Heritage, history and hopes for the future in Purfleet flags

OUTDOOR arts organisation Kinetika is getting ready to celebrate the T100 festival and the communities of Purfleet-on-Thames, the town Kinetika has called home since 2014

Over the past few months, Kinetika artists have worked with groups across Purfleet to design and paint colourful silk flags. These flags illustrate the many different communities, businesses, groups and organisations in Purfleet, the history and stories of the town and mark the start of a new phase in the life of the town as it becomes Purfleet-on-Thames and looks to the future in which the town will expand and see substantial development.

Kinetika’s flagship programme, the T100 walking festival has always been rooted in Purfleet-on-Thames and this year the final walk and the finale celebrations will be all about the town. Sunday 27 September will see groups carry their flags around the town, and then head to the High House Production Park to discover some of the artists and arts organisations who are based there.

The Purfleet Heritage & Military Centre is one of those organisations who has made a flag. The history of Purfleet-on-Thames is fascinating, it once had a vitally important role in protecting the country. The Heritage Centre is housed in a building which was a former Royal Gunpowder magazine, No. 5 which was built between 1763 – 1765. All the government’s gun powder was tested in the proof house behind the Centre. Purfleet was chosen as a place to store and test the gunpowder as it was easily accessible by river and had a low population at the time. The building is now an English Heritage Scheduled Ancient Monument, a Grade 1 Building of Note. The flag designed for the Centre shows its logo, the building and a barrel of gunpowder.  Trevor Batchelor from the Purfleet Heritage & Military Centre said ‘Designing the flag was a way to remember and respect the past and to highlight the presence of such a significant place in the town and also mark again the name change to Purfleet-on-Thames, a name used 100 years ago and then forgotten.’

From the history of the town to the future. The Children’s Centre has also made a flag. Three generations of one family came together to design and paint the flag. Gemma White who works at the centre was joined by her mother Sue Hindley and her son Michael Battie to work on the flag. The flag shows Gemma’s own design with a rainbow and children’s handprints. Gemma said ‘I hope that the painting of the flags and the event will bring the community together. It’s so diverse and there is nothing at the moment to link people. It is a sprawling town and each end needs pulling together. ‘
Gemma said her family wanted to be as involved as possible and are looking forward to working on the mandala at the High House event.

T100 Calling begins on Saturday 12 September and runs until 27th September. All the walks during the festival are free and led by experienced walkers. Seven of the walks culminate in the making of a mandala at key sites along the Thames.

Wed Sept 16: Germination – Langdon Hills, Thurrock –A mandala will be made using natural materials collected on route to connect with nature, reflect and rewild.

Sat 19 Sept: Spring Clean – Grays Beach, Thurrock –walkers will make a mandala to highlight the issue of plastic pollution in discussions with Thames 21.

Sun 20 Sept: Make Do and Mend – Tilbury Foreshore – Reclaiming public space and making a glistening mandala from ceramics and glass, the event will upcycle broken things into a beautiful work of art.

Tues 22 Sept: In Other People’s Shoes – Bata Heritage Centre, East Tilbury – Walkers are invited to bring a favourite pair of shoes to this walk and create a shoe mandala.

Wed 23 Sept: Imagination Our Nation – Hardie Park, Stanford le Hope, Thurrock – make a mandala using TerraCycle materials; reflecting on ways everyone can make a difference.

Sat 26 Sept: Renewal – Little Belhus Country Park, South Ockendon, Thurrock –Rural Arisings and the Grass Roof Company will join walkers in the creation of a new insect habitat; using recycled brick, concrete and cement, to make a permanent mandala

Sun 27 Sept: Grow Your Own – High House Production Park, Purfleet-on-Thames, Thurrock The mandala here will be made from locally grown produce.

On Thursday 17 September a walk takes place in Tilbury from the Cruise Terminal to the World’s End pub on and on Wednesday 24 September, walk from Purfleet-on-Thames to intu Lakeside for lunch on the boardwalk.

To find out more about the walks, the mandalas and discover how you can get involved either by walking, making or following activities online, please go to www.thurrock100.com

T100 Calling is made possible by the generous support Arts Council England, Thurrock council and
The National Lottery Community Fund.
This year T100 is proud to be part of the Totally Thames Festival. To find out more about the festival’s programme please go to https://thamesfestivaltrust.org/.

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