North Devon’s first surfers tell their stories

The original gang of some of North Devon's first surfers - Bill Gliddon, Bob Powers, Paul Latham, Pete Sandy, Alan Kift, Steve Latham and Ozzie Gammon. The original gang of some of North Devon's first surfers - Bill Gliddon, Bob Powers, Paul Latham, Pete Sandy, Alan Kift, Steve Latham and Ozzie Gammon.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014
2:43 PM

The trailblazers of the region’s surf scene gather at the Museum of British Surfing to recall an image from their past.

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Pictured in this 1960s shot at Woolacombe of some of the first North Devon surfers are Brian Kettle, Barry Charlesworth, Ozzie Gammon, Mick Lock, Peter Sandy and one unknown surfer.Pictured in this 1960s shot at Woolacombe of some of the first North Devon surfers are Brian Kettle, Barry Charlesworth, Ozzie Gammon, Mick Lock, Peter Sandy and one unknown surfer.

PIONEERS of the North Devon surf scene got back together on Sunday at the Museum of British Surfing in Braunton to recreate an iconic image from their past.

Before surfing became a multi-million industry, the beaches of North Devon had hardly seen a board, but all that changed in the 1960s when a group of friends began tackling the waves with their ‘new-fangled Malibu boards and rubber suits’.

Their pictures and stories from the birth of modern surfing in the region form part of the museum’s new exhibition The First Wave, revealing the history of British surfing through the people who were there.

Alan Kift, 76, and Paul Latham, 83, could well have been the first in North Devon to own a surfboard, after spotting the craze in Newquay in 1963.

Surfing in North Devon during the 1960s.Surfing in North Devon during the 1960s.

The Woolacombe Surf Life-saving Club members gathered together like-minded types such as Peter Sandy, Ozzie Gammon, Barry Charlesworth and Bob Powers, thought to be the first ever board shaper in North Devon.

“We wanted to work with the museum to add our knowledge about the first days of surfing in North Devon and to encourage as many people as possible to go along and find out more,” said Alan.

“Since we started surfing the turnover has grown and grown, so today it must be worth £15-20million for the local economy.”

Their recollections of those days have been recorded by The First Wave project and can be listened to at the museum through touch screen displays, alongside other forerunners and innovators of the British surf scene.

Pictures, surfboards and memorabilia from the heady days of the 1960s and even earlier can also be seen.

Peter Robinson at the museum said they were still keen to hear from anyone with surfboards from the time who would be willing to lend them to the exhibition.

The exhibition at the museum in Caen Street car park runs until December. If you have boards or memorabilia you’d like to share, call the museum on 01271 815155 or email contact@museumofbritishsurfing.org.uk.

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