BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

24 September 2014

BBC Homepage
Junior Football
Message Board
Video Nation
Enjoy Cumbria
In Pictures
Diverse Cumbria
Digital Lives
Comic Relief
BBC Local Radio
Site contents 

Contact Us

Autumn 2003
Sellafield Visitors Centre
Playing on a slot game
Katy and Iain play a slot game

The exhibition was updated by the Science Museum in 2003 - so what is the new centre offering for visitors?

Suzanne Worthington took along two pals to find out.

Enjoy Cumbria

Go Experimental
The Sellafield visitors centre experience.

Editoral Policy
The Science Museum's explanation of the exhibition.

The company's website features an education section with details of all the visitors centres in the UK.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.

The 'Go Experimental' exhibition is at the Sellafield Visitors Centre. The Visitors Centre is open every day of the year except Christmas Day.

April to October:
10.00 - 18.00
November to March:
10.00 - 16.00

Developed by London's Science Museum according to a strict editorial policy, the exhibition takes the topic of electricity and asks vistors to debate it.

Sellafield is 11 miles south of Whitehaven.

For directions, visit the website.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.

View a printable version of this page.
get in contact

On a drizzly Saturday, we boarded the rickety train to Sellafield from Barrow. My old school pal, Katy, was visiting from the metropolis of Derby and I hoped Sellafield Visitors Centre would provide a fun day out. (Well have you got any better suggestions??)

Sparking Reaction

I last visited Sellafield in 2000. Since then, the Visitors Centre has had a major overhaul and the threat of terrorism now means that access to the site is limited (last time I got a full tour of the site).

Dressing up in an overall and goggles
Dressed up as a scientist

In 2003, London's Science Museum was commissioned to update the activities in the centre. I was interested to see what changes they would have made.

Last time, it was all bouncing, cute fluffy atoms. Atoms aren't cute or fluffy. Putting a smiley face on them is just silly.

The aim of the Visitors Centre now is to provoke debate among all visitors about how we should provide power for people in the 21st century.

Getting there

When we got off the train, it wasn't clear where to go. We walked until we met some security guards who called a car for us. There is a pool of drivers whose job is to do short hops like this around Sellafield. It's quite a walk from the station so make sure you take advantage of this.

Sellafield looked like a ghost town - it's huge and the large number of staff is distributed so it seemed that no-one is around.

Making an entrance

Entering the exhibition

At reception at the Visitors Centre, we booked into a talk about the site. This was the sort of the thing you'd have on a school trip. Quite dry and boring but slickly presented by a woman who knew her onions.

We then entered the main exhibition area through a silver tunner. We emerged into a large dark space where words were being projected onto the floor in front of us.

Reading projected words on the floor
My pals reading words

The words were opinions about alternative energy production. They swirled and swept across the floor.

After being temporarily hypnotised by this, we made our way down into the exhibition. The first thing we spotted were piles of uniforms!

Dressing up

Dressed up in police uniforms
Dressed up in police uniforms

I'm sure these full-size outfits are for kids but we couldn't resist trying them on. Iain dressed as a policeman, I went for a geeky scientist look while Katy opted for the largest rubber gloves she could find.

Then we swapped around and took photos of each other. A group of Brownies appeared so we grudgingly left the uniforms ready for them.

We then tried out the games and quizzes around the exhibition. These were designed for younger brains than ours and were very educational.

Interactive cinema

Next it was time to immerse ourselves in the interactive cinema. We each sat at a computer monitor in front of the 180° screen.

A Z-list actor appeared on the screen. It looked like he had been filmed walking on the spot and then superimposed and moved about on a CG-background. We all looked at each other and tittered.

During the presentation, we used our monitors to choose the best locations for nuclear power stations and wind farms. A vote took place to decide which alternative energy form we preferred. The winner: wind.

Iain reading the computer screen
Iain reading the computer screen

In all, you'd think we were sitting through a propaganda video for wind power. We all came out confused - weren't we at a nuclear power station?

Digital newspaper

Computer screen
The computer turns the page

We sat in large armchairs wondering what to do next. In front of the chairs were huge computer screens which you read like a newspaper.

The subject matter was quite boring - news articles - but I had fun asking the computer to turn the page.

Children's activities

We noticed children visiting the centre were rushing about with a booklet and pencil. "Why aren't there activity books for us?" I asked a staff member.

She was happy to let us have the booklet! We scampered about doing the 'mystery objects' quiz (Katy was fastest), the maze (Iain was quickest) and the wordsearch (I won that one).

Iain and Katy in overalls
Iain and Katy in overalls

We then had to draw a design for a T-shirt promoting our preferred energy source (Iain's said: "Eat Beans For Wind Power" - nice).

We then handed back our booklets to be marked. We all got everything correct - and were awarded the prize - a sticker and A6 spiral notebook.

Food time

Having exhausted all possible entertainment, we made our way up to the café. The café area has a clear view on all sides across West Cumbria.

We were outnumbered by staff but we had a reasonable lunch of soup (me), baked potato (Katy) and pies (Iain).

Iain & Suzanne outside the entrance
Outside the entrance

Next stop, the gift shop. I bought postcards, Katy bought a haematite pendant and Iain had to be restrained from buying toys.

Our pre-booked driver arrived and we were taken to the station in good time for our train, proudly wearing our "I'm a Bright Spark" stickers (see photo!).

Final thoughts

We concluded we'd had a good - and free! - day out and were glad we'd saved time by taking the train and not the car. The exhibition is much more modern than the previous display and so politically correct it hurts. Still, this is preferrable to nuclear power propaganda.

There's not a whole lot to interest adults who've covered all the issues in their school days but we had great fun doing the kids' activities.

Review by Suzanne Worthington

More details

On the Sellafield Visitors Centre website, you'll find out more what you can do at Sellafield.

For directions to Sellafield, click here

Contact details
Sellafield Visitors Centre
Tel: 01946 727027

Tell us about your visit to Sellafield Visitors Centre or other Cumbrian attractions and send us your digital photos.
Email us at

Top | Enjoy Cumbria Index | Home
More from this section
Venues - where to go Enjoy Cumbria What's on - events Talk - where I live Contact us
BBC Cumbria
Annetwell Street
Cumbria CA3 8BB
Tel: (+44) 01228 592444

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy