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Watery Trail: River Medway

Enjoy this curious couple’s epic quest to follow the River Medway - from its source at Butcher's Basin to the Thames Estuary at Sheerness

Amateur film 1938 25 mins Silent

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Logo for Screen Archive South East


This epic journey starts with a couple investigating the source and course of the River Medway, starting at a boggy Butcher's Basin in the Sussex High Weald. This fascinating journey, past a mixture of rural and industrial views, features stately homes, uniformed RAC men, medieval bridges, locks, weirs, breweries, barges and overhead cranes. We sail past Shorts flying boats, the Thames Queen paddle steamer and warships at Chatham, before finally arriving at Sheerness.

Ashford resident John Hanson Richardson, otherwise known as 'Sonny', began making his entertaining and technically sophisticated amateur films from the mid-1930s onwards - either independently or as a member of the Ashford Association Film Society. Working in both fiction and non-fiction genres, he demonstrated a high degree of skill and enthusiasm for his hobby, as can be seen in this documentary style film about the River Medway, in which he himself appears. One of the locations featured is Groombridge Place, which several decades later was used for exterior scenes in Peter Greenaway's 1982 feature film The Draughtsman's Contract.