‘Between the Locks’ oral history project closes the gates

Posted on 26/04/2011 by


This month sees the end of the community oral history project, “Between the Locks: an oral history of the working lives of the upper tidal Thames”.

Between the Locks tells the stories of those who lived and worked on the upper tidal Thames, bounded by the locks at Richmond and Teddington. Between the Locks was a two-year intergenerational oral history project which recorded the experiences and memories of this river community, and their testimonies are brought alive through a travelling exhibition and accompanying film.

Between 2009 and 2010, eleven students from Christ’s School in Richmond recorded the memories of people who have lived beside and worked on the stretch of the upper tidal Thames between Richmond and Teddington.

Between the Locks was an initiative of the Environment Trust for Richmond upon Thames and the project was generously supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Hampton Fuel Allotments Charity. As well as recording the testimonies of those working on the River, the students were trained in oral history interview technique and ‘river skills’ such as rowing, boat-building, lock-keeping and willow-spiling.

The project was awarded The John Coleman Trophy for Outstanding Contribution to the River Thames by the River Thames Society in April 2010.

The exhibition will  finish its run at Museum of Richmond on 30th April 2011. The project is grateful to all those who made the project such a success.

Selected extracts from the interviews will soon be available on-line (watch this space for more details!) and the transcripts will be made publicly available for education and research purposes. The interview topics covered working life, hazards and accidents on the river, the experience and impact of World War II on the Thames and its industries, the Port of London Authority, the role of trade unions, the decline of the river, the Watermen’s Licence, rowing and leisure, the decline of the industrial Thames and introduction of containerisation, and the changing ecological life of the river.

The full-length DVD that accompanies the exhibition, featuring the testimonies of those who worked on the upper tidal Thames, is available to interested parties free-of-charge. The project also invites  community, heritage and educational organisations to host the exhibition. Please contact the Environment Trust for more information.

Posted in: Project News