Yorkshire, Rolls-Royce and VR swinging – intrigued?

Thrill Engineer Professor Brendan Walker, stopped, took a breath and chatted to us in great detail about Yorkshire, Rolls-Royce and swinging. We cant wait to see the VR Playground when it lands in September.

“I might be Yorkshire born, but I’m most definitely Derbyshire bred, and I’m delighted to be returning to its heart this summer with my new ride installation, VR Playground.

“Ever since my hands were large enough to hold a pint in one of the many pubs of my local village (Fact: my home village of Eckington, in NE Derbyshire, held the record for having the most pubs per capita anywhere in the world. Get in there!), I was being bemused and entertained by teams of mummers playing out the Derby Tup. These lads didn’t care tuppence about what people thought; they were just getting on doing their age-old (artistic) weirdness. But it kind-of made sense when you had a pint in your hand; and this is what I’m expecting to find at Derby Festé, only a hundred times more bemusing, and hundred times more entertaining. I’m just delighted to be invited to add to this tradition (give me a pint, I might even be tempted to sing the Derby Tup).

“My team at Thrill Laboratory brings VR Playground to Derby direct from a run in Preston. Anyone who knows about aviation will spot the connection, and for me it’s an important personal one. I was originally trained, and did my apprenticeship as an aeronautical engineer at British Aerospace in Preston, making trips to Rolls-Royce in Derby. Many of the techniques I now use in ride design – whether it be consulting on new rides for Alton Towers, or making my own ride experiments like VR Playground – come from an understanding of what it feels like to be a body moving through space. If you try VR Playground you’ll get to experience just how crazy these movements can actually feel (nothing I’d ever be allowed to do to a jet fighter pilot, or a roller coaster passenger).

“When you visit Derby Festé you’ll spot VR Playground immediately: its a collection of simple geometric 3m orange cubic structures, each framing a blue A-frame swing structure, below each is suspended a classic playground swing seat with chains. Hopefully you’ll see riders merrily swinging to-and-fro. On closer inspection you’ll see that they’re wearing 21st century virtual reality headsets. Take a moment; stand and watch. Very soon you’ll hear shrieks of laughter, and cries of horror, with mouths opening in disbelief. You may even be lucky enough to hear someone scream that they want to get off…

“What’s happening in my virtual world? I’ll make you believe that you’re rolling at high speed through a city; bouncing across rooftops; or undulating like a squid in the darkest deep abyss. But you know, these are the same things I imagined doing as a kid, as I rolled inside old lorry tires, swung from rope swings, and scampered up conveyor belts in the coal yard next to our house. I’m just giving our imagination a little help with some 21st century technology.

“Did I say I was Yorkshire born? Funnily enough, after Derby, we’re heading to my birthplace of Leeds. I never said I was perfect.”