A Jumbo launch for Historic England’s Heritage Schools Programme in Colchester

Teachers from 13 schools across Colchester returned to the classroom to learn more about their local heritage as Historic England’s Heritage Schools programme was launched in the city.

In a day of hands-on history, teachers from early years to secondary schools tackled a range of activities to develop education resources for future learning.

The activities focussed on the Grade II* listed Balkerne ‘Jumbo’ Water Tower, an important historic landmark in Colchester which is being restored and brought back into use by North Essex Heritage, with support from Historic England.

Teachers enjoyed a tour of the tower and heard from Trustees about plans for its future, giving advice and ideas about engaging with young people and incorporating the Jumbo story into the local curriculum.

They used aerial photographs and historic maps to discover how the area around this immense structure has changed over time. This newly discovered information, along with the teachers’ photographs and sketches, was added to the official online list entry for the water tower, to be enjoyed by all who want to discover more about its history.

Teachers learned about Historic England’s role in protecting, celebrating and giving new life to historic places, through listing and supporting Heritage at Risk sites like the Jumbo Water Tower.

Helen Spencer, Historic England Local Heritage Education Manager (London & South East) said:

“To launch the Heritage Schools Programme in Colchester with a visit to Jumbo Water Tower was an opportunity not to be missed!

I think it is really important for young people to be involved at such an early stage in the restoration project so that they can see what it takes to bring such a significant Heritage at Risk site back from the brink. All the schools involved want to participate in Historic England’s Heritage Schools Programme so that they can be supported to embed local heritage into their curriculum. I look forward to working with them and North Essex Heritage, custodians of this landmark building, in the near future.”

Jo Pudney, Brightlingsea Primary School, said:

“What a fantastic experience to be able to climb to the top of Jumbo and learn all about its incredible history. Our children will love this experience.”

Simon Hall MBE DL, Chair of North Essex Heritage, said:

“This was a really good session, well managed and with really engaged attendees. We learned a lot from the teachers in terms of what they need and how to manage their future visits. Jumbo and Colchester have so much to offer as heritage themes to be incorporated in the curriculum in many subject areas.”



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