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Meet the Mudlarks

Published: 05/02/2020 By Allan Fuller

Meet the Mudlarks

At low tide Thames mudlarks Florence Evans and Monika Buttling Smith hunt through the trash and treasure that the tide has revealed. Find out what they find at their talk on 27th February for the Friends of Putney Library.
Mudlarking in the 18th and 19th centuries was carried out by those desperate to make a living by selling scraps salvaged from the foreshore. It was a desperate way of earning a subsistence living, and most of the original mudlarks were young boys. In modern times, mudlarks search for clues about the people who lived here – finds might be bones from tanneries, roof tiles from the fire of London, clay pipes from the 16th century, and Caribbean shells used as ballast on a sailing ship. “The river arranges everything by weight. This is the pottery beach – over there is metal... ”Modern Thames mudlarks forage out of enjoyment of squelching about in mud, and splashing in the river. They look on their finds as gifts from Old Father Thames, and the good finds come as a reward for taking rubbish out of the environment. It gives Mother Nature a chance to recover. We now have seals breeding in the Thames, thanks to a thriving fish stock and cleaner water. Mudlarks have contributed to this, with each piece of plastic removed. “It’s also the thrill of the lucky dip. If you do find something, you may think it’s not very interesting, but when you get home and research it, it turns out to be absolutely amazing.”

Come and find out more at Putney Library,
Thursday 27 February, 6 for 6.30 p.m.
A Friends of Putney Library Free Event,
refreshments provided.
Reservations appreciated: Call 020 8780 3085
or email