Brunel 200 Legacy Tyning Hengrove Junior School – Brunel's Kingdom.
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Brunel's Kingdom

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 of desserts’.

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.

Tyning Hengrove Junior School – Brunel's Kingdom.

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.

Furthermore, 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.

Tyning Hengrove Junior School – Brunel's Kingdom.

Paula Shears, the school’s Humanities Coordinator, said:

“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.”

During 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.