Classroom-Afloat - The MV Balmoral


This working historic ship is moored in Bristol's Harbour under the cargo cranes. Its lounges, dining rooms and decks are used for learning activities for schools and public.

The MV Balmoral Classroom-Afloat

  • Learning for all ages
  • Cultural, maritime and industrial heritage
  • Community engagement
  • Intergenerational
  • Unique location
  • Working with volunteers from business and industry
  • Travel Initiatives for schools 

Learning Programmes and Schools Travel Initiatives

Facilitated by our staff and the ship's crew and volunteers from business and industry. Click on the project title to find out more. 


1. Windrush Pioneers Project.  Engineering, Drama,  Poetry, History and PHSE

For ages 8 to12. 30 Max one day
  • Explore ourhistoric  passenger vessel (The Peoples Liner)
  • Suspend disbelief, turning the ship into the Empire Windrush
  • Understanding migration and post colonial society
  • Poetry workshops with poets sharing their stories of migration
  • History with Elders from the Windrush Generation 
  • Work with Ex-Merchant Navy Sailors to operate a Derrick Rig Crane
  • Work with engineers to explore maths, computers and lifting technologies 
  • The day ends with a class performance, reading and winching poetry from the ships hold onto the quayside
  • Special events for families to join weekend celebrations on the ship with food, music and young people's poetry and performance
Listen to the 'MV Balmoral Windrush Event' Podcast from Ujima Radio Broadcaster Roger Griffith OBE

2. Shipping 2050 - Engineering and Science.

For ages 13 and over. Max 30. One day plus follow-up in schools

  • Explore issues for global shipping
  • Explore the MV Balmoral inside and out to find out how ships work
  • Work as a small team mentored by engineers and maritime architects to design and present a model of a concept ship for the future
  • Exhibit designs at the Bristol Harbour Festival in July


3. Build a Ship-on-a-Ship - Heritage and Science

For ages 8 to 12. Max 60 one day. Max 30 half day

  • Explore the ship and the local environment, shipyards and locks
  • Work in small teams to build a model of one of these iconic boats
  • The Balmoral (Non sailing model)
  • SS Great Britain (Sailing model)
  • Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter (Sailing Model)
  • Tudor Caravel - Like The Matthew (Sailing model)
The day can incorporate ferry boat and walking tours
Model Sail Boat can be entered in the Bristol Harbour Festival Boat Race


4. Cranes- Engineering, Science, History and Robotics

Programmes for Ages 8 to 12 and 12 to 14. Max 30 a day 

  • Operate the historic cargo cranes standing above the MV Balmoral
  • Build your own robotic arm onboard 
  • Compete as a team to see who can improve the operation of their robotic arm


5. Rocket Rescue Adventure - History, Science and Teamwork

Ages 8 to 12. Max 30 a day 

  • History of marine rescue from Rocket Brigades to Helicopters 
  • Operate the historic cargo cranes standing above the MV Balmoral
  • Team challenges to work as rocket brigades to rescue stranded crews
  • Teams use pneumatic rocket launchers to secure a pulley system from ship to shore to recreate the engineering and coordination needed to save live
  • Understanding post colonial society and migration using drama and poetry

6. Catch the Train To My Future - Schools Travel Initiative

For primary and secondary schools

  • Funded by Great Western Railway (GWR) 
  • Rail and Ferryboat travel
  • Staff training and schools foyer badges for partner schools
  • Curriculum development with Heritage England Education integrating learning into travel
  • Links to activity in the Historic Harbour on the and the Bristol Port Company Docks
  • Links with businesses in city centre and cultural venues


To book

  • Contact us to discuss the content, and set up the visit this covers price of the session and options for business sponsorship and travel 
  • Some of the activites are sponsored by businesses or Trust funds so they are affordable to schools
  • Complete booking arrangements, including any catering options and travel arrangements 

The Classroom Afloat 

  • Safe working environment in a unique location
  • Innovative projects designed to suit you and your young people
  • Multiple adaptable spaces and breakout rooms
  • Catering / dining space
  • Friendly knowledgeable staff  
  • Teams of volunteers who work in sectors specific to the day's event
  • Fun and laughter