Hands on History: Mudlarking exhibition at Chiswick Pier Trust

Chiswick Pier Trust is putting on display some of London’s finest mudlarking collections. The ‘highly interactive’ two-day exhibition features the collections of 20 mudlarks and will take place on 25 & 26 September.

The collections of 20 mudlarks will be on display, with 10 featured on the Saturday and the other 10 on the Sunday, along with photographer Hannah Smiles’ large scale portraits of the mudlarks. This is a unique opportunity to meet London’s mudlarks and see their fascinating collections which have been passionately assembled over several decades of searching the exposed riverbed at low tide.

Chiswick Pier Trust said the exhibition ‘is the perfect opportunity for all the family to find out more about the history of London, from the ground up.’

You will have the chance to experience tangible ‘Hands on History’ and see large-scale portraits of the mudlarks captured by professional photographer, Hannah Smiles.

What is Mudlarking?

A mudlark is someone who scavenges in river mud for items of value. The term originated in London and was common in the late 18th and 19th centuries. For the original Mudlarks, searching the shores of the River Thames at low tide for anything that could be sold was a pretty unsavoury way to make a living.

Today it tends to be more of a hobby, made more popular by Lara Maiklem’s book, Mudlarking, a Sunday Times best seller which was featured on BBC Radio 4 in 2019.

In 2016 The Chiswick Calendar interviewed local mudlarker Ted Sandling as he delved into the shores of the Thames along Strand on the Green. You can watch the interview below:

Mudlark Webinar with Jason Sandy

As well as the exhibition, Chiswick Pier Trust is hosting a free webinar with Hammersmith mudlark and author Jason Sandy on Tuesday 21 September at 7.30pm, where he will discuss some of the extraordinary finds from west London riverbanks.

Artefacts range from Iron Age weapons to the Thames Victoria Cross and the Doves Press typeface created with Emery Walker which was hurled into the Thames from Hammersmith Bridge by his disgruntled partner T.J. Cobden-Sanderson.

Described as ‘quirky, fun and very interesting’, Jason’s talk is a window onto west London’s history from the ground up and a great introduction to the Mudlarks and the Thames exhibition

Images above: Jason Sandy by Hannah Smiles; Jason’s book Thames Mudlarking

Times & tickets

Jason Sandy webinar on 21 September 2021 at 7.30pm.

Tickets are free and Chiswick Pier Trust says donations are ‘very welcome’ – Tickets are available from

10.00am – 5.00pm, Entry free, Chiswick Pier Trust, The Pier House, Corney Way, London W4 2UG.

Thames Festival Trust | Hands on History: Mudlarking Exhibition @ Totally Thames 2021 | Thames Festival Trust

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Butterflies and Flowers – Pop-up painting sessions all over Chiswick

See also: The New Climate War – The Fight to Take Back Our Planet

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