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September 2022 saw the start of Petroc's 70th anniversary!

Petroc was officially born back in August 2008 when North Devon College and East Devon College merged together, but their combined history dates back to 1952 – and we have been serving the community with excellence in teaching and learning ever since.

To celebrate our anniversary, we have been delving into our archives and discovered rarely seen pictures, prospectuses and even glass plate negatives from over the years which we will be sharing on our social media platforms throughout the year. We will also be sharing stories from staff and students who attended the associated colleges since 1952 - North Devon Technical College, East Devon Technical College, East Devon College, North Devon College and Petroc.

Principal and CEO Sean Mackney, commented: “Our 70th-anniversary celebration is about learning about the past and preparing for the future. Petroc people make a difference in the world, in business, the public sector and in voluntary organisations. We want to showcase their achievements to inspire the next generation of brilliant people in our community.”

Each month we will be looking at a theme that runs throughout Petroc's history.

To stay up to date with all the latest news, pictures, and stories to mark the college’s Platinum birthday year, look out for the #Petroc70 hashtag on social media.


We received some great 'Next Steps' stories from former students. Sue Dixon (now Boyle) told us about her successes. Sue studied at Barnstaple Technical College from 1964 to 1965 taking A Levels in Maths, Physics and Maths with Computation, and then went on to study Physics, Applied Physics and Maths at Reading University.

After graduating, Sue undertook a range of engineering-related jobs and still delivers Zoom talks to engineering students.

Here is a photograph of Sue in 1985 from a IET (Institution of Engineering and Technology) booklet!

Photo of Sue Dixon from a magazine


College isn't just about study; the social aspects are equally important for building friendships and life skills.

Former student, Andrew Littlejohns, reminisced on his time at the college: “I have fond memories of attending the college from 1967 to 1971. During this time, I was President of the Students Union from 1969 to 1970 and Chairman of the Rag Committee from 1970 to 1971. The college played a significant part in my formative years and I still keep in contact with fellow course members.”

Web Homepage 70


We are so proud to hear how successful our past students have been and loved learning about their ventures after leaving college.

Colin Miles is an excellent example, he told us: “I completed two courses at college, I competed BTEC first diploma in Business and Finance, which I almost failed, and then completed my BTEC National Diploma in Business and Finance. I have had a varied and fulfilling career and I now run global delivery and global technology for an AI company called Afiniti.”

Web Homepage 70


Colin Moore studied Agricultural Engineering from 1957-58. He sent in this fabulous photo with his classmates and is the young man on the front row, counting 4th in from the left-hand side.

After completing his course, Colin successfully secured an apprenticeship with Bales Garage which is now Irvine Insurance! 

Colin studied Agricultural Engineering from 1957-58 and sent us this amazing photo of him with his classmates. Colin is the gentleman on the front row, counting 4th in from the left-hand side.

After completing his course, Colin successfully secured an apprenticeship with Bales Garage which is now Irvine Insurance! 

Colin Moore 3


Continuing our Petroc 70 celebrations, Louise Smale kindly shared with us some photos of the college during a particularly snowy year! Louise and her close family all worked at the college in the past. She told us: "My dad started working at the college in the engineering block in the late 70s or early 80s, and my mum started work as a cleaner and then a kitchen assistant in the Food Hall. She used to moan about the weight of the large pans as she was really petite! I started working in the Food Hall as a chef in 2009. My dad also trained my future husband while he was in the engineering department! When the engineering block was emptied in preparation for the new build you see now, they found a penknife in the back of a drawer with my dad's name engraved on it which they gave to me.

Louise Smale 7


One of our former students, Russell Maynard, told us about his time at college and the practical work he did at a remarkable time: "During my final year at college in 1952, where I studied building, the new Queen was on the throne and the coronation being arranged for the following year was top of the agenda. We were issued with a new plywood panel to prepare and then decorate with one of the elements of the royal coat of arms - I chose the three lions - and transferred the images by stencil brush onto the shield."

Russell then obtained an apprenticeship at Shapland and Petter (Cabinet Maker and Joiner) and attended night school three times a week for another three years to achieve a top City and Guilds qualification. He then went on to do National Service and ultimately became a company director before retiring.

Russell Maynard Shield


Petroc 70 continues to showcase some amazing stories from the past. Our theme for January is ‘Where are they now’ and we were delighted to hear from Richard Edwards who told us about his time after college.

"After leaving North Devon College, I gained a degree at the then Middlesex Polytechnic and then a PhD in Philosophy at the University of Kent. I got my PhD in 1985 when unemployment was high and the demand for philosophers was low so began working in Adult Education in Kent and then became a lecturer in adult education with the Open University. I then moved on to become a Professor of Education at the University of Stirling in 2001, and between 2006-13 was Head of the Stirling Institute of Education. I have written and co-authored and co-edited over 20 books and have travelled the world as an academic. I now live in Canada with my wife."

Richard shared with us this picture of himself and his wife Tara, snow-shoeing on Vancouver Island where they live!

Richard Edwards and his wife in the snow in Canada


To celebrate our 70th anniversary, we invited students to design a Christmas card with a 50s reference. Our judging panel were very impressed with the winning entry created by Andrei Bell, which we used as our college Christmas card for 2022!

HappyHolidays 2022


This month we are celebrating all of the friendships that have been made throughout the last 70 years at Petroc:

Tash was a student at Petroc in the late 90’s. She said, “I studied A Levels at the college, I loved it and made friends with people I am still friends with now. We didn't see each other for quite a few years after we left university but we always stayed in touch via email, and for the past 6 years we have met up every summer when she and her family visit Devon, which has been fantastic. We literally pick up where we left off and college memories often come up, such as being in the Basement!”. We know how important friendships are and that so many strong friendships are formed through college years, so it’s great to hear stories like Tash and Rosie’s.

We also heard from a former student who contacted us to tell us that she met her husband at East Devon College in 2006 and both have gone on to have fantastic careers, furthering their education (achieving a doctorate!), and starting a family. Proof that college isn’t just about study, it’s also about having fun, meeting new people and broadening horizons!

Tash Summerville 2
Tash Summerville