It is not often that I come home after spending part of the morning being spoken to by a bridge. If you are going to have a river crossing talk to you then you could do worse than make it Crown Point Bridge.

This area is the hub of the Leeds waterway. The River Aire, having just joined up with the Leeds & Liverpool Canal by City Station, flows under Crown Point Bridge before the spur to Clarence Docks and Lock Number 1. A perfect setting to explore the sounds of the water and the voices of Leeds residents. It is not just the position of the bridge which lends itself to this installation, but the way in which the structure has been built.

The underside of the bridge comprises several arched iron ‘beams’ between which speakers have been located meaning that the listener can move off the narrow towpath and into something resembling the booths in record shops where we used to be able to listen to the latest hot platters before buying them or, more likely, just listening and moving on the the next shop to hear it again. An early form of streaming!

There is something about a river which makes you want to slow down and take things at a more leisurely pace and this is certainly the case here. My only problem is that I found some of the spoken word pieces difficult to hear, probably due to my advancing years and the drone of vehicular traffic above which is still audible. One of them was loud enough to grab my attention, along with a lady who asked my what the noise was all about! I directed her to the poster at the side of the bridge which I thought would be more informative than I. In the same spirit I would invite you to view the details of this installation by artist Amy Sharrocks with sound designer Tom Hackley at https://compassliveart.org.uk/event/the-ballad-of-crown-point-bridge/

Due to the content of some of the contributions it is classed as Adults Only.

If you decide to pop along for a listen, and I hope that you do, then I am sure that you will feel that it was worth the trip even if only to see this jewel in Leeds’ crown (point) especially if the weather is as good as it was when I went.

The Ballad of Crown Point Bridge is part of Compass Arts Live Festival 2021 and runs from 7th – 27th June 2021 between 6.00am and 10.00pm and is free.

All photographs by Stan Graham

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