Seaton: Ted was hooked on history at 14

THE honorary curator of the Axe Valley Heritage Museum, in Seaton, Ted Gosling, left school at 14, but has since gone on to hold over 100 exhibitions and write numerous books on the West Country.

THE honorary curator of the Axe Valley Heritage Museum, in Seaton, Ted Gosling, left school at 14, but has since gone on to hold over 100 exhibitions and write numerous books on the West Country.

Now 80, Seaton born and bred Ted thanks local historians Earnest Burnham and Eileen Gosney for their encouragement.

He said: "They probably saw a young man who was interested in history and books and gave me advice and guidance.

"Eileen was one of the greatest historians that Seaton ever had. As a young man in my 20s, I approached her for advice. Every time I had an exhibition, I insisted that she opened it."


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Ted joined the RAF on National Service and later became secretary of the British Legion. It was for the latter that he did his first exhibition in 1951, on the history of Seaton.

He said: "I've always been interested in history - I have a curiosity about the past. People started to give me things to save for the town, and I guess I just fell into it.

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"I grew up in the town and wanted to mind the history of the locality.

"It's an unpaid job, which I think I got by virtue of doing it all my life."

Ted joined the museum in 1986.

He set up major exhibitions over the years to mark royal events - from the Queen's coronation in 1953, to her Silver Jubilee in 1977, and the Golden Jubilee in 2002.

But he jokes: "And she's [the Queen] never invited me up to the palace!"

Ted says the role of a museum is not only to preserve the collection, but make it available to the public.

The museum attracts people from all over the world - the guest book has been signed by visitors from as far away as Canada and Borneo. During the 2008 season, over 4,000 people visited.

Although Ted believes the museum has been hit by the loss of the holiday camp, he says its is still busy..

As well as keeping museum visitors informed, Ted helps out with numerous enquiries via email.

He said: "I get emails from all over the world - people wanting to know anything from their family, to a street, or to when their house was built."

Ted has witnessed the changing role Seaton is playing in residents' lives.

He said: "Seaton has gone from a holiday town to a retirement one. I suppose it's like that anywhere."

His books, some of which have been co-written with railway expert Mike Clement, range from railways to farm life, across most of the West Country. He said he enjoyed writing them, but has no immediate plans to write another.

He said: "I have always got a book in my hand and would rather read than watch TV. I like the sound of words."

For more information on the museum visit http://www.seatonmuseum.co.uk or call (01297) 24227.

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