Avonmouth is a busy industrial dock, with chemical plants and factories, so security is tight. One of Alan’s colleagues was so interested to hear about the beach in the story that she went to have a look herself, only to be escorted out of the area by security guards!
This story was made over five days at Access Creativity Theatre Arts (ACTA) in Bedminster, Bristol, to celebrate the organisation’s 21st birthday. Participants were ACTA workers.
It was led by Clodagh Miskelly, Eileen Haste and Paddy Uglow on a theme of “21 years of acta” and was supported by Bristol’s Museums, Galleries & Archives.
Lawrence Weston is an area of Bristol nestling within the greenery and woodlands of Blaise Castle and Kingsweston Estates and the marshes running down to the industries of Avonmouth with spectacular views of the Severn and the Welsh Hills beyond.
A large performance was being devised in 2003 with a group of local people, exploring a young woman’s dreams of leaving Lawrence Weston… dreams of mythical areas in the woods… childhood memories and a series of stepping stones across the river to Wales.
As set designer I took off one baking hot day to research and photograph locations for the various scenes. The Seven Maidens and the iron swing in KingsWeston Estate… tarmac, kerbstones and street furniture in Ridingleaze… textures of cracked mud at Avonmouth… and, of couse, the stepping stones.
Entering Avonmouth docks… the old warehouses, strange silos heaps of coal by the roadside, scrap metal mountains, ships and containers.
My first access to the shore took me over a pipeline onto the beach and down to the water’s edge. I scanned the water for useful rocks peeping out.
The brown rocks and pebbles of the beach had a strange quality about them. I noticed a rusting cog and as I bent down to pick it up I realised that the whole beach was made up of weathered pieces of iron – flattened and salt eaten, yet looking at home with their seaweed neighbours.
The remains of an old scrap metal site perhaps?
A magical find on an unknown, unloved beach.
Steel mill audio created by Ljudoproduktion AB Sweden, used under Public Domain licence.
Crickets sound created by Prism Leisure Corporation, used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence.
Gulls created by Prism Leisure Corporation, used under Public Domain licence.
Waves created by iMovie (Apple), used under copyright licence.
All media not otherwise credited created by the story author, or permission obtained, used under copyright licence.