Thurrock T100 2019: Welcome to the Kitchen Table

LDWA London Chair Ali Pretty has several strings to her bow, one of which is involvement in Thurrock's annual 100 festival. 

The festival began in 2015 as Thurrock 100 (10 walks of 10 miles across 10 days) and has grown into a walking, talking and making festival which now stretches from Purfleet along the Estuary to Canvey, Southend and across the Isle of Sheppy and Hoo Penisula in Kent.

Running between 6 – 20 July, T100 2019 – Welcome to the Kitchen Table aims to connect diverse communities along the River Thames, sharing food and recipes as a way of starting conversations, finding what different groups have in common and sharing an understanding of diverse cultures. For this Ali is leading the walks as a 15-day pilgrimage, which own Colin Saunders has helped with on the Kent side.

Beginning in Grays at the Grays Beach Riverside Park on 5th July with a launch event at 5pm, T100 – Welcome to the Kitchen Table heads off on Saturday 6th July from Grays Campus to Purfleet. Over the next 15 days the walks thread their way down the estuary taking in Lakeside, Davy Down, Orsett, Chadwell St Mary and East Tilbury in Thurrock borough before crossing into Canvey and Benfleet. On the 13th July, the walks reach Southend and head to Southchurch Hall and a shared picnic.

Monday 15th July sees the walks begin in Kent. Crossing the river by boat, the walks lead off again from Sheerness to pass though Minster, Faversham, Sittingbourne, Kemsley, Gillingham and Strood. On Friday 19th July, walkers can enjoy a shared meal at the twilight market in Gravesend.  

Dedicated volunteer walk leaders have recced each walk to uncover the history, stories and fascinating facts about the landscapes and places each pass through. All the walks are free and open to all. Walk lengths vary as does the terrain covered. Check the T100 website for full details of each walk. 

Thurrock, Kinetika’s base since 2014, has long been a centre for the movement of people, with the docks in Tilbury drawing peoples from around the world to work and then to settle. To create connections between these communities, Kinetika has run a series of creative workshops to welcome everyone to the Kitchen Table, working with local participants to gather recipes and drawings to create especially designed hand-printed tablecloths for the walks.

Ali is undertaking this pilgrimage to see what that concept means in today’s secular world. Each day of the journey will include sharing food, creative writing and drawing activity to encourage an exchange of stories between participants from different backgrounds; she says “It has been wonderful working steadily in Thurrock over five years to build up a team of local artists and volunteers who are on a journey with us to reach out to wider communities through the arts and lay the foundation for culture to be a transformative force in the transition that is coming to this part of the Thames Estuary.”

The walks will culminate on 20 July at the Tilbury Cruise Terminal, where the Tilbury Windrush Carnival takes place . Ali is the Artistic Director for the carnival on behalf of the Tilbury-on-The Thames Trust. Drawing on her experience of designing for Notting Hill Carnival in the 1990’s, she is bringing Tilbury’s rich heritage together inviting growing West African and East European communities around the Table with ex-dockers and seafarers to tell the story of this international port town strategically positioned on the banks of the Thames.

For further details, should you wish to support this event, visit the T100 website at www.thurrock100.com.

Thurrock T100 2019