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Textiles, Garb and the Thames

1 February 2024
This exhibition was an inquiry into the clothing of those working on the Thames explored through textiles, poetry, song, storytelling and workshops - from the Watermen to the future of Gravesend Riverside workers and what they wear.

About the event

The purpose of Textiles, Garb, and the Thames was to explore and document the history of textiles and clothing along the Thames. The opening day showcased poetry performances by several individuals, all incorporating works by Henry T. Bradford**. Bradford, aged 94 and a local resident with experience working on various docks and tugs along the Thames, contributed significantly to the event.

Former Mayor Michael Weban, who boasts a wealth of knowledge gained from his extensive career on the Thames, delivered a talk during the opening event. He presented a comparison between older uniforms and the recent alterations and additions to Thames-based clothing. Weban's informative discussion covered materials, and their functionality in providing warmth and dryness during work, and highlighted differences in regulations and personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements over time.

The exhibition, Textiles, Garb, and the Thames, featured a display of photos showcasing dockland workers, tugboats, RNLI clothing, maritime garb, and other nautical-themed images. Within this exhibition space, tech pack designs for a maritime clothing collection were presented based on the photos displayed on boards.

LV21, the red boat docked next to Fourth Portal, generously loaned out clothing and uniforms from Trinity House and other maritime-based collections. This display remained open throughout the event, offering attendees the opportunity to observe ceremonial dress uniforms used on the Thames.

Knowledge Exchange
Curator Matthew Davies reflects on the intergenerational exchange of knowledge and understanding.

Knowledge Diffusion
Creating an environment where knowledge can be exchanged is one side of the Fourth Portal, the other side focuses on how knowledge is diffused.

Photo of a local teenager who came with her mum specifically to see the exhibition for inspiration for her A-level textile thesis. She later messaged "Visited for references for my Textiles A-Level and found some amazing historical work for inspiration in my project! Going off to study for a degree in Costume so this was very valuable!! :)"

Knowledge Demonstration
A former teacher from a local grammar school demonstrates threading a Singer sawing machine.

Knowledge Sharing
RNLI volunteers provide an overview of their survival kit and materials.

This exhibition has ended


TEXTILES LIGHTING TALKS | Friday, 22 March 2024, from 7pm | £10
An evening of fascinating 10-minute lighting talks with Q&As on all forms of textiles while imagining how material innovation may change with the latest technological breakthroughs. £10 includes a glass of Meopham Sparkling Wine.

** Henry Bradford reading his poem, I Am Just A Common Working Man

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