ROCK THE BOAT - STREET GUITAR
For the City of London Festival we have taken 12 leaky old sailing dinghies and made fabulous stages for playing guitar. The boats provide beautiful sculptural shelter, and are a nod to the importance of the Thames in the establishment of London as a key trading centre. Our upcycled boats will be rocking the square mile until 10th July:
New Street Square
Finsbury Ave Square
St Paul’s Churchyard
Fenchurch Street Station
The Duck Pond at St Lawrence Jewry, Gresham Street
Head on down and play!
A big thank you to all the sailing clubs, along the Thames and down to the south coast, who helped find boats suitable for upcycling, and educated us landlubbers. For some of the boat owners parting with their once much-loved crafts was a difficult thing to do. Here's Sarah Gordon's requiem to her Mirrorbelle:
I first learnt to sail small dinghies on a school course in the early 70s. My parents then occasionally hired sailing boats during family holidays, but it then became a forgotten skill until I was in my middle 30s.
In 1993 I had temporarily given up my job as a veterinary surgeon to concentrate on bringing up three small children, then aged 5, 6 and 8, with the help of my working husband. We all went to a Family Open Day at Haversham Sailing Club in Milton Keynes, with a friend whose father sailed there regularly. Somehow before the day ended we were all members of the club and were the proud owners of a smart Mirror Dinghy.
The Mirror was designed in 1962 by Jack Holt and TV do-it-yourself expert Barry Bucknell. It could be built At home with simple tools and little experience. Heavily promoted by the Daily Mirror – hence its name, for a while it was the most popular two man dinghy in terms of sales per annum worldwide. Cheap to buy, easy to sail and versatile it was the perfect way for me to return to sailing.
I have very fond memories of sailing Mirrorbelle with a small child lying on the foredeck singing songs - including occasional sea shanties, as the jib passed over their heads. Looking at the wonderful adults these children have become it is hard to remember how little they once were! The children enjoyed sailing with mum but mostly preferred playing with friends around the lake and haven’t taken up this hobby themselves, yet.
I sailed her regularly in club races, usually single-handed but sometimes with a crew. Most years we won cups and awards, including once coming first in a Pursuit race! Eventually though time took it toll, wooden boats were overtaken by sleek moulded plastic hulls, the family grew up and left home and my career took up much of my time, making it hard to stay on top of essential maintenance jobs.
By 2014 my Mirror was just a sad remnant of her former self. As I took my ‘quick to rig’, low maintenance, Lightning out onto the water I tried to ignore the guilt pangs caused by seeing my beloved Mirror decaying gently in a club berth, crying out to be loved and appreciated once again.
So when I heard there was a need for boats to become part of the City of London Festival I knew this was where my Mirror belonged. I hope everyone playing a guitar on her stage will have as much fun as I did sailing her.
Enjoy my Mirrorbelle, Sarah Gordon.