Memoryscape logo Voices from the hidden history of the Thames

Useful links

More trails are available from the Ports of Call website (Royal Docks), Tower Hamlets Council (Victoria Park) and you can find links to these and a whole host of other trails at the Raphael Samuel History Centre. For more information about the memoryscape idea you can hear the author discussing the walks with Angie Greaves on LBC radio; read a much more in-depth interview on History Workshop Online and a detailed account of the making of memoryscape at Rising East Online. Researchers might also find a full list of my academic publications useful or if you would like to learn how to make a trail, or you are interested in a heritage studies qualification, I teach at Birkbeck and the University of East London and lead the Heritage Studies postgraduate programme there.

Want to find out more about river culture?

There are some excellent museums museums concerned with the social history of the river Thames:

Museum in Docklands is housed in an old warehouse in the Docklands - the building itself is worth a visit! The museum houses an enormous display that traces the history of the river from ancient history to the present day. There is also a really good children's activity area, which has lots to do. There is too much to absorb in a day - luckily tickets are valid for a year so you can come back as much as you like. If you are interested in 20th century history, you can skip through the first few galleries (they are in chronological order) - it can take a long time to get there. There are some excellent 1940s displays including oral history recordings, and lots of information about the decline of the docks and the dockers. The Museum of London has a great deal on display about the river as a very large proportion of London's archaeological finds have come from the Thames river mud. The museum also has a large oral history collection and has been pioneering a lot of new ways of using oral history, much of which is available from its website, with the London Voices project. For historical information about the Elmbridge riverside trail route, Rowland Baker's wonderful book Thameside Molesey has now been published online and was a wonderful source of information for the trail.

The River and Rowing Museum and Henley is housed in an impressive modern building by the river. It has a whole gallery devoted to the Thames, including oral history. There are other galleries devoted to rowing and Henley.

Kew Bridge Steam Museum is a wonderful collection of pumping engines with all sorts of other river related things on display, including a series of water pipes used through the centuries on loan from the Museum of London. There is a also a piece of the Thames Water Ring Main that you can walk through, and some great details about what it is like to clean out sewers!

Incidentally, if you are interested in sewers you shouldn't miss the Paris Sewer Museum (Visite des Egouts de Paris) where you can actually go down into the sewers themselves for a good look... there is a long history of this sort of thing - Victorian tourists used to take boats along them, to admire the brickwork. The museum also has a very good exhibition, including a huge Indiana Jones style rolling ball that was used to clear the tunnels. Information about this and other sewer exploration opportunities in Europe are here .

If you like the idea of sound walks, you can do an amazing walk in East London that is broadcast from transmitters on lamp-posts! You pick up a receiver for free from a local library, and hear the voices of a community that was torn apart by the building of the M11 Link Road. It was made by sound artist Graeme Miller, who lived in one the houses that was destroyed. I had a minor role in advising how the interviews for the project could be archived at the Museum of London but this project had a profound effect on me, opening my eyes to the creative possibilities of using memories in the outside world. The Linked walk is still going and I would recommend it. Another form of sound walk which I really admire are made by a New York based company called Soundwalk that does some really great walks narrated by a local character, with funky music. The walks are mostly in New York, but they are branching out to other cities. They are extremely well made. My personal favourite is a walk in the Bronx around graffiti walls, narrated by a graffiti artist. Other favourites are Chinatown and Wall Street and they are a fantastic experience.

On the oral history front, there are some great websites out there. A huge online resource covering the experience of immigrants moving to the UK is Moving Here , which was built by a coalition of museums. A great place to hear experimental use of voice (and sound) is the London based radio station Resonance FM - many programmes are produced by some well established sound artists. Resonance broadcasts over the internet as well as locally to the South bank of London. New York has its own oral history radio station Talking History which is internet based and there are plans to feature memoryscape on an upcoming programme. There is also a nice US radio project that has a lot of similarities to memoryscape , not least water; and uses some beautiful photography. It is called the Aucocisco Radio Project.

Geocaching is a sort of treasure hunt that uses GPS bearings to find hidden stashes that are left by geocaching enthusiasts! If you find one you sign the visitor's book inside, take the object inside and leave an object in its place. Apparently the Dockers walk passes by seven caches, so if you have a GPS and want to try it, check out this geocaching website and hunt while you listen to the memoryscape !

This page is a work in progress; if you think you should be on it let me know and feel free to link to your site if you would like to.



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