World’s last surviving roller reefer windmill exhibition re-opens at Ballycopeland
Ballycopeland Windmill is the last working windmill in Northern Ireland and the only functional roller reefing windmill left in the world. This unique building still retains all its original machinery inside, along with its ancillary buildings.
To tell the story of this remarkable building, Marcon were appointed to deliver the internal and external fit out of the exhibition areas, due to their extensive experience of specialist fit out within museum and heritage buildings.
Built in the late 18th century to produce animal feed, the mill operated until the First World War in 1915. In 1935, the Northern Ireland Government acquired the site and it lay disused for many decades. A restoration project which started in 1950 brought the Ballycopeland Windmill back to full working order. The latest restoration project commenced in September 2019 and included repair of all the mill buildings as well as provision of a new visitor centre, café and play area.
Marcon delivered the external and internal interpretive fit out throughout the whole complex, which includes the new visitor centre, the existing miller’s cottage and Kiln’s house, the Windmill, and an activity barn with various interactive games for families and tourists who visit.
The new interpretive panels celebrate Ballycopeland windmill as a unique historical asset, showing the link between farming and industry in rural Northern Ireland in days gone by. It brings to life the stories of those who lived and worked at the mill, as well as the efforts that were made to preserve the windmill for future generations.
The exhibition features several physical interactives which allows visitors to discover the processes involved in milling grain.
Audio visual elements include a scene-setting video and audio which brings 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.
Martin McErlean, Contract Manager at Marcon commented: “it was great to be involved, bringing this unique mill building back into productive use. The recent works were essential to enhance the facilities and accessibility, allowing more visitors to experience this wonderful site. The new exhibition features will hopefully see an increase in tourism to the area, creation of jobs and provision of an educational resource for younger people and schools who visit.”
The new exhibition at Ballycopeland Windmill opened in June.