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Year long project celebrates local history

School pupils from across Newton Abbot have unveiled a huge arts project telling the history of the town.

It's part of the Newton's Place project - which aims to turn St Leonard’s Church into a community building.

Eight of the 11 'My Place' panels, which are now on display outside, were completed by pupils from schools in and around the town.

Time-line graphics take the viewer from local pre-history through important events. These include the 16th century declaration of William of Orange as King and the emergence of the suffragette movement  - while highlighting connections to Newton Abbot.

Each of the historic events reflect artefacts held in the museum’s collection - which is being transferred to the new community building.

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 project was the brainchild of Newton Abbot Town and GWR Museum volunteer Katy Bennie

She said: "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."

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.

Click play to hear artist Ewan Walton who was involved in the project

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 £10,000 project has taken a year to complete and been funded by Historic England and the Helen Foundation.

Click play to hear Helen Foundation chairman Roger Kirk

The Mint Art Group also contributed.

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