Museum of British Surfing History
The Museum of British Surfing opened its new exhibition and event venue in the centre of Braunton on the North Devon coast for the first time on Good Friday – April 6th 2012. It won a national museum’s award and had more than 3,000 visitors through its doors in just the first three months of opening.
The surfing museum project began in 2003 with a generous donation from the family of the late Viscount Ted Deerhurst, Britain’s first professional surfer and a personal hero of our founder Pete Robinson. Since that time it has staged touring exhibitions at museums all over the UK that have been seen by around 400,000 people.
In 2009 it became a Registered Charity (1131433), establishing itself as the national body responsible for looking after Britain’s rich surfing heritage that dates back more than two centuries
Surfing has taken place on North Devon’s beaches since the early 1900s, and Braunton became a hub for the fledgling surfing industry in the 1960s and early ’70s with its position as a gateway to the beaches of Saunton, Croyde, Putsborough, Woolacombe and Westward Ho!
Significant funding was secured to complete the project and the Charity completed the design & build with Bideford-based museum specialists Myriad.
The museum has a 74-year lease on The Yard, an old railway building on Braunton’s Caen Street car park – it includes Braunton skate bowl and the site is owned by Braunton Parish Council.
The Museum has also carried out community painting and planting projects with local young people and families to help improve the area. It also provides the skate bowl as a free facility for everyone to use.
We’ve developed a flexible and innovative museum. Each year we aim to display a themed exhibition charting the history and culture of British surfing and invite a surfboard collector to exhibit some of their own personal collection in “Collectors Corner”. Alongside this we have smaller outreach displays and regular events at The Yard and other locations in North Devon and beyond.
We are grateful for your continuing support, including that of many individuals and businesses locally, nationally and abroad who have donated their time and money to contribute to our continuing success.
The Museum of British Surfing is working toward being a carbon neutral operation, and as well as introducing the latest sustainable energy technology we’ll be looking at ways to help our visitors understand why it is so important to look after our environment.
This work was recognised in June 2012 when the new surfing museum won a prestigious Collections Trust award.
In the true spirit of the surfing community, surfers have stepped forward to help create something really special in our adopted home of North Devon – a huge thank you goes out to everyone who has made us feel so welcome in the ‘green county’ and helped to get us open.
The bulk of the Museum of British Surfing’s collection was purchased between 1997 and 2012 by Pete Robinson, and donated to the charity as his founding gift. In the last few years it has been boosted by many public donations of surfing and beach items, and now has the most extensive and historically significant collection of vintage surfboards, literature and memorabilia on public display and for academic research in Europe.
Our mission has been to try to collect at least one surfboard from every British shaper – we now have more than 200 boards dating back a century, and hundreds of associated items of surfing memorabilia.
Museum of British Surfing Accreditation 2019
We are very pleased to announce that following a review of the Accredited status of Museum of British Surfing by an Accreditation panel appointed by Arts Council England on 21 February 2019, we have been awarded the status of:
This is fantastic news for the museum, and a result of the hard work of the team of volunteers and trustees of the museum, under the excellent leadership of our Chairman of Trustees, Kevin Cook.
This puts us in a strong and positive position to carry on with our mission to preserve and display the rich heritage and culture of British surfing.
The Museum of British Surfing – built by you, the British surfer!
And a big shout of of thanks and recognition goes out to the people who made it all happen back in 2003:
- Pete Robinson for his vision and passion to help create Europe’s first surf museum.
- The family of the late Viscount Ted Deerhurst who got us going with a donation from his trust.
- Oxbow UK for the original sponsorship
- Dan Smith who created our original logo, inspired by a mid 1960s Doug Wilson photo of Rod Sumpter riding his ‘Britannia’ model surfboard
- Dave Huff who built the original website that did us proud for seven years, and Grant Winter developed the online shop that ran with it
- Fastnet International in Brighton who provided flawless hosting for the website free of charge
- Pete Robinson, John Isaac and Simon ‘Skelly’ Skelton who scoured the country looking for vintage British surfboards and memorabilia
- Richard Gregory who designed our graphic panels for our opening exhibitions that ran in Brighton in 2004 & 2005, then toured the UK, and Steve Frost weighed in with subtle and painstaking restoration and repair of the museum’s ever-growing collection of surfboards.
- Bianca Robinson, Colin Blackman, Graham & Jules McDonald, Glenn Kessler, Atlanta Cook and many more who pitched in with ‘hard labour’ to help transform our first gallery into an exhibition space.
- And to everyone else who has supported the museum in any way whatsoever.
Pete Robinson is the founder of the Museum of British Surfing, and an award-winning former ITV news reporter & senior manager for the national television broadcaster.
With a passion for investigation and surfing history he has uncovered remarkable evidence of Britain’s love affair with surfing dating back as far as 1769
He donated his massive surf heritage collection to the charity in 2011, “as a gift for future generations to enjoy”.
Pete began researching British surfing history in 1997 and operated the surfing museum’s touring exhibitions from 2003. He established the Museum of British Surfing as a Registered Charity in 2009, with a strong environmental and educational focus, and finally opened the doors to its first permanent home in Braunton, North Devon in April 2012 after a 3 year fundraising campaign.