Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers' Notes

Resource provided by Leeds Museums and Galleries | Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills.

Leeds has made many products that have travelled, either as objects or ideas, across the world. One of our major exports as a city were trains and engines. Use the sensory story below to explore journeys around the world that started in Leeds. It is written for KS1 and 2, and will work especially well with SEN pupils. 

A Global View

Nellie the locomotive was built in Leeds in 1915. At this time, people all over the world were involved in the First World War. Countries such as Austria-Hungary, Germany and Italy were at war with countries including Britain, France, Russia and America. As some of these had their own empires, the countries within the empires were made to fight too, supporting their rulers, or were attacked by their rulers’ enemies.

With the closure of the Sierra Leone Railway in 1975, Nellie stopped being used. At this time elsewhere, the Vietnam War came to an end, with communist forces seizing control and the removal of US troops, and the Banqiao Dam collapsed in China, killing an estimated 171,000 people. In America, Microsoft was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen.

Curriculum Links

  • KS1 and KS2 Geography: Use world maps to identify countries.
  • KS1 and KS2 History:  Significant historical events, people and places in their own locality (Leeds Curriculum)

How to use this sensory story

 This story is designed for sensory based storytelling. During circle time, read the story and get the children to join in with the special song. Pass round the objects and follow the ‘stage directions’. Do this slowly, to allow the children time to absorb the sensory element of the story. 

You will need: 

  • a couple of drops of ginger oil mixed with water in a spray pump 
  • a pineapple 
  • papaya juice 
  • ‘cargoes’ such as soft toy leopards, rhinos, rice and fruit 
  • a toy plane.


Activity Ideas

  • Map Nellie’s journey by land and sea from Leeds to Sierra Leone, or Junin’s from Leeds to Chile and back again. How long would it have taken? What would the journey have been like? Would Junin’s journey been different in 1929 and 1990? Use the images to compare and contrast life and technology in the time periods.
  • Use online research and / or the sources to explore life in Chile or Sierra Leone now and in the past. Chile was a Spanish territory, prior to Junin being there. Sierra Leone was a British territory when Nellie was there. Use the sources to look at clothes (safety equipment?), technology (steam cranes to diesel and electric), industry (compare mining around the world and in Yorkshire), jobs (would it have been nice work? Clean / dirty? Light / heavy?), workforce (can you see any women or local workers?)
  • Create tableaus or drama around the arrival of Junin in Chile. Imagine the excitement of the ceremony. Make welcome banners and music.
  • Nellie worked at the port. Where were the goods going that Nellie carried?
    • Where were they coming from?
    • Who was making the money and benefiting from the international trade?
    • Use these are starting points for a discussion about empire, colonialism and wildlife conservation.
  • Watch the MyLearning and Yorkshire Film Archive film of Hunlset Engine Works.

Visits and Visitors

  • Junin and Aldwyth both ‘live’ at Armley Mills Museum. We are currently redeveloping the engine sheds, please email or phone to ask about access.
  • Take a visit to Middleton Railway, with narrow gauge engine made in Leeds, it’s one of the oldest railways in the world. Or, the National Railway Museum in York. How about travelling by bus or train to get there? Ask the children to plan the journey using timetables.
  • Contact a local railway club, or model railway club, or ask parents and grandparents if anyone is part of a club, and ask if someone could come into school to talk to the children. There’s nothing as infectious as someone’s passion for their hobby!