In July 2017, a group of fourteen Year 12 Students, Mr Prenter and Chris, an ex-Stroud High Maths Teacher, boarded an early train for London. After a prompt journey fuelled by coffee and pastries, we arrived and headed to the first stop of our trip: Piccadilly Circus. Here, we met Heiko Khoo, the guide for our guided tour of Soho - specifically, the Karl Marx Walking Tour! During this tour, we learnt about the influences on Marx’s life, such as his wife and music and saw iconic locations including the meeting place of Marx and Engels. The tour concluded at the British Museum where we had a chance to look around before heading off to the foreign and commonwealth office!
This tour was enthralling, from the offices of Boris Johnson, to the elaborate gold paintings on the wall, to seeing 10 Downing Street from across the road (the closest possible view unless visiting!), this was something none of us would be forgetting in a hurry!
From here, all exhausted at this point, we caught the tube, a bus and walked to Karl Marx’s grave, a location Mr Prenter had been excited to revisit for much of the school year. Under Karl Marx’s ornate (and very large!) head, we sat and had a picnic, and then discovered the gravestones of other famous writers, scientists and philosophers, such as Aldous Huxley.
We left at closing time, and made our way then to the British Library, where many went to look at their special collections of artefacts and their expanse of books. Then, it was off on the Caledonian sleeper at 9.15pm on an overnight trip to Scotland! The cabins proved to be rather… tight, however this was a new experience for everyone and something which we thoroughly enjoyed.
Waking up to see the rising sun over beautiful views of Scotland was again, something we won’t be forgetting in a hurry! Past plains, mountains and valleys we flew on our way to Fort William. It was at this point that our journey took a turn. After around an hour sat at a station still a way off from Fort William, many began to ask what was happening. The answer which we had long awaited was that unfortunately a freight train had crashed into some fallen rocks and overturned. It was thus that was were delayed for a number of hours, and likely to miss our connecting steam train which was to travel across the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct.
We remained at the station for around four hours. Luckily, it was home to a very cozy tea rooms, so many of us ate breakfast or had a delicious cake and hot drink. Typically, Mr Prenter had, in this time, managed to save the day! He booked all of us taxis to a nearby station where we instead walked to see views of the Glenfinnan Viaduct: famously part of the Harry Potter series.
After a walk back to the station, we got a bus back to Fort William, where we walked through the town and saw some, very Scottish, SNP offices! From here, we caught the Caledonian sleeper back to London, excited for another busy day ahead.
The third and final day of our journey began by, as we like to put it, breaking into the London School of Economics! In fact, whilst it wasn’t strictly a break in, we hadn’t booked a tour and the only tour guide we had was ex-student, Mr Prenter himself! There were many great moments on this ‘tour’ including watching Mr Prenter walk onto the stage of a lecture hall and role-play a great speech he had from a well-known politician. It was also here that he sat in his old University seat, and we commented that the moment resembled the coming together of the beginning of his political education, to the ending, with his retiring the following day.
We proceeded to get breakfast at LSE, before heading off to inspect their ‘Women’s Collection’, including Emily Davison’s original purse and return ticket, ‘Feminist’ and Suffrage-related postcards, and pictures of the fight for women’s suffrage. It was truly eye-opening to a period of history many of us have learnt about, but have had little opportunity to experience the reality of the era. We were then taken on a tour of the University Library, featuring its grand spiral staircase.
After this, we were off to the Freud Museum for a detailed history of Freud’s life and works, followed by the Docklands Museum, documenting the history of boats in the UK and the part slavery played within ‘ship-culture’.
On the way back to Paddington we discussed the last few days and the new things we’d learnt from the trip, all before hopping on the train back to Stroud after an unforgettable three days.