‘Between the Locks’ is an oral history of life on the River Thames bounded by the locks at Richmond and Teddington and through this project Environment Trust has been able to help conserve the memories of this rich heritage.

Background

The River Thames has a longer history of human use and physical alteration than any other river in the country. London owes its existence and centuries of growth to the transport of goods and people that have flowed along it and its banks were once lined with the wharfs, warehouses and boatyards needed for this trade.

This river community has existed almost unknown to the land-based population. Their connection to the weather, tides, and the skills of navigation has remained unchanged for several centuries, their trades have gone on largely unseen and their tough, practical and fugal ways of life are relevant to us as we adapt to the effects of climate change. Their heritage is as important to the nation as that of agriculture or the sea. This heritage conservation project helps to ensure that this heritage and history is not lost.

Christ’s School

In 2009, twelve students from Christ’s School, Richmond were trained by the Oral History Society to interview and film elders of the river community who volunteered to share their memories of the tidal Thames. 

They experienced and filmed some of the physical activities described, such as boatbuilding, rowing and lock keeping. The resulting exhibition, video and words was shared with people of all ages.

Over 300 people participated in the events held as the project developed, and around 6,000 people saw the exhibition at Orleans House Gallery and other centres.

These Oral Histories can be seen on the below videos





Funding

The grant funding given by the Heritage Lottery Fund (£44,000) and Hampton Fuel Allotment Charity (£3,000) was spent on Oral History training, recording equipment, salaries, the services of an exhibition designer and video editor, and the production of the travelling exhibition.

The Students

Environment Trust’s former patron Bamber Gascoigne launched and chaired the project said, “Lucky the students to be chosen for such a project! It gave them so many new opportunities. They were able to discover a sense of the past and of changes in society in two important ways: through talking to people who had lived through very different times in a place familiar to themselves; and through conventional methods of research in libraries and archives that must also have been new to them. And they learnt something essential to any career - how to carry a specific task through to a deadline and a successful conclusion.”

The River Community

Featured the memories of:

Bill Colley

Kathleen Way

Bob Tough

Ken Dwan

Cliff Cobb

Malcolm Miatt

Don Morris

Miranda Jaggers

Edward Nicholas

Stan Peasley

Freda Hammerton

 

Achievements

  • The resulting exhibition, video and words were shared with people of all ages.
  • Over 300 people participated in the events held as the project developed, and around 6,000 people saw the exhibition at Orleans House Gallery and other centres.