Rowing on the river


Based on the photograph D476/4/3.


This photograph, dated c.1920, shows a group of 6 men on a boat. The boat is a clinker built (i.e. it has overlapping side planks) wooden craft with a sail and a pair of staggered oars. It looks fairly new or is well maintained and was probably built locally (i.e. at one of the small boat-building yards that existed along the riverside villages and hamlets). The men are all smartly dressed (probably wearing their Sunday best) and they are obviously on a pleasure trip (again, implying a Sunday). There is also the possibility that the men are ex-servicemen, recuperating from wounds received in WW1. The photograph was taken on a very calm day with no wind and at high tide. The season is summer (the trees in the background are well in leaf). The photograph looks quite posed rather than a chance snapshot. The location of the photograph is not known for sure, but the river is quite broad but not excessive, so is probably around Newnham or Rodley. The boat is heading upriver.

Learning Outcomes – To know that a historian asks questions such as who, what, when, why, where, how, to discover information from a source . To discover what historical information can be learnt from a photograph. To be able to interpret through drama, information from a photograph. To be able to chronologically order a sequence of events.

Pose a series of questions to elicit investigation and discovery of the facts: What is happening? Who are the people? Why are they in the picture? When was the photograph taken? Was it in the present or the past? What time of year? What is the weather like? Was there a reason for it being taken? What sort of clothes are they wearing?

Dramatic interpretation: Why do you think the men are in the boat? Who are they? Where are they going? Where do you think it took place? What are the men talking about? What might be happening? Who else might have been there? Are they happy?


Children could:

  • Draw a story board of the sequence of events.
  • Show characters immediately before getting onboard the boat
  • Improvise the scene
  • Present the improvisation to an audience/write a script.


Curriculum links KS2:

Historical, geographical and social understanding: Essential knowledge 1c; Key Skills 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d; Cross-curricular studies 3a, 3b, 3c; Breadth of learning 4a1, 4d1, 4d2, 4d3, 4d4; Curriculum progression M1, M2, M4.

Understanding the arts: Essential knowledge 1a, 1 b, 1c; Key Skills 2b, 2c, 2d; Cross-curricular studies 3b, 3c; Breadth of learning 4a3, 4a4, 4d1, 4d2; Curriculum progression M1, M2, M3, M10, M11.

Links with: Understanding English, communication and languages; Understanding physical development, health and well being.



A&DT: Look at the photograph from a composition point-of-view. Is it a good photograph? What would improve it? Would it be better in colour? Discuss the technology being used.


Children could:

  • Recreate the picture in colour, using everyday colours but also unusual ones.
  • Recreate the picture in different ways: i.e. collage, paint, charcoal, pastels, using IT.
  • Recreate the picture in different artistic styles (i.e. impressionism, cubism, etc) or in different artist’s styles (i.e. Dali, Lichtenstein, Monet).
  • Create a flick-book cartoon that shows the boat moving across the water.
  • Recreate the picture in 3D using different materials (i.e. clay, cardboard, plastic items).
  • Make a pinhole camera.
  • Draw what is behind the camera.


Curriculum links KS2:

Historical, geographical and social understanding: Essential knowledge 1a; Key Skills 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d; Cross-curricular studies 3b, 3c; Breadth of learning 4a1, 4a2, 4d1, 4d2, 4d3, 4d4; Curriculum progression M1, M2, M6, M10, M11.

Understanding the arts: Essential knowledge 1a, 1 b, 1c, 1d; Key Skills 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d, 2e; Cross-curricular studies 3a, 3b, 3c; Breadth of learning 4a1, 4a2, 4a3, 4a4, 4a5, 4b1; Curriculum progression M1, M2, M3, M4, M6.

Scientific and technological understanding: Essential knowledge 1a; Key Skills 2a, 2c, 2d, 2e; Cross-curricular studies 3a, 3b, 3c; Breadth of learning 4a1, 4b1, 4b2, 4b3, 4b4, 4c1, 4c2, 4c4, 4d2; Curriculum progression M1, M2, M3, M4, M5, M8.
Links with: Understanding English, communication and languages; Understanding physical development, health and well being.


Citizenship: Why are there only men in the boat? Where might the women be? Why? What day of the week was this photograph taken? Why do you think this? Are these men wealthy or poor? What is their social class?


Children could:

  • Research the growth of leisure time in society. What changes have made this possible?
  • Look at the different ways that people relax today and in the past. What might happen in the future?
  • Look at how such places inspire people to create art for everyone.
  • Research the sorts of jobs and industry behind this scene:
  • Boat - boat-building, boat-repairing, cloth making (sail), agriculture, forestry, chemical industries (paint and varnish), metal working (nails), rope-making
  • Men - cloth making, tanning, shoe-making, metal working (belt buckles, buttons), clothing industry, hat-making.


Curriculum links KS2:

Historical, geographical and social understanding: Essential knowledge 1a, 1c, 1d; Key Skills 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d; Cross-curricular studies 3a, 3b, 3c; Breadth of learning 4a1, 4b2, 4b4, 4c1, 4c2, 4d1, 4d2, 4d3, 4d4; Curriculum progression M1, M2, M3, M4, M5, M6, M7, M8, M9, M10, M11, M12

Understanding the arts: Essential knowledge 1a, 1 b, 1c, 1d; Key Skills 2a, 2d;

Cross-curricular studies: 3b, 3c; Breadth of learning 4a1, 4b1, 4d1; Curriculum progression M1, M2, M3, M6.

Links with: Understanding English, communication and languages; Understanding physical development, health and well being.

6.1 Rowing on the river (1.79mb)