River Tame

As part of our work on the River Tame - both through Tamed and Tame Past Present Future - we have spent a lot of time considering the river, its form, its history, its story and its relationship with those who live and work alongside it.

We commissioned Poet Laureate of Wednesbury, Brendan Hawthorne to create a piece based on his time with us.  Brendan performed his poem, 'This River Tame' on the Janes Walk we did in early May in a site specific performance. 

His poem takes you on a journey downstream, starting from Perry Bridges to the west of Witton where so much of our work has been focussed this last year.  

This River Tame  copyright Brendan Hawthorne 2015

This River Tame
Grey metallic silk artery of revolutionary industries
This River Tame
Bends at will and yet re-formed for greater design
This River Tame
Omnipresent friend silent and sometimes unseen
This River Tame
Seemingly forever rolling the gravel pits of time
At Perry Bridges …
tandem spans leap
Built over two hundred years apart
The oldest zig-zag structure
now mirrored by Jazz Age update
once ferried packhorse cargo
with lay-by refuge for muscle and cart
allowing ebb and flow commuting
to an ever-changing workplace estate
This River Tame
Grey metallic silk artery of revolutionary industries
This River Tame
Bends at will and yet re-formed for greater design
This River Tame
Omnipresent friend silent and sometimes unseen
This River Tame
Seemingly forever rolling the gravel pits of time
At Ryknield Street …
the famed mettle of Roman marches
reinforces an ancient footfall crossing
Here the memory of invasion is legion
and reflects on those gone before
Now an insightful water-meadow fording
giving rest to those whose myriad paths
have traversed these rippling shallows
from its warrened banks to its gentle shore
This River Tame
Grey metallic silk artery of revolutionary industries
This River Tame
Bends at will and yet re-formed for greater design
This River Tame
Omnipresent friend silent and sometimes unseen
This River Tame
Seemingly forever rolling the gravel pits of time
At Holford Mills …
Tame water is harnessed
Has driven the mill wheels of centuries
from cleansing wool to finery
shaped, cast and wrought
A darkened meandering river cutting
where blades were sharpened
and gun grey barrels bored
and a twist in the tale is bought
This River Tame
Grey metallic silk artery of revolutionary industries
This River Tame
Bends at will and yet re-formed for greater design
This River Tame
Omnipresent friend silent and sometimes unseen
This River Tame
Seemingly forever rolling the gravel pits of time
At Willow Grove …
an echo of a forgotten bridge
weeps the lime green willows low
Bowing sentinels to bygone pathways
and custodians of the lions roar
Waters erode the shifting footprints
of its diverse labouring people
A place where joyous arcs spring
and fountains rainbows soar
This River Tame
Grey metallic silk artery of revolutionary industries
This River Tame
Bends at will and yet re-formed for greater design
This River Tame
Omnipresent friend silent and sometimes unseen
This River Tame
Seemingly forever rolling the gravel pits of time
At Witton Bridge …
turquoise waters bled from Kynoch’s copper casings
Outfalls from packing ammunition for sport and war
The elements of alloys and allies drifted unhindered
channelled along these bends of blends to dilution
at an ancient muddy low point intersection
made rank and foul by nature
now passive in looks and demeanor
once crossed by trades of expanding conurbation
This River Tame
Grey metallic silk artery of revolutionary industries
This River Tame
Bends at will and yet re-formed for greater design
This River Tame
Omnipresent friend silent and sometimes unseen
This River Tame
Seemingly forever rolling the gravel pits of time
At Electric Avenue …
there’s a street with buzz
where three-phase currents co-exist
along this broad thoroughfare
From nearby, wavelets of river flow
and the spirit-breath of air turbulence
that switch to bridge rectification
in bluest tungsten filament light
where energy sparks and lanterns glow
This River Tame
Grey metallic silk artery of revolutionary industries
This River Tame
Bends at will and yet re-formed for greater design
This River Tame
Omnipresent friend silent and sometimes unseen
This River Tame
Seemingly forever rolling the gravel pits of time
At Salford Park …
some say this drinking water reservoir
is the oldest in all this land
Hollowed out to slake the thirst of workers
and all its nearby tempered forges
Collecting libation for Birmingham’s
ever-growing unquenched demand
An interchange where sweat dries
and a region’s demand engorges
This River Tame
Grey metallic silk artery of revolutionary industries
This River Tame
Bends at will and yet re-formed for greater design
This River Tame
Omnipresent friend silent and sometimes unseen
This River Tame
Seemingly forever rolling the gravel pits of time
At Hawthorn Brook …
the healing nature is of tame confluence and direction
Where mystical scrates are lost to road
and yet remain enigmatic by design
Hosting shelter from searchlight bombings raids
seeking sight and range on wartime munitions
Their ghosts and stories are still here
in whispers along cuttings and skyways
waiting to be heard before cadence fades
This River Tame
Grey metallic silk artery of revolutionary industries
This River Tame
Bends at will and yet re-formed for greater design
This River Tame
Omnipresent friend silent and sometimes unseen
This River Tame
Seemingly forever rolling the gravel pits of time
At Hockley Brook …
along the way from olden Scraford
a trinity of canals link arms unnoticed
Set in the shadows of Bromford ‘duct
where glory days of construction last
a source emerges that once powered Soho
Its fame and fortunes cast at this point
as rail and canal meet river and brook
delivering another layer to cover your past
This River Tame
Grey metallic silk artery of revolutionary industries
This River Tame
Bends at will and yet re-formed for greater design
This River Tame
Omnipresent friend silent and sometimes unseen
This River Tame
Seemingly forever rolling the gravel pits of time

Artists Jenni Dixon and Robert Colbourne will be using Brendans full poem in their continuing work for the Tamed project - watch out for this and their box trail coming soon.