Monthly Archives: February 2012

Young People in Focus

Author Stephanie Hawke

What do young people do in their free time? Do they engage with arts and culture? If the answer is yes, then how and why do they do this? If no, then what’s stopping them?

MPA are helping Curious Minds find out the answers to these and other questions as part of a miniature action research project.

The first two sessions took place at The Hollin’s Technology College, Accrington last week. The young people considered their level of engagement with arts and culture before choosing ‘interventions’ to make and reflect on. They chose to engage with digital media and theatre.


So  a few days later, Matt Gartside from Zumamedia joined the group in school to give them his digital photography top tips. What do you think of the results?

Next week we’re off to the Lowry Centre to see some musical theatre!

Weavers’ Triangle App – The Journey Part 2

Stuart Marshall from Treasure Trails takes us through the second part of his journey in creating the Weavers’ Triangle app….

The route of the trail came easily.  I wanted to take the participant on a journey through time and so the Weavers’ Triangle Visitor Centre was an ideal and easily located starting point. Sandygate Square forms a focal point of the area’s regeneration and has been the location of recent events and performances.  This was a logical end point to bring the story up-to-date and look into the future.  Between these two points the canal and Trafalgar Street offered opportunities to tell the story of the canal, mills and the people who worked in them.

Once I’d worked out the route and identified the key locations along it, I could then source the archive material to create image slideshows, videos and sound bites which would play when the user reached points of interest along the route.  The internet has put information at our fingertips but there really is no better way of spending an afternoon than exploring what our local libraries have to offer.  Burnley Library was a fantastic resource and an essential source of the many archive images I used within the app.

To create part of the audio soundtrack I recorded local dialect poet Mervyn Hadfield reciting some of his stories.  Five minutes of recording were followed by a most enjoyable couple of hours reminiscing about our respective childhoods growing up among the cobbled terraced streets of Burnley and Rochdale and our parents’ working lives in the cotton mills.  Common experiences separated by thirty years, but a world that has now largely disappeared.

A trip to the North West Sound Archive at Clitheroe Museum (where reel-to-reel tapes and C60 cassettes still exist!) filled the gaps with oral histories of mill workers and bargemen, which they were happy to exchange for my recordings of Mervyn’s memories.

It has been interesting to see how people have reacted differently to the various forms of media.  Contrasting how a location looks now, compared with archive images showing the same place in the past, always seems to delight the user.   My own favourite is a hole in the wall alongside the canal.  If you look through it in the real world a patch of derelict scrubland is revealed.   Looking through the hole using the app reveals something completely different, a journey back in time to what was there before and how it sounded.  You’ll have to find out for yourself what that was though!

Without wanting to sound too deep and analytical, the project does feel like a coming together of many strands of my life – my family’s connections to the cotton industry; the History degree I thought I’d never use directly; a career of over twenty years in software development; more recent experience as a trail writer; and reacquainting myself with a town I’d not really visited since my dad used to take me to the Turf in the days when Burnley actually had a good football team.   If this was a reality TV program I’d probably say that I’d been “on a personal journey”.

So the app is now out there, available on the iStore and Android markets.  A lifetime’s ambition has been accomplished.  Published, at last!


Treasure Trails devise Trails that inform, entertain and educate people in inspiring ways.  Our Trails capture the imagination, often using game thinking and game mechanics to engage users with their environment.  We now develop location-aware apps for smart phones which provide exciting opportunities to create media-rich trails, guides, stories – and of course puzzles, games and treasure hunts – using a mix of audio, video, text and images to immerse the visitor in their location.  Our company has produced outstanding tailor made Trails for major organisations such as the BBC, National Trust, the Woodland Trust, and many more.

Weaver’s Triangle App – The Journey Part 1

Stuart Marshall from Treasure Trails takes us through the first part of his personal journey….

It started with a Tweet.  I can’t remember exactly what I was tweeting about but it elicited an immediate response from @teamMPA.  “Intrigued!  I think we should talk”.  Within the week I was at Mid Pennine Arts’ offices in Burnley meeting with Business Director Rob Carder to explain all about our interactive trails and to discuss ways in which we might possibly work together.  It soon became apparent to both of us that there was an obvious synergy between MPA’s  ‘Art + People + Places’ formula and Treasure Trails’ aim of connecting people with the local environment, ‘The Fun Way to Explore’.

It was when Treasure Trails began to develop location-aware apps for smart phones that the real opportunities became more apparent.  Now the trails could not only be used to link works of art but themselves become a new medium for their interpretation – using audio, video and images, all triggered by GPS – to engage, inform and enhance the visitor experience in a way that could not easily be achieved with more traditional paper-based trails.

We decided that the                                                                                                            Weavers’ Triangle area in Burnley should be the subject of our first joint collaboration.  This area, once at the heart of Burnley’s textile industry, has been the focus of regeneration plans by Burnley Council for some time and MPA have been actively involved in this process.  One of their recent projects, Project Pride Burnley, had brought the area to life with a piece of promenade theatre within the old mills.  The outcomes from this project would be used as the basis for the app.

Soon a steady flow of information arrived electronically and through my letterbox.  A documentary of Project Pride, videos of Dark Satanics and a plethora of images.  Stories of Sandygate, a recent creative writing project that captured local peoples’ memories and stories of the area was also included.  I followed this up with research into the history of the area via the internet and visits to the site.  I always knew a History degree would come in useful one day!

Watch out next week for the second part of this fantastic account of Stuart’s journey to producing the Weavers Triangle app.

If you can’t wait for the second part of this instalment to view the app, you can download it now for FREE from Android or itunes .