Perched on a craggy outcrop at the mouth of Belfast Lough, Grey Point Fort helped to protect the city’s strategically important harbour from attack during two world wars. Now a popular stop on the North Down Coastal Path in Northern Ireland, walkers and cyclists pass by knowing little of the Fort’s stories; of how its searchlights kept watch and how the fort was once an integral part of the local community of Helen’s Bay.
We developed an outdoor interpretation scheme to tell of Grey Point’s hidden history: the origins of the fort, its impact on local life, life during war time and the ecology of the fort’s surroundings.
By revealing the heritage of this important site the local community and visitors alike can gain greater understanding and appreciation the fort’s significance as a publicly accessible asset. For locals in particular, its story is part of their story.
Interpretation is presented on high-pressure laminate graphic panels mounted to lectern and totem signs located at key points around the site. Panels are weather-proof and vandal-resistant and will retain their graphic integrity despite the coastal location.
Alongside amazing heritage images, the typographic design needed to have impact, reflect the character of the site and be highly legible. We assembled headlines from scanned letterpress printed type, bleeding text off panel edges to lend the words a sense of urgency. In contrast, body copy was typeset using FS Me, so it was as accessible as possible. FS Me was designed specifically to improve legibility for people with learning disabilities. The font was researched and developed by Fontsmith with – and endorsed by – Mencap, the UK’s leading charity and voice for those with learning disabilities.
The searchlight emplacements needed protection. We designed interpretive screens engineered from weathering steel – one a conceptual piece incorporating an eye motif to continue the fort’s legacy and another typographic, presenting technical aspects of the searchlight that was once housed within. These were developed and manufactured in consultation with a steel fabricator who advised on technical parameters.