Standing at about 21 meters (68 feet) tall Coalville’s Grade II Clock Tower is constructed of enough bricks, that when laid end to end they would extend to nearly 13 km (eight miles) – the distance from Coalville to Loughborough! This is just one of the many amazing facts that pupils at Belvoirdale Primary School have been finding out as part of their investigation into the town’s iconic war memorial and surrounding Memorial Square.
The two-week long learning exercise, which kicked off on 4 June, is part of North West Leicestershire District Council’s (NWLDC) Clock Tower and Memorial Square project which has been supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund to engage the younger generations with learning about the Clock Tower, in parallel to vital restoration works which are taking place over the coming months.
The education initiative has been backed by members of Coalville Heritage Society who have worked with Belvoirdale Primary Head Teacher, Richard Dax, to develop a programme of lessons that use archive materials to tell the story of the Clock Tower and illustrate how Memorial Square has changed over the years.
A site visit on 6 June provided an opportunity for pupils to compare old photographs and maps of the Square with the present-day site. They learnt about the oldest building in Coalville, The Red House, "as well as ‘the many days sliding’ on the pond, used when frozen as an ice skating rink, which was situated near the seating area".
Grace Wyatt, nine, said of the site visit: “It was fun being out of the classroom and looking at the old pictures. It’s really important we learn about the Clock Tower, as it’s a big feature of our home town. Learning happens everywhere you explore.”
During their field trip, pupils were handed a letter written by Bev Smith, the Chief Executive of North West Leicestershire District Council, challenging them to generate new ideas and fresh plans for the area surrounding the Clock Tower.
The pupils then worked in the classroom to reimagine the design of Memorial Square, taking into account responses to a school survey, which revealed that local people strongly value the Clock Tower as a means of commemorating our local war heroes.
Their visualisations had to retain the Clock Tower, while at the same time, creating an appealing space for the whole community.
Head teacher, Richard Dax, said: “The children were excited and invigorated at the prospect of coming up with new designs for Memorial Square. The project is a great way of getting the children to engage with their local community.”
The children presented their designs and arguments for retaining the Clock Tower, to Bev Smith, CEO of North West Leicestershire District Council at the Council Chambers on Monday 18 June. The children’s designs will feature in a touring exhibition about Coalville’s memorials, set to launch in the autumn.
Many of the children’s ideas involved improving the square for everyone to use – including better seating, events and even restoring a pond for ice skating in the winter and feeding the birds in the summer!
Bev Smith, Chief Executive of North West Leicestershire District Council, said: “Ensuring our future generations engage and understand the importance of our heritage is vital and we are proud to be working alongside Belvoirdale Primary School to enhance our young people’s understanding. What better way to stimulate young people’s imagination than with this stimulating challenge? The designs were an excellent display of what young people can achieve when they’re given an exciting real-world scenario based on their local heritage.”
Steve Duckworth, Chair of Coalville Heritage Society, said: “This is a great way of getting young people to recognise and cherish the history of our town and community. These children are the town’s future and they will act as custodians of Coalville’s Heritage when they grow up.”
The project team would love to hear from anyone who has information relating to the Clock Tower or war memorials in and around Coalville; or a story or memory about a person, event or business associated with Memorial Square. Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call Tel: 01530 229690
You can find out more about the Clock Tower and Memorials project at www.choosecoalville.co.uk/coalville-clock-tower-project/project-news