West Leeds: Stage is set for touring canal play exploring heritage of waterways

This Island's Mine
This Islan's Mine. From left, Steve Scott-Bottoms, Claire-Marie Seddon and Simon Brewis. Photo: Barnaby Aldrick

The Leeds and Liverpool Canal is set to become a moving stage as a traditional canal boat hosts a play that looks at the heritage of both the canal and River Aire and looks at how they have shaped local communities.

Set aboard an original 1930s canal boat called The Ribble, ‘This Island’s Mine’ is part play and part friendly chat around the kitchen table.

Audiences are invited to join two characters in conversation and discover the incredible history and heritage of the Aire Valley’s waterways.

There are 11 locations along the canal where people can see the show. It starts in Leeds on Thursday 9 September and takes in Armley, Kirkstall Forge and Rodley before heading to Bradford and concluding in Skipton on 25 and 26 September.

“This Island’s Mine is a story for everyone because we are all shaped by the places that we live,” says director Simon Brewis, who hails from Pudsey.

“Whether you have a vested interest in the waterways, industry, and heritage, want to learn more about it, or are simply looking for something to do of a weekend – we’re here for you!”

Using simple props and much humour to tell the story of Barbara and Danny – two friends who grew up in Dockfield, Shipley – audience members can help the characters build a map detailing the history of the waterways and shared stories. The map will ultimately be displayed at Leeds Industrial Museum in Armley. 

“Dockfield is a strip of land sandwiched between the River Aire and the Leeds Liverpool Canal, hence the title,” Simon added. “As we discover more of the characters’ island home with its happy memories there is a definite nostalgic air, but as they reminisce about its heavy industry we see that things actually weren’t always better back then and their tale starts to map out a hopeful future for our waterways as Atlantic salmon return to the River Aire.”

The play has been commissioned by the Aire Rivers Trust’s ‘Developing the Natural Aire’ (DNAire) project in collaboration with Canal Connections and Multi-Storey Water – each one a grass roots organisation working to improve rivers and waterways and safeguard their future.

Simon Watts, the Aire Rivers Trust’s Community Engagement Manager, said:

“We are delighted to bring this play to the water and explore how Airedale has shaped, and continues to shape, our communities as river, canal, and railway weave around each other.

“We want to encourage people to explore their local waterways, to be inspired, to discover new gems along the way, and to help us protect them and give them a future – I’m sure This Island’s Mine will help us do just that.”

Tickets cost £3
. For more information and to book visit the Aire Rivers Trust website.

Tour dates include:

  • Thursday 9 September: Fred’s Place, Crown Point, Leeds – 6pm & 8pm
  • Saturday 11 September:  Leeds Industrial Museum, Armley – 11.30am (Accessible performance) 2pm & 4pm
  • Sunday 12 September: Kirkstall Forge, Leeds – 2pm & 4pm
  • Monday 13 September: Rodley, Leeds – 6pm & 8pm
  • Friday 17 September: Dockfield, Shipley – 6pm & 8pm
  • Saturday 18 September:  Salts Mill, Saltaire – 12pm, 2pm & 4pm
  • Sunday 19 September:  Dowley Gap near Bingley/Ferncliffe – 2pm & 4pm
  • Monday 20 September: Riddlesden, Keighley – 6pm & 8pm
  • Friday 24 September:  Silsden, Bradford – 6pm & 8pm
  • Saturday 25 September: Skipton – 12pm, 2pm & 4pm
  • Sunday 26 September: Skipton – 2pm & 4pm.


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