RMA/O’Sullivan-Beare theme for Dickens World

Dickens World, the company behind the £60m Dickens World theme park scheduled to open in 2007, is revealing the initial conceptual design details for attractions that will be based at the 2ha site.

Designer Gerry O’ Sullivan-Beare and Pinewood Studios-based design consultancy RMA are collaborating with a host of Dickens experts to design the park so that ‘it is rooted in authenticity and makes full reference to Dickens’ life’, says Kevin Christie, chief executive officer at Dickens World. RMA specialises in the scenic, technical and architectural design of themed attractions.

RMA was appointed to the project three weeks ago and is tasked with developing the Dickens World environment, including rides, water features and multimedia attractions. O’Sullivan-Beare conceived the original ideas for the park.

The overall theme for Dickens World will reflect evening time in the novelist’s era and it will evoke a ‘dark, smoky, moody London, full of smells and mist’, reveals RMA creative director Rick Matthews.

Digital consultancy Red Redemption has been appointed to design the website for the theme park. The site will include information on the park, a retail element and an interactive zone where viewers will be able to watch the construction of the theme park via webcam.

The undercover park, based on the life, times and works of Charles Dickens, will be located at South East England Development Agency’s flagship Chatham Maritime site in Kent, the former docks that inspired many of Dickens novels.

The park will include a Victorian Music Hall, The Old Curiosity Shop, reproductions of period London street scenes, one major ride and nine other attractions, such as Crime & Punishment, The School House and The Haunted House of Ebenezer Scrooge.

A raft of merchandising is also in the pipeline and the company is currently in discussion with various merchandisers.

The park is seeking to attract 300 000 visitors per year and it will have a strong educational role. The architect for the site is Kemp Muir Wealleans.

The Dickens World theme park is expected to boost the regeneration of the former naval dockyards where Dickens’ father worked.

Dickens lived in Chatham as a child from 1816-1821 and its characters appear in books such as David Copperfield and The Pickwick Papers.

South East England Development Agency

• SEEDA is the Regional Development Agency responsible for the economic and social development of the South East.

• It runs a funding scheme called SFIE for development projects worth £10 000 and over.

• At the start of April it took control of the Grant for Research and Development, which offers funding for projects that will invest in the region.

• This month it outlined its three-year corporate plan, pledging to regenerate coastal towns in the South-East and deliver more residential and mixed-use developments.

• Visit www.seeda.co.uk for more information.

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