Donation Boxes

For Woodhorn Charitable Trust in Woodhorn Colliery, Berwick Museum, Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum and Hexham Old Gaol

We were commissioned to create a range of donation boxes for Woodhorn Charitable Trust. The trust manages the Woodhorn Colliery, Berwick Museum, Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum and Hexham Old Gaol.

The brief was to boost donations revenue by creating devices which were engaging, fun and would encourage repeat plays.

The boxes were truly a multidisciplinary exercise including design, manufacture, mechanics, lighting design, software engineering, integration of Raspberry Pi controllers and sound design.

For the colliery, we created a marble run with imagery taken from the actual site, with the 'coal' being taken from an underground mining section up a corkscrew lift and then being released to wind its way around the complex of buildings and landmarks. This is accompanied by lighting and a soundtrack of mining noises: pick axes, cranking machinery, bells and whistles.

Berwick was designed as an educational game: load a coin into the cannon and fire it over the timeline battlefield. The coin lands on one of a number of significant dates, triggering a voice-over (local fisherman Jack Weatherburn) explaining what occurred on that date, and whether Berwick fell to either the English or the Scots. Meanwhile, the relevant flag is raised amid the sounds of the battlefield.

For Morpeth, we suspended a set of Northumbrian pipes in a museum-type display case but connected them to a keyboard on the front of the case. The user can choose a song by putting a coin in one of 3 slots. In a ghostly fashion the bellows begin to move, and a song plays while the notes light up on the keyboard. The visitor then has a chance to learn the notes and play the tune again over the drone of the pipes.

Finally, for the Old Gaol, we created a trapdoor (a memorable aspect of the Gaol is the trapdoor down to the very grim dungeon) which opens to reveal a screen. The donation box plays a series of animations which depict life in the Gaol.