Peter Thomas, an Exonian, is Exeter’s longest established and best selling local Author and has had a lifetime involvement with photography. Today he is also a publisher of his own work, lecturer and owner of Exeter’s largest private photographic archive. The Isca Historical Photographic Collection established in 1974 contains around 60,000 images of Exeter. The entire negative stock of the city’s oldest photographic studio, The Henry Wykes Studio, was rescued on its closure in 1974. Over a thirty year period the collection has been greatly expanded and now contains some of Exeter’s rarest images.
In his early years Peter worked for a prominent photographic retailer as well as undertaking private photo work. In 1976 he produced the city’s first archive photographic book Old Exeter and is now the author of over twenty books on Exeter, Devon and Dorset. As a photographer he has undertaken a cross section of work from industrial site work to natural history and continues to actively pursue photo related projects. His interests are wide ranging and he has undertaken a number of collaborative projects. With an early interest in the history of photography he began lecturing but has covered a number of subjects over the years. He is well known for giving major presentations to audiences of up to 500 people. The audio visual programme “THE BOMBING OF EXETER” has been particularly noteworthy.
From 1987 he held the role of Exeter’s first Tourism Promotion Officer creating the city’s first guiding service “The famous Redcoat Guides”. Amongst many activities he also instigated major events including huge historical pageants and Exeter’s first Medieval Fayre. He has also organised major City exhibitions.
In 1991 he created Exeter’s first photo archive video OLD EXETER and in 1992 THE EXETER BLITZ. This was also followed by the first DVD of OLD EXETER. In 2005 he made the decision to publish his own books and in 2006 launched the book OLD EXETER a completely revitalised version of his first book produced in 1976. It was an instant best seller. This was followed by “SIXTY YEARS OF PRINCESSHAY – FROM CONSTRUCTION TO DEMOLITION” a complete photo record of the Exeter’s central area during redevelopment. In 2008, and the result of 15 months work, the book EXETER’S WEST QUARTER & ADJACENT AREAS was published, a major archive photographic study of the west side of the city.
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