This project began life as a musical. We’re now developing the story to become a Monkees/Beatlesque/Mash TV series. We’re working with Teesside University students to form a scriptwriting team and we may also be working with Middlesbrough College.
Men from the Swallwell and Whickham area of Gateshead deserted during the First World War and lived hand-to-mouth in the open along the banks of the river Derwent. At the end of the war they changed their names and returned to society. They became known as the ‘Dam Head Rangers’. For the purposes of this project the story will be re-located to the River Tees.
THE DAM HEAD RANGERS
Men march off proudly to fight in WW1. Wives, mothers and children wave them off.
Children at school are told of the war abroad that it will be over soon. “By Christmas” their fathers and brothers will be home.
A young boy carries a telegram. All the street watch to see which house will receive the telegram telling of a loved ones’ death in the war.
Children and women work, try to make a living while the men are away. They wash clothes, others on farms. It is a hand-to-mouth existence.
Some men return with mental disabilities and do not know their families and are often in distress and throw themselves to the ground in the street, re-living the horrors of war.
Others return during the night, furtively, these men are the Dam Head Rangers.
They have deserted from the army and are living in make shifts tents by the banks of the River Derwent.
We see the way these men survive, and the comradeship as they are constantly pursued by the authorities.
On the eleventh hours of the eleventh day of 1918: The war ends. The Dam Head Rangers take up new identities. And, like the rest of society, try to make new lives.