Working River: An Oral History of London’s Boatyards

In 2018 I managed the project ‘Working River’, documenting the living history of London’s boatyards, from the Thames Barrier up to Teddington Lock. The project was run by the wonderful Thames Festival Trust, in partnership with the Museum of London, supported with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. To help make this project happen, 25 fantastic volunteers worked with me to interview 28 men and women who spent their lives working in, or with, London’s boatyards and shipyards. Ranging from aged 18 to 87 years old, we recorded their memories of these yards, their training and the development of their prolific boatbuilding skills, as well as the significant changes to this Thames industry during their working lives. 11 of the audio oral history interviews from this project have become part of the collections of the Museum of London, and another 15 are part of a film, made by Digital:Works, about this history. As part of the project we also had four exhibitions along the Thames, as part of Totally Thames festival 2017, attracting over 10,000 visitors to engage with this history. The project was recorded by contemporary photographer Hydar Dewachi, whose beautiful photographs captured the people and the yards today.

HD_170602_4143 © Hydar Dewachi
South Dock Marina. Photo © Hydar Dewachi
HD_170525_0206 © Hydar Dewachi
B J Wood & Son, Isleworth. Photo © Hydar Dewachi
HD_170614_2624 © Hydar Dewachi
Ted Leppard, Eel Pie Island Slipways. Photo © Hydar Dewachi.
HD_170621_5059 _ed © Hydar Dewachi.jpg
Bill Colley, Richmond Boathouses. Photo (c) Hydar Dewachi.

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For more information about the project, interviews, film, photographs and the book, go to www.thamesfestivaltrust.org.

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Information Links for East London History

This list is being added to all the time. If you wish to add your, or a relevant link here please tweet me @beamoyes.

Useful links for East London History

A Hackney Autobiography – recording and remembering the history of Centerprise.

Acme Studios 

Barking and District Historical Society

Bishopsgate Institute Archives

Bow Arts Trust

Brick Lane Bookshop – History of Stepney Books/T.H.A.P and Basement Writers

Claremont Road Protests

Columbia Road Flower Market 

De Beaver – archive of newspapers of the De Beauvoir Association from 1971-1984

Dennis Severs’ House – 18 Folgate Street

Docklands History Group

East London History – website

East London History Society

East London Mosque

East London Big Flame

East London Group – history of the painting collective

East End Walks – website of Radical History walks around East London

Eastside Community Heritage

Exploring East London – website of art and history artefacts

Friends of Hackney Nurseries – a local group of parents, nursery workers, local residents and community activists that believe that quality childcare should be affordable and accessible to all those who need it.

Four Corners

The Geffrye Museum

G Kelly Pie and Mash Shop

Hackney Solidarity Network – umbrella organisation for activists and community groups in the borough. Publish the 21st century Hackney Heckler.

Hackney Flashers – archival site dedicated to this 1970s radical feminist photography collective

Hackney Archives

The Hackney Society

Hackney Oral History – a collective of people interested in oral history who are currently researching people’s experiences of housing in Hackney

Hackney Wick History

Hackney Historic Buildings Trust

Jewish East End Celebration Society

Leyton History Society

The Limehouse Project

Linda Wilkinson – History of Columbia Road

London’s Screen Archives

Mernick Brothers – website

M11 Link road Protest

Neil Martinson

Newham Archives

Newham Story

Newham Asian Women’s Project – interview with Shila Takor for the Swadhinata Trust

OPEN Dalston – campaigns for excellence in the quality of the built environment and public realm, the provision of transportation and amenities, and to ensure that changes to these have proper regard to the needs of local residents and businesses and the maintenance of a sustainable residential and business community.

Open School East

Radical History of Hackney

Rotherhithe and Bermondsey Local History Society

SPACE Studios

Spitalfields Life

Spitalfields Trust

Spitalfields Crypt Trust

Stepney School Strike (1971) – pinterest images

The People’s Story of Woodberry Down

The Island History Trust (Isle of Dogs)

Tower Hamlets Archives

The Lost-Byway – writings and documentaries by John Rogers

Leytonstone Museum Archives

What Is Chats Palace?

Wilmot Street History

Women’s Cooperative Guild