The wAVE Project
The wAVE Project
Captaining the Ceres
Since the middle of last year, The Castle has been involved in a very exciting project. The wAVE project will bring a brand new, fully immersive virtual reality experience to The Heritage Centre. In case you are wondering, the ‘AVE’ stands for Augmented and Virtual Experiences, the ‘w’ tying it nicely to Cornwall’s coastal connections. We were thrilled to be one of only five other museums in the county to be considered for the project. wAVE has been developed by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, Cornwall Museums Partnership and Falmouth University, with funding coming from the Coastal Communities Fund.
For The Castle, wAVE has provided the opportunity to tell the story of Bude as a sea trading port, focusing on the famous Bude ketch, The Ceres. Bude, of course has many wonderful stories to tell, but the immersive experience had to have a coastal connection. The Castle team, both staff and volunteers, worked together to choose the right story. Bude has always been a notoriously difficult port to navigate, further hampered by dangerous tides and a sea lock. The Ceres was undoubtedly Bude’s most successful vessel, bringing an estimated £42,000 worth of freight into the town over 84 years. Users will wear a virtual reality headset that will transport them to the deck of the Ceres. They will then navigate using a real ship’s wheel, gaining an understanding of how difficult the port of Bude is to navigate.
Once the experience had been decided, two user testing days took place, three months apart. It was very important to test the experience and gather feedback that was then acted on. It made the experience very collaborative, involving members of the community. We have worked closely with the design team at Falmouth University to make sure that Bude is clearly recognisable through the graphics. Users will be able to view landmarks such as Efford cottage, the lock gates and The Castle itself from a different viewpoint as they navigate the Ceres around the breakwater. The experience will be further enhanced by the exhibition space. Part of the Heritage Centre is being transformed to resemble the deck of the Ceres, with interpretation panels further adding to the understanding of the historical context. Great care is also being taken to ensure that the experience is safe. Special ‘clean boxes’ are being installed to clean the headsets between uses, killing all known viruses including Covid-19.
There is nowhere else locally offering such an immersive experience. It will be unique to The Castle and to Bude, attracting new visitors and strengthening The Castle’s offer as a premier visitor attraction. The project is in its final stages, but unfortunately, as with many things, has had to be put back due to Covid-19. As soon as the finishing touches have been made and it is safe to do so, we will be launching the experience. We look forward to inviting you to Captain the Ceres!