During the Milton’s Hidden Seashore project so far, I have become increasingly intrigued by the history and cultural heritage of our little nature reserve. Portsmouth is such a history-rich city and it has been fascinating to begin to peel back the layers of days gone by, unpicking stories, meeting local legends and imagining what the landscape must have looked like before our time. For me, Milton Locks has always held whispers of its previous incarnations, from a newly constructed but then quickly derelict sea lock, to a thriving houseboat community with a strong cultural identity.
Over the past few weeks particularly, we have begun in earnest to scratch at the surface of the history of this unique area. Above all, it has been wonderful meeting people who are so eager to share their stories and memories. We have been working in partnership with Portsmouth Museum, who are currently exhibiting the work of Edward King, an extraordinary artist who lived in Portsmouth during the first half of the 20th Century and who I’ve discussed several times on this blog. We have also had expert input from Paul Gonella at Strong Island, who has been helping us piece together the jigsaw of Milton Locks past and present, and is producing a film, capturing some of the memories and narratives that have shaped the character of our little patch of wild in the heart of city.
We are now all very excited to announce that there will be a preview of first version of the film, Life on the Water’s Edge at Portsmouth Museum on Saturday. Later in the summer, a final version of the film will be available online, as a resource for schools and community groups and will also hopefully make an appearance on the big screen in Portsmouth Guildhall Square. This is an exhilarating moment in the lifetime of a much-loved and occasionally overlooked nature reserve. I hope we can share it with as many Portsmouth people as possible. Details of the Museum screening can be found by clicking the Upcoming Events button on the blog.