The Royal Mint Experience is a major tourist attraction for Wales.
It might have taken 1000 years but at last, The Royal Mint opened up its doors to the public in May 2016. For the first time in its long and illustrious history, the £7.5million facility in Llantrisant, Wales, gives visitors a behind-the-scenes look at life in Britain’s oldest manufacturing organisation, and the world’s leading export mint.
For over 500 of those years, The Royal Mint was based in the Tower of London, until the UK’s conversion to decimal coinage prompted the building of a new Royal Mint on its current site in 1967. Now firmly based in Wales, The Royal Mint opened up a new chapter and became more public than ever before.
Thomas Carroll’s The Scene spoke to Anne Jessopp, Director of Commemorative Coin and Business Services at The Royal Mint, who headed up the project to create the tourist attraction in Wales.
What did people working at The Royal Mint think about The Experience when it first opened?
AJ: “Everyone was just so excited about it. The building looked incredible, the architects did a fantastic job. Everyone at The Royal Mint is so proud of working here – they always want to talk to people about it, so this was a great way to be able to share.
We obviously had to think a lot about security and ensuring the running of the actual business was not affected. But everybody was really enthusiastic.”
Who were the architects and interior designers of The Experience?
AJ: “Rio Architects designed The Royal Mint Experience building and Mather & Co was the interior designer. The coloured stainless-steel facade of the building takes inspiration from the thousands of coin blanks which emanate from The Royal Mint’s presses every day.”
What was required in terms of the overall feel of The Experience?
AJ: “We wanted to make it really contemporary. We wanted to make sure that it paid testament to an organisation that has a history of over 1000 years. It also had to be very much about the here and now.
We wanted it to be a tourist experience centre that you would equally want to come to if you collected coins, or if you just wanted a day out with your family. We wanted to make sure that we would appeal to lots of different people.”
What is the size of The Experience and what facilities/attractions does it house?
AJ: “The single storey, 1,700m² building houses an interactive exhibition displaying artefacts from The Royal Mint’s rich history, as well as a cafe and education space.
In addition, visitors go on a guided factory experience where they enter our circulating coin manufacturing area. From a viewing area, visitors look into the striking hall where thousands of coins are produced 24 hours a day. Visitors then get the opportunity to strike their own coin, which is the last of the round £1 and have a picture surrounded by chests of money.”
How important is the educational aspect of The Experience programme going forward?
AJ: “Workshops can be booked which allow school pupils to explore the history of The Royal Mint and the design of Britain’s coinage. Pupils handle real museum objects and learn new skills, including how to test for counterfeit coins and how to go about designing a coin themselves.”
How can businesses get involved with The Experience?
“Locally this brings business to the area and we also hire out space for all sorts of events. We are very much open for bookings.”
Attractions on Offer
The Royal Mint Experience offers access to a range of interactive experiences that bring The Royal Mint’s rich heritage to life, displaying rare and unusual coins and medals from across the world.
Guided factory tours bring visitors into contact with the processes behind the nation’s coinage and reveal the craftsmanship involved in taking blank pieces of metal from the design stage to being struck as coins.
Other attractions include an on-site café and gift shop. For coin collectors of the future, an education space is used to deliver workshops for Key Stage 2 pupils.
Thomas Carroll and The Royal Mint
Jo West, Treasury Business Manager of The Royal Mint on the insurance services Thomas Carroll provides to the Mint:
“We appointed Thomas Carroll following a competitive tender process. The team’s presentation gave us confidence that they had the required skills and experience and that they would value The Royal Mint as an important client.”
“Their challenge was to structure an insurance programme that provided sufficient cover at a significantly lower cost than we were currently paying. Through really getting to know the organisation and spending time with all areas of the business, they have achieved that objective, exceeding our expectations.”
“Our insurance programme is now more robust and costs far less than in the prior year. They have also given us ideas to further improve the programme, both through additional cover and variations if we are prepared to take more risk to reduce cost.”
“Thomas Carroll is working in partnership with us, adding value and challenging us where necessary to get the best insurance programme for our organisation. We are confident we made the right decision in appointing them.”
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