It was our brief to engage the wide visitor demographic at Upnor Castle and to be as inclusive / accessible as possible, whilst still telling a good story. The castle is set on the banks of the River Medway and is one of the most iconic sites within the area. The site is mainly visited by families with children and school groups and we focussed on these user groups.
The star of our scheme for the castle was without doubt the pair of firing replica cannon, complete with Dutch Navy ship targets and firing positions. Put down rather as a gauntlet by our client Tracy, these cannon have proved impossibly popular with visitors to the castle. Wardens are routinely being asked on entry “are the cannon out today?”! After extensive testing of the early cannon prototypes (in our studios firing various test ordinance…at staff), we commenced building the final model. This involved our craftsmen turning solid barrels from sapele wood and engineering the firing mechanisms to fit inside. John meanwhile was busily painting the ships onto the targets. It all came together seamlessly and we can tell you that the staff on-site fully enjoyed their training day.
We also installed a Warship Drawing interactive to interpret a half-faded drawing left by a soldier on the plaster wall of the gatehouse. We designed and constructed a counter structure in the shape of a warship. It houses a lightbox and visitors are invited to finish off the drawing and press the illumination button to see how close they get to the expert’s drawing. Needless to say we are now all experts at ARC !
Other elements of the scheme included: Period costume dressing up area, Replica coin rubbing table, Peephole figures, Education packs and various graphic panels around the site including a shaped tree stump panel.