Petroc was officially launched in August 2008, when North Devon College and East Devon College merged together. Both colleges had long histories of serving the community and Petroc is continuing their legacies of excellence in teaching and learning.
The Barnstaple campus first opened in 1952.
Originally, the plan was to spend £300,000 on the new North Devon Technical College, built on top of Sticklepath Hill. But the college was developed in stages, starting with the engineering blocks (now the site of the Lifestyle and Tourism Centre).
In 1952, the college offered courses including carpentry, bricklaying, auto engineering, science and technical drawing.
Over the years, the college expanded and additional buildings were added. The campus reflects changes in architectural styles over the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The most recent new teaching buildings are The Engineering Centre, the Liberty Centre and the Lifestyle and Tourism Centre.
In 1969, North Devon Centre became one of the country’s first Tertiary Colleges, providing a Sixth Form for North Devon’s newly formed comprehensive schools.
As well as catering for the area’s teenagers, the college’s curriculum also encompassed adult learning, work-based training and Higher Education, including graduation celebrations in the heart of Barnstaple.
As NDC expanded, the college outgrew its main campus and leased additional premises in and around Barnstaple, including The Hair Academy at Roundswell and Queen’s House in the town centre. Further growth came through the addition of Bude and Holsworthy Training Services (BHTS), adding offices in the North Cornwall town and a stake in the Holsworthy Skills Centre.
Between 2006 and 2009, the college developed exciting plans for a new, £125 million campus – a ‘cathedral of learning’ on the banks of the River Taw, at Seven Brethren in Barnstaple. The Learning and Skills Council committed £78 million to the project as part of the £2.3 billion Building Colleges for the Future programme. Unfortunately, the LSC’s over-enthusiastic commitment of funds meant the programme overspent. As a result, plans to move the college to a new home were shelved indefinitely.
But the College continued to develop leading edge facilities, including breathing new life into the former Brannam Pottery buildings at Roundswell, Barnstaple, and over the past five years has secured over £20 million of investment to transform large parts of its campuses.
NDC was frequently one of the top performing colleges in the country and was recognised as ‘good’ by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) at its last full inspection in 2012. In 2019, Ofsted re-visited Petroc under the new Education Inspection Framework (EIF) and announced that the college continues to be rated as a good provider.
The Tiverton campus first opened as East Devon Technical College in 1961 and became East Devon College of Further Education a decade later.
From 1971, the college had responsibility for all further education from Sidmouth to Bampton and from Crediton to Axminster.
In 1981 a new building (now C Block) opened at the Bolham Road site, with further building work in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s
East Devon College was created in 1992, as a new Tertiary college to replace the sixth form at Tiverton School and serve Tiverton, Cullompton, Uffculme and the surrounding areas. Premises in Honiton were added a year later.
New buildings (A and B Blocks) were added in 2006-7 at a cost of £6 million, and the Future Technologies Centre opened in 2014.
The two colleges merged in August 2008.
At that point, technically, the institution was ‘North Devon College’. It was clear that a new name was required, recognising the college’s expanded catchment area, range of premises in Devon and Cornwall and the fact that it has learners from the South West region and beyond.
Using funding from the Learning and Skills Council, the college engaged Interbrand to work with staff, students and stakeholders on the development of a new brand for the merged college.
Petroc was unveiled as the college’s new name on 23 September 2009.