Celebrating 80 Years Of HMS Belfast

We delivered a unique interactive experience for HMS Belfast as part of her 80th anniversary celebrations.

Imperial War Museum

www.iwm.org.uk/history/hmsb80/intro/

 

Launching The Project

We were approached by The Imperial War Museum to help commemorate the 80th anniversary of the warship, HMS Belfast. As one of the longest serving ships in British naval history, The Belfast has borne witness to many of the most significant conflicts of the 20th century.

Despite her illustrious maritime battle service, The Belfast was so much more than an instrument of war. She has served as a loving (if not cramped) home to a special fraternity of crew, survived attempts of scrappage before being reborn and becoming a conduit of modern history to visitors of London.

We wanted our digital celebration to reflect all these aspects of the ship, and those who sailed in her!

Finding Our Voices

We wanted the project to focus on those who were the lifeblood of The Belfast and tell the narrative of the ship’s life through their voices. Through veteran interviews, moving archive footage and descriptions from the men who witnessed history unfold around them, our timeline of The Belfast is offered to be a comprehensive account spanning eight decades.

Doing Our Homework

As we started to research the project and delve into the ship’s backstory, we thought it prudent to take a reconnaissance trip down to London Bridge. With foil-wrapped packed lunches, nametags sewed into our winter coats and holding hands where necessary, our designers had a day out exploring the museum.

We returned with a new appreciation and respect for HMS Belfast, and with SD cards full with graphical inspiration and details from the depths of her decks.

We then researched each definitive era and categorised them to establish our timeline and the ‘flow of content’ the site would offer.

With the framework in place our development team and designers put their heads together to craft an intuitive and original way for visitors to navigate the life of The Belfast.

Flow

We decided upon a carousel timeline as a nod to analogue slide projectors and for an intuitive user mechanic. Behind this our animated backgrounds would act as a window to the ship’s past voyages - from the beaches of Normandy to freezing Arctic waters and the tropics of The Pacific.

Setting The Stage

It was important for us to make life aboard HMS Belfast tangible and immersive. One way we did this was to begin with a cinematic introduction weaving archive photography and emotive quotes from the crew.

We were inspired by the tales of the servicemen and the ‘human angle’ of recent history. We wanted to reflect this and not to present the ship as merely a marriage of metal and engineering, inviting users to journey through the chapters that defined The Belfast.

Setting The Stage

It was important for us to make life aboard HMS Belfast tangible and immersive. One way we did this was to begin with a cinematic introduction weaving archive photography and emotive quotes from the crew.

We were inspired by the tales of the servicemen and the ‘human angle’ of recent history. We wanted to reflect this and not to present the ship as merely a marriage of metal and engineering, inviting users to journey through the chapters that defined The Belfast.

"Staak delivered a fantastic digital companion piece to our 80th anniversary celebrations!"

Matt Thomas - Head of Digital, Imperial War Museum