The project lasted over 20 years and eventually involved over 250 volunteers working across 9 centres in Devon and Dorset.
The idea for the project started in the early 1970’s when Tom, the owner of a local marketing agency, had a conversation with his friend, the Vicar of The Minster Church of St Andrews, Plymouth, about a project to engage members of the local community. Tom was passionate about local history and wanted to make use of the Prysten House which was owned by St Andrews. He also wanted to help boost tourism to Plymouth.
He came up with an idea of a tapestry. While it was being worked on in the Prysten House he felt that visitors would be attracted inside to watch and talk to the people working on it.
The result was a stream of visitors. So many said they wanted their own project that Tom had to come up with a new idea. His love of history meant he settled on an making a tapestry recording the settlement of the New World. Each panel needed careful research and planning. What started as an idea for a couple of panels grew over time until 24 panels were created.
In the video interview (click below) Tom explains how the centres were managed, how funding and sponsorship was used to fund its development and the ’emergency rescue’ that was needed when the museum it was housed in closed suddenly.
Tom is now over 90 and can recall all aspects of the project despite it happening many years ago.