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”.
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.