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Exeter in the 21st Century

Back to - 1990's

Last update 28th August 2013

Exeter in the 21st Century - interesting events, oddities and street life - A photo essay


The Activity Centre, Haven Banks Outdoor climbing tower, Haven Banks.NEW Haven Banks has been transformed with the construction of new Activity Centre for Exeter College. Left are three new buildings for the Activity Centre. They blend well with the old warehouses. The climbing tower is part of the same project, which cost in total £5.6 million. 25th August 2013.

Skins, the gorilla.Sora, the gorilla.NEW The Paignton Zoo Great Gorilla Project has seen 11 of these chaps making their home in the city. Left, at Piazza Terracina is Sora, painted by Jessie Cheng and Harry Downward and sponsored by Exeter College. Right, located at the bottom of Stepcote Hill, is Skins, by Jessica Miller and sponsored by the ATASS group. 28th August 2013.

John Lewis, crowds queue on opening day. View through the windows towards NextThe 12 October was the eagerly anticipated opening day of Exeter's John Lewis store. The new store, located in the refurbished, Debenhams', building, has certainly lit up the Sidwell's Street end of the High Street. Now, how about someone financing a new theatre in the centre of town! Photos Henry Tang. 12th October 2012.

Dick Passmore's Theatre Royal ExhibitionDick Passmore's Theatre Royal Exhibition in September at the Guildhall was a well attended event. It is estimated that 750 saw the exhibition. The event covered the history of theatre in Exeter, the tragic Theatre Royal fire of 1887, and the history of the last theatre, which closed 50 years ago. Perhaps is now the time to consider a new theatre, and events venue with restaurants and cafes for the city, on the bus station site. Photo David Cornforth. 22nd September 2012

Inflatable Stone Henge, Belmont Park. Inflatable Stone Henge, Belmont ParkAn inflatable Stone Henge was erected in Belmont Park as part of the London 2012 Olympic jamboree. Created by Turner prize winner, Jeremy Deller who said it was "looking at history in a playful way, having a sense of humour and being able to look at the past with a wry smile—let the British Public interact with Stonehenge and have fun." Photos Deb Winship. 26th June 2012.

The Red Ball at St CatherinesArtist Kurt Perschke's Red Ball Project arrived in Exeter on Friday 15th June as part of a nationwide tour. The inflatable, 15ft ball was lodged under the arches of the Guildhall, crammed into St Catherines, right, and also found a space under the fish market on the quay. Photo Julia Sharp. 15th June 2012

The Olympic Torch in Topsham RoadThe Olympic Torch Relay arrived in Exeter to a rapturous welcome. Large crowds lined Topsham Road as it entered the city, while a ticket only event at Cathedral Close saw the torch finish its journey that day, before being relayed to North Devon the next morning. Here, the torch is in Topsham Road. Photo Martin Payne. 20th May 2012. Also see the 1948 Olympic Torch.

The new John Lewis.A large crane was used to install some heavy equipment into the new John Lewis store on Sunday 13th May. New North Road was closed to accommodate the crane. It has since been announced that the new store will open on 12th October. Photo Dick Passmore. 13th May 2012

The Bishop of Exeter debates with Occupy Exeter. Tents at Occupy Exeter.Occupy Exeter protesters, are part of the world wide movement to get some debate on the social responsibility that banks, corporations and governments should take in the present financial crisis. Ordinary folk pay through taxes, lost jobs and services to prop up the scamming bankers and financial thieves in the City of London. One Twitter statement said "Bishop of Exeter says #occupyexeter and other church-based protests are "distraction" from real issues ..." Nothing new there then! 14th November 2011.

The new John Lewis.The new John Lewis.They have started serious construction on the new John Lewis store in Sidwell Street. This is another example of the people being ignored - many, are rightly, looking forward to the jobs coming with the store, but the price paid is the City Council and Land Securities going for the cheap skate option and retaining a much hated building. Land Securities treat our city like an ancient fiefdom. 14th November 2011

Decorated sheep in the CathedralCathedral Green has been landscaped, and new trees planted, after the loss of the plane trees three or so years ago. To celebrate the completion of the work, school children from all over Devon were given plastic, life size, sheep to decorate. The sheep were then gathered into a flock of 170 and displayed on the Cathedral Green on the 13th May. They were then moved into the Cathedral where Julia Sharp photographed a group, neatly lined up against a wall. 15th May 2010

Armed Forces Day BandArmed Forces Day ParadeThe City played host for Armed Forces Day on the 18th June, when units of our armed forces marched past the Guildhall (lower photo) and into Cathedral Yard. A military band entertained the gathered crowd with a display of marching to a selection of popular military tunes. 18th June 2011

Hooker statue movedCathedral Green is surrounded by a mesh fence to contain wheelbarrows, diggers, and a flatbed truck with a hoist on the back. Today, a group of workers removed the Richard Hooker statue from its plinth and disassembled the base in preparation for moving the statue forward by 15 feet. It seems like a lot of effort to make such a small move, and some questioned the cost of the work. New trees are also to be planted – about time too – and some of the paths across the green are being re-laid. 19th October 2010

Tour of Britain pass the Village InnTour of Britain in ExwickStage 5 of the Tour of Britain cycle race swept past the western suburbs of Exeter on the 15th September 2010. The cyclists, who started in Tavistock and finished in Glastonbury, covered 176 km (109 miles). The stage winner, Marco Frapporti of the Colnago-CSF Inox Team, completed the distance in 4 hours 16 minutes and 10 seconds. Here, the main group that was trailing the pelaton by about 5 minutes, speed past the Village Inn towards Cowley Bridge. The number of police motor bikes that preceded, accompanied and trailed the riders probably exceeded the number of cyclists in the race – and they loved looking hard in their police leathers. 15th September 2010


BBC reporter at the Commando paradeCommandos parade in ExeterThis BBC reporter at the parade of troops returning from Operation Herrick 9 in Afghanistan was caught in mid flow as the 700 Commandos, led by Brigadier Gordon Messenger, marched around the corner of South and High Street. His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh Captain General of the Royal Marines, the Lord Mayor and Ben Bradshaw were present in Cathedral Yard to welcome the troops home. Included in the parade were a brigade of Gurkhas, soldiers from Denmark, Royal Marines and the 1st Battalion of the Rifles. 3rd July 2009

Tornado hits ExeterTornado, the first steam locomotive to be built in Britain, since 1960, at a cost of £3 million has started a short season of pulling summer trains from Bristol to Paignton. The Peppercorn A1 Pacific was constructed by volunteers over a period of 18 years. The engine passed through Exeter St David's on the weekend of the 4 July, and then every weekend until the 9 August. Here she is photographed from Western Road by Keith Sharp as she approaches Exeter St David's Station. 1st August 2009

Exeter City celebrate promotionThe triumphant Exeter City football team tours the streets of the city in an open top bus after their second promotion in two years. Paul Tisdale, the manager, is arguably the Grecian's most successful manager with the double. The Lord Mayor welcomed the team before a delighted Tisdale told the crushed crowd outside the Guildhall that maybe next year it would be the Championship. The team celebrated by throwing caps and giant hands into the crowd, as well as soaking many in champaigne. 9th May 2009

The Rifles march past the Higher MarketTroops of Corunna Company of 6th Battalion the Rifles were given a warm welcome by a large crowd as they returned from a tour of duty in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. They marched through the streets, past the Guildhall to Cathedral Yard for a service and the presentation of service medals by the Duke of Gloucester. Three days before the 80 reservist riflemen handed over to their Territorial colleagues the Mercian Regiment after their six month tour of duty in one of the most difficult areas of the country. 4th April 2009

Video of the promoted team in their open topped bus 2009


The Heavitree 'White elephant'.The controversy surrounding the new piece of 'public art' that is to be placed in front of the end wall of the Heavitree gun-shop rumbles on. The decorative arch is to cost £70,000, much to the consternation of many in the area, who feel that their councillors have taken leave of their senses, and failed to consult the public. Even some councillors are against the work (public opinion concentrates minds!). Some wag has painted this rather petite white elephant on the wall to remind the passing car drivers that their journey to work will soon be enhanced by a 'committee art work'. 22nd November 2008

Demolishing the fire-stationThe fire station which has served this city since 1931 has been demolished. A temporary fire station has been built on the site to the rear of the old building, and will remain until the redevelopment is complete. In order to enhance the fire cover of the city, a new fire station is also being built at Middlemoor to cover the east of the city and the airport. In this photograph taken by Dick Passmore, the tower is all that's left of the old structure in Howell Lane. 22nd November 2008

Mural near LibraryAnother fine mural commissioned by the City Council has appeared on this wall close to the exit from the New Building's Passage off Gandy Street. The work of Andy Alleway and assisted by Amanda Jewell, the painted mural adds a welcome splash of colour to a drab concrete wall. Because of the work on the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, the theme is the history of Exeter with witches, pirates and Roman soldiers arranged around a central depiction of Toisa's cross that was once placed on the corner of Gandy Street to protect it from carts. 19th September 2008

Deane Clarke House ice roomDeane Clarke House wardDeane Clarke House, in Southernhay, has been sold to the developer Devon Lifestyles Exeter who have sought permission to convert the Grade II listed building into a 49-bed hotel. The old hospital's Victoria and Halford Wings will be incorporated into the hotel, while the Victory Wing and 59 Magdalen Street, will become student accommodation. I had the opportunity to spend a couple of hours taking photographs of the interior. The upper photo shows the ice-room that was situated in the basement. The second photo shows a former ward that has been used as offices for the last thirty years, but it still echos the ghosts of patients and staff from an earlier age of healing. 16th September 2008

Turntable at Canal BasinPreparations for a new block of flats and a restaurant to be built at the Canal Basin exposed the Victorian workings of one of the railway turntables. One of the turntables is well known as a circular seating area, complete with scraps of broadgauge rail. This second turntable, on the adjacent corner of the canal basin, still has the circular iron ring that carried the rail, and the axles and wheels beneath, which allowed it to turn. Once the feature has been investigated, it will be buried with a special inert infill, to preserve it, and the new building will be built at its side. 20th July 2008

Street art at Smythen StreetThis latest piece of 'street art' was produced over the weekend of 30 August, when a 17 strong team of graffiti artists worked with their spray cans to brighten this wall at the rear of the Harbour Sports Shop. The work faces Smythen Street, and has a theme of surfing and the sea with Neptune, a mermaid, an octopus and the obligatory tag writing that no one can actually read! The paint and site was provided by Harbour Sports in an effort to brighten a small carpark and the 15 metre high wall. 3 September 2008

Lammas Fair 2008The Lord Mayor, Cllr. Paul Smith opened Lammas Fair on the steps of the Guildhall. The colourful ceremony dates back to Edward III and was watched by a large, and enthusiastic crowd. 14th June 2008

Foxhayes Garage petrol signFoxhayes Garage put up the cost of diesel and petrol to £1.99 per litre during the petrol tanker drivers strike. This is the United Kingdom's most expensive petrol at £9 gallon and will be considered as profiteering by many. Ron James who runs the petrol station claimed that locals will get a voucher worth £24, off their next MOT. The garage and attached shop have a planning application in to be turned into flats, so his regular customers will need an MOT very soon to take advantage. 16th June 2008

Video of the opening of Lammas Fair on 14 June 2008

Lord Mayor opens the Garden of RememberanceExeter's new Lord Mayor, Cllr. Paul Smith opened the newly completed Garden of Remembrance at Higher Cemetery. A joint project between Exeter City Council and Langmead Memorials, a time capsule was placed beneath a stone paving plaque containing a copy of the Express and Echo, restaurant menus and a list of current prices of fuel and food. The garden has been designed for a hundred plaques for individuals to be placed in one of four sections, or on the central memorial, along with the ashes of the departed. 23rd May 2008

Exeter City CelebrateExeter City CelebrateAfter their historic win over Cambridge United at the Blue Square play off final at Wembley the previous Sunday, the Exeter City manager and team paraded the winners cup from St James' Park, along Sidwell Street and the High Street to a reception with the Lord Mayor, Paul Smith. It was uplifting to see the full support shown for the triumph at Wembley by the team and flags were waved, trumpets blown and chants sung. 24th May 2008

Drained River ExeFor a couple of weeks at the beginning of February, the sluice gate at Trews Weir was opened to drain the river between Blackaller and Trews Weir. The banks of the river were exposed for the first time for almost forty years revealing shopping trolleys, bicycles and other rubbish. The outlet from the Chutebrook at the bottom of Colleton Hill was seen for the first time for many years. Flocks of gulls took advantage of the mud flats to feed. 1st February 2008

HMS Exeter rememberanceOn the 60th Anniversary of the dedication of the HMS Exeter window at Exeter Cathedral, and the 66th Anniversary of the sinking of the ship off Sunda Straight, ten surviving members of the crew were welcomed to the Guildhall by the Lord Mayor, followed by a service at the Cathedral. Here, this veteran sits by a painting of the modern HMS Exeter.1st March 2008

Northcott protest in Bedford StreetThe shock news in December 2007 that the Northcott Theatre would lose its funding from the Arts Council and would be forced to close, initiated a program of protest, petitions and letters to the Express and Echo and the Arts Council. A large protest on the 5th January was surpassed on the next Saturday as the citizens of Exeter turned out to support our theatre. With songs from the shows, young and old entertained the passing crowd to gain their signatures on the petition. 12th January 2008

Exeter pipeband in Sidwell StreetThis is the first time that I have seen the City of Exeter Pipes and Drums performing in public. Formed in the late 1970's they wear the Robertson tartan, and carry the city Coat of Arms. I wouldn't know a good pipe band if it hit me in the face, but I did find this one quite stirring and colourful. It attracted a lively crowd by the now closed, Debenhams store in Sidwell Street.
3rd November 2007

Street punt in PrincesshayThese two gents thought it was jolly boating weather for a punt up Princesshay West on the opening day. There were other entertainments through the day as the crowds filled the newly completed 'streetscape' and queued to enter some shops. See the new Princesshay for photos of the opening. 20th September 2007

Blue BoyOne little blue boy welcomes another Blue Boy back to the new Princesshay. They have also returned Hope and Despair and the Hughes Garage Phoenix, to the 'streetscape'. Mind you, Henry VII seems to be missing, although I have to admit, he is not of the same calibre as the restored pieces. 22th September 2007

Cricklepit MillCricklepit MillCricklepit Mill, the new headquarters of the Devon Wildlife Trust will be opening in the Autumn of 2007. Here is a preview of the almost completely restored main water wheel. A second inside the building has also been restored and is ready for turning. This side of the mill is superb, but the new building work on the other side is, let's say, different - that means it had top architects and will win awards. Mind you, the roof of the new building is planted with moss and grass which does look nice from Cricklepit Lane and is splendidly, ecologically sound, which is good. 11th September 2007

princesshay ModelNow that it has gone, I thought a photograph of the model of Princesshay that Land Securities used to sell their £230 million scheme to the citizens of Exeter would be appropriate. I wonder if it will be displayed in the museum like the Hedgeland model of Exeter made in the early 1800s. 11th September 2007

A timelapse of the demolition of Eastgate House from Debenhams
6 mb WMV file - Updated 14th September 2007

A street vendorExeter had promotion fever in the lead up to the Conference final at the new Wembley Stadium on 20th May. The High Street had several traders selling flags, scarves and other red and white regalia, to help Exonians get behind the team.......... late Sunday, and the dream is over as the team lost 2-1 to Morecambe. Still, they will get back into the league next year, this was just a practice run. See St James Park.
18 May 2007

Wardour Garrison at Poltimore HousePoltimore House had an open day to raise funds for restoration. The Wardour Garrison, who act out 17th century life and give displays in musketry were the attraction. These four fellows represented an irregular militia formed to fight Cromwell's Parliamentary forces at Exeter. They put on a pretty impressive display of disciplined firing - well most of the time. Also see the Civil War at Exeter. 18th May 2007

Musketry at Poltimore House 5 MB WMV video - May 2007

Vue opens in ExeterThe new Vue Cinema opened on 22nd December at 10 am. The cinema has cost £4.2 million and has seating for 1,073. The films shown on the first day were March of the Penguins and Night at the Museum. It is planned that there will be an official opening at 5pm on Friday 12th January 2007, with the Lord Mayor in attendance. See History of Vue in Exeter.
22nd December 2006.

Christmas entertainment in the High StreetThe Christmas ice-rink, ExeterExeter's coolest winter attraction, in the Cheeke Street carpark, is an outdoor ice rink that was well attended on a cold frosty morning. Some spent time cooling their behind, while the smallest showed how it should be done. 20th December 2006

Mr Richard RobertsMr Richard Roberts, 95 years young was the guest of honour at St Sidwell's School in York Road. Mr Roberts attended the school between 1915 and 1923. The school had an open day for past pupils, before it moves into a new building, and the old is demolished over the summer. 23rd June 2006
Mr Roberts sadly passed away at the end of 2006.

Noel Edmonds switches on te Christmas Lights 2006Christmas fireworks over DebenhamsNoel Edmonds turns on the Christmas lights in the High Street - he brought his 'Deal, No Deal' phone with him. Fireworks were let off over Debenhams for the crowd.

Duke of KentThe Duke of Kent takes the salute at the Guildhall for the last parade of the Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry. They were to be merged, with other regiments to become The Rifles. See the Last Parade of the Devon and Dorsets for more photos of the event. Photo kindly supplied by Douglas Sims
27th January 2007

HMS Exeter - Freedom of the CityHMS Exeter's White EnsignThe Officers and Crew of HMS Exeter were given the Freedom of the City. With a Royal Marine band they marched past, with fixed bayonets, the Guildhall for the salute from Captain Brown and the Lord Mayor, Cllr Norman Shiel. 7th October 2006

The Last (but one) Parade of the Devon and Dorset Regiment 4.8 MB WMV Video (filmed in June 2006)

Chevalier ceramic This ceramic Chevalier is to be placed on the roof of the Hogs Head pub to remember the original, that was lost along with the building in the 1942 bombing. It was paid for by subscription, organised by local historian Dr Todd Gray. June 2006

Demolishing the Red CowThe partly demolished Red Cow Inn, near St David's station. Built in 1810, there was a Red Cow on this site from at least the 17th century. The building had become unstable due to fires set by squatters and it was ordered to be demolished. May 2006.


Henry VII statueHenry VII closeupThe Henry VII statue that was on the side of Eastgate House was removed during August 2005. Here it lies, in the council yard down at Belle Isle, like a carved effigy on a packing case sarcophagus. We will have to wait to see if Land Securities resurrect him. The statue was made by Sonia Newton in the early 1950's. See East Gate Henry VII Statue October 2005

Poster 1 Poster 2 Poster 3

Traders in Fore Street are promoting the West Quarter. These posters are in the empty Bill Greenhalgh store, Adams Home Hardware. and the Flying Post window. Once poverty stricken, the West Quarter is now becoming a trendy area to live. October 2005

Fore Street window displayThe fancy dress shop Indoor Pursuits in Fore Street is gearing up for Halloween with this young man. Behind is a generic poster to promote traders in Fore Street. October 2005.

Homeless in Cathedral Yard Even in the 21st century, on a cold day in January 2004, this homeless person was sheltering in the doorway of Cathedral Close and Yard. January 2004

Christmas busker A busker entertaining Christmas shoppers at the High Street, Castle Street, junction. See slide show of Exeter buskers. December 2003.

Bomb crater at the UniversityThis photo was contributed by Dr Martin King. It shows a bomb crater just below the Washington Singer Laboratories. Dr King remembers as a boy, the 500lb bomb dropping on the 4th May 1942 at 02.30, leaving a crater 40x15 ft. It was listed in the official report at the time: Prince of Wales Rd. Fell in open field 200yds. from the bend of road. Near to Washington Singer Laboratories. March 2007

Exeter quay jazz band A jazz band on the Quayside - every Sunday through the summer the Prospect Inn laid on different bands to entertain the crowds. This band played the 'blues', my favourite style of jazz. July 2005.

Post chaise in High Street The post-chaise of Lt Lapenotiere with news of Admiral Nelsons victory at Trafalgar, travels down the High Street. A ceremony handing over the Trafalgar Way proclamation was held on the steps of the Guildhall. Also see Lt Lapenotiere at Exeter August 2005

Down to Earth A production company moved into Cathedral Yard in August 2001 to film some sequences for the BBC series, Down to Earth. The cameraman is setting up his equipment for the next shot. August 2001. Photo contributed by Sean Creech

Mayor's car The Exeter coat of arms on the side of the Mayor's limousine that was parked outside the Guildhall. He never seems to get a parking ticket! July 2005

High Street bandMore free street music. This band was on the corner of the High Street and Queens Street, entertaining the summer shoppers and Tesco lunch break brigade. July 2005.

American carA 1950's American car parked on the Quayside. Someone has spent a lot of time and money in restoring this little motor! July 2005

Marking TimeA detail from the new Marking Time artwork in St Catherine's Almshouses. A cheeky coke can is included as an archeological find in one of the glass panels. The most interesting artwork to appear in Exeter during the last 20 years. October 2005

Mower museum The lawnmower as museum exhibit, or is it art? A home made display by former councillor Chris Gale in Exwick brightens the morning walk to the post-office at Foxhayes. The museum started when Gale placed a single mower on a newly gravelled front garden. A friend jokingly offered his old mower for the garden and within a short time it had grown to a collection of eighteen mowers and grass trimming machines.

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