One of Plymouth’s lesser-known Victorian treasures is the noble Norman-Gothic structure that has occasioned two local street names, one that it sits in – Western College Road – and the other just to the south of it – College Avenue.
Begun in April 1860 and completed soon afterwards, it was by no means the first home for the Western College. Intended as an alternative to the Oxbridge style universities it was founded for “the Education of Young Men for the Christian Ministry among Protestant Dissenters of the Independent and Congregational Denomination.” Covering the five western counties and originally located in Exeter in 1752, it was deemed prudent, for a variety of reasons, to relocate it in 1845, and after considering the relative merits of Taunton and Bristol, it was decided to move everything to a position convenient for the Three Towns of Plymouth Stonehouse and Devonport, in Wyndham Square. And there it was based for fifteen years, before moving into purpose built premises in the then very rural spot just off Mutley Plain. Curiously enough it moved again, this time to Bristol, at the turn of the nineteenth century – the old buildings however still remain.