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Walking Through Waterways History

We are delighted to announce that we have been commissioned by Creative Black Country to run a project to engage and connect local people during lockdown. Leading the project is Alarum Co-Director, writer and musician Heather Wastie, who was involved with her family in campaigning for the restoration of canals in the Black Country from the 1960s onwards. She is joined by vocalist, harpist, theatre maker and sound designer Sam Frankie Fox, who is based in Smethwick.

Audio trail

The aim of the project, called Walking Through Waterways History, is to involve the local community in gathering material for an audio trail celebrating the Dudley No 2 Canal between Windmill End Junction and Hawne Basin, an area once lined with industry, including the once huge Stewarts & Lloyds where over 2000 people worked. As well as meeting up online with local groups, we’re keen to hear from anyone familiar with the area with suggestions as to what could be included in the recording.

Stewarts & Lloyds and Gosty Hill Tunnel

Our 2019/20 project I Dig Canals included hours of oral history interviews with women involved in campaigning and restoration in the 1960s and 70s. These original stories include references to towing old Stewarts & Lloyds boats through Gosty Hill Tunnel; the poor condition of Hawne Basin and how local councillors were taken on boat trips to be entertained and educated about the vital work of preserving the canals. Newly sourced memories will be added to these snippets, together with a soundscape to bring the area to life. The finished product will then be available for people to listen to whilst walking along the canal or as a way of transporting anyone from anywhere in the world to this unique Black Country landscape, rich in history.

Thanks to Coombeswood Canal Trust for this photo of Hawne Basin, 1965

Your memories

Do you have stories of living and working in the area around this section of canal? Please get in touch with your memories by emailing yourmemories@alarumproductions.org.uk.

This project is supported by Creative Black Country as part of Arts Council England’s Creative People and Places scheme, Paycare and Black Country Living Museum.

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