Latest episode of DesignSpark’s ‘The Engineering Edge’ podcast explores how technology keeps a 180-year-old theme park progressive

Professor Lucy Rogers PhD crosses the Solent to revisit the popular attraction and witness the impact of animatronics on its everlasting success

LONDON, UK, 10 January 2020RS Components (RS), the trading brand of Electrocomponents plc (LSE: ECM), a global multi-channel provider of industrial and electronic products and solutions, has released episode 2 of ‘The Engineering Edge’ podcast, an original series from the DesignSpark engineering community. In this latest episode, Professor Lucy Rogers PhD investigates how everyday technology has given the UK’s oldest theme park a modern boost to keep it popular and relevant for visitors.

Blackgang Chine, on the Isle of Wight, has been a landmark on the island since the 1840s, but today this family-run attraction faces competition from much bigger corporate rivals. Mainly appealing to locals has often meant having to innovate to survive, and this mindset has been a really important part of Blackgang’s story.

In episode 2 of the podcast, former BBC Robot Wars judge Professor Lucy Rogers PhD returns to Blackgang Chine to find out how the team there is making the most of engineering to create a unique visitor attraction. Blackgang enlisted Lucy back in 2014, along with other programmers and engineers, to bring its collection of animatronic dinosaurs up to date. Using some electronics wizardry and visual programming language Node-RED, they were able to program the original 1970s dinosaurs to react to passers-by and make the theme park experience much richer.

Alexander Dabell, the fifth generation of the Dabell family to own and run the park, has been instrumental in bringing Blackgang into the 21st century and ensuring that it makes the best use of its modest budgets by enrolling people with the skills and imagination to improve the visitor experience.

Lucy caught up with Alexander to find out how the park has continued its technology revolution and explores the park for herself, with attractions including dragons, talking crabs and a life size blue whale.

The episode, entitled ‘Lucy Goes Animatronic’, is available now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play and Podbean. More information is available at

The Engineering Edge podcast has been created by DesignSpark to provide an insight into how engineering can provide a competitive advantage to people and organisations across many different industries.