Perhaps unsurprisingly Hastings Borough Council (HBC) has unanimously backed a motion to bring the Bayeux Tapestry to Hastings when its loaned to the UK by France in 2022.
At HBC’s full council meeting on Wednesday Councillor Andy Padmore proposed that: “HBC supports the campaign to bring the Bayeux Tapestry to Hastings during its loan period and will do all it can to achieve a successful outcome.”
Mr Padmore who has visited Bayeux and seen the tapestry said it was an ‘incredible piece of work’. He said it would be ‘amazing’ if it could be brought to Hastings because it would make a huge contribution to the economy of the town and he told councillors he believed there were many places where a temporary structure could be erected to house it.
Discussing the odds of Hastings being the home of the tapestry when it comes to the UK Mr Padmore said: “Ladbrokes have Hastings at 8-1 at the moment but I’m sure we can all work to reduce those odds.”
It was council leader Peter Chowney who supported Mr Padmore’s motion and he urged the council to think big and creatively in terms of bringing the tapestry to the town. He said he wanted to be ‘ambitious’. He has already spoken to Hastings MP Amber Rudd who in turn had discussed the matter with the Prime Minister and Mr Chownety had been told the PM was ‘supportive’.
Mr Chowney pointed to a plan that already existed to build a new visitor centre on the West Hill and he believed there was scope to develop that plan to provide a location for the the tapestry to be displayed and he said his vision was to link that to the use of virtual reality and augmented reality to make the most of the opportunity.
“Imagine if, through the use of augmented reality you could look out of the windows of the building and see the ships of the day arriving off the coast,” he said.
“These are all just ideas in my head but you can see how we could develop a really good bid around this,” he told the meeting.
Councillor Rob Lee said it was a once in a lifetime opportunity the council should ‘go out and grab’. He believed it could be a ‘springboard to great things.’ He also believed that rather than go to a London museum it was better coming to Hastings where there was a ‘reference point’.
He said it would be, ‘one in the eye’ for London if the tapestry did end up in Hastings.
Other councillors thought the opportunity to have the Bayeux Tapestry in the town would be a great opportunity to bring the ‘Hastings Embroidery’ – commissioned to mark the 900th anniversary of the battle in 1965 – out of storage and be put on display alongside it.
Councillor Lee Clark asked the council to remember that if its ambitious plans were implemented and the tapestry did come to the town that they should ensure that local school children, especially those from some of the most deprived areas of Hastings, were not priced out of going to see it and he urged councillors to ensure that those youngsters should be able to get to see it free of charge.
Councillor James Bacon told his colleagues that the arrival of the tapestry in Hastings would ‘bring history alive’.