Signage around Culzean Castle, delivered by Leach Inspire

Interpretative signage project complete on 26 hectare heritage estate

A 3 month project to overhaul the experiential signage around the National Trust for Scotland’s Culzean Castle is now complete.

Brand design specialists StudioLR partnered with heritage display experts Leach Inspire, to deliver the 147-sign installation on time and within budget. The work was part of a £2.5 million investment in visitor facilities by the Trust, Scotland’s largest conservation charity.

Drawing on their collaborative experiences from ‘The Plock’ project in Kyle of Lochalsh, the duo worked to tight schedules for this unique brief. But this was not before an extensive research phase which saw the team walk 17km around the coastal site of Culzean Castle to meticulously plan the job.

Overlooking the Firth of Clyde, the Castle – former home to the Marquess of Ailsa – is situated on a prestigious and opulent estate. It was therefore crucial that the signage would enhance the visitor experience from the minute of arrival. But the interpretative element of the graphical displays hasn’t been the only consideration. The beach location – whilst picturesque – means the external signs will be subject to extreme weather conditions during their lifespan.

The research therefore presented a number of key manufacturing considerations when it came to the production of the signs themselves.

Heavy duty materials were carefully chosen, for instance, 40 of Leach’s renowned Vault signage systems were crafted from hard-wearing external-grade oak that was left outside for three weeks prior to any carpentry, to prevent warping. 200 x 100mm planks were then cut down from 4m long timber and bolted together to complete the oak signage. All joinery, down to the final lacquering, was carried out by Leach’s own team for maximum quality control.

Three 6m tall flagpoles were also manufactured and installed, plus 49 powder-coated, marine-grade stainless steel directional signs with two-colour print faces. 55 waymarkers with etched and infilled discs, constructed from 90mm diameter stainless steel, completed the signage suite.

Elaborating on the assignment, Leach Inspire’s project manager Andy Cope said: “A signage project elsewhere in Scotland at The Plock was evidence of the quality of work that StudioLR and Leach could produce. But that was a 27-sign project, not 147 like Culzean Castle!

“We transported a staggering 8 tonnes of signage to this coastal beauty spot – there aren’t many projects of this size. But careful coordination of the job from start to finish meant that the actual installation was completed in only three weeks – two days ahead of schedule!”

Much of the project’s success was down to collaboration, communication and value engineering, believes Andy.

“We worked closely together from start to finish, ensuring we left no stone unturned. We all genuinely enthused about the job too – I think we’d finalised the production schedule and product specs before the end of our first train journey home from Culzean!

“But, as is the case with every single job we tackle, we remained committed to innovation. We used new print technology, for instance, which meant we could manufacture signs that are even more durable than normal. They’re virtually vandal proof and can last 10 years with ease. This won’t just prolong the quality of the visitor experience – it will protect National Trust for Scotland’s investment too.”

Andy Gray, managing director of StudioLR concluded: “The end result looks fantastic, and the professionalism, attention to detail and quality product has already been complemented on.”

Culzean Castle, Robert Adam’s 18th-century masterpiece – a real ‘castle in the air’ – is perched on a cliff high above the crashing waves of the Firth of Clyde. The castle has a spectacular Oval Staircase, impressive Armoury and the Circular Saloon, with its panoramic views over the Clyde. Outside, visitors can explore a deer park, swan pond, miles of woodland walks and extensive coastline.