The making of Moonfleet part two

Laura Davies, Deputy Head of Workshop, gives another update on the making of Moonfleet.

Hello again from the Workshop department. We’re now about halfway into the Moonfleet build and things are going well. The large steelwork sections are nearly complete. Almost the whole workshop floorspace has been taken up with laying out the complicated structures, and then welding them together. We have to get the curves and angles millimetre perfect so that they will fit together quickly and easily on stage. After the welding comes the cladding. The steel skeletons are covered with different thicknesses of plywood and MDF so that they create the correct finished effect of heavy wooden ship’s beams. They’re certainly heavy enough already – we’ll need special equipment in the workshop and during the fit-up to be able to manoeuvre them safely into position. Moonfleet Workshop 1

In a couple of weeks our scenic artists will join us in the workshop to turn our wood and steel items into convincingly old and weather-beaten woodwork. It’s always exciting to see the transformation, it will look incredibly dramatic. It is often difficult for us to both build and paint large pieces of scenery in the workshop at the same time, so they are currently painting the floor boards and plywood planking at a paintshop space in Plymouth. Ensuring that they get the right materials at the right time is just one of many logistical challenges. We have also had to juggle building and storing two other studio sets alongside Moonfleet (Hansel and Hamlet). We have just fitted up Hansel in the Salberg, which looks beautiful and atmospheric, but, because we had to build it early, it subsequently took up valuable space in the workshop.

Moonfleet Workshop 2Earlier in the build we got ahead on some of the “furniture” pieces, such as ladders to access the balconies and crosses for the graveyard. Tim had to do some research on coopering so that we could make 2 large barrels for the crucial scene down the well, and we made 5 coffins which will be used to create the crypt scene. It’s been rather eerie having coffins hanging around the corners of the workshop, especially as I had to measure myself to get just the right size! We also did some effectively invisible work to make it possible for the rake to fit our unique hexagonal stage.

Finally, we’re pleased to be welcoming a new member of our team this week and we hope that he’ll enjoy the challenges and successes of Moonfleet along with us.

Moonfleet runs in the Main House from Thursday 19 April until Saturday 5 May. For more information or tickets call Ticket Sales on 01722 320333 or visit


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