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Schools Bridge the Gap

Youngsters from Riverside Primary School in Gillingham walked off with the top honours in this year’s Bridge Building Challenge, which was sponsored by the Rochester Bridge Trust at the Royal Engineers Museum on Friday, 9 March.

Using just some string, four drawing pins, two lengths of dowel, three short paper sticks, a few pieces of card and some paper, the Year 6 pupils built a bridge that was able to carry a 12Kg load. Their achievement even put them ahead of a visiting team from Ross Troop, 24 Training Squadron, the Royal Engineers, whose own construction collapsed at 8Kg. Nine other schools took part in the National Science and Engineering Week 2012 event with second and third places going respectively to St William of Perth RC Primary School, Rochester, and Byron Primary School, Gillingham.

Helen Corbett, Chief Finance Officer for Rochester Bridge Trust, presented the winner’s trophy, as well as giving each participating school a bridge-building book. “We were delighted to be able to sponsor the competition for the third consecutive year,” she said. “It is a fantastic opportunity for schoolchildren to learn about building bridges and engineering while also enjoying themselves. I hope that the memory of today’s event is something that they will take with them when they go to secondary school and, longer term, may even encourage them to consider science or engineering as a career.”

Lena Ward, Assistant Headteacher at Riverside Primary School, added: “We build the competition into our science curriculum, and it is a good way of getting our more able science students to stretch their abilities and use their skills in different ways.”

Bridge Master Derek Flippance put the teams’ bridges to the load test. Mr Flippance served with the Royal Engineers across the world for 24 years, and he now shares his knowledge of the history of bridge building and engineering techniques with museum visitors.

In addition to the Rochester Bridge Trust, the bridge building competition was also backed by Mabey Johnson, part of the Mabey Group of Companies – a major British organisation specialising in bridges, steel fabrication, plant hire, and construction products.


1. The Rochester Bridge Trust is a charitable trust that exists to maintain the old and new bridges at Rochester and serve the travelling public. It is the only surviving bridge trust still serving its original purpose, and it has served the people of Kent since 1399. The Trust also supports numerous community and education projects across historic Kent and Medway.

2. The Trust’s assets all derive from endowments of land and money in the 14th and 15th centuries and are carefully managed in order to provide an income to fund bridge maintenance and local charitable grants. The Trust receives no external funding and is regulated by the Charity Commission.

For more information:

The Rochester Bridge Trust
5 Esplanade
Kent ME1 1QE
Tel: 01634 846706
Fax: 01634 840125

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