Belfast Telegraph

Friday 9 October 2015

Kids create Churchill tank from waste cardboard

By Joanne Sweeney

Published 22/02/2014

The replica Churchill tank built by pupils at Downshire School
The replica Churchill tank built by pupils at Downshire School
Pupils (l-r) Mark Tweed, Kyle Bell, Bethan White, Adam Stewart, Alex Montgomery, Abbie Calwell and Karis Owens
The original Churchill tank
A crew on exercises
Sir Winston Churchill

The mighty Churchill tank, the forerunner of which – the A20 – was designed in Belfast, was an unsung hero of the Second World War, proving itself resilient against the enemy.

Now a local school has paid tribute by creating a full-sized replica made entirely from waste materials.

Instead of the reinforced armoured hull, the replica has been created from cardboard by a teacher and pupils at Downshire School in Carrickfergus.

Technology teacher Wilson Kirker and his Year 10 and 11 pupils took three weeks to complete the tank.

Mr Kirker said: "We fabricated a wooden framework then clad the outside with material from cardboard boxes.

"The tank was then painted in camouflage colours and finishing touches added."

Pupil Bethan White (14) added: "We really enjoyed the whole experience. Just being able to see the link between technology and history was fantastic." The tank, which many historians believe was named after the then Prime Minister Winston Churchill, is 24ft long, by 8ft wide and 9ft tall to the top of the open hatch. It proved a big attraction with visiting prospective pupils and their parents at the technology department's open night. Downshire School's pupils are engaged in a project with Carrickfergus Council and the North Irish Horse regiment to restore an original Churchill tank ahead of its permanent installation in Carrickfergus.

Pupils and staff visited the tank at Dunmore Army Base for the launch of the project.

Principal Jackie Stewart said: "In technology, classes in Years 8 to 10 were given the opportunity to design and make tank-themed board games.

"Year 8 technology classes took part in a 'battlefield challenge' where they had to use mathematical skills to guide a cotton reel tank through a model battlefield.

"And some Year 10 history and English classes used an actual piece of the Churchill tank as inspiration to produce a piece of creative writing about what the piece of metal might say if it could talk, such as 'What would I say? What have I seen?'"

Yesterday, the school hosted a 'tank tea party' to show off the work to special guests including Colonel Danny Kinahan MLA, Carrickfergus mayor Billy Ashe and Colonel Nick Tougher, assistant Brigade Commander with the North Irish Horse regiment.


The Churchill was a British heavy infantry tank that entered service in 1941 and was involved in the disastrous Dieppe raid in 1942. It was designed for functionality as opposed to appearance. The heaviest tank deployed by the Allies during the war, the task of designing the prototype went to Harland & Wolff in early 1940. There's some argument as to whether it was named after the then Prime Minister Winston Churchill (above), or an ancestor John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough.

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