Sarner International unveils £8.5 million redevelopment of Bodmin Jail historical attraction

Sarner International, an award-winning design and audiovisual studio, has announced the re-opening of Bodmin Jail with an all-new visitor experience.

Sarner International is pleased to announce that Cornwall’s County Gaol will reopen to the public this summer, after an £8.5 million redevelopment. Bodmin Jail is a popular attraction in Cornwall, UK, and now boasts a new look, including an immersive ‘Dark Walk’ visitor experience developed by Sarner. This project is part of a larger £40 million redevelopment of the Jail.

Dark Walk

The new ‘Dark Walk’ is the first of its kind in the region and has been created to make visitors feel like they are travelling back in time. Guests will experience a first-hand look at what life was like in the infamous prison in the 18th Century. To achieve this, Sarner included theatrical effects and cutting-edge technology.

Sarner reveals new Dark Walk experience at Bodmin Jail

Visitors will be immersed in tales of smuggling and mining as they get a glimpse of what life was like at the time for Cornwall’s poorest inhabitants. The visual experience also tells the story of some of the prison’s most well-known inmates, for example, Elizabeth Osborne, Selina Wadge and the Lightfoot Brothers.

To begin their journey, guests will meet Sir John Call in a hidden vault behind his library, before heading down a staircase to discover more about the history of the prison. Bodmin Jail was designed and built by Call in 1779 and was at the forefront of prison reform.

A journey into history

From here, visitors enter the darkness of the 18th Century jail, as Chief Warder Richard Amos Doidge narrates their journey. They will witness Cornish scenes from history, with miners, smugglers and even the mythical Bodmin Beast, brought to life with CGI effects.

Sarner reveals new Dark Walk experience at Bodmin Jail

They will also get an idea of life in the prison, with a cold walk through the original corridors as they hear stories of grimy cells, prison punishments and child criminals. The experience explains more about how the prison was run behind the scenes too, with a trip to the Administration Block and the Governor’s Office. Finally, guests see a condemned cell and witness the only working execution pit in the country.

This new visitor experience showcases the hidden stories of Bodmin Jail, which had a key role in Cornwall’s history. It is set to boost the county’s tourism and visitor economy. In addition to this, a 4-star 70 room boutique hotel is under construction within the walls of the Grade II listed building. This is due to open in late 2020.

Two of the projects completed by Sarner last year were Room on the Broom – A Magical Journey at Chessington and Secret Rivers at the Museum of London Docklands.

All images except header copyright Twelve Architects – 2020