Smell the 1620s

For two days this July, a few lucky people in Plymouth UK will be able to experience the future and explore the sights, sound and now the smells of an era long gone thanks to a unique Virtual Reality (VR) experience.

The University of Birmingham’s Virtual Mayflower project was first demonstrated on the Barbican during the actual 400th anniversary of the ship's departure from Plymouth in September 2020.

Now, with the easing of lockdown restrictions, the University team behind the VR experience, led by Plymouth born-and-bred Professor Bob Stone, will return to the Barbican for a special one-off event lasting over two days.

The new demo features a 3D reconstruction of Sutton Pool including a number of new features and locations, with the Mayflower moored just outside in the Cattewater, and a unique olfactory display, or “smell” delivery system, designed to work in conjunction with VR headsets.

About the 'Smell the 1620s' VR demonstration

The demonstration will take place on 10 and 11 July in the Mayflower Museum (Tourist Information Centre) on Plymouth’s famous Barbican, close to the present-day Mayflower Steps Memorial.

Due to a limited number of the new smell technology units, and to ensure that hygiene conditions are strictly observed, this experience will only be offered to a limited number of people on each of the days.

As a result, applications are only being accepted via e-mail, to be entered into a draw to be held immediately after the closing date on 27 June. A maximum of two people from the same family 'bubble' per e-mail, please.

If you, or someone you know, wold like to experience this unique demonstration, and can attend at any time on either of the demo days, please send an e-mail as soon as possible to

For health and safety reasons the minimum age limit for this demo is 10 (no maximum age limit) and applicants must be fit and well to wear and use a VR headset on the day. Current COVID-19 social distance and hygiene rules will apply.

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