Talking and Walking (on Water)

We’ve had a busy couple of weekends, doing a lot of talking and a fair bit of walking, not necessarily at the same time. This photo was taken just this morning…

DSC_0231The location is Dockfield Terrace, and that’s my colleague Lyze (pronounced “Lizzie”, not “Lies” as one person mistakenly assumed — as Lyze says, “it’s my own fault for being pretentious”) standing with David, who kindly agreed to be photographed for this blog. David has lived in the Dockfields area since 1947 (that’s 68 years and counting), and is currently 500 pages into writing his life story — some of which we heard recounted as anecdotes! He’s one of the people who turned up to a community meeting that we organised this morning for local residents, at Q20 Theatre on Dockfield Road (thanks Q20! we are collaborating with them to deliver a river- and canal-themed version of their Shipley Street Arts Festival in June… more on that another time).

At the meeting we heard quite a few local concerns… everything from the need for speed controls on the main road (used as a rat run to avoid Foxes Corner) to very genuine concern about the wellbeing of this family of swans…

DSC_0230The swans have recently taken up residence on the canal bank above, having abandoned their previous nest — pictured below, on the track between Dockfield Road and the canal towpath…

DSC_0229… there was some debate among the residents who attended the meeting about what had happened here, but general agreement that at least one and possibly all of the swans’ eggs had been stolen by someone unscrupulous, and that the swans had been driven away from this spot in fear…  Whatever the correct story, it was striking how much the residents concerns were with the canal, and its resident wildlife, as well as with the roads, traffic, etc. Even though Dockfields is a very industrialised area with little obvious green space, the river and especially the canal give the area something special that people clearly value…  (For more on swans at this time of year, see Canal and River Trust’s page about caring for them.)

We’re working, in connection with Kirkgate Centre, to try to build community connections in the Dockfield area, with a view to ensuring that people’s concerns are listened to and acted upon. This includes understanding how their sense of connection with the local waterways might be a positive asset that can be built upon communally. We’re also working on the same process in the Higher Coach Road area, on the Baildon side of the River Aire. Last Saturday morning we had a parallel community meeting, this time kindly hosted by the Bradford Rowing Club…

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What is Maggie Roe saying to Paul Barrett? Caption suggestions please…

Here’s Kirkgate Centre’s Paul Barrett, pictured outside the club after the meeting (on a gorgeous, crystal clear day!), talking to landscape specialist Maggie Roe — who is very struck by the distinctive layout of the Higher Coach Road estate (see other blogs on that!). And here’s a shot from inside the club, showing the aftermath of a very positive and productive discussion with residents… I love the fact that Paul and Sara are both checking their just-taken photographs of the post-it notes!

DSC_0219Sara Penrhyn Jones is a filmmaker who was visiting us for the weekend from Aberystwyth, in Wales (like Maggie, she is part of the wider “Hydro-Citizenship” research project that Multi-Story Water is now a part of). Maybe she’ll have some film footage for us to share on this blog soon. Here she is armed with cameras again the following day — Sunday 19th April — on the canal towpath in Saltaire with Lyze…

DSC_0223… the other people in shot are some of the people who had gathered to go for a guided walk with me from this spot. As part of Saltaire’s “World Heritage Weekend” celebrations, I led a version of our Salt’s Waters walk — which will soon be available as a downloadable audio guide, for anyone to undertake whenever they like… although on this occasion we went with the low-tech, interactive option. The walk goes from the bottom of Victoria Road in Saltaire, and then heads west along the Aire, via Roberts Park and the Higher Coach Road estate, before turning uphill – alongside Loadpit Beck – on the way towards what little remains of Titus Salt Junior’s Milner Field mansion.

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A key feature of the audio mix will be Eddie Lawler’s beautiful song, The Ballad of Little Beck – written in honour of the unassuming stream that goes runs down through the grounds of Milner Field, and was once dammed as a boating lake. Eddie came along on the walk last Sunday and performed the song live, standing on the earthworked banking that takes Titus Jr’s coach road right across Little Beck (which trickles through at the base). It was a “shivers down the spine” moment, for me at least…

I don’t have other pictures of the walk, because for the most part I was too busy conducting it — talking and walking — to be taking photographs. But the merry band of travellers who came along on the journey were a great bunch to spend a couple of hours with. As I’d hoped, moreover, they had a good few suggestions (and one or two corrections!) to feed back into our work on the audio narrative…

So a big thanks to all those who contributed to a very enjoyable afternoon. Here are a few of you, enjoying Eddie’s music…

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One thought on “Talking and Walking (on Water)

  1. Great to see such a happy photo of David Wade, who died of a heart attack on September Sept 24 2015. A real piece of history now remains in his collection of memories written over the last couple of years. David, I hope you enjoy being reunited with Barbara, who was so tragically killed in Shipley by an uninsured driver in February 2009, and of course little Marmite. RIP.

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