Bridgwater and Taunton College

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Bridgwater and Taunton College
Bath Road

, ,

TypeSixth form and further education college
Local authoritySomerset
Department for Education URN130803 Tables
Chairman of Governing BodyDerek Randall
PrincipalAndy Berry

Bridgwater and Taunton College is a further education college based in the heart of Somerset, England, with main centres in Bridgwater, Taunton and Cannington. It educates approximately 3000 students between the ages of 16–18 in academic and vocational programmes in addition to several thousand part-time or mature students. The college was founded in 1973, although the history of its predecessor institutions dates to 1891.

After a merger with Cannington College in September 2004, the college expanded its curriculum of full-time and part-time courses for school leavers, adults, university level students, the business community and students from overseas. In 2016, Bridgwater College merged with Somerset College to become Bridgwater & Taunton College and launched University Centre Somerset.

The college offers courses from entry level through higher education. In addition to A-Levels and BTEC qualifications, the college offers the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. The college has links with the University of Plymouth by way of the University of Plymouth Colleges network, Bournemouth University, Oxford Brookes University and is part of the Wessex Partnership, in association with Bath Spa University.

In 2012 the college became the sponsor of a Multi Academy Trust named Bridgwater College Trust. The college aims to support the development of schools within the Trust.


Bridgwater College was founded in its present form in 1973. The college was created by the reconstitution of its predecessor, the Bridgwater Technical College, to provide Bridgwater with a sixth-form and further education college.[1] The college has occupied buildings at its present site in Bath Road since 1978.

Through the Technical College the roots of tertiary education in Bridgwater can be traced to the establishment of the Bridgwater School of Art in George Street in 1860.[2] A second art school was established in 1888 in Queen Street. This became the Bridgwater Art and Technical School after its relocation to Lonsdale House in Blake Street in 1891.[3] The school, which had been renamed as the Art and Technical Institute since at least 1931, was renamed again in 1958 when it became the Bridgwater Technical College. During the following two years, the college expanded with the acquisition of premises in Mount Street, Queen Street and new buildings in Broadway, where it continued until the college acquired its current name in 1973. Further buildings in Park Road were occupied from 1975, but by 1988 most of the college's departments were located at its buildings in Bath Road.[2]

Cannington College, the local agricultural training provider opened in 1921 and merged with Bridgwater College in 2004. It brought with it campuses in Cannington, Paignton and Yeovil. Students studying animal management at the Paignton campus accessed Paignton Zoo until 2017 when the campus closed.[citation needed]

The college in Taunton originated as the School of Science and Art and was established in Bath Place in 1856. This followed the Great Exhibition of 1851 which inspired arts education and saw several new art schools open across the country. By the 1960s, the College spanned three sites: Corporation Street, the Old Huish Grammar School and the Elms on Wellington Road. All remote sites eventually closed, with the Wellington Road site housing all the provision by the 90s.

In 2017 the college was told by Ofsted to stop referring to itself as outstanding, due to a drop in performance.[4]

In February 2018 the southern hub of the National College for Nuclear was launched at the Bridgwater Campus, funded by the Department for Education (£15 million), the Heart of the South-West local enterprise partnership (£3 million), and Bridgwater and Taunton (£4.5 million). The college is expected to service the building and operation of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.[5] The college over 300 students following 30 full-time and apprenticeship courses, and also provides short courses to over 200 adults per year.[6]


Bridgwater College

The main centre, Bridgwater Campus, houses facilities which include a television studio, forensics laboratory, a motorsport centre and an £8 million building devoted to health & fitness.[7] The centre also houses numerous commercial units such as an early years centre, a beauty salon, a hair salon, a gym, and The McMillan Theatre which opened in 2015. The southern hub of the National College for Nuclear opened in 2018.[5]

Located in the centre of Taunton, the Taunton Campus is home to a wide range of facilities, including the University Centre Somerset.[citation needed]

The Cannington Campus was established as Cannington College in 1921. Facilities include a new golf course, equestrian centre, commercially run farm, glass houses covering 1,000 m2 (11,000 sq ft), wildlife havens, vineyard and the new animal management centre. Many students reside on site.[citation needed]

The Angel Place Skills Centre used to be located in the middle of Bridgwater and offers adults IT, literacy, and numeracy lessons - these courses are now offered by the College at the Bridgwater Campus.[citation needed]

The Energy Skills Centre was completed in 2011 to teach nuclear decommissioning for shutting down Hinkley Point B Nuclear Power Station and constructing power plants. Hinkley C.[8] The building also has a windmill and photo-voltaic panels on the roof.[9]

Open to the public[edit]

Bridgwater & Taunton College has many facilities and purpose-built buildings that can be used by members of the community or businesses.[citation needed] Bridgwater based facilities include Hair & Beauty Salon, Childcare Centre, Fitness Zone and The McMillan Theatre.[citation needed]

Cannington is host to Cannington Equestrian Centre, Golf Centre, Walled Gardens, Activity Centre, Fitness Zone, Conference Facilities and Dog Grooming Salon. Taunton Campus features modern Conference centre, The Quantock Restaurant, Hair & Beauty Salons and Mama Bears Childcare Centre.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "College History". Bridgwater College. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Bridgwater: Education". British History Online. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  3. ^ "Blake Street" (PDF). Bridgwater Heritage. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  4. ^ Allen-Kinross, Pippa (15 December 2017). "Ofsted tells college to ditch 'outstanding' claim". FE Week. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
  5. ^ a b Offord, Paul (7 February 2018). "National College for Nuclear launched". F E Week. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  6. ^ "Nuclear skills development in the South West". Nuclear Engineering International. 26 January 2021. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  7. ^ "Brdgwater College". Work in Tourism. Archived from the original on 22 March 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2011.
  8. ^ McKowen, Rory (24 January 2011). "Energy and Climate Change minister MP Chris Huhne opens new Energy Skills Centre at Bridgwater College". Bridgwater Mercury. Retrieved 11 March 2011.
  9. ^ "Southwest flagship centre opened". National Skills Academy. Archived from the original on 16 March 2012. Retrieved 11 March 2011.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°07′53″N 2°59′16″W / 51.13139°N 2.98778°W / 51.13139; -2.98778