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History 'alive' at £500,000 Brixham attraction

By Herald Express  |  Posted: October 13, 2012

  • Smugglers' STORY: Designer Jonathan Bean and Adam Cairns. Inset: the attraction taking shape Torquil MacLeod TQTM20121008A-004_C

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THE ghost of a Brixham smuggler will help tell the story of smuggling in South Devon in a new £500,000 attraction in the port.

Designers and artists are busy finishing the set on The Smugglers' Story expected to open its doors to the public by the end of the month.

The 4,500 sq ft of space, which replaces the old amusement arcades on the harbourside, will tell the story of smuggling during its 'golden age' from 1750 to 1850.

It will be retold by the 'ghost' of known Brixham smuggler Jack Ratenbury who operated from the port during that time.

The visual effect will lead visitors through a maze of houses, secret passages and smugglers coves and recount the exploits of the thousands of people around Britain's coast who partook in the nocturnal activities.

The Smugglers' Story is the brainchild of businessman and restaurateur Adam Cairns, who decided to create something new in the Bay in terms of educational attractions.

He said: "I have a lot of confidence in Torbay. We have so much scope in such a small area.

"There are so many opportunities. We feel this is the right attraction in the right location.

"The setting wouldn't have worked in Torquay but Brixham is perfect. We feel it will be successful."

The 47-year-old former Oxfordshire man used to own and run the Hunter's Lodge restaurant in Shaldon until he had a driving accident in which he broke his back and neck.

He bought the former arcades just before Christmas last year with a view to doing The Smugglers' Story and contacted designers Sarner, an international company specialising in visitor attraction design and theme parks, who designed the attraction for the space.

Mr Cairns also got internationally renown Harberton-based scenery designer Jonathan Bean involved.

He added: "We told Sarner what we wanted and they researched it and created this package for us.

"We could have done pirates but it would have been short lived.

"The story of smugglers will interest young and old alike it has an educational value and can be improved year on year as we get better at it."

Mr Cairns, who lives in Torquay, said only the shop has been opened throughout the summer while the work is going on at the attraction itself.

He said: "The heritage boats will do a display in our exhibition room. We're also hoping to team up with the Golden Hind for next season.

"We need to stop people leaving the town. The longer they stay in Brixham the more they will spend and that's good for everyone.

"The Brixham Buccaneers will also help on our opening day. Everyone has been so helpful."

Jonathan Bean said he had just moved to South Devon from Yorkshire when he got the job to work on the set design and construction of the new attraction.

He said: "It's hard to believe that eight weeks ago it was an empty arcade. It's amazing what we have done.

"I think Adam has been very brave to do this. There is nothing like this here. He had the guts to do it.

"For me, it's wonderful. I moved to Harberton five months ago and not long after I got this job which I love."

The Smugglers' Story is scheduled to open on October 27 with a 'soft opening'. But an official opening will take place a week after.

For more information on the attraction, call 01803 855658.

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  • abcxyz  |  October 14 2012, 4:12PM

    A thousand times better than that awful arcade that was there before. We now have just one of these dreadful things left in Brixham namely the Carousel Amusement arcade opposite the Prince William statue. This blood sucking place in not your typical traditional Kiss Me Quick, win a chocolate bar type arcade but has those fruit machines that can take up to £100 a minute. There has been quite a lot of fuss about them in the press recently. It is the last thing a place like Brixham needs and this particular one is an absolute eyesore and shame on the owners of the building - Stockman's Art Gallery - for leasing the ground floor out to these money grabbers.

  • Nippie  |  October 13 2012, 9:58AM

    What a fabulous idea. Just the sort of thing that Brixham needs and I imagine would be a huge draw to the tourists and locals in and out of season.

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