Mud, Flood and Fire: Brunel Museum secures funding to develop new schools show
The Brunel Museum has secured a grant from the Royal Society of Chemistry to create a brand new show for schools, called Mud, Flood and Fire.
The show will use the experiences of the workers who dug the Thames Tunnel to teach children about chemistry and the differences between solids, liquids and gases. Pupils will learn who the men who dug the tunnel, uses hand tools like shovels and pick axes to clear away the London clay. With no natural light, the men were reliant on gas lamps, which were prone to explosion if the miners encountered a pocket of methane. They will learn how the men were under constant thread of the tunnel flooding. In fact, one such incident almost killed Isambard Kingdom Brunel who was working on the Tunnel at the time.
The Thames Tunnel was Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s first project, where he learnt his craft from his father Marc Brunel. “It seems fitting that the Brunel Museum should continue to be a place of learning” said Museum Director Katherine McAlpine.
Working with Spectrum Drama, the show will tell the story of the men who worked on the tunnel. Many workers from moved to London to find work, and ended up in Rotherhithe working on the tunnel. Workers who built the tunnel endured gruelling conditions. They worked 8-hour shifts, and when they were not working slept in the dark, damp, unfinished tunnel.
Tom Benson, public engagement coordinator at the Royal Society of Chemistry said: “We are proud to fund a project like this. It will explore the history of chemistry with its local community in a unique way, and we encourage all local schools to get in touch with the Brunel Museum to take part.”
The show will be piloted with local schools. Southwark based schools who are interested in getting in being involved should contact the Museum.