Some two years ago I wrote a piece for Yorkshire Bylines about the historic village of Ferrybridge which started:
“It is so easy for a place to be defined by one thing, almost to the exclusion of everything else, be that an action, a building, or its people. Ask anyone about the village of Ferrybridge, sitting a stone’s throw from where I am writing this article, and they will reply ‘oh, that’s the place with the power stations’, or even worse, ‘it is a motorway service station’.”
A Play for the Community
Twenty-four months later I am back writing about Ferrybridge and this time that power station takes centre stage. As a historian, reliable source material is everything, be that from medieval times or from the last 50 years. I am a passionate believer in collecting stories from local communities: my favourite way is in the form of oral histories, which can throw up the most surprising, interesting, and often amusing information. People remember not only the big events but also the day-to-day trivia of life which often shines a bright beam of light onto these small, often forgotten communities.
I am really thrilled therefore that Theatre Royal Wakefield’s new production Blow Down, is scripted on just that source material. It is being presented at three community venues as part of the Theatre for Wakefield Project where Red Ladder Theatre Company, in partnership with The Cluntergate Centre, are working to deepen the reach and impact of cultural offerings in Wakefield. The project has been made possible thanks to funding from Wakefield Council’s culture grant.
A Town Through Time
Blow Down is a funny and poignant play that marks the recent demolition of the iconic cooling towers at Ferrybridge Power Station, in the words of those who lived and worked beneath them.
Scripted by award-winning playwright Garry Lyons and based on stories collected from the local community in Ferrybridge and Knottingley, Blow Down is a hilarious, gritty, and thought-provoking show with music about a typical post-industrial Yorkshire town.
From the raucous 1970s to the recession and decline in the 2000s, it tells the tale of the area through the experiences of people who have lived there, offering surprising insights, authenticity, and humour. It explores their hopes and anxieties around the closure of the power station and will resonate with similar communities throughout the North and the urgent need for ‘levelling up’.
Where and When to see Blow Down
As well as the three Theatre for Wakefield performances at the Grove Hall in South Kirby (17 February), The Cluntergate Centre in Horbury (18 February) and Queen’s Mill, Castleford (19 February) the play is also being toured around the Yorkshire and Humber region. For full details and to book visit the Theatre Royal website.
If you have an interest in social or industrial history or just enjoy quality regional theatre that is relevant to the present day and to the local region this should be a must-see show.