Experiencing Virtual Reality, Elsecar, 4th June 2017

The Friends of Hemingfield Colliery were excited and proud to present a new Virtual Reality experience based on the colliery as it appeared at the turn of the Twentieth century.

A misty morning at the pit welcomes virtual visitors into the relative peace of the pit yard, before the journey descends into the depths of the Barnsley coal seam 150 years below.

Guided by the insightful narration of Bard of Barnsley Ian McMillan, the explorers are instructed in the ways of navigating in the VR world, before being free to roam in the half-light below ground, lit only by your own safety lamp.

Life and Art

It was designed and created by local Darfield artist Iain Nicholls, with financial support from the Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership.

Using artistic and  3D modelling skills, photogrammetry, and additional effects, Iain has created an immersive experience which brings the underground life back to you, the lost world back into focus and gives a sense of the difficulties and daily details of mining.

This weekend was the first public outing locally, and the artist himself and the Friends were delighted with the response from young and old alike.

Elsecar Heritage Centre

Arriving at Elsecar Heritage Centre, the VR kit and a collection of display materials related to the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery were set up in the upstairs activity room of the visitors’ centre.

Exhibits and experiences

Visitors to Elsecar were of all ages and many tried their hand at the VR experience, including some former mine workers which was wonderful to observe.

Surrounding the VR kit was an extensive display of mining and local history materials corrected and presented by the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery.

So between diving into the depths of our pit shafts, visitors to Elsecar could also learn more about the history, heritage and community activities the Friends are currently engaged in.

Seeking feedback

A key part of the first local public outing was the opportunity of along members of the public for real feedback, to influence the completion of the original design. This was achieved by asking the VR users to fill in a feedback form and by telling to them about the experience.

Based on this feedback, Iain will make final adjustments before being able to complete his work on Hemingfield Colliery and allow the VR headset, a HTC Vive to be used by the Friends at future events.

Next VR event: Sunday 18th June 2017, Barnsley History Day at Barnsley Town Hall, from 11am to 3pm

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