If you’ve played The Pit at The Escapement recently, you’ve probably seen our new plaque to the man who inspired the creation of our latest escape room, if you haven’t seen it, you may remember a key character who appears as part the story – Mac. (The last operative seen down in the mine)

Mac is the more than just a character though, he is an integral part of not only The Escapement, but also my life. Arthur “Mac” McWilliams was the man who inspired the story of Grimhilde Mining Corp and The Pit. It’s also likely that, without Mac, The Escapement wouldn’t exist or at least not be the thriving mystery it is today. You see, he’s a real person, someone that I see frequently and has always been my go-to for advice and just words of wisdom, and someone who has followed the journey of The Escapement closely from before we even had a building! You see, Arthur ‘Mac’ McWillians is also, most importantly, my Grandfather!

Mac worked in the real ‘Pit’ over at Betteshangar and even at 87 years of age, I still wouldn’t bet on me if it came down to heavy manual work. Betteshangar Colliary opened in the late 1920’s and was the largest of all the Kent Collaries. He worked there for over 30 years and carries the mark of a miner, big, strong hands, covered in speckled ‘tattooing’ where coal dust filled cuts and grazes and permanently inks the epidermis. After all this time, he is still incredibly proud of his career.

As a kid I’d sit and listen for hours as he told of stories from his many adventures down in the mines; from his Matchless Combination motorcycle, friends he worked with and the politics and impact of the strikes. Now, as an adult, he passes relics and artefacts from his working days; I have both his hard hart and mining lamp, boots and various tools, which I’ll treasure forever.

The Pit was my original escape room design when we first decided to build The Escapement, but unfortunately we didn’t have the budget for such an ambitious build. It meant that the design hit the back burner until July 2018 when The Pit was finally unveiled. Fast forward 18 months later and our modern mine is now our most popular game with customers travelling from far and wide just to journey down to the centre of the earth…

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