Year 5 & 6 Visit to the Steam Museum

On November 14, 2019

Year 5 & 6 Visit to the Steam Museum

Years 5 & 6 went to the Steam Museum dressed as evacuees. This report has been compiled by Megan, Milly and Sienna from Year 6.

“On Thursday 14th of November, we went on our visit to the steam museum. We all got dressed up for the occasion as evacuees. Even the teachers dressed up and some of the costumes were incredible. It started when Year 5 and 6 went to have a talk about the evolution of the railway, also called the Magic Machine.

We talked about who made the railway. First they told us about two very well-known engineers. Isambard Kingdom Brunel who was a British civil engineer and is considered “one of the most ingenious and prolific figures in engineering history” and George Stevenson who was an English civil and mechanical engineer. They were renowned as the “Father of Railways.” We did some role-play and spoke about the builders of the railway and did some dressing up as the makers of the railways. In addition, we had the opportunity to build model bridges. After this talk, we received our model bridges which we had built.

Then we went to the evacuation workshop where we experienced the life of an evacuee. We learnt that WVS stood for Women’s Voluntary Society.

They were the women who helped evacuate children from the city. First we were put into groups to look in some suitcases to see what they would have brought with them. Each group picked out a few objects to show the class. Next we looked at some pictures and described what we thought they would have been feeling. Then the class went onto exactly the same steam train that took them from London to the countryside steam railway. Parts were taken from Queen Victoria’s old carriage. We learnt that the evacuees would have sat on the floor as this way they would be able to fit more children onto the trains in one go. The gas mask filters contained a lung poisoning material called asbestos. For toddlers, the gas marks would have been quite intimidating so they made Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse ones that even came in a Disney Box. Babies’ gas masks would have covered their whole bodies – they were strapped into one. It would have had a pump at one side and because the baby fell asleep, the mother or father would wonder if their child was dead. That would have been a scary fright.

After lunch, we split into smaller groups before looking around the museum and trying out all these different interactive activities, including walking excitedly underneath a steam train, acting as train drivers etc. We all enjoyed going on a wooden model train. Many of us tried different craft challenges such as putting together wooden trains or create working cars or carts.

After gathering at our meeting point and grabbing our heavy bags, we all began to pile onto the coach, taking our seats. The Journey began and the vehicle was filled with talk of the great day we had all just had……”

What with the preparation of gas masks and making Anderson shelters in their art lessons, the children had an excellent opportunity to immerse themselves in the ethos of the evacuees. It made them reflective as they appreciated how safe their lives were in relation to children during the war. In addition, the idea of being separated from their parents for long periods of time was something they all believed they would struggle with. It was an excellent day and everyone enjoyed this unique experience.