The Ballad of Barrow Market

The Ballad of Barrow Market was performed live in Barrow Market by The Ashton Group Theatre Factory on Saturday 7th April 2018 at 1.30pm to an audience of over 100 people!

The theatre piece was inspired by real-life memories local people have shared about the popular market. Volunteers collected oral histories, photographs and films which were used as a basis for the creation of a range of colourful characters and stories during a six-week creative writing course led by writer Kate Davies.

During the writing process, the group watched films, listened to sounds from the market and looked at archive photographs and writing, which inspired the script’s content and sometimes fed in directly. The play is structured as eight short performances linked by ballads. The piece kicked off with the story of the ‘Banana King’, a stall holder obsessed with the yellow fruit, and then paraded around various stalls past and present, from the haberdashers and milliners, from the site of the old outdoor market to the stall selling ‘unmentionables.’ The result was entertaining, sometimes moving and at others hilarious exploration of the lives and culture of the market past and present.

The thirteen participants who created the piece are all new writers who developed their skills under tutor Kate Davies  “Working with this group really has been a real delight. Most had no previous experience of creative writing yet they’ve produced work that’s original, engaging, funny and moving.”

To see a more about the creative writing course visit:


Theatre Factory is a programme of drama activity by, for and with young people in the Furness Peninsula, run by The Ashton Group. Theatre Factory provides the opportunity for young people to collaborate with practising professional theatre Directors, Writers, Designers and Technicians to make brand new theatre performances that spring from their own ideas.


Kate Davis is a poet from Barrow-in-Furness. Her poems have been published in Iota and Butcher’s Dog, implanted in audio-benches, sung, remixed and printed on shopping bags. In 2013 she received a Northern Writers Award. Her first full collection will be published by Penned in the Margins in May 2018.


Thirteen local writers have contributed to The Ballad of Barrow Market, they are Caleb Staples, Craig Lochhead, Derek Bradley, David Clancy, Brenda Fishwick, Duncan Macmillan, Christine Lees, Ellis Dunn, Jean McSorley, Polly Wright, Lee Wicks,  Ravi Jeyendran and Victoria Tighe. A huge thanks to them for all their hard work!


During the creation of the script, the creative writers drew on material from Barrow Archive and Local Studies Centre, The Mail Archive and The Elizabeth Roberts Working Class Oral History Archive and material share with us from peoples personal collections. 

The play will be re-performed in the Dock Museum on Friday 18th May at 7.30pm and Signal are releasing a film documenting the performance!  Well done and thank you to everyone involved!