The Society of Thames Mudlarks: Member
I first discovered mudlarking some years back when I visited Rainham Marshes in Essex, which is part of the Thames Estuary. I was captivated by the concrete barges that have been deserted there – some say they were used for storing/sending oil during the War, but no one really knows. I hopped off my bike and began to search the foreshore and discovered lots of broken ceramics and I thought, ‘What else is out there?’. I went back a few weeks later with a cheap metal detector and found a few halfpennies (probably from the old pub or ferry crossing) and I was hooked. As time went by I ventured further upstream, and I met many like-minded people, through which I have made friends for life. Not only is mudlarking a thrill to hunt for historical artefacts, I enjoy the social connections and unique personalities I have met through our shared hobby. I never leave the foreshore disappointed. Even if the finds are lacking, I still get enjoyment from being in London, enjoying the river views at sunset or on a cold foggy winter’s morning when the water is as still as a millpond, imagining what happened here in the past. Mudlarking for me isn't just a pastime, it's a way of life, I plan my life around the tide times and always feel a yearning to go back to see what old Father Thames has given up.
Well, I started about 40 years ago... not fanatically, but I would occasionally visit Tilbury dump, and less occasionally Woolwich for what I would describe as beach combing, as at the time my focus was on bottles, pots and clay pipes. The fact that there's lots of small treasures to be had didn't dawn on me yet. My other spare time hobby that didn't cross over for a long time was metal detecting, with no great success. The detectors of the day weren't a patch on today's machines and woodland was my choice of search area. Again, farmland as today's ‘place to go’ didn't compute with me. Then there was a massive gap whilst home-building, and a young family took all my time. Slowly, my hobbies have resurfaced.