Lost shops of Exmouth

As with all towns the retailers constantly change. Here are some that have been lost over the years.

Baileys Exmouth

Baileys photographed in June 2019

Baileys, at 21 The Parade, closed in February 2020.

Panters Exmouth

Panters at 25 The Parade closed in March 2018. This was a business that could trace its roots back more than 120 years.

Woolworths Exmouth

Roger Cornfoot / Woolworths, The Parade, Exmouth / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Exmouth branch of Woolworths opened at 37 The Parade in 1933, closing in early 2009. The site is now occupied by frozen food retailer Iceland.


During the 18th Century Exmouth had a lively smuggling history. The Mutter family were major players around this time, though much of the storey is anecdotal. One thing that is known is that William Mutter and Charles Blackmore were jailed in 1857 for concealing a large amount of brandy under the cliffs between Exmouth and Budleigh.

Junction of Hamilton Road and Salterton Road

Junction of Hamilton Road and Salterton Road, the location of Mutters’ cider shop

Mutters cider shop, which was located at the junction of Hamilton Road and Salterton Road was reputed to be at the centre of local smuggling activies with a direct connection to the beach at Orcombe Point by means of Lime Kiln Lane.

It has also ben suggested that the Mutters were associated with the legendary smuggler Jack Rattenbury, whose area of operations was along the coast the the east.

Both the Mutters and Rattenbury have East Devon moors named after them.

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 and the Deaf Academy opened in 2020.

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.