Free heritage activities work to inspire young engineers

Discover the rich history of one of the country’s oldest charities – and take part in free learning activities – when a popular exhibition relocates upriver to Tonbridge.

The Rochester Bridge Trust has provided and maintained crossings of the River Medway for more than 600 years – including contributing to the Great Bridge at Tonbridge – but there is still much that remains unknown about the organisation among the general public, as visitors to the Bridge Works exhibition have been discovering.

Originally housed in the Crypt of Rochester Cathedral, the exhibition proved so popular that it has gone on tour and will soon be opening in a venue older than the charity – Tonbridge Castle.

As well as the exhibition itself, schools are being invited to register to attend free engineering activity mornings, which will take place on selected dates throughout the year.

Organised and hosted by the Rochester Bridge Trust’s Education Officers, the events involve a guided tour of the Bridge Works exhibition, followed by hands-on bridge building activities

Caroline Chisholm, Education Officer at the Trust, explained: “These free engineering education mornings are designed to inform and inspire primary-aged children from schools or home education groups by opening their eyes to the civil engineering on their doorstep.

“Our exhibition, combined with hands-on learning, is a great way to show children the impact civil engineering has on their daily lives – and to hopefully inspire a few bridge builders of the future.”

Bridge Works uses imagery, interactive displays and children’s activities and has been designed to appeal to adults and children, with something for all levels of ability and interest. Bringing together many stories, one element uses buttons and lights to explain why a bridge in Rochester had historical relevance to the people of Tonbridge.

Entry is usually via paid access to Tonbridge Castle, but a 20 per cent discount voucher can be downloaded here, and educational groups are invited to attend the activity mornings at no cost.

The education mornings begin with a guided tour of the exhibition, led by Play on Words Theatre, before the children join the Trust’s education team for hands-on bridge building.

Caroline added: “We have been really pleased with the interest shown by local schools near previous venues, and we’d love to see the dates at the exhibition’s new home also become fully booked.

“These mornings are free to attend and are run entirely by the Trust, so all educators have to do is register and then turn up with their group of children.”

The exhibition will open in Tonbridge Castle on Saturday, 4th May 2019, running until 31st January 2020.

Dates are available at the end of the summer term and during the winter term. Activities – which are open to groups of up to 30 children (and accompanying adults) from Key Stage 2 – must be booked. To book or register your interest for future activities please email education@rbt.org.uk.

For more information about the Trust’s engineering education activities visit www.rocheterbridgetrust.org.uk or see www.rbt.org.uk/bridgeworks/ to find out more about the Bridge Works exhibition.