Ballycopeland windmill is the last working windmill in Northern Ireland and the sole example of a functional roller reefing system left in the world.
The interpretation consists of various panels across the site which explore the history of Ballycopeland, the functions of the windmill, the stories of the millers who lived and made their livelihood at Ballycopeland and the efforts to preserve the windmill for future generations. These interpretive panels are complemented by a suite of delivery mechanisms to help bring these stories to life.
There are a number of physical interactives which allow visitors to discover the processes involved in milling grain and understand the forces at play within the windmill itself. These interactives were designed in alignment with STEM learning outcomes, for the benefit of school and educational visits to Ballycopeland.
There are also several audiovisual elements across the windmill site. These interventions included a scene-setting video and audio which bring visitors back in time to when the windmill was a working site (with talking silhouettes in the coal store and the authentic noise of the windmill in operation) and a touchscreen with an innovative 3D model of the windmill. These AV interventions allow visitors to explore the inner-workings of the windmill and appreciate the day-to-day realities of working at a windmill like Ballycopeland.
These AV mechanisms also improved the overall accessibility of the windmill site, as visitors were able to explore the windmill through the 3D model, filmed footage and 360° photography as the tower itself has restricted access. There is also a family-friendly activity guide that allows young visitors the chance to explore and engage with the interpretation. Working with an illustrator, we developed ‘Millie the Mouse’; a character that appeared around the site and pointed out things of interest for young people to engage and interact with.
We introduced a suite of directional signage to ensure that visitors are confident in navigating the site. This will be supported by a visitor guide card offering a physical map and overview of the unique Ballycopeland windmill complex.
The interpretation of Ballycopeland windmill celebrates the complex as a unique historical asset and brings to life the fascinating stories of those who lived and worked in this last functional windmill in Northern Ireland.
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This project was part funded under Priority 6 Rural Tourism Scheme of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and the European Union