As I approach 3 months in post as Senior Community Archaeologist – Schools and Young People on the new River Recoveries project it seems like a good time to recap on our project goals.

We aim to:
-Engage families and young people living around our key sites at Fulham/Putney, Bankside, Limehouse, and Deptford.
-Support young people to develop new skills that enable them to share their experiences of the Thames past and present.
-Develop a new schools offer for Primary and Secondary Schools across London.
-Establish a new, volunteer-led, Thames Young Archaeologists Club.

Outreach Events
Although we’re still in the early days of the project we’ve run 2 outreach events aimed at families and young people.

Creekside Open Day – 25 September 2021 Evan, one of our young volunteers, who supported us at this event wrote this blog aabout the event.

Family Walk – Trig Lane, 23 October 2021
The first family walk of our new River Recoveries project was structured around some of the features monitored by the City Foreshore Recording and Observation Group.

On a thankfully dry and bright morning we gathered under the Millennium Bridge above Trig Lane stairs for a short orientation session before heading down on to the foreshore. At the foot of the stairs we turned our minds away from the modern city and chatted about the important role of Causeways, Riverstairs & Ferry Terminals. The group was then set the task of searching the area near the stairs for 3 different types of objects. Common objects found were clay pipes, bones, bricks and, of course, pottery. The clay pipes allowed us to talk about artefact typologies and trade and the bricks turned our story to Feature A302, the river wall. This section of the river wall was repaired after an air raid in March 1941 (TF49) and allows us to tell a part of the story of the Thames at War and the remarkable work of Sir Thomas Peirson Frank. The river walls of the Thames also tell the story of rising sea levels and the overlooked role of the walls in protecting London from flooding.

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Photo by Katie Meakin

We continued along the foreshore and re-grouped to look at some of the revetments (Feature A106). This allowed us to chat about bargebeds – the materials used in their construction and their role in the loading and unloading of the barges that were so vital to trade. Walking further along the foreshore brought us to one of three scheduled ancient monuments to be found on the River Thames foreshore in London, Queenhithe dock. Queenhithe allows us to take the story of trade on the Thames back to the Romans and Saxons. Away from the scheduled monument, we searched the foreshore for glinting fragments of abalone shell. These fragments are debris left behind from one of the later warehouse situated along this stretch of the river and tell the story of the Victorian fashions and the exploitation of natural resources.

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Photo by Katie Meakin

Throughout the walk our attendees kept their eyes peeled for interesting finds and we finished our walk with a pop-up ‘museum’ of artefacts.

Feedback:
“The children (and parents) really enjoyed learning about the history of London and seeing all the interesting finds. It was well planned and the people doing the event were very knowledgeable. Highly recommended.”

“This was absolutely a pleasure to participate in. … It was a playful yet cultural event. Very much recommended.”

Opportunities To Get Involved
We’re looking to build links with teachers and youth organisations in Fulham, Wandsworth, Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Lewisham.

If you work with young people in these Boroughs we’d love for you to join us on one of our River Recoveries Teachers and Youth Workers Walks. Alternatively, you can drop me an email (charris@mola.org.uk).