"Wooden Walls" at Chatham Historic Dockyard

Technically as well as creatively, "Wooden Walls" was a very demanding exhibition. A series of over 60 integrated soundtracks leads the visitors through a reconstruction of 18th century Chatham following in the footsteps of Master Crockwell, a young apprentice on his first day at work. Many actors were involved, all having coaching in period Kentish dialect and many hours were spent in recreating not just the sounds, but also the smells of the dockyard.

Chatham 1760

HMS Valiant

The soundtracks are supported by a number of special effects, including animatronic figures, lighting effects, smells, heat effects and a video programme.

The video programme is a computer graphic reconstruction showing how a 'Man o' War', one of the most complex structures ever built in wood, was made. The programme is seen in the Mould Loft, an enormous room where the shipwrights laid out the lines of the ships on the floor.

In the last set, on the upper gun deck of the 'Valiant', a combination of curved floor and lighting effects makes the visitor feel that the ship is afloat and gently swaying after its launch.

Upper Gun Deck

The context having been set, the exhibition ends with a display of objects raised from a ship of the same period, wrecked in the Medway estuary.

Roy Reed produced all of the audio visual elements and many of the special effects, and was responsible for the technical design of the installation. He was a member of the project design team.

Wooden Walls was the winner of the English Tourist Board Award for Visitor Attraction, 1990 and the British Tourist Authority "Come to Britain" Award.