THE people of North Devon have been asked to help make plans to establish a surfing museum and turn it into the only Mecca of wave riding history in the whole of Europe. The Museum of British Surfing project was set up in Braunton by Peter Robinson and ha

THE people of North Devon have been asked to help make plans to establish a surfing museum and turn it into the only Mecca of wave riding history in the whole of Europe.

The Museum of British Surfing project was set up in Braunton by Peter Robinson and has just received a huge boost after becoming a registered charity.

The premises at Velator have planning permission and it is expected to officially open as a museum next summer, but Peter hopes local people or businesses can provide the help and support to make it into an iconic visitor attraction which will benefit the whole region.

"The aim is to have a proper 21st century attraction, fully interactive, exciting and fun," said Peter, who is a former ITN news reporter.

"We have planning permission on the Braunton site, but we are still looking for an alternative location. Braunton is a good spot and hub for surfing in North Devon, but obviously if we can get somewhere closer to one of the beaches it will have a better feel for surfing."

People can help in a range of ways - suggestions for an alternative home would be welcomed, as would any donations of surfing memorabilia and indeed offers of help from anyone who would like to get involved with the project.

The museum has the most extensive and historically significant collection of vintage surfboards, including early wooden varieties, plus literature and memorabilia on public display and for academic research, in Europe.

Volunteers

"If you have any old surfing gear in your loft or garage, we'd be delighted if you could donate it to extend our collection," said Peter.

"A lot has already come from donations, car boot sales and even rubbish tips. The hardest things to find are wooden boards because so often they just get thrown away.

"If people want to help and get involved, we would be enormously grateful. We're a small team of volunteers, so if anyone out there has an interest we'd like to hear from them - and our 'board' meetings can even be held out in the sea if necessary!"

The first westerner to see surfing was when Captain Cook visited Tahiti in 1777 and it seems soon spread to the UK, becoming particularly popular by the 1900s and known as "the sport of kings."

The successful bid for charitable status came about through the donation of legal; fees by Thea Longley from London law firm Bates, Wells and Braithwaite. A body boarder and VW Camper owner, Thea is a regular visitor surfing visitor to North Devon.

North Devon+ is helping to set up grant bids for the project, but any individuals or business who would like to make a donation - of money, exhibits or their time are welcome to contact Peter Robinson on 07801 522892 or email thesurfingmuseum@btinternet.com. The museum website is www.museumofbritishsurfing.org.uk.