Professor Matthew Bennett shares top tips for building perfect sandcastle

With the sun shining and Bournemouth’s beaches filled with excited holiday goers, BU’s Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Matthew Bennett has been sharing his top tips for building the perfect sandcastle.

Also known as ‘Professor Sandcastle’, following his research into the science behind sandcastles and which beaches are best, Professor Bennett was interviewed on BBC Radio Newcastle and wrote a piece for the Sunday Times.

He told BBC Radio Newcastle Drivetime presenter Anne Leuchars that the mix of sand and water was crucial when building a sandcastle, with eight buckets of sand to one of water being the ideal.

“If you’ve got too much then the grains are lubricated and move past one another and don’t lock together, but if you don’t have any water in there, there’s nothing to bind them together.” he said.

“With just the right amount of water, they stick together.”

Other tips included sticking to a simple bucket and spade, as they are the “most versatile, you can create almost anything you want,” and creating a mound of sand and sculpting from that, instead of using buckets of sand as ‘bricks’.

He added that sandcastles were a fun and accessible way to get people of all ages interested and engaged with science.

“Whatever vehicle you use, communicating the passion and the enthusiasm for science is really important, and sandcastles allow you to do that.

“Understanding where the sand came from, it holds a story about our planet and the history of our planet. It’s just lovely, it’s a really fun thing to do.”

Professor Bennett also gave his top tips on local radio station Fire FM and wrote 7 Golden Rules for building the perfect sandcastle in the Sunday Times.

They included the location of the sandcastle – sand on some beaches are better for sandcastle building than others, with Torquay coming out on top in Professor Bennett’s research, and Bournemouth in third place.

He also advised that people should ‘think big’ when it comes to building their perfect sandcastle.

“Size matters in the game of sandcastles,” he wrote.

“A modest pile with perfect towers, battlements and moat is OK, but the huge redoubts that break the beach horizon are what inspire awe and wonder.

“Pebbles, shells, driftwood fragments and feathers all enhance the look – and, let’s face it, a castle should always be built to be seen.”

Listen to the full interview on BBC Radio Newcastle

Making Silicon Beach a reality


MPs, businesses and council leaders have joined Bournemouth University and the Arts University Bournemouth in a pledge to enhance and encourage the creative and digital economy in Dorset.

They came together at a Digital Summit, hosted by BU, to sign a manifesto which set in place plans and commitments to make Dorset an international hub for the creative and digital industries.

Tobias Ellwood MP, Conor Burns MP and Tony Williams, chief executive of Bournemouth Borough Council, were among those who joined the vice-chancellors of both Bournemouth’s universities in signing the manifesto.

Professor John Vinney, Vice-Chancellor of Bournemouth University, said: “It will be after today that much of the hard work truly starts. Hopefully, this will be a powerful catalyst for us to take things forward.”

Dorset already has an established and growing creative and digital economy, supported by the world-leading universities.

The manifesto commits to encouraging and nurturing this through supporting start-up businesses, encouraging existing businesses to relocate to the area and raising the profile of the creative and digital industry in Dorset so graduates choose to stay.

Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns, who also sits on the government’s Culture, Media and Sport select committee, praised the idea of the manifesto.

He said: “It’s being focused on and driven by this that we have a huge opportunity to make this work,” he said.

“It’s a fantastic place to live and work. That’s the start of Bournemouth and Poole’s offering to those looking to relocate.”

Bournemouth University has committed up to £40,000 over the next 12 months to help raise the profile of Dorset as a hub for the creative and digital economy, through sponsoring events like the BFX animation and visual effects festival which takes place in September.

Bournemouth Borough Council also pledged to support the development of the digital hub in the area, through investing in infrastructure like super-fast broadband and offering small loans to creative companies.

Chief Executive Tony Williams said: “We recognise that Bournemouth will be a different place because of the digital economy, but we want it to be a better place, a thriving place.”

Representatives from established creative and digital businesses in the area, including Adido and Bright Blue Day, were also at the Digital Summit to offer their ideas and support.

David Ford, CEO of creative agency Bright Blue Day, will chair a working group which will work with the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership to help deliver the objectives of the manifesto.

He said: “There are a number of world class agencies now here doing work around the world, doing an amazing job and competing on that world stage.

“We need to put Dorset on the map and make it an international hub for digital, to make our own Silicon Beach.”