On the evening of 16 March
2006, as part of the Brunel 200 celebrations, the children of Tyning
Hengrove Junior School, Bristol, recreated the 1843 banquet held to mark
the launching of Brunel’s ship the ss
Great Britain. There was an appetising menu
consisting of a seafood platter, roast chicken with a medley of vegetables
and a ‘sumptuous array
The children were dressed in Victorian costumes and
nominated classmates to take on the role of the invited dignitaries: Queen
Victoria and Prince Albert, Brunel and Mrs Brunel.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert arrived at the venue in a horse-drawn
carriage, befitting their royal status!
The three-course meal was served
to guests, who were also treated to a selection of music, dance and dramatic
entertainment. B200 Radio made recordings at the banquet, which were
broadcast in April 2006, and also recorded a meeting of the Catering
Committee during the planning stages.
The school’s involvement in
the project was far-reaching, with adults, carers, students and teachers
taking part in the planning, preparation, cooking, serving and costume-making.
Students contributed heavily in the decision making around the menu,
ticket design, the entertainment schedule and so on.
The evening was a ’sell-out’ and
extra places were found for several last minute guests. Most of the audience
had dressed appropriately for the occasion in Victorian or smart dress.
the school enjoyed a year of activity around the Brunel theme, called Brunel’s
Kingdom, by way of trips and workshops, lessons and other activities based
around Victorian Life, which greatly increased knowledge, understanding
and excitement amongst pupils about Brunel and the Victorians.
the school’s Humanities Coordinator,
“Having a famous local personality whose life and work can be
connected to a wide range of the curriculum, has presented us with a
marvellous opportunity to link our children with the heritage of their
area. Being able to see examples of Brunel’s work first hand in
Bristol will hopefully inspire children to consider their own creativity.”
evaluation, the school said that children benefited from ownership of the
event and the associated organisation and preparation, developing skills
and attitudes over the period, not least those of perseverance and persistence,
much like Brunel himself!
Photography: Steve Thomas.