Rhythm, Rhymes & Railways

Historyworks is starting a new public art project in Cambridge which will run from the September 2017 to December 2017, and we'll invite a large number of singers from local schools and community choirs to come together to perform new pieces for voice and body percussion which we will perform at the Winter Fair on 2nd December 2017.

The project is called 'Rhythm, Rhyme & Railways' to tell the story of how Cambridge changed when the railway came in 1845. We are working with top writers, the renowned poet Michael Rosen, and the witty lyricist, Dave Cohen (the CBBC's Horrible-Histories Song-writer); and partnering with a range of local historians and experts to help us find the significant stories to translate into song.  The Musical Director of the Railway Singers will be Mario Satchwell with support from Tizzy Faller & Bethany Kirby who has done a brilliant job as the Musical Arranger for the lyric pieces by Michael Rosen and others.

Helen Weinstein has been leading the research about the railway, working with Tizzy Faller and our group of History PhD student interns, using many of the resources of the Mill Road History Society, such as the research on the railway cottages, and the fantastic archive based at the National Railway Museum in York.  We'll collect stories locally too to add to the narrative of the poems and online resources.

Harry Gray, a sculptor who works on large-scale public artworks, is making the 'Romsey R' in partnership with the typography expert, Will Hill, which will be cast in bronze to look like an 'R' made of railway tracks, and located in perpetuity on the corner of Cavendish Road and Mill Road just over the railway bridge marking the main neighbourhood where railway workers and their families came to work and live in Cambridge in the Victorian period.  Historyworks is involved in collecting words for the sculpture, to be carved onto the Romsey 'R' and this has involved visiting many schools and community events to encourage the public engagement with the artwork, asking audiences to fill in Romsey R postcards in order to collect railway journey start and end destination points to be carved into the sculpture, and the accompanying stories and remarkable memories surrounding these destinations.

In the next phase of the project, the Historyworks team is running a series of free community choir sessions in the Autumn to rehearse and record the songs, for the children then to learn them in school assemblies and choir rehearsals, and then to record some improv railway pieces, and body percussion and drumming sessions. There will be two large public rehearsals in November, (2pm to 4pm on Sunday 19th Nov and Sunday 26th November) to learn singing and body percussion and movement, in preparation for a performance of all the pieces in St Philip's Church on Mill Road, which will be held between 11am and 12 noon (following a rehearsal from 10am) when families can come along and join in too on the date of the Mill Road Winter Fair, which is Saturday 2nd December, 2017.


There will also be a series of workshops in October and November, featuring the poet Michael Rosen and the CBBC's Horrible Histories Songwriter, Dave Cohen, organized for primary and secondary students from the local schools, which will led by Helen Weinstien and designed to inspire young people and elders to join in the project for composing poems and songs so that hundreds can be involved in responding to the Railway story of Cambridge, travel and migration, change and development of a city, by writing their own poems and songs which Historyworks will record to showcase on the screens at St Philip's Church and for an online exhibition to be launched on 2nd December on the date of the unveiling of the Romsey 'R' sculpture at the Mill Road Winter Fair 2017.

Rhythm, Rhymes & Railways


In this section