Hidden Waterways is an intergenerational community project delivered by The Hive. Funded by The Heritage Lottery Fund and Shropshire Council, it explores the heritage and tales behind Shropshire’s hidden canals and waterways. Through engagement with creative workshops, the project focuses on storytelling to improve mental and emotional wellbeing, whilst encouraging community cohesion and pride in the local area.
Our aim was to create a lasting legacy celebrating the Hidden Waterways around Upton Magna, Berwick Wharf and Uffington. Through ceramic workshops, we involved children and local families in the creation of this trail, to encourage the community to explore and support the restoration of the Shrewsbury Canal. In these workshops, we presented sketches, ideas, photos, found objects and our vision to the multi-generational participants who joined us. We also shared historical information such as how canal workers and bargees were paid in tokens resembling coins. Many who took part created their own circular tokens in clay inspired by the canal’s architecture, rich history and the wildlife that now calls the canal home.
Hours of careful glazing, adding oxides and firing the tiles to ‘stoneware’ in a kiln, followed these creative community workshops. The fired tiles are now presented on panels and set into old oak posts that line the towpath. These posts contain joints and carpenters’ marks and reflect wood used in a working canal. Interspersed along the trail are extracts from memories and poems, photographs and opportunities to listen to those who worked on and lived near the canal.