River Rhymes and Voices: Exploring riverside histories through touring, talks and spoken word

The River Cam, Cambridge
The Great Whyte, Ramsey

"The project has been amazing and it has been great fun! I would recommend anyone to take part"


The River Rhymes and Voices project was an HLF funded project which took pupils from Abbey College, Ramsey and Parkside Federation, Cambridge to explore their local riverside histories. They spoke with historians and archaeologists and interviewed elderly local residents to find out all they could about these heritages. Their findings were then made into poetry performance pieces during spoken word and recording workshops. All of the interviews plus the pupil's poetry was recorded onto a CD for future generation to share and enjoy. The pupils were congratulated at a celebratory event of riversides and poetry led by Page to Performance and held at the Junction Theatre, Cambridge.

The project was then used by the young people in a consultation process about what they want from their riverside areas, having learnt what they have previously and are currently used for.

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Example poem:

History of the River Cam

A land without rivers, like a body without blood
As veins flow through towns grow through history’s mud
Waves, transport and trade aging decades ago
Now we’re sitting with picnics watching punters fall low.
But do we know what this river would bring?
And when we think back do we roll flat in watery dreams
Seeing steam powered engines that took out the need
For boats bringing goods, locks and river run feeds
It was trade, now we’re laid back with books looking sunny
immersed in old stories of commerce and money
from Roman time trade lines to Middle Age deals
bringing stones building buildings, bringing fuel, feuds and meals
Until two honks and a whistle sound slice in the air
Train tracks more flat, fast take over the fair,
Yet while pump mills and barges floated away
So the town folk would drown without riverside plays
Now its days playing ball games and pimms sipped beside her
Canal barge through pub queues for riverside cider
So don’t sigh like goodbye run the rivers to slaughter
Cos new worlds can be born with each ripple of water.

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Feedback :

"I have learnt so much about the the (River) Cam, I can't believe that there are so many interesting things about the Cam and we are grateful to experience them"

"I have learned how to interview elderly people to get them to tell us their stories of Ramsey"

"We heard so many interesting stories of the old people?s lives"

Further Resources:

Teaching Pack: Recording Oral Histories : Click here to download >>
River Rhymes and Voices: Full Project Report: Click here to download >>