History of CESC

The Company

CESC was set up in 1969 by Oxford University Press (OUP) as a testing ground for materials written by an OUP writing cell based in Colchester. They produced specialised English language teaching materials, at that time the English language courses offered were also mainly specialised – English for business, aviation, medicine, technical trainees and teachers. General English courses and English for academic study were introduced in around 1980 and since that time the English language school has grown dramatically. CESC continues to offer English for special purposes, general and examination courses. Harold Abrahams, who won a gold medal in the 1924 Olympics (his story is told in the film “Chariots of Fire”) was one of the founding members of the company. The School eventually became known as Colchester English Study Centre. For almost 50 years, CESC have designed and delivered more than 1,250 different specialised English courses for a wide range of clients and sectors from around the world, building a reputation for delivering results.

In 2016, new owners (Study in Colchester Ltd) took over the Company. They are determined to build on CESC’s success and ensure its continuing development in the next, exciting stage of its life.


The Building

19 Lexden Road has a long and distinguished history. It was built in 1837 by the architect Henry Hayward for Thomas Catchpool, a local ironmonger and foundry owner. Thomas came from one of the richest families in Colchester and decided he wanted to move away from his High Street home above his shop  to a more luxurious house in a greener, cleaner part of town.

In 1881, Doctor Roger Sturley Nunn bought the building. He was a Mayor of Colchester and the first Honorary Surgeon to Essex County Hospital. He was the first surgeon in Colchester to perform an operation using ether as an anaesthetic – in 1847. Unfortunately, his patient died!

In 1886, another Mayor and newspaper proprietor, William Gurney Benham bought the house.

The next important owner was another surgeon, Ronnie Reid, and from 1948 until 1969 the building was a private nursing home; our teachers’ room was the operating theatre. In 1969, the nursing home sold the building and it began a new life as Colchester English Study Centre.

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