Hampshire Now - your County Council magazine

Bringing Gosport's Victorian history to life

Monday 1 July 2013

Inspired by Victorian history and accounts of a royal visit to Gosport railway station in 1844, more than 300 Gosport school children will be leading a variety of performances and exhibitions on 2 and 4 July at the Gosport Discovery Centre.

Historians tell the story of how Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited Gosport with King Louis Philippe of France. On arrival at the station, the weather was so bad that the royal party could not travel by carriage down to the dockside. They took shelter in the house of Mr Grant, the superintendent of Clarence Yard. The story is that he had guests for dinner but made them leave and served their dinner to the Queen, Prince Albert and King Louis Phillippe.

With £10,000 funding from Hampshire County Council, and support from the Council's Executive Member for Education, Councillor Peter Edgar, members of the Portsmouth New Theatre Royal's Education Outreach team have been preparing for the two-day event with eight Gosport schools.

Over the two days, visitors to the Discovery Centre will be able to see:

  • Alverstoke Junior School is performing "Jabberwocky", by Victorian writer Lewis Carroll, and singing Victorian songs;
  • Gomer Junior School will perform a dance interpretation of the storm on 14 October 1844;
  • Gomer Infants School will be showing an animated film it has created about the Queen's train journey;
  • Haselworth Primary School has researched the history of the Gosport workhouse and developed a presentation;
  • Leesland Junior School is making a newspaper about the Queen's visit and be giving drama performances based on child street sellers of the time;
  • Newtown Primary School is recreating a Victorian school day;
  • Siskin Junior School has collated a special photographic exhibition using early photographic techniques.
  • St Mary's Catholic Voluntary Aided Primary School will perform a specially written play about the conditions for child workers in the first half of the 19th Century.

Councillor Edgar commented: "I believe that learning through experiences like this and moving away from the stereotypical desk bound, classroom based learning can be invaluable, particularly with a subject like history. The fact that this exercise is based on local history will have some meaning and relevance to all the children taking part. This is a fantastic opportunity for the children to draw on their natural enthusiasm and creativity and I am pleased that the County Council has been able to support this innovative project."

Speaking on behalf of the New Theatre Royal, Liz Weston, commented: "Through this project we have been able to partner schools with professional artists, actors and choreographers to bring a little piece of local history to life and enrich children's learning. We have thoroughly enjoyed working with all the schools involved in this project and have been really impressed by the pupils' standard of work and their unlimited range of ideas."

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