The week before half term, a group of Read History students from Drax ventured south to the capital. It was a wide-ranging group encompassing year ten to Upper Sixth who headed for the Imperial War Museum in respect of our History studies for GCSE and A levels. We departed from Selby at 09:01 to arrive at London Kings Cross for just after half past ten. On arrival, we headed to the underground network to depart for Kennington Tube stop which would bring us to the Imperial War Museum.
As we approached the museum we were met by what one can only be described as a “Big Gun” in the front of the Museum’s garden. We then headed inside to be greeted with a very welcoming operative on the front door with a less welcoming price tag on the Museum’s guide book. As we entered into the main hall, we were met with a typical 12 year old boy’s bedroom but much greater in scale. There were huge fighter jets hanging from the ceiling, V1 and V2 rockets dangling like dysfunctional Christmas tree baubles. There were also tanks on the ground floor surrounded by large cannons lining the wall; we just didn’t know where to look first!
The first exhibit which we visited was the First World War section on the ground floor, refurbished earlier this decade. It was packed with very useful information which benefited all students on different courses (from KS3 to A Level) and added to our wealth of knowledge. There were some interesting and bizarre facts which whetted our appetite for further displays throughout the huge building. There was also a simulation trench which we could walk through (with barbed wire dangling over the edges of the trench) huge tanks drooping over every crater, silhouettes of soldiers and the sound of gunfire. All very exciting!
The next floor we visited was the Second World War section. Here there were huge Das-Boot style torpedoes from German U-Boats, the cross section of a Lancaster Bomber, jeeps and General Monty’s desert car. Whilst all of this came not only as useful information but with a story, a narrative behind each artefact which well presented the horrors of war.
By now, we were coming to the end of our time in the Imperial War Museum and so we were let loose for our last hour. In this time, many went for a recharge at the great café on the ground floor (at typical London prices) but a few of us, including myself spent that last bit of time having a look at the last two floors. On the second floor was a very interesting section on the Cold War where a talk was held by a very informative guide. He explained the dark years of the doomsday clock and showed us remains of the Berlin Wall which stood on the Museum’s floor. Never I believe, has a piece of concrete had so much history. After this, myself and a few others were able to visit the last floor, the Holocaust section. This was, as you may be able to picture, a very informative but moving part of the museum that just demonstrated the horrors of the genocide that took place by what one can only describe as evil in its purest form. It explained the anti-Semitism that existed within Germany from 1933 onwards and the rise of the Nationalist Socialist movement and the way in which Hitler’s regime murdered six million innocent people, wiping out whole generations. It was a very chilling experience, especially as one of the most moving parts was where the whole Auschwitz room was filled with piles of shoes, spectacles and most disturbingly children’s teddy bears that were stolen by the Nazis.
Our final hour was now up and we now re-grouped and headed for our final destination of the day, the British History Museum. Unfortunately, we only had an hour there as our train departure time was creeping up on us. So, we made the most of our time setting off in an array of different directions in small groups to see what most people wanted to see, a real life mummy! There were four mummies in total, all still beautifully preserved and looking pretty good, seeing as they were getting on for 2000 years old. Possibly one of the biggest museums I’ve ever visited but packed with amazing artefacts and skeletons of ancient people of different civilisations from all around the world!
Now, our time was up and we had to head back to Kings Cross to get our train back to Yorkshire, God’s own country. A great day.
The day was a huge success, not only was it a very informative visit, but we all learned a mammoth amount for either personal interests of History or for our course contents. A huge thank you from myself and all the pupils must go out to Mrs Morrell for organising such a fantastic day out and to the other members of staff who also attended; Mr Harrison, Miss Williamson and Karen!
Report by Alfie Thomlinson