Leading visitor attraction designer, Sarner International, is celebrating Cornwall Council’s approval of the company’s cutting-edge Bodmin Jail visitor attraction.
The £30 million project will see the historic prison reimagined as an immersive, educational visitor experience.
Award-winning Sarner will curate the creative vision for the attraction, encompassing Cornwall’s rich history, the life and times of Bodmin Jail, tales of nearby Bodmin Moor and stories of the notorious criminals that passed through the 18th Century prison.
Work will include repairs to parts of the Bodmin Jail building, creating an exhibition, restaurant, hotel and retail space.
According to Michael Bennett, Sarner’s Creative Director, the new attraction will open people’s eyes to crime and punishment 200 years ago:
“Our inspiration came from the stories we learned about Bodmin Jail,” he explains. “The treatment of prisoners, some whose crimes only amounted to stealing a sheep, will stun visitors. We’ve selected our theme – Don’t Stray from the Path – to show how treacherous life could be for anyone who veered from the straight and narrow.”
Slated to open in 2019, the attraction will turn visitors into prisoners as they embark on a journey from the dank smugglers’ cavern to the stormy coastline, across the moor and through a crime-ridden Victorian village, dodging highwaymen to face the judge at Bodmin Assizes Court.
Guilty as charged, they will be escorted to rat-infested cells where they will witness the hard labour and disease that prisoners were forced to endure.
Bodmin Jail was once the site of hangings by renowned British executioner, Henry Albert Pierrepoint. As part of the exhibition, visitors will discover how changes in public opinion helped reform the way prisoners are treated.
The improved, self-sustaining museum will provide 50-60 full-time jobs for local people as well as additional staff for the hotel and restaurant during peak times.
All work to the Grade II listed historic building, much of which is currently in ruins, will be done with support and guidance from archaeological, engineering and architectural experts.
Sarner International is well-known for bringing stories to life through its immersive, interactive exhibitions. Previous clients include The Science Museum, BBC Worldwide’s Doctor Who Experience and George Washington’s Mount Vernon (USA).