The Cut: Oral Histories
Sept 2010

The oral histories that inspired the commissioned artists were recorded across Hackney in homes, community spaces, at SPACE and on a narrow boat on the Lea Navigation Canal itself.

In September 2010 a group of 14 local volunteers were trained at SPACE by Dr Toby Butler, an oral historian from the Raphael Samuel History Centre, and then went out in the community to record 13 interviews with people who live or work along the Hackney Cut.

Interviews took place with Alec Watson, Barry Milsom, Brian Johnson, Colin Priest, David George, Edward Bennettt, Elin Bieleker, Frank Sweeney, Graham and Brenda Woods, Lance Forman, Tim Newson and Tony Menzies.

The Cut oral historians are Elizabeth Pillar, Esther Collins, Ian Blunt, John Houston, Kate Tucker, Kathleen McIlvenna, Rafal Szulczwski, Nicola Wissbrook, Rosanna Arbon, Sarah Bancroft, Michael Somwaru, Claudia Jessop, Jane Perrott and Fiona Fieber.

We are grateful for the enthusiasm, generosity and hospitality shown by all involved.

These are short excerpts from a few of the recorded oral histories. The full length interviews will be available shortly on SPACE website and at Hackney Museum.

Alec Watson 1 – Talks about fishing in locks on the River Lea and selling jam jars to the Rag and Bone man for a ride on a roundabout.

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The Cut: Alec Watson 1

Alec Watson 1 by Space Studios The Cut

Alec Watson 2 – Talks about the Clarnico sweet factory in Hackney Wick and the not so sweet smells from nearby factories.

Alec Watson 2 by Space Studios The Cut

Alec Watson 3 – Talks about Hackney Wick, its present state compared to the old community, notably the vast amount of small businesses run by residents of the Wick.

Alec Watson 3 by Space Studios The Cut

Barry Milsom 1 – Talks about barges moving goods to and from businesses along the River Lea.

Barry Milsom 1 by Space Studios The Cut

Barry Milsom 2 – Talks about people working on the River Lea.

Barry Milsom 2 by Space Studios The Cut

Barry Milsom 3 – Reminisces about a local character and working on the river.

Barry Milsom 3 by Space Studios The Cut

Barry Milsom 4 – Talks about a dead body being pulled up from the water and the surprising reaction from a colleague.

Barry Milsom 4 by Space Studios The Cut

Brian Johnson 1 – Talks about working at Lesneys Matchbox Toy Factory.

Brian Johnson 1 by Space Studios The Cut

Brian Johnson 2 – Talks about playing in Hackney Wick and on the River Lea.

Brian Johnson 2 by Space Studios The Cut

Graham and Brenda Woods 1 – Talk about fishing on the River Lea and the local wildlife.

Graham and Brenda Woods 1 by Space Studios The Cut

Graham and Brenda Woods 2 – Brenda talks about visiting Waterden Road allotments with her father.

Graham and Brenda Woods 2 by Space Studios The Cut