Tales from the Riverbank

This segment of the resource uses dramatic performance on video for cross-curricular working, and consists of 4 short videos (each lasting approximately five minutes). 

The material was scripted especially for the Gloucestershire Archives Severn Project Roadshow, using oral history and other sources held in the archives, and performed by John Bassett of the Spaniel in the Works Theatre Company from original archive material held at Gloucestershire Archives. They were filmed and edited by James Dalby, a Television Production Lecturer at the University of Gloucestershire.

There are 4 videos each of which is based upon one character; a Policeman, a fisherman, a docker and a photographer.  These characters each look at the river from their own unique perspectives: the Policeman views the river as a force of nature, a place where accidents and disasters take place.  The fisherman considers the river as a source of food and as a place of work.  The docker considers the river as a trade route and highway to the world, while the photographer sees the river as a source of relaxation and inspiration.

The videos are intended to be used by teachers as a resource for cross-curricular lessons.  Each character provides a wealth of information about the river, including events such as natural disasters and accidents, as well as social values, national events and trade.

The characters and their perspectives are:

  • The Docker
  • The Fisherman
  • The Photographer
  • The Policeman

The docker looks at the river as a supplier of trade and a place of work.
(This was filmed at Sharpness Docks.)

The fisherman looks at the river as a source of food.
(This was filmed at Wainlodes)

The photographer travels down the river on a pleasure cruiser for pure enjoyment and considers the river as a source of recreation. (This was filmed at Gloucester Docks.)

The Policeman looks at the significance of the river as a force of nature and recounts the Severn bridge disaster of 1960. (This was filmed at Purton Hulks.)



The performances were originally devised for use in Gloucestershire Archives ‘Fish, Fykes & Ferries’ Severn Project Roadshow. For the live performances, there was an additional character, a Navvy, who looked at the river as an obstacle to be crossed.

In addition to the video segments, you will also find the original scripts for each character.

Spaniel In The Works Theatre Company specialise in high quality educational performances for museums, galleries and archives. Formed in 2000 by writer/actor/ director John Bassett the company have a wealth of experience of museum theatre and drama performances at venues including the Science Museum, Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum, Wallace Collection and Apsley House. After relocating to Stroud in 2004, Spaniel In The Works have developed programmes for the Museum In The Park, Stroud and Gloucestershire Archives. Popular performances include Snapshots of Victorian Life, The Soldier and The Snaggles, Inhuman Traffic (focussing on slavery) and Bernard and Beatrice’s (Nearly) Complete Guide To Modern Art (in 45 minutes). Their character performances have included Peter Drinkwater the apothecary recently performed at Yate and Dean Heritage Centres, ARP warden in Minchinhampton and a smallpox nurse at various library venues. Their popular show Dark Tales of Gloucestershire has been performed at a number of venues throughout the county including Thistledown Environment Centre and The Everyman Theatre.


6.3a Docker Script

6.3b Fisherman Script

6.3c Photographer Script

6.3d Policeman Script

6.3e Navvy Script