home Bargains.

Mooreways 2015

Mooreways, pictured after its closure. This was the site of Clarks’ final factory in Exmouth.

Daniel Warren

Daniel Warren of Minehead, originator of the submarine telegraph, is buried in Littleham Churchyard.

Daniel Warren's gravestone

Daniel Warren’s Headstone

In July 1858 a petition to Parliament ran as follows:

Daniel Warren petition

(Journals of the House of Lords, Volume 90).

The electric telegraph was invented and refined by Morse, Wheatstone, Cooke and others in the 1830’s and 1840’s, with one of the first practical implementations in the UK between London and Slough in 1844. It is about this time that Daniel Warren proposed to the Admiralty the building of a cross channel electric telegraph with the possibility of extension as far as India. This was a clearly an advanced idea as at the time there was no really practical method of insulating sub-sea cables. The merits of gutta percha for insulation were only picked up later by Faraday and Wheatstone in 1845.

After some experimentation and false starts the first successful cross channel telegraph cable was laid in 1851 by the Submarine Telegraph Company. This was the first undersea telegraph cable to be put in service anywhere in the world.

Bystock Pools

Bystock Pools

Bystock Pools

Bystock Pools are a well kept local secret, a staggeringly beautiful area a few miles North East of Exmouth, packed full of interesting wildlife.

The large lake, which looks quite natural, was built as a reservoir to serve Bystock Court and Marley House between 1879 and 1889. A pumping house pumped water from the reservoir uphill to a collecting tank which supplied both houses. There is a suggestion that the smaller pools in the area were for fish breeding.

The nature reserve is currently managed by Devon Wildlife Trust.

Exmouth Zoo

Exmouth Zoo Guide 1977

1977 Guide Book – Thanks to David Lomas at zooguides.org.uk

 

Exmouth Zoo was originally opened as a branch of Paignton Zoological and Botonical Gardens in 1957, being subsequently purchased by Kenneth Smith in 1962. The Zoo was run privately by Ken Smith and his wife Trudy with the help of staff which included the Curator, Mrs Judith Bond.

Ken Smith

Ken Smith

Before coming to Exmouth Ken Smith was in Jersey, where he built the Zoo Park for Gerald Durrell and he stayed there for four years as superintendent. Before Jersey he was superintendent at Paignton Zoo for several years and prior to that he worked at Oxford Zoological Garden, Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire, Calderpark Zoo near Glasgow, Belle Vue, Manchester, and later took over the management of the Cliftonville (Margate) Aquarium. During the intervals between his zoo work in Britain he went on zoological collecting expeditions to the tropics, to the Cameroons and Guyana (with Gerald Durrell), to Aden, Abyssinia (Ethiopia) and Sierra Leone.

Ken Smith ended up owning four small West Country zoos (Exmouth, Poole, Shaldon and Newquay Children’s Zoo). These were eventually sold, Exmouth being the last, closing in 1980.

Amusements

Maer amusements complex, once the site of Exmouth Zoo

The Zoo was located on the Maer, and used what was the Maer Golf Club’s clubhouse and a section of adjoining land. The building is currently (2015) home to Exmouth Leisure Amusements, though this may not be the case for much longer as the area is scheduled for redevelopment.

 

Fire at Exmouth Zoo in May 1961

Penguin Uses Plank for Floe in Jan 1964