Friday 3 June 2016

Education Pack Piloted in Schools

The Education Pack for Key Stage 2 has been piloted in 5 London primary schools. The pack accompanies the documentary film, ‘The Weekend Millionaires’ based around interviews of Thames lightermen undertaken by two London schools in 2015. The pack has been split into two parts. The first aims to allow children to find out what watermen and lightermen were and can be followed by a fun powerpoint quiz, ‘Who Wants to be a Weekend Millionaire?’ The final part combines historical enquiry, to meet the needs of the new KS 2 National Curriculum for history, and follows what happened to the London lightermen through the story of John Daniel from his birth in 1937, through to his retirement in 1999.

One school commented:
"Kingfishers were lucky enough to be part of a Heritage Lottery funded bid called, ‘The Ballard of the Last Lighterman’ in partnership with  Digital Works.

During this fun packed day the children learned about lightermen, watermen, how to tie knots and floating and sinking of barges! We had a visit from a Lighterman and he showed the children how to tie some very complicated knots. Now Kingfishers are going knot crazy!

We played a game called, ‘Who Wants to be a Weekend Millionaire’. The game was named this because the lightermen worked long hours and got paid a lot of money and only had the weekend free where they were able to spend their well earned cash! They were very popular at the weekend as everyone knew they were well paid and generous!

The ‘London Bridge’ team won but everyone enjoyed it so much that they wanted to do it all over again.

The whole class enjoyed the day and learned so much."

Saturday 27 February 2016

Community Screening

The film was shown to an enthusiastic response at the Upper Tideway Branch of the River Thames Society AGM.

"I wanted to feed back to you how fantastic we found the film. We were lucky to have in the audience an elderly lady whose father and family had worked on the river, and she provided asides as and when she recognised scenes. It wasn't until right at the end when we saw the credits that we were reminded that primary schools had been key to the production - how proud they must be with this achievement. We will be commending it highly to other groups that share our interest in the river.

Please thank all those involved for a job so very well done."

Hilary Pereira
Chair, Upper Tideway branch, River Thames Society

Wednesday 15 July 2015

Film Launch

On Tuesday July 14th the documentary made by the children with digital:works was launched at the Museum of London Docklands. The children presented the film to an audience including lightermen, historians, curators and people from local history organisations. It was a really lovely event, presented by the children, who spoke about the project, showed the film, read a poem inspired by the project and took part in a Q&A. We even managed to fit a sing song in.

Thanks so much to everyone who came along.

Friday 10 July 2015

First Cut Feedback

We took the first draft edit of the film into Westminster Cathedral Primary School to get some feedback today.
The overall reaction was very positive with some good constructive opinions on how to improve it. The main ways to improve the first draft was to make it shorter; to keep the current themes but to trim them down a little to avoid any repetition or reiteration. It was also felt that some of the reminiscences were a little too technical and these could be sacrificed to enable us to keep some more funny stories about life on the river and this needed to include the re-introduction of at least one story about pilfering. To add titles to the sections. To include the interviewees nicknames in their lower thirds along with the year they were apprenticed.
It was felt that the closing credits were scrolling too fast up the screen. We discussed that the Community Channel insist on credits being no longer than 30 seconds so it was agreed to make them longer for the DVD and website only.

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Diary of a Lighterman

Dear Diary, Yesterday was an extremely busy and sad day. It was the second day of World War II and children began evacuating from London Bridge to Greenwich so as a waterman, I had to take them across the river to safety. When the children went onto the barge, I could hear loud bombs crashing down onto innocent buildings. My stomach turned inside out as I climbed onto the boat. My fears grew little by little as I became more and more worried about my family. Questions began to take over my mind. Were they okay? Where would they be? Are my children choosing to evacuate? Was our home destroyed by the loud bombings? All of a sudden, loud sirens beamed across the entire city. My heart pounded faster. As I began to drive the boat, I could hear the deafening sirens become quieter and quieter. During the middle of the journey, everyone became calm and relaxed and enjoyed the peace of the village we were passing. But it didn’t stay like this. Approximately five minutes later, the children began to sob and cry of sadness because they were missing the parents. I couldn’t tell them to stop as I would do the same in their position and I was also missing spending time with my family. Luckily after a couple of hours I had finished my 7 shifts to and from Greenwich. Walking home, I was anxious of our home. Was it still standing? As soon as I arrived on the street I did not need to worry anymore: it had crumbled into shards of tiny pieces…in the midst of it stood my family. They were all shivering with fear as they did not think their house would be ruined. However I had remembered to keep clothes, tinned foods and bottles of water in the cellar so for the rest of the night we searched the heap of the wooden pieces until we found them. Today, despite our house getting bombed, I still had to go to work. It was tough as many more people wanted to travel to Greenwich which meant that the boat become crowded and stuffy. Although the sun was still shining, I could still feel a light wind blowing against my face as I was sitting next to a window. Whilst the passengers hopped off the boat a wave of tiredness struck my face. I had completed six whole shifts yet I still had a few hours left before I went home. Drowsy, I opened the tug’s door to let the bunch of petrified people in. they were all in tears; families were lost, homes were lost and everybodys hearts were broken. shareen

Life on the Thames

Life on the Thames Peaceful Clean Tranquil Neat Heaving in circles Breaking a sweat But my work lies on The river Thames Clean skies Open wide Hope that I will never die Listen carefully Seagulls screeching The river Thames Calling for me Working all day Rowing all night Wishing Wanting For my payday rights Young we start old we end Our lives are different We’re first young Like the river Then done like the river Polluted Dirty Noisy Ugly The river is a monster Rubbish it is No work is available The Thames is gone I already died Listen carefully Seagulls screeching The river still calling for me Wishing Wanting For the river again Working years, 10 It’s hard for a lighterman Jonathan.

Hard Life & Hard Work on the Thames

Dear Diary, Pouring and wretched it was today. Never have I witnessed such an ominous catastrophe in my entire apprenticeship. Seeing death himself before my very own eyes has caused great devastation upon me. For this day will haunt me for the rest of my life… Yesterday… Sharpened rain clattered viciously onto the metal roof of the tug as the black blanket covers the night. River Thames eerily whispers in the distance underneath the white pearl in the sky. I pulled thick and rough ropes to tie on the barges consequently causing tough callouses on my palm. Weary and feeble, I stumbled to the last barge on the left corner. Shedding a few tears of agony and distraught. Screams and shouts. Distant memories of my family dying 5 days ago in the deadly bombing. Wishing I could be with them. With the raging war transpiring it shouldn’t be a problem. Bill and captain are in the tug boat having tea whilst discussing funny moments in their lives. My funny moments were with my family, ha especially John. After 7:00 I read a book for 15 minutes before returning to the tug boat; to finish of my duties. Suddenly however, as I neared to the edge of the tug a bomb exploded nearby forcing the boat to tilt over. Drowning I swam up to the surface in search for air. Realising, yet again, I am isolated and by myself… Bill and captain didn’t make it… Poems Who I am Who I am Everyone knows me Yet No one knows me Working long hours Rowing all night I have no sleep in my might A day’s work finished I head to the pub Drinking Dinking Then Drinking Work’s hard But I will never hate it Love what I’m doing Otherwise why would I be doing it? Years on the river Years My only mate: the river Swish Swish Calming Love being a lighterman Jonathan.