Bespoke Interpretive Benches for Ver Valley
Rich in heritage and biodiversity the River Ver is a chalk stream and a globally rare habitat supporting many rare plants and animals. Rising near Kensworth, in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Ver flows through Markyate, Flamstead, Redbourn and St Albans to Bricket Wood, where it joins the River Colne.
Part of a broader interpretation project to raise awareness of Ver Valley's rich history and biodiversity - the Countryside Management Service (CMS), on behalf of the Ver Valley Society, Hertfordshire County Council and St Albans District Council, planned to create viewpoints for each of eight newly created trails and mark each one with a special piece of site-specific interpretation.
With a specification to produce a suite of interpretive benches intended to provide both a visitor resting point and source of interpretive information; CMS explored their options for potential providers. Impressed by Fitzpatrick Woolmer's interpretive bench concepts and proven capability for the production of bespoke work, CMS asked Fitzpatrick Woolmer to work with them on the project.
After in-depth consultation Fitzpatrick Woolmer produced several different concepts for a bespoke oak bench that was both interpretive and functional. To achieve the desired interpretive effect a high standard of joinery would need to be combined with complex routing using computer controlled technology.
After presenting several interpretive styles and ideas, a combination of illustration and mapping were chosen. To make it fun for the children Fitzpatrick Woolmer designed a Kingfisher, routed into each bench, whereby children can spot the Kingfishers as they move from one trail to the next. So as not to detract from the artwork on the benches logos, giving recognition to project sponsors and partners, are displayed on the back of the backrest, on an etched stainless steel plaque.