Keepers Lock

SONGS & STORIES FROM THE CANALS

 

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I was born and brought up on the ‘orse drawn workin boat, ‘Persia’ so I was very interested 
to see how they would make us boaties look. I thought they’d make us out to be what we 
wasn’t. But they didn’t. I felt like they must ‘ave been there, watchin us and all the things 
what happened to us. It all seemed so real. Smashin to ‘ear the stories an’ amazin’ songs too! 
                                                                                                Rose James - Reading 

Geoff Deighton - Belper Folk Club

"A CUT THROUGH TIME" - KEEPERS LOCK

The Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield, 23rd July 2011

Barges, Bonnets and Boggarts!

I shall start by admitting to a certain degree of bias; I love the canals!  I’ve never lived on them, though I have had several very enjoyable holidays cruising around many of our inland waterways and I have walked several miles of their towpaths.  So, when I found out that there was to be a presentation at our local theatre on the history of the canals and the people who lived and worked on them, I couldn’t resist turning up. And, I wasn’t disappointed.

The show, illustrated with slides, songs and poems, was presented by the duo Keepers Lock who are Suzie Litton-Wood and John Meleady, along with assistance from Janet Gell Thompson, Simon Brooks and John Stubbs.  All were suitably dressed in traditional canal wear; something which demanded some quick costume changes on the part of Janet and John as they took the roles of various characters in canal history!

The beginnings of the canal era were covered, from the building of the first canal by the Duke of Bridgewater, through its heyday in the 18th and early 19th centuries, to its decline due to competition from the railways and the demands of The Great War.  Simon, who provided the narration, introduced the various events and characters from the canal era which were then recounted in poems and stories from John Stubbs or songs from Janet, Suzie and John Meleady who also played guitar.  The stories were given further meaning by a succession of slides, projected onto a screen at the back of the stage or readings from a copy of  “The Illustrated London News” of the time. 

 The songs had all been composed by Suzie Litton-Wood and John Meleady and excellent they were too, telling the stories in plain words, helped enormously by the singing which was so clear you could hear every word.  The melodies too were catchy and memorable and I particularly liked the arrangements where Suzie and Janet sang together with some stunning harmonies.

The show was around two hours long with an interval and I have seldom known time pass so quickly and enjoyably!  “A Cut Through Time” is an excellent production and, if you get the chance to see it, then I thoroughly recommend it to you.

Geoff Deighton

David Zelder - New Writers UK

"On Saturday we went to The Pomegranate Theatre at Chesterfield to see a musical "A Cut Through Time". It was written by a fellow New Writer member Suzie Litton-Wood. The show is a history of the canals from over 200 years ago right up to the demise of the network in the 1960's. With a cast of 5 the performance was fast moving with a great selection of original songs, poems and instrumentals and the cast in costume, with a great selection of original slides illustrating the spoken word. We thoroughly enjoyed the performance and managed to speak with Suzie afterwards. A boater herself, she knows her subject well.

It occurred to me that this production would make a great fund raising vehicle for either the IWA or the Sleaford Navigation Trust , or both..
Chesterfield Canal Society is already in discussions about using the show as a fund raiser".

Jane Chrispin

Keepers Lock - A Cut through Time
Pomegranate Theatre, Sat July 23rd


Suzie Litton-Wood is a talented singer-songwriter who performs together with her music partner John Meleady, as the unique duo Keepers Lock. With their vivid accounts of the social history behind our inland waterways, their performance at Chesterfield’s Pomegranate Theatre on Saturday 23rd July, was highly entertaining and led to much serious toe-tapping.

Today, a popular image of our canals and their boat people is that of escapism and of a slow and easy pace of life. The history however, is altogether different, as all the stories, poems and songs penned by Suzie
portray. Like the navvies before them, the original boat people were hard working, struggling to keep their families and the nation alive by supplying essential goods. They played a major part in the industrial
revolution and in creating the nation’s wealth. It is these aspects that Keepers Lock present so well through their catchy tunes and amusing lyrics.
Their skill at story-telling is impressive and the visual images accompanying the individual folk songs successfully evoked the period. All this together with traditional, eye-catching costumes, the lovely melodic
voices, the characters from history telling their own stories and the clear and precise narration, made for a cracking musical event, with an entertaining difference.

Even more than this, the admiration felt especially by Suzie, for the early bargemen and their families was tangible. It is because of her heart-felt tribute to these narrow-boaters that the show really packed a powerful
punch and it is through her passion that we can thank these ancestors of ours for their legacy and for the chance to enjoy the enduring beauty of the canals which once provided the life-blood of the nation.

Jane Chrispin - Canal enthusiast