Colourful interpretations of Newton Abbot’s past have sprung up on hoarding surrounding the Newton’s Place museum and community space project.
Eight of the 11 ‘My Place’ panels were completed by pupils from schools in and around the town, three by museum volunteers and art group members.
Time-line graphics take the viewer from local pre-history through important events such as the 16th century declaration of William of Orange as King and the emergence in the early 1900s of the suffragette movement. Each of the historic events reflect artefacts held in the museum’s collection.
The final board tells the story of how the former St Leonard’s Church, now approaching 200 years old, is being transformed into a new community facility for the 21st century.
The £10,000 project has taken a year to complete and been funded by Historic England and the Helen Foundation. The project was the brainchild of Newton Abbot Town and GWR Museum volunteer Katy Bennie. It was led by Sam Eyre of Coombeshead Academy, assisted by local artist Ewan Walton, with text for the panels provided by another museum volunteer, Tess Walker.
With cash still in the budget, further work with schools is being planned. "I’m absolutely delighted with the panels,’ said Katie Bennie. ’Teaching staff at the schools have just been so enthusiastic, the whole thing has been great fun. The feedback I’ve had is that the children really entered into the project, such as Wolborough Primary where through their study of the suffragette movement they really got to know the historic link between the suffragettes and Newton Abbot and that’s the main thing."
Other primary schools which took part included Bradley Barton, Haytor View, St Joseph’s RC, Kingskerswell, St Michael’s C of E and the district’s newest, Kingsteignton. The Mint Art Group also contributed.
Contractors working on the former church have completed internal demolitions and now turned their attentions to the roof where the slates are coming off. "It’s great to see the progress that’s being made and I’m delighted the community continues to be included in the Newton’s Place project through initiatives such as the My Place artwork," said project champion Cllr Mike Ryan. "Hats off to Katy Bennie and all involved."