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River Parrett Trail

Project Proposal





Twelve massive timber beams brace the walls of the cutting. This is the beginning of a deep cut along the streets of Bridgwater, which is a cool and shadowy walk by a quiet canal to the Bridgwater Docks.

Cutting the canal through the hill was a task requiring great skill and enormous amounts of energy, mostly supplied by men and horses.

From when the canal was opened 1827, it was, for a short while, the area's most efficient carrier of goods and tolls were charged according to the cargo, it was a commercial concern. Goods carried included coal, clay, limestone, timber, grain, cider, animals and passengers. It was eclipsed by the coming of the railway in 1842 and went into inevitable decline and eventual decay.

The cutting partly collapsed in 1968 and was subsequently braced with the massive timber work we see today.

The canal has been restored to working order over the last decade was officially reopened to traffic in 1993. There is a tow path along its entire length which is also a public foot path. This section is also part of the Parrett Trail.

The canal has a rich eco-system as associated with still or slow moving water; with iris, water lily, dragonfly, perch and pike among its more well known members.

The proposal is to create a poetry project that focuses on the canal... as it was made... was used... as it is now. A project that explores this extraordinary place and the enterprise, trade and human endeavor connected with it.

That from the material generated, through some form of selection, distillation or editing process, a sequence of words can be selected and sited on the timber beams.

Fuller texts could be realised as moderate sized plaques, placed accessibly on the cutting walls, in cast iron or other suitable materials. These plaques would have raised lettering so that rubbings could be taken from them with crayon and paper. This would fit in with the River Parrett Trail clueing programme.

This project could also be connected to the 'Poems To Walk By' project organised through the Brewhouse Arts Centre during 1994.

The project would involve poets (recognised or not) and could also have an education or community dimension.

The careful use of design, lettercutting and calligraphy skills would ensure high quaility and controlled visual addition which would not be intrusive but add to the visitor's appreciation and enjoyment of this place.