Richard White

explorations in place and time

River Crouch Festival Walk day 5: Hullbridge to Burnham

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All back to Burnham, now dark and warm. Full moon rising. I am looking up the night trimmed river again, lights shimmering. The timber ship is gone and the timber yards dark. The lights of Southend on the horizon. Reflected tropical warmth reminds me of other times, a solitary rope dings on a mast in the breeze.

full moon over the crouch

After the disasters, upsets and shaken confidences of yesterday, today was sheer delight. Woke to bright morning azure sky and dazzling light blasting in the window. Arriving at the carpark assembly point at Hullbridge the project manager was already there talking to the BBC, self appointed spokesperson on the project enjoying the media ego massage. Met the radio ham man and Laura arrived electronically kitted up. The drone footage of the test event on Sunday was stunning and they offered to share it with the project. With  5 flags up we saw the children heading down to the river and we joined them. Hullbridge Laura antenna

Standing almost on the top of the shaft down to the tunnel, Hullbridge community flag was presented. The children performed their poem. A series of statements on precious things, heart felt and moving. Then with the flag poles rigged as radio antenna Laura led a communication cross the river. On the far side a lone flag waved to acknowledge receipt and then the speaker spluttered into life. Words across the river. Cheers. Hullbridge top of tunnel

Laura had coded up the children’s poems into The Box. It has since delivered a series of text statements to us on the throw of a dice. We were given The Box to transport and to relay it messages.       Hulbridge box

Damien introduced the map , Walking on Water, based on the research into the water main laying deep below the river. The map produced showed that in many parts of Hullbridge and South Woodham Ferrers we can indeed walk on water! Children locked into this beautifully constructed and present item. Committed and engaged.   Hullbridge Laura and box

We said farewell and, carrying the box and the map and the community flags, we heeded east to Brandy Hole along the river defences. 6 flags flying.  This time the bar was open and full of VIPs from funders to local authority officers and a Mayor. They had been told the wrong time and place to meet, but had picked up on the energy emboidied in the community flags. The ferry arrived and we set off for Burnham. A sedate journey with The Box talking to us, we shared thoughts on projects and flags and walking, reminding ourselves of the distance covered. We passed the river defences we had walked along, the ghost crossings and hilltop churches. Finally arriving with a flag flying at Burnham where we were welcomed to the council meeting room by the mayor. Lovely moments of two mayors greeting each other..mayorial  banter!

In the chamber more project talk and the sense that senior people were taking the project and its momentum seriously. Engagement at a strategic level. Interesting conversations in art and regeneration, art and place and futures. A good day. Even The Box said  “No nonsense” ! Off walk Ali ,Mike and myself attended an evening session on fast broad band and placemaking. Dire on the former and formulaic in the latter but great conversations with the creative industries definitely on the agenda.


Author: rswpost

Exploring connections between landscape, place and people. on foot and online. Working collaboratively and harnessing the participatory potential of social media.

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