Locomotion has partnered up with engineering students from Newcastle College who are applying skills they have learnt to save a piece of the UK’s industrial history as they work to conserve the world’s oldest oil tanker.
The tanker, which was manufactured in 1889 and used on railways until 1961, has been sitting outside and requires work to restore it. Students have been tasked with assessing the extent of any damage and developing solutions to fix it, getting it ready for its new life as part of the collection in New Hall, Locomotion’s new collection building which will open in late 2023.
The conservation project is the result of a brand-new, first-of-its-kind partnership between Newcastle College and Locomotion.
Locomotion’s Engagement and Programming Manager Eileen Perrie explained: “It's important to us that we open up opportunities to as many people as possible, particularly around STEM subject knowledge and career aspirations.
“We are delighted to be able to contribute to supporting students at Newcastle College through this live industry project, giving them authentic work-based experiences and an opportunity to contribute to a more unusual project.
“We chose Newcastle College because we were keen to find an opportunity to work in partnership, having been impressed by its Rail and Civil Engineering Academy and the engineering departments, and connecting with staff there. The College has a really professional and open approach to partnership working, as well as a forward-facing attitude to trying new things, which we have fully appreciated in our work with them to date.”
The partnership will see students supporting the museum on a number of conservation projects, something that will help them to develop their technical skills and provide them with vital work experience. Despite the UK’s rich industrial past, a report by the Institution of Engineering and Technology has found that less than 50% of new engineering recruits have the necessary technical skills or soft skills to work within the industry.
Higher Education Engineering Curriculum Lead at Newcastle College, David Harrison explained: “This is an excellent project for our higher education students because it’s well within their capabilities, but it requires them to think like engineers, apply their practical skills and work alongside a client, something they’ll experience in the real world.
“One of the biggest problems the industry faces is finding skilled people who are ready to jump straight into work. It’s fine learning the theory and applying it to individual, small-scale projects, but what we really need are graduates who have got hands-on, large-scale engineering experience, which includes learning how to solve problems you hadn’t even considered. Projects like these are invaluable for that experience, and a great stepping stone to working in industry.”
Louis Matthews, a mechanical manufacturing engineering student working on the project said: It’s great to be involved because it’s an actual engineering project that we can talk about with future employers, whilst learning along the way what a real work environment is like.
“What I’m discovering is you can plan it all out, but a lot of the ideas don’t actually work practically, so you have to think of another way. I feel like we’re making good progress though. It’s definitely a unique challenge!”
Once work is complete, the conserved oil tanker will form part of a permanent display inside New Hall at Locomotion. This 2,000m2 collection building is part of the museum’s Vision 2025 project which aims to transform the site at Shildon and also at the National Railway Museum in York.
The building, due to open in late 2023. will be home to around 50 locomotives and rolling stock, and other railway memorabilia.
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About Newcastle College:
Newcastle College teaches more than 16,000 students each year from its city centre Rye Hill Campus and academies in Gateshead, North Tyneside and at Newcastle International Airport. It offers a range of full-time and part-time courses, apprenticeships, employer training and professional qualifications. It also develops and awards its own Honours and Masters Degrees, delivered through Newcastle College University Centre. www.ncl-coll.ac.uk
NCG is working with its colleges and partners across the country to create the workforce of the future and enabling all people, regardless of their background, to develop the skills that local communities need to be successful and sustained.
Through ambitious teaching, innovative courses and outstanding learning environments, NCG and all of its colleges aim to inspire excellence, spark curiosity and make a real impact on its learners and communities.