WALKING THE THAMES TO LONDON #3
Raising Funds for the Trussell Trust
In association with the cyclists’ group from The Prince Albert
And on Thursday 6th February, I started the first day
On my Thames Path Food Bank Pilgrimage:
Day One Thursday 6th February 2020 Source to Cricklade
Frost, fog, mist, sunshine, sunrise 7.31; sunset 16.57; carbon count 413.90; remembering the remarkable Allen Davenport of Ewen, one mile on from the source of the river; swans, herons, twitcher all in camouflage secreted behind a tree, ridge and furrow, flooded water meadows, meandering broken banked Thames, wading waist-deep on one occasion; 13 miles. Cricklade 3pm.
Remembering Allen Davenport of Ewen:
One of ten children in a handloom weaver’s cottage: ‘I was born May 1st, 1775, in the small and obscure village of Ewen … somewhat more than a mile from the source of the Thames, on the banks of which stream stands the cottage in which I was born … I came into existence, while the revolutionary war of America was raging …’
He taught himself to read by learning songs; then saving up to buy printed versions. He taught himself to write: ‘I got hold of a written alphabet … I tried my hand at black and white … and to my inexpressible joy I soon discovered that my writing could be read and partially understood’.
When he moved to London, he read the works of the agrarian communist, Thomas Spence, and helped spread his revolutionary, republican slogans with chalk on pavements and walls.
‘SPENCE’S PLAN: THE PEOPLE’S FARM’
‘SPENCE’S PLAN AND FULL BELLIES’
‘THE LAND IS THE PEOPLE’S FARM’
‘If rents I once consent to pay
My Liberty is past away.’
Allen Davenport became an influential metropolitan and national leader across various working-class movements for some thirty years, from Peterloo to Chartism. An activist and political poet, remembered on the Reformers’ Memorial in Kensal Green.
Not bad for a handloom weaver’s child born one mile from the source of the Thames.
But what would he have made of food banks?
He couldn’t have imagined that such a thing
would exist nearly two hundred years after his death.
He would weep.
Is this progress?
When inequalities seemingly outstrip those of the Regency and Victorian era.
VULNERABLE TO COVID-19
APART FROM THE ELDERLY
AND THOSE WITH HEALTH PROBLEMS
1.2 MILLION USERS OF FOOD BANKS
1.3 MILLION DESTITUTE
OVER HALF THE PEOPLE
DEFINED AS BEING IN POVERTY
LIVE IN WORKING HOUSEHOLDS
AT LEAST 69 SUICIDES
IN THE PAST YEAR
LINKED TO UNIVERSAL CREDIT
NEARLY 75% OF KIDS
LIVING IN POVERTY
LIVE IN HOUSEHOLDS IN WORK