In the spring of 1993 an informal approach was made to the National Trust which resulted in their ready agreement to make a redundant cart linhay barn available to the Parish, in order to provide a parish social and natural history centre.
An advertisement was placed in the local Parish Magazine asking anyone interested in founding a Heritage Centre to come along to the village hall on a specific evening. Over quarter of the local community arrived at the hall to express overwhelming support. At tht public meeting in May 1993 the first donations were given and an Association was formed, calling itself the Friends of Mortehoe Museum. That membership of about 80 people then set about a local fund raising campaign which was to last nearly 3 years, with thousands of pounds being raised.
Later that summer the National Trust announced their willingness to contribute a substantial sum towards the conversation cost of the building. In November 1993 planning permission was given for construction and Mortehoe Parish Council agreed to part of the village play are becoming the entrance way to the Centre.
Early in the year the Friends welcomed author and historian Margaret Reed to the project. Margaret has extensively research the parish history so providing the Centre with valuable archival material which will be kept on the premises for future reference and research. The publishing of Magarets book of the history of Mortehoe will be a great asset to the Centre.
By February 1994 the costings were done and a business plan made. With this extra information a further booklet was published and a serious search for more funds began.
At about this time the Friends were approached by the North Devon Environmental Trust who offered to take the scheme under their umbrella; thus giving us charitable status.
By this time the Friends had heard that the project had gone forward to the Rural Development Programme and in May it was confirmed that the Rural Development Commission was willing to fund 25% of the building costs through a redundant building grant.
In late summer, North Devon District Council made a decision to give financial support to the scheme. Mortehoe Parish Council and Devon County Council generously added to the sum during the autumn.
In January the European Union accepted the first bids in their 5b funding programme in Devon and the now renamed Mortehoe Cart Linhay Heritage Centre was the first to be submitted. After an unexpectedly long and cliff hanging time, on 3rd May, the Committee were informed that their bid had been successful.
The total sum required had been acheieved.
Following tendering, Mr Kevin Hollin of Mortehoe, was appointed contractor, and work began at the end of May. Kevin employed eight other local craftsmen during the building work.
Kevin’s superb craftsmanship and hard work is now on public view. The spectacular hand made English oak staircase and floor are frequently admired and remarked upon. It is worth recording that all the building work took place during the hottest summer for 200 years – and without one drop of rain.
However, Kevin and his workforce would be the first to agree that the centre was built – no only on bricks, mortar and wood – but on home-made cakes!
Mrs Elliot, of Town Farm, whose barn it was, kept the entire Cart Linhay work force supplied on a twice daily basis with delicious home-made cakes, sausage rolls and scones along with tea and coffee.
Unexpectedly, during the summer, the Foundation for Sport and Arts granted money towards video production and displays. A welcome surprise indeed.
The building was completed in November of 1995 when the National Trust and Heritage Coast Service rallied many extra pairs of hands to help complete the external landscaping in time for a ‘Funders Viewing Day’ early in December
During the first three months of 1996 the Committee and members of the Friends Association charted the parish history. Glass cases were bought and furnished, models were made and interpretation boards completed and hung. Exhibits and photographs were donated from all corners of the community.
Mr Leslie Church was appointed as the Project Development officer in Janaury, and set about the task of turning the Centre into a viable proposition. The National Trust and Heritage Coast Service along with the Tarka Project, provided countryside displats and information. The Heritage Ventre opened on a daily basis on 2 April 1996
Although the vision for this project was mine, its success was brought about entirely by volunteers whose unfailing enthusiasm exists to this day. The success of this project has been a remarkable example of true community spirit – Pat Knight