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Listening to history: Multicultural heritage exhibition opens in Tiverton

by | 22nd September 2020

A new exhibition exploring and celebrating the multicultural heritage of Tiverton will open at the Museum of Mid Devon Life on Thursday 1st October 2020. The exhibition marks the culmination of an 18 month project run by Devon Development Education and supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Telling Our Stories, Finding Our Roots focuses on the diverse communities of Tiverton, Okehampton and Bideford, aiming to raise awareness of the vital contributions that people of different heritages have made to the towns throughout history – including today.

In Tiverton, the project has involved over a year of work by a team of volunteers and Coordinator Lizzie Mee. The team used old newspapers, church records and photographs from Tiverton Museum archives to conduct research, unearthing little-known historical stories which connect Tiverton to important histories involving enslaved people, Bristol merchant communities and international travel.
The project has also been collecting and recording the voices of contemporary Tiverton residents, through conducting oral history interviews. Voices captured include Mac Ahmed, who runs the Nawab restaurant in Tiverton (pictured here with Lizzie Mee), Anthony Nderitu (Tiverton High School teacher) and Kumari Northam, the owner of Ceylon Curry House.

Lizzie Mee, Community Heritage Co-ordinator for Tiverton, says of the project:
“It’s been such a privilege to discover so many stories of diversity in Tiverton. I think when we began the project we didn’t imagine that so many people had travelled to the town from all sorts of places in the world. Most people have come to the town to work, and it’s amazing to see how hardworking they all are – regardless of whether they arrived a hundred years ago, or just last year.”

Through their research, the team has also discovered a number of important, but lesser-known European migration stories. One contemporary story is of Franc Rosic, who travelled to England as a teenager after the Second World War, walking overland from his home in Slovenia to Italy, before joining the British Royal Navy to make his way to England, and eventually to Tiverton. His daughter, Dale Snow, still lives in the town today, and has volunteered for the project.

In addition to the public exhibition, the oral histories and historical research will be preserved online in a permanent digital archive, accessible to all. A set of learning resources will also be produced. The Telling Our Stories exhibition opens on Thursday 1st October and runs until Saturday 31st October. Due to the generosity of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Devon Development Education is able to offer free entry to the exhibition for the first four Fridays in October. Tickets can be booked by telephoning the museum on 01884 256295 or via our Visitor Information Page.

On Tuesday 20th October, there will be a virtual talk to accompany the exhibition. Details can be found on the project website: www.tellingourstoriesdevon.org.uk, or by contacting
dde@globalcentredevon.org.uk.

Devon Development Education is a development education charity, committed to offering learning opportunities which connect children and adults with cultures and communities from across the world. DDE works in schools, in community, in consultation, and online.