Year 5 have been studying factories and the industrial revolution in history​ and took the opportuinty to get out of the classroom with a visit to world famous cricket manufacturer, Gray-Nicolls. This was the perfect opportunity to combine both History and STEM subjects in an informative and enjoyable trip.

Here is a report by Faris A, Will G, Guy F and George W:

“On Thursday 17th January Year 5 were lucky enough to visit probably the world’s most famous cricket manufacturer, Gray-Nicolls, and have a tour of their cricket bat factory in Robertsbridge. We were given a tour by a man called Alex who took time out of his work to talk to us. The wood that they use in cricket bat factories is called Willow and it is a special tree that grows in really wet areas. We learnt that they have three cricket bat factories in the world. First, we went into a building where Alex showed us the first stage of the cricket bat making. This was the cutting up of the trees and keeping the bottom 20 feet – the other part of the tree goes to be burnt for fuel. After this, they cut up the twenty feet into groups then seal them with special glue. Next, they use a 15-year-old log splitter; it still works effectively and is better than doing it by hand, which is how they used to do it. A whole log could make five cricket bats. Then they split it in half twice more.

Then we got taken to stage two where they make the smaller logs more even. During the process, they first cut the sides to make it flat on the left, right and bottom then they cut the top as a triangle. After this they put it in a room filled with fans to take out the water from the wood for two months! After this, they check that the temperature is right. Then they moved all the wood into a warm room at 30 degrees. Alex told us how lovely it was to be in the kiln in the winter, but not so much in the summer! Alex explained that one of their machines got stuck in the field last year and caused a lot of bother to a local farmer!!

Then we got to the 3rd stage. All they do there is check that every cricket bat is right before they attach the handle.

On the 4th stage they make the handle.  There was not much to see there; all they do is carvit, put three steel rods around four sections and glue the bat to the handleAlex also took us to a place where they repair or remodel professional cricketers’ bats.  Alex had made bats for some really famous cricketers including Alistair Cooke. He said he was a nice man and that he was quite proud of that achievement!

Finally, Alex took us to the last place where they use a lathe that puts string onto the handle. Then he put on the grip using a machine; he would normally put stickers on, but didn’t for us. Then the bat would be ready to sell. Alex showed us one cricket bat that cost £1000; it was so expensive because the grain was completely straight and the wood was rare. For some reason, Alex wouldn’t let us touch this bat!

We thoroughly enjoyed the trip as we have been learning about factory conditions in History lessons and in STEM we have been looking at the engineering process is an endless cycle of researching, creating, improving, so it was brilliant to be able to see all of this in a real-life factory!”