One of the aims of Water, Mills and Marshes is to facilitate access to the Broads National Park, both for those able to get out into it and for those who can’t. With this in mind a 360 degree camera and set of Virtual Reality (VR) headsets were purchased mid 2019. Then came the question who was going to put the virtual tours together for schools to use? Well, who better to ask than the children themselves! We teamed up with a group of Suffolk Young Carers to develop the Broads National Park’s first online VR tour featuring Hardley Mill on the River Yare.
The group of children from Suffolk Young Carers began by using the VR headsets to experience the types of tours we wanted to create. They donned their harnesses and “climbed” El Capitan in the United States. It’s amazing how real it all feels; the views were incredible and there were lots of terrified squeals from those with a bad head for heights!
We then travelled out to Hardley Mill for a guided tour from the Friends of Hardley Mill. The children were given the 360 camera to capture images they thought necessary for the VR tour of the mill based on what they’d learnt.
Back at the community center the images were uploaded onto the computers and, using their new knowledge of how mills work, the children annotated and created the first ever virtual tour of Hardley Mill!