Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Pupils tour Houses of Parliament and London Dungeon

Written by Ciaran and Jason, Year 8 student reporters

On Friday 9th June, our student reporter team visited the Houses of Parliament in London, to find out more about the hung parliament result in the General Election.

The day started with showery weather, but soon brightened up. We arrived at Coventry train station at 8 am, where we were put into small groups, and waited to board the train at 8.30 am. 30 student reporters and three teachers! Everyone is talking excitedly about the day ahead.

This year we are travelling by Virgin trains which is so much faster than travelling by coach. 35 seats were reserved for the Whitley Academy crew, making us feel like VIPs. For your information, the Virgin train is posh and very quick, only 1 hour and 5 minutes to get to London Euston.

At 9:45 am we arrived at Euston. We walked the paths and rode the escalators down to the underground and caught the tube from Euston to Embankment. Traversing more paths and escalators, we finally arrive at Westminster station.

Excitedly, we stroll up flights of stairs towards our final destination, Westminster Palace. Along the way we pass many shops, but are denied access as we are short for time. The one shop, however, that we are allowed to enter is a Tesco Express by the side of Westminster tube station. We purchased our lunch and drinks ready for the long day ahead.

Happily, everyone lines up and prepares to scamper to the Palace of Westminster. On the way we can see all sorts of monuments, vehicles, and people. Westminster Abbey, Queen Elizabeth tower, the statue of Sir Oliver Cromwell, armoured police vans and heavily defended police officers. Just opposite the Palace of Westminster we could see the media headquarters with many people walking back and forth. It had been the day of the General Election just a few days earlier. 

After walking a short scenic route, we arrive at the Education Centre by the side of the Palace of Westminster. It started raining hard, but we were safe hiding away from the rain, chatting enthusiastically while waiting for our allocated time slot. Taking photos and telling jokes is a great past time for us, as we anticipated entering into this great structure, iconic worldwide.

At 11.15 am, it was time for us to step through the doors of this magnificent Palace. Mixed emotions of nerves, excitement and curiosity built up inside of us. 

We started with a quick security check, before entering a small room which is used as a cinema where we watched a short video clip about the history of Parliament. Did you know that the word Parliament comes from the old French word "parley", which means a discussion between two groups of people?

Once we had the facts about the legal system and Parliament in our heads, we followed our guides to the Palace of Westminster. We arrived at the lobby between the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Which one should we go to first? Well that was for the Educational Centre guides to decide. The House of Commons is a grand room, but the House of Lords is even grander. 

Some very interesting facts we learned from the tour around the Houses of Parliament include: 

  • The custom of the green benches of the House of Commons goes back 300 years.
  • The current chamber was rebuilt in 1945 after the original was destroyed during the London Blitz. 
  • The benches in the House of Lords are covered in red.

Our Reflections

Today we visited the Houses of Parliament and the London Dungeon. The whole activities were fun and engaging which left a smile on everyone's faces. The Dungeon was terrifying but fun and left us with priceless reactions. 

Visiting Parliament has made me feel privileged to visit such an amazing place with its length of history. The fact I found most interesting is that the Queen is not allowed to walk to the House of Commons. The Queen actually has a throne in the House of Lords in which she sits for the traditional opening of Parliament. The Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod goes to the House of Commons on the Queen’s behalf to summon MPs to the House of Lords for the ceremony! Wow! 

Joe, student reporter

Today is the day I will remember for a long time: busy, hectic with lots of walking around.

At London Dungeon we are taken through many dark rooms. They recreate the gruesome and ghastly history of around 1000 years of London. In each room you could meet actors who perform as some of London’s most horrible characters including Jack the Ripper and Sweeney Todd. Many of us nearly jump to hide ourselves away from the actors of ‘The Torturer’ and ‘The Gunpowder Plot’. They are brilliant!

However; unfortunately for Miss Boyne, she is picked by the actor of ‘The Plague Doctor’ and ‘ The Whitechapel Labyrinth’…Miss Boyne is so good at whatever the actors ask her to do. Her reaction is priceless and we feel very proud of her.

- Ellis, student reporter

The things I learned and enjoyed today I will probably remember for a long time, the Houses of Parliament was a once in a lifetime opportunity to have an insight on how our daily lives really came to be. 

I loved visiting the House of Lords and learned how every little thing carved on the wall or on the seats served a purpose and had a historical meaning. 

At London Dungeon I really especially enjoyed a scene in the tavern where a murderer suspiciously came out of nowhere then disappeared again, mysterious! 

- Lucy, student reporter

The things I liked the most about the trip was the London Dungeon. It was amazing experience! I liked learning new facts about London history especially Jack the Ripper. The actors were so energetic and funny as they could come towards you without any warning.

At the start of the London Dungeon journey, after you got out of the ‘medieval lift’ you went to the Tyrant Boat Ride for 8 people. As soon as you sat down inside the boat, it started swinging left to right and water was everywhere. It could be very scary but if you stayed calm you would be ready for anything that jumped out on you. The trip was one of the best ever! I will remember the experience for a long time!

Ben, student reporter

At 6:40 pm, we arrived back in Coventry, safe and sound.

We felt so proud to have such an amazing day right in the heart of London. The laughter, the chit chats we shared throughout the day, the experience we got in both the Houses of Parliament and the London Dungeon will be with us for years to come.