Rolle College

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.


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