It’s a great pleasure to introduce and act as guest editor for this new section of David’s site.
One day, David and I found that we had both written poems which referred obliquely to the Gresford disaster, a coalmine explosion in a village near Wrexham in north-east Wales which killed 266 people in 1934. We discovered a shared interest in this part of Wales, which centres on the catchment of the River Alyn. No surprise there: the area is a popular destination for days out from Chester where David has lived for most of his life, and from the Wirral where I spent my childhood.
We noticed that, as far as we could see, there is little attention paid to this locality in literature, despite the existence of some remarkable cultural institutions such as the Theatr Clwyd in Mold and Gladstone’s Library in Hawarden. Yet it has an emblematic position in British history: a contested border between England and Wales revised as recently as 1974, and a linguistic frontier, with hills, rivers and fertile lowlands, minerals, heavy industry, ports, and big winners and losers in the post-industrial economy. Others may know of glorious memorializations of this area: we needed to find them.
We envisaged a project which would highlight literary and cultural artifacts relating to the area, and generate new ones. We widened our horizons a little, to include the area delineated by three rivers – the Alyn, the Dee and the Gowy – to include north-east Wales and west Cheshire as well as the Flintshire and Wirral coasts of the Dee Estuary. BETWEEN RIVERS was born.
This wider area includes the city of Chester, plentifully represented in art and history, though our intention is not to focus on the city but on its extensive hinterland. We hope to be disciplined rather then pedantic about this geographical orientation.
Our intention is that this be a quarterly feature, with two BETWEEN RIVERS items in each edition. Some we will write ourselves. Some we will discover, and we hope that readers of David’s site will point us to others. Over time we will feature a broad range of content, including (but not limited to) drawings, fiction, history, photographs, poetry and reviews. We will give equal weight and value to the past and the present, with both new and established work. As ever on David’s website, your comments are an integral part of the process, but for BETWEEN RIVERS we would also be keen to receive recommendations of literature, history and cultural objects which might be included.
In sum, we hope to instruct ourselves while drawing the attention of others to a fascinating region. I hope you enjoy this new section. Welcome to BETWEEN RIVERS.
©Alan Horne 2023
Note 1: There have been four editions to date, Spring, Summer, Autumn 2022 and Winter 2023:
Note 2: see https://www.davidselzer.com/2021/05/other-peoples-flowers-three-poems-by-alan-horne/