A group of people standing on the tracks next to a train passing through Poplar.

Tracks Through Poplar

Gillian HarrisCross-curriculum

Subject: Tracks Through Poplar

Focus: Cross-curricular learning

Year Group: KS2 and KS3

Synopsis: Taking the train and railways in East London as a starting point – Global Learning London with teachers and children in Poplar – created an innovative online resource based around a 150-year-old steam locomotive ‘Poplar’. Introduced by Gillian Harris, Tower Hamlets SLS.

Gillian Harris

Gillian HarrisMBE
Tower Hamlets SLS

Librarian’s view:

This innovative project, a liaison between The Terrier Trust, Kent and East Sussex Railway, Global Learning London and Tower Hamlets Schools Library Service saw the creation of an educational programme for primary school children in Poplar based around a 150-year-old steam locomotive ‘Poplar’, one of the oldest operational in the UK. Poplar is part of Tower Hamlets, with residents having the highest poverty rate in England, 69% with BAME backgrounds and 43% born outside the UK and the project wanted to make links between the local history of the area with the backgrounds of the children living and growing up there today.

Steam locomotive ‘Poplar’

Taking the train and railways in East London as a starting point, Global Learning London co-created with teachers and children in Poplar an online educational resource that places the railways in a world context as well as looks at other areas of the curriculum:

  • History  
    • History of Steam engines
    • The project to restore “Poplar” to a working train
    • The railway at war
    • Light railways from K&ESR to DLR
    • Hop-picking ‘holidays’ in Kent
    • Women and the railways
  • Science
    • steam from coal and water
    • power source evolution and environmental impacts
    • Forces and friction
  • Geography
    • impact of railway development worldwide
    • Trains around the world

The curriculum map on page 10 of the resource gives more detail of how each section can be used.

List of schools library services who hold the boxes:

  • Tower Hamlets
  • Durham
  • Northumberland
  • Redbridge
  • Wirral
  • West Sussex
  • Coventry
  • Wandsworth
  • Cheshire
  • Warwickshire
  • Cornwall
  • Southampton
  • Wiltshire
  • Essex
  • Knowsley
  • Bolton
  • Islington
  • East Riding