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Pupils in the driving seat on tank project

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Pupil enthusiasm is driving forward a tank project at Downshire School in Carrickfergus.

The school, with Carrickfergus Council and the North Irish Horse regiment, is involved in the restoration of a Second World War Churchill tank and it’s future relocation to Carrickfergus.

After visiting the regiment barracks and viewing the tank, Mr Kirker, Head of Technology, and the students were inspired to pursue a number of initiatives in school, including a full size model of the original made entirely from waste materials.

The Year 10 and 11 participants fabricated a wooden framework then clad the outside with material from cardboard boxes. The model was painted in camouflage colours and finishing touches including wheels, nuts, bolts and the main gun.

The replica tank is, in World War 2 units of measurements, 24 feet long by eight feet wide and nine feet tall to the top of the open hatch. The gun is six feet long and even has cardboard ammunition.

The model took about three weeks to complete and all pupils involved thoroughly enjoyed the creative process – even continuing with the project over lunch and after school, Mr Kirker explained.

It took pride at a ‘Tank Tea Party’ in the school, where special guests joining staff, pupils and governors included Colonel Danny Kinahan MLA, the Mayor of Carrickfergus, Alderman Billy Ashe and Rey Kirk, project co-ordinator North Irish Horse Regiment.

Mr Kirk said: “Most people know that Carrickfergus is one of the oldest garrison towns in the UK and, also, during the war, Harland and Wolff, who were building tanks - prototype tanks - in Belfast, because of the blitz they had to outsource their work and so they chose Woodburn Road as a factory site to be able to assemble these. We decided if were to bring both these things together it would be a way of promoting the industrial and military heritage of Carrickfergus.

“I am delighted to say Downshire School is way ahead of us with their enterprise, initiative and enthusiasm.”

Year 10 pupil Adam McFarlane, who helped paint the tank and construct the framework, said he enjoyed the overall team work and was looking forward to seeing the restored vehicle in Marine Gardens.

 
 
 

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