A Thames Lark aimed to amplify unheard voices from the past, unwrap hidden stories, and allow teams and individuals to explore an alternative history of the River Thames.

Linnea Maertens, the driving force behind the ‘zine team’, describes the creative process of making the zine that accompanied the self-guided walk:


The last section was on “People”, celebrating stories of underrepresented people who lived and worked along the Thames.

Hannah Snell was another recommendation from author Malcolm Russell who suggested her as a queer history topic to explore. Agnes took on the research, reading Snell’s autobiography and putting her story in the greater context of queer history in London’s Docklands. Henry took on the illustrations of this page. Using a beautifully restricted colour palette he recreated one of the surviving engravings we have of Snell in regimental dress as well as the prospect of Whitby pub and a wonderful cutaway of the Thames tunnel. While writing the text, Agnes and I discussed whether to frame Snell as LGBTQ+ or as transgender. According to Snell’s own recounting she equated dressing as a man as wearing a costume. However, since her autobiography was dictated and then written up and transferred into the third person by her publisher, it is possible that the account doesn’t align exactly with Hanna Snell’s own thoughts. Although I don’t think that any of our modern gender terms would apply to her, I think she also stood outside what her own time could define. I have labelled her history as “queer”, beyond the binary of what we knew then or what we know now.


Anja illustrated the Celeste Sinibaldi page which was the research and writing of a long time TDP volunteer, Ann Dingsdale. Her research was one of the first topics suggest by Claire when we were still forming the project idea. I sent Ann’s research to my dad, who I thought would love to learn about Celeste, to edit down to our word count. After he sent me the edits I got another email from him. The email was several pages long, laying out his musings on Sinibaldi. He described the historical context in which she grew up, in Napoleonic France, and how that might have motivated her decisions in later life, for example to dedicate her work to the British Navy to prove that she had no patriotism left for the French empire. He also gave me a list of questions, which I passed on to Ann, and told me that he had found a genealogical website which listed that Celeste had at least one direct descendant alive today. Anja illustrated the pages in her distinctive style, giving life to the story of this admirable woman and her fight for her passion against many societal blockades.

In our final zine there is no page illustrating the third in our “People” category. We had chosen to depict the story of Olaudah Equiano, the enslaved Nigerian turned free abolitionist writer. Equiano provided a first-person account of his kidnap and enslavement which, when published, went on to garner great support for the abolitionist movement and the eventual abolishment of slavery in the British Empire. Will provided the research and I took on the illustration. My fatal suggestion was that I should design and illustrate this page in the style of a graphic novel, which meant I gave myself way to much work to complete in the amount of time we had. I am still working on it he page and trying to put as much thought and detail as I can into how to depict Equiano’s complex and politicized life story.

I want to give my whole hearted thanks to the Thames Lark team and to everyone who made it to the Lark itself! You all made it happen and I hope that the Thames Discovery Program chooses to do more collaborative creative events like this in the future.

The Larkers: Henry Kent, Linnea Maertens, Thalia Nitz, Agnes Ohrstrom Kann, Anja Schwegler, Finn Stileman.
Project lead: Claire Harris (TDP). Supported by: Will Rathouse (TDP).