Classroom-Afloat - The MV Balmoral


This working historic ship is moored in Bristol's Harbour. Its lounges and decks are used for learning activities for schools and public.

The MV Balmoral Classroom-Afloat

  • Learning for all ages
  • Cultural, maritime and industrial heritage
  • Community engagment
  • Intergenerational
  • Unique locations
  • Use our learning programmes or talk to us to plan your own programme
  • Working with volunteers from business and industry

Classroom-Afloat Learning Programmes

All activities are facilitated and engage young people with volunteers from business and industry

Windrush Pioneers Project


Poetry, Drama, History and Engineering

For ages 8 to12. 30 Max one day

Explore a passenger vessel and suspend disbelief to better understand migration.

Poetry workshops with poets sharing their stories of migration

History with Elders from the Windrush Generation 

Work with Ex-Merchant Navy Sailors to operate a Derrick Rig Crane

Work with engineers to explore maths, computers and lifting technologies 

The day ends with a class performance, reading and winching poetry from the ships hold onto the quayside

Special events for families to join weekend celebrations on the ship with food, music and young people's poetry and performance

Listen to the 'MV Balmoral Windrush Event' Podcast from Ujima Radio Broadcaster Roger Griffith OBE
 Blog - Pioneers of the Windrush Generation Celebrations -

 Shipping 2050 - Engineering and Science.

For ages 13 and over. Max 30. One day plus follow-up in schools

Explore issues for global shipping

Explore the MV Balmoral inside and out to find out how ships work

Work as a small team mentored by engineers and maritime architects to design and present a model of a concept ship for the future

Exhibit designs at the Bristol Harbour Festival in July


Build a Ship-on-a-Ship - Heritage and Science

For ages 8 to 12. Max 60 one day. Max 30 half day

Explore the ship and the local environment, shipyards and locks

Work in small teams to build a model of one of these boats

  • The Balmoral
  • SS Great Britain (Docked opposite the MV Balmoral)
  • Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter (Examples in and out of the water in the area)
  •  Tudor Caravel - Like The Matthew (The replica vessel is in Bristol Harbour)
Model Boats can be entered in the Bristol Harbour Festival Boat Race


Cranes- Engineering, Science, History and Robotics

Operate the historic cargo cranes standing above the MV Balmoral (when moored at M Shed)

Build your own robotic arm onboard 

Compete as a team to see who can improve the operation of their robotic arm


Breeches Buoy Rescue Adventure - History, Science and Teamwork

Ages 8 to 12. Max 30 a day 

History of marine rescue from Rocket Brigades to Helicopters 

Full scale demonstration on quayside

Team challenges to work as rocket brigades to rescue stranded crews. Uses table top resources and pneumatic rocket launchers to recreate the engineering and coordination needed to save lives.

Painting and drawing - Art

All ages-

Unrivalled location for landscape and maritime painting

Expert Tuition

Shelter from the elements plus refreshments



How to book

Stage One

Contact us to discuss the content and price of the session

Some of the activites are sponsored by businesses or Trust funds so they are affordable to schools 


Stage Two

Complete booking arrangements, including catering options and travel arrangements 

Travel by Ferry boat from Temple Meads can be arranged as part of the  day 

Free rail tickers to Temple Meads can be arranged 

Stage Three

Turn up for a memorable day!

What can you gain from the use of the Classroom Afloat 

Safe working environment in a unique location

Innovative projects designed to suit you and your young people

Multiple adaptable spaces and breakout rooms


Friendly knowledgeable staff  

Teams of volunteers who work in sectors specific to the day's event

Fun and laughter