Portland Office for Imaginary History: Off-road Expedition 2022

The Portland Office for Imaginary History has been running for a very long time now at b-side Festival on the Isle of Portland in Dorset. I’m so grateful to b-side for continuing to commission it and support the wild things I suggest to them, and equally grateful to all the locals and visitors who turn out for my work year after year and get involved in it with such enthusiasm and good humour. I’ve also run tours for people who use wheelchairs and mobility scooters for a few years but this year we went on an off-road mobility scooter expedition. It rained really hard, we had some vehicle breakdowns and some scary stunts involving dropped kerbs that weren’t dropped enough, and the whole thing was generally very metal.

The serious side of this is that these tours are co-devised with the participants, and people who don’t use wheelchairs get to see exactly what kind of barriers society puts up for them all day, every day. This year we located and all the ones we found on our journey, as you can see on the map below. I made the map. All the photos on this page are by Pete Millson.

A map of part of the Isle of Portland, showing the route taken by people in mobility scooters and the barriers they faced on the way.
A row of people driving mobility scooters along a narrow pavement next to a stone wall, on a windy and rainy day.
People in mobility scooters on a wide pavement, with terraced houses in the background.
Medium shot of people in mobility scooters. others out of focus in the background.