Virtual chariot races, apps for your phone... how town’s landmark is bursting into 21st century

Essex County Standard: Take a peek at castle's revamp Take a peek at castle's revamp

IT is the jewel in the crown of Colchester’s history – Colchester Castle – iconic, impressive and undergoing a major revamp.

An investment of more than £4million is being lavished on the Grade I listed building which dates back to the 11th century.

It will see history come alive and the team behind it can’t wait for the public to see it.

Essex County Standard: Project manager Tom Hodgson

                              Project manager Tom Hodgson

The castle has been closed since January and is due to reopen next spring.

Tim Young, councillor responsible for culture at Colchester Council, said: “The works seems to be going well.

“It is a fantastic building. I think it will be one of the best museums in the country.

“It is always good to come in here. You can feel the sense of history.”

Although there was a delay due to the transition between the external and internal work, Mr Young is confident the castle will re-open on time.

Essex County Standard:

The development has revealed a large wall in the main room which will be used as a backdrop on which information films will be projected at set times during the day.

Ipads will also be used as part of exhibitions around the site, allowing people to find out more about the castle and the items on display.

A mobile app is being made for visitors to download to guide them through the castle.

People will also be able to take part in a virtual chariot race as part of the exhibition on the Colchester’s Roman circus, which was discovered near Circular Road South in 2004.

Mr Young said: “The work will totally transform this building into a 21st century attraction.

“We’ve got to make use of new technology, I think it is what people expect. It will attract people of all ages and families.

“It will be state of the art and modern. It will be a fantastic experience and people will leave wanting to come back.

“I really think it will put Colchester on the map.”

Essex County Standard:

External work on the building is complete and developers are well into the project to do up the inside.

Underfloor heating has been put in, the castle has been carpeted and the toilets have been refurbished. The lift has been relocated to allow all visitors to take the same route around the building.

The team will begin setting up the exhibitions in January.

Project manager Tom Hodgson said: “It has been really busy. On a project of this size, there are so many aspects to it.

“It is really good to see everything coming in.”

Museum manager Bill Seaman added: “Each generation needs to rediscover and become aware of what a fantastic place Colchester is and what wonderful opportunities there are which aren’t available in other places.

“I think the potential is huge for what we can do here. We’ve got to give it the profile it really deserves.”

What is going to be there

  • A MODEL of the castle is being built to show how it would have looked in the Norman era. It will also highlight recent research which suggests the castle was only two storeys high, rather than three as first believed.
  • The doctor’s grave exhibition will be the first permanent display of the Stanway doctor, known as the Druid of Colchester, whose grave was found in 1996. It is believed he was buried about the time of the Roman invasion in AD43. He was found with a medical kit, including scalpels, needles and surgical saw. All the items will be included in the display.
  • A virtual chariot race will allow visitors to have a go at driving their own chariot as part of the exhibition on the Roman Circus, which was discovered in Colchester in November 2004.

Who is paying for it?

THE redevelopment work on the castle is being completed thanks to a number of grants.

The bulk of the money – £3,267,400– was from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Other donations came from Colchester Council, the European Union through Norman Connections, the Renaissance museum hub funding, Friends of Colchester Museums, the Essex Heritage Trust and Friends of Colchester Roman Wall.

Comments (2)

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8:38pm Fri 13 Dec 13

Route88 says...

I hope that the entry fees are pitched at an affordable level for people. I for one thought that the cost of entry before this revamp was too high.
I hope that the entry fees are pitched at an affordable level for people. I for one thought that the cost of entry before this revamp was too high. Route88

8:58pm Fri 13 Dec 13

Monkey1980 says...

Can't wait to visit :-)
Can't wait to visit :-) Monkey1980

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