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Exeter in the 1960's

1950s - 1970's

Latest update 16th November 2014

'Swinging' Exeter in the 60's - go to rock and pop in the Sixties below


Flooding at the Exwick ShopsFlooding in Cowick StreetFloods 1960 
On 27th October 1960 an area west of the river Exe from Exwick to Marsh Barton, including most of St Thomas suffered a massive flood. More than 1200 properties were damaged. The photo left shows the flood waters lapping the Exwick Stores and the fish and chip shop. The rare colour photo shows Cowick Street. (Top left photo courtesy Mike Ewing, bottom photo taken by Clifford Stanton)

House that MovedThe House That Moved 1961
The House that Moved was moved to its present position in December 1961. Here, a winch and wire stretches down the street, dragging the house, mounted on a wooden cradle and temporary rails. Also see memories of the House that Moved. Photo courtesy Lita Saunders

October 1960 floods aftermath 5mb WMV BBC Creative Archive.

Starting the flood defences 1964 3.5mb WMV BBC Creative Archive.

The House that Moved 1961 9.5 MB WMV BBC Creative Archive.

Building the Northern Exe Bridge 12mb WMV - filmed in colour by Peter Werran between 1967 and 1970.

Exeter in the 1960s film of the centre of the city in the middle 1960s

The Postgraduate Medical School was established in 1962.

A silly float - Rag Day 1967Rag Day, London Inn Square 1968University Rag Day 1967 and 1968
As a university city, Exeter has had to enjoy, or endure, the students rag day for many years. Right is the rag day procession down Sidwell Street in 1967. The university boffins have invented a flying machine, two years before the first Jumbo jet - nice to know they were on the cutting edge.... still, it was for charity. It is interesting to note that the buildings behind were replaced by Tesco (now moved to the High Street), Force and Son and Poundstretcher. The photo, bottom right is from 1968, in London Inn Square and shows a rather more classical theme that year. Photo top Alan H Mazonowicz and bottom Jim Billsborough


The bonded warehouses on the quayside closed down in the 1960's and were converted into nightclubs. See also Quay clubs and memories of an Exeter mod


Traffic on Exe BridgeTraffic on Exe Bridge
A policeman on point duty directs busy traffic at the Exe Bridge towards New Bridge Street in the early 1960's. An RAC sign routes the traffic left, down Bonhay Road for Taunton and Honiton, the City is straight ahead and right into Commercial Road is prohibited. The City Brewery of Norman and Pring was still in production and there was a Midland Bank at the bottom of New Bridge Street. Photo courtesy of Phil Hoare

On 3rd December 1960 much of Exwick through to St Thomas was flooded for the second time in 5 weeks.

In 1966, Alphington, Pinhoe and Topsham were incorporated into the city boundary.


The Big Freeze of 1963 The bad winter started just after Christmas 1962. Over the next few weeks, Britain suffered blizzards, record low temperatures and travel havoc caused by snow. The Express and Echo reported on the freeze - here are some highlights. 
5 January 1963 - the temperature hit -7.9° Celsius.
A photo caption reads - "General Buller's statue in Exeter, looking more like Napoleons retreat from Moscow."
11 January 1963 - "Ice Blocks Exeter Canal" - it was reported that the canal had been blocked with 6 inches of ice since just after Christmas. Boats owners were advised to stay put.
19 January 1963 - "Exe Worst Freeze for 10 years".
21 January 1963 - "Power Overload Hits Exeter". Engineers work to replace blown fuses in substations in Beacon Heath, Polsloe, and St Thomas.
2 February 1963 - "More Blizzards, Road Conditions Worst of Winter".
6 February 1963 - "Flood Alert for Devon". Widespread flooding caused chaos.

Bystock Terrace in the snow - 1963Pennsylvania Cricket Pavilion in the snow.Exeter in the Snow
The snow of 1962/3 cut off many rural areas, requiring helicopters to drop supplies and feed for the animals. In Exeter, the snow was substantial and lasted for weeks. The top photo shows Bystock Terrace and car park, while the photo bottom shows the Pennsylvania Cricket Pavilion in the snow.
Photo of Bystock Terrace, Alan H Mazonowicz and of the pavilion Phil Hoare.


The frozen canal 1963The frozen canal - 1963 New
From the orginal negative, this photo shows the canal during the 1962/3 winter. Not only is the canal frozen over, but Exminster Marsh is also a sheet of ice.
Also see the Walking on Ice video.

Ice under Exe Bridge 1963New Ice under the Exe Bridge - 1963
Ice and debris flows beneath the Exe Bridge, while in the foreground, huge rafts of ice are gradually breaking up. From the original negative.

The Development of Exeter in the 1960's


The City Brewery burnsThe City Brewery on fire - 1967
This photo, from an original glass negative shows fire fighters tackling a blaze at the City Brewery. The brewery had closed, months before, after Norman and Pring were taken over by Whitbread in 1962. Investigators discovered that sparks from oxy-equipment that was used to cut up the steel vats set fire to the roof. The damaged building was demolished soon after.

Frog Street and the bottle storeThe City Brewery bottle store in Frog Street - early 1960s
Also from a glass negative, this photo shows Frog Street from New Bridge Street. The Frog Street tunnel is just beneath. The bottle store for the City Brewery is on the right, behind the brewery building in the previous photo.

Traffic in the High StreetHigh Street before Debenhams
A rather nice photo of the High Street probably in the late 1950's. There is no sign of Bobby's (Debenhams) at the end. It is busy with traffic, much of it holiday traffic passing through - from the 1961 guidebook. Photo courtesy of Exeter City Council

Christmas lights - Sidwell StreetChristmas Lights 1966
Putting up the Christmas lights on 3rd November 1966. This was when the South Western Electricity Board (SWEB) did this task. The worker on the lift platform was Roger Mitchell, who provided the photo. Roger was a second year apprentice with SWEB, who had to pose for the photo. He was given the task every year because of his 2m height.
Photo courtesy of the Express & Echo

Exeter High StreetExeter High Street in 1967
The High Street had not been pedestrianised at this time and was divided by a central flower bed. Work on building Bobby's - now Debenhams has finished, changing the corner of New London Inn Square beyond recognition. Photo courtesy of Exeter City Council

The rebuilding of Eastgate was completed in 1960 and Princesshay was completed in 1962.

The northern Exe Bridge was opened in 1969. The southern bridge in 1972. Construction of the flood prevention scheme commenced in September 1964. It was completed in 1979.



Head Weir MillHead Weir Paper Mill 1967
The mill finally closed in 1967 - part was demolished in 1982 - the remainder became the 'The Mill on the Exe'. See also Mill on the Exe - Bonhay Road. Photo by Alan H Mazonowicz

The Girls' Secondary Modern School at St James' was moved from its Victorian building to a new site at Beacon Lane during 1961. Also see St James' High School


Transport in Exeter in the 1960's


Greenslades advertGreenslades - an advertGreenslades 1969
In 1969, Greenslades were taken over by Western National. These two adverts both date from 1967 - one from the City Guide and one from Kelly's Directory.

Pike's Mini advertPikes Garage 1961
Situated in Alphington Street, Pikes were established in 1914. By 1961 they are now selling the favourite, Austin Mini.


The bus station at Paris Street was built in 1963. It moved from the corner of Paul Street and Queens Street. By 1964 the lower parking area was full of long distance holiday coaches visiting Exeter.

The Frog Street underpass, under New Bridge Street was completed in 1963.


Shopping and Commerce in the 1960's


Concord House, South Street Computer in Concord HouseFirst Computer 1962
The Redcoats often tell the story of Exeter's first computer when taking visitors up South Street. It was called 'Cutie' (Commercial Union Totally Integrated Electronics) and installed in the £300,000 Concorde House in 1962. The machine had 10 tape handling machines, 3 paper tape readers, the main computer and an illuminated console. It had a clock speed of 1 mega-cycles which performed 7,000 instructions a second. By today's standards, it was a snail. It must have seemed like science fiction to the locals, but in 1970 it was removed. Now the building houses Deveills Kitchen Shop and 28 one and two bedroom apartments. Photos courtesy of Alan H Mazonowicz

William Brock advertWilliam Brock The old family firm of William Brock have been trading since 1826. There are examples of their adverts from previous decades. Here, the firm have adopted a figure as a logo.


Moon's in the High Street circa 1963Moon's record counterMoon's Record Department
During the 1960s, Exeter's youngsters would buy their 7" singles from Moon's in the High Street. Situated next to Woolworth's - ironically now HMV - Moon's also sold domestic appliances, white goods and TV's and radios. You could even rent a piano overnight for a gig in a village hall or pub. Photos courtesy of Lydia Barnard.

Thomas Moore advertAdvert for Thomas MooreThomas Moore
Two adverts for Thomas Moore - the first from 1962 and the second, 1967. One of only two old, established businesses in Fore Street to be still trading, Thomas Moore opened in 1907.


Advert for Redferns Estate AgencyHouse Prices 1968
An advert for Andrew Redfern estate agent - the prices seem very cheap in comparison with today. People still struggled to buy a house at this time - 1968

Bobby's or Debenhams new storeColsons or Dingles advertBobbys 1964
Bobbys is instantly recognisable as the old Debenhams that closed in 2007 - the store was constructed in 1964 on the bomb ravaged corner of Sidwell Street and Longbrook Street.

Colsons of Exeter, first opened in 1792 selling tea and silk - it was taken over by Harrods in 1969 and renamed Dingles and now the House of Fraser.


Entertainment and Leisure in the 1960's


The Theatre Royal's last pantoTheatre Royal being demolishedThe Theatre Royal Pantomime 1961
The programme for the 1961 pantomime at the Theatre Royal. This was the last panto at the theatre as it closed in 1962, to be replaced by an office block. The second photo shows the theatre, in 1962, just when the roof was being removed. The iron girders of Debenhams are rising on the right corner. Photo courtesy Aubone Braddon.

Exeter SealExeter Schools' Octocentenary Celebrations 1962 Those who went to school in Exeter in 1962 may have been involved in this celebrations. It was put on in May 1962 to celebrate 800 years of local government in Exeter. There were exhibitions, dramas, an historical pageant and a procession through Exeter, put on by pupils from all the schools. The cover for the programme translates as 'the seal of the city of Exeter'.

Northcott TheatreMerchant of VeniceNorthcott Theatre 1967
The replacement for the old Theatre Royal opened in 1967. It is situated on the campus of Exeter University and was purpose built. The theatre is due to be refurbished, and enlarged in early 2007. The theatre opened with a production of The Merchant of Venice on 2nd November 1967.  Photo left - Northcott Theatre, right - Gordon Fitton

Alan Price posterThe Alan Price Set played at St Georges Hall on 17th November 1967. For those too young to remember his 'Simon Smith and his Amazing Dancing Bear' Alan Price had been the keyboards player in the Newcastle band, the Animals. He found touring with the Animals difficult because he didn't like flying, so he formed his own band, the Alan Price Set.
Poster courtesy of Tracks

Sounds UnlimitedSounds Unlimited New
Five piece local band Sounds Unlimited pose for a photographer. I don't know much about them, so if you can help me add some info on the band please Contact me. Photo Bob Brassett.

Gary Kane and the TornadoesGary Kane and the Tornadoes
Exeter bands from the 1960s included the Secrets, the Spartans and Gary Kane and the Tornadoes. The latter were formed in 1957 by Mike Parr (Gary Kane) who played with the group until 1997. By the early sixties they were supporting Ricky Valance and the Vernons Girls at the Civic Hall and other venues in Devon. Mike Parr trained as a master carpenter and worked on building the Northcott Theatre, before being taken on by the theatre as a set builder, where he still works.  City of a Thousand Dreams (song) New Photo courtesy of John Greenslade



The Rolling Stones at the OdeonThe Rolling Stones played on 26th August 1964 (2 shows at the ABC) and on the 2nd October 1964 (2 shows at the Odeon). The Odeon had just spent £6,000 on new dressing rooms and enlarging the stage. The rare photo of the Stones, with the manager of the ABC, Robert 'Bob' Parker, was taken backstage at the ABC 26th August show.
Poster courtesy of Tracks

Paul Simon at Newhayes House - 1965Paul Simon visited Exeter in 1965 (probably July) and played a gig for a party in a barn at Newhayes House, Cowick Lane. He had spent 13 months touring England, passing through Exeter. Chris Runciman, one of the organisers, remembers the opening act was the short-lived Dalliance Minstrels of Tom Mason, Sue Turner, Chris Runciman and Chris Roach who sang bawdy 17th century songs. Simon was paid £5 for his performance and was recorded on a reel-to-reel Grundig tape recorder. The recording was played on a BBC Radio 2 programme entitled Mr. Simon’s Big Trip, on 5th June 2007, when Bob Harris played an unheard song called, The Northern Line (song)Some remember him playing at the Exeter Folk Club at the Jolly Porter, others say he played in the basement of Head Weir House, but there is some disagreement as to whether he did, or not. Photo courtesy of Bob Brooks.

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Beatles before the ABC showThe Beatles played at the ABC on 28th March 1963 and 28th October 1964. The second show was sold out 8 weeks before. The photo shows the Beatles and the Corvettes at the ABC for the March 1963 show. The Corvettes were trapped in the Beatles dressing room for three hours due to the enthusiastic fans outside the theatre. Additional memories from John Greenslade - poster courtesy of Tracks

Cliff Richard at the ABCCliff Richard and the Shadows played at the ABC on 18th November 1964. The show unusually had the Johnny Hawkings Orchestra. The photo taken at the ABC that night is courtesy of Tracks
Other bands at Exeter during the 1960's include:
Led Zeppelin
. Civic Hall Exeter 19th December 1968.
Cream. Exeter University 13th December 1966. The only performance in Exeter
The Who. Exeter University 17 March 1967.

The Beatles Interview 4.4 MB WMV BBC Creative Archive

The Maritime Museum opened in 1969. The museum was forced to close in 1997.

Clock Tower Cafe advert The Clock Tower Cafe is now an Indian Restaurant. It was used as a location for filming a Monty Python sketch in 1974 - see 1970's

Exeter Central Library re-opened on the 22nd October 1965 after the original library was destroyed in the blitz.

In 1961, Jimmy Edwards, the actor, visited the Prospect Inn on the quay to knock over a pile of pennies that had been collected for the Vranch House School.

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