College lecturer Graham Smith, who has been credited with transforming the School of Art at Swindon College, has retired after more than 30 years of service.

Mr Smith, a 60-year-old illustration lecturer of North Street, Calne, started at the college in September 1979 when it was based in Regent Circus, in the town centre.

“When I first went there it was a small art department and we taught regional diplomas. Since then we have built up courses to degree level,” he said.

“I have loved working with the students and the staff. I have really enjoyed coming from the time when it was a small department and raising its profile up into an international centre. It has been fantastic fun. It is fantastic bringing students up to the standard required to go out and be successful.”

The School of Art moved from Regent Circus to Euclid Street in the 1990s, then back to Regent Circus for a couple of years before the college relocated to North Star in September 2006.

Mr Smith, who has taught between 3,000 and 5,000 students during his time at the college, introduced illustration to the School of Art after he arrived in 1979.

He later added sequential illustration after working at an art school in Lyon, France, in the 1990s, and archaeological illustration.

“I brought sequential illustration to Swindon and started up a degree course. We were the only ones in the country at the time.

“That has been successful and it is still going,” he said.

“The archaeological illustration course has now moved on to a Masters with Oxford Brookes university. That is unique internationally and we have students coming from across the world to study it.

“Nowhere else in the world does it, Swindon is unique.

“I was also involved with bringing drawing back into the curriculum by helping to set up the fine art drawing course.

“That has also gone on to Masters level with Oxford Brookes. I was involved with writing the curriculum and getting it passed.”

Karen Barber, director of learning at the college, said: “Graham brought a wealth of experience to the School of Art and the students here and we wish him all the best in his retirement.”