Related: Paragon Creative Profile / Museums and Heritage: Interview with Colin Pyrah, founder Paragon Creative / Paragon Creative News: Istanbul Aquarium, The Deep, The Tower of London, Rebuilding the Titanic and Ripleys
Paragon Creative, themed environment and interactives specialists, is delighted to announce that its founder and Special Projects Director, Colin Pyrah, has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s honours list for services to the UK’s museum and heritage industry.
The importance of the UK leisure industry has been recognised in the 2012 Queen’s New Year’s honours list as Colin Pyrah (left) of Paragon Creative is awarded the OBE (Order of the British Empire). Colin has played a key role in shaping the UK’s museum and heritage industry, creating some of the most innovative, award-winning themed and interactives based projects in the UK and beyond.
Pyrah – a career in museums and heritage
Pyrah has been involved in the museum and heritage industry for over 28 years. He began his career in journalism, rising to become Managing Director of The Yorkshire Weekly Newspaper Group. He launched The Yorkshire Communications Group through which company he acted as Project Director to design, build and theme the world famous Jorvik Viking Centre in York. The Jorvik Viking Centre (see right) raised the bar for interactive heritage exhibits, attracting over 16 million millions visitors since its launch in 1984 and setting the standard, and spear-heading, the heritage industry in Europe as we know it today.
In the role of Projects Director, Colin was recruited by Heritage Projects in York, which was the company born out of the success of Jorvik, whose objective was to create interpretive projects which would be accessible and populist, and to open up our national heritage to a much wider audience. As well as providing feasibility, research, design, technical, marketing and operational services, Heritage established large scenic workshops in York employing sculptors, scenic artists, prop-makers, joiners, metal-workers, costumiers, and GRP specialists. The workshops were then acquired by Pyrah and his team as a result of a management buy-out, with Pyrah becoming Managing Director of the facility, re-named Scenic Route. Over the following thirteen years Scenic Route was involved in over 450 projects in the museum, heritage and visitor centre sectors, designing, producing and installing projects worldwide. In 2004 Scenic Route was acquired by Paragon Creative Ltd of York, and Colin now fulfils the role of Special Projects Director.
Paragon Creative – themed environment and interactives specialists
Paragon’s 1000 projects to date include installations at the Bacardi Visitor Centre in Puerto Rico, The Streetlife Museum, The Royal Armouries in Leeds, The National Railway Museum in York, Warwick Castle, The Imperial War Museum, The Natural History Museum, The Tower of London, Dover Castle, The Museum of London, The London Transport Museum, The Liverpool Museum, the Burns National Heritage Park, and the main fit-out of Ripley’s Believe it Or Not Museum in London’s Piccadilly Circus.
Current projects include Sea City Museum in Southampton, the Haunted Cellars at Alnwick Castle, theming at the new Chocolate visitor centre in York, interactives at ‘Made in Birmingham’ at Thinktank, and the major new Titanic Belfast project opening in the spring. Outside the UK, the company has recently also been involved in the Cairo Children’s Museum, the Bank Negara Financial Museum in Malaysia and The Gallipoli Centre in Istanbul.
In recent years Paragon has expanded its operations into the theme park market with such projects as SAW The Ride (below) at Thorpe Park, judged to be the best themed roller coaster in the UK. Having also been contracted as main fit-out contractor at The Deep in Hull (left), one of the most spectacular aquariums in the world, Paragon are now expanding further into the aquarium market with the recently completed Istanbul national aquarium, and the in-tank theming of the new 70, 000 litre aquarium tank in Heron Tower in London.
Pyrah says, ‘I am truly honoured to have received this award. But I must stress that I couldn’t have achieved it without the support and assistance of an amazing, creative and talented team at Paragon Creative, as well as our numerous colleagues throughout the industry, and the many very imaginative and supportive clients who have given us the opportunity to create some amazing projects for them. I must also thank Judy, my wife, for her support during the most exciting years of my career. My son Mark has now taken over from me at Paragon Creative and I thank him also for his great patience and understanding when working alongside me!’
About Paragon Creative
Paragon Creative Ltd is one of the largest and best equipped creative workshops in the UK, offering an impressive range of integrated services. Since 1986, they have earned a high reputation as the leading independent scenic, theming, model making, interactives and specialist fit-out facility. With a team of over 60, they provide a wide range of artistic and construction skills. The scope of their work ranges from entire themed environments to detailed replicas, from amazing realistic costumed figures to specialist display joinery, from technically advanced interactives to fully detailed architectural models from scenic cloths to oversized props, from artificial rock faces to dioramas and much more!
With over 1000 projects completed world-wide, their client base is far reaching, crossing many market sectors and industries. They work with architects and design companies, the advertising industry and the manufacturing industry, film and TV, museums and visitor centres, exhibitions and the retail sector. Their extensive experience enables them to offer the designer, the architect, the building contractor and ultimately the client a seamless transition from concept through to installation.