The Downhearted Drayman
What does the statue of The Barrel Man, or Drayman, in Dortmund Square get up to at night? And why is he so sad?
The Barrel Man statue in Dortmund Square is well known to the people of Leeds. But fewer people know that the statue was a gift to the city from the people of Dortmund as a token of ‘peace and friendship’ between former enemies.
Organised by local writer Peter Spafford, The Leeds/Dortmund 50 festival in 2019 celebrated the golden anniversary of the cities being twinned.
As part of the festival, Matthew was commissioned to work with a group of 10 children at Beechwood Primary School, East Leeds. Matthew spent three days with the children, walking around the city centre and creating a radio play/voice collage/audio narrative about the Barrel Man (whose actual title is The Drayman). The piece was recorded at Chapel FM and was aired for the first time at the LD50 festival at October 2019.
Thanks to grants from Leeds Community Foundation and Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, The Downhearted Drayman was also published as an illustrated book and launched during the festival. The text was printed in both English and German, thanks to a fabulous team of volunteer translators (mostly from Leeds University), and the illustrations were by the children themselves.
View the book online:
Storyteller and facilitator – Matthew Bellwood
Writers – Esmee Brewitt, Bethany Dixon, Lawek Doski, Olivia Gaunt, Demi Jowett, Jay-Jay Mcnalus, Toby Moyles, Jayden Peel, Gracie Strangeway, Lucy Wardle
Illustrators – Children of Beechwood Primary
Translators – Lucy Bradbury, Oliver Lawrie, Anees Malik, Rosie Shackleton, Ricarda Zoellner, Fleur Speakman
Translation editors – Helen Finch, Matthias Engels
Design and colour – Amy Levene
The project was made possible thanks to funding from: Leeds 2023, Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, Leeds Community Foundation, The Leeds Fund and Beechwood Primary School.