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High-tech link to town's history

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: September 26, 2012

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ASHBOURNE is about to become one of the first towns in Britain to use a new form of technology to show off its fascinating history.

A project by the Ashbourne Partnership will soon see some of the town’s most historically important buildings brought to life using an internet-based, hand-held information service that is accessible to residents and visitors as they walk around the streets.

Using a high-tech barcode system designed to direct smartphones or tablet computers to a particular website or service, users will soon be able to walk around the town, scanning QR Codes at participating buildings, and the corresponding web page that loads up on the device will describe the history of each property.

The initiative, which has only been used in a handful of towns so far, has been financed by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Derbyshire County Council, with support from a Derbyshire Dales conservation officer and the Ashbourne Heritage Society.

The new interactive website on which all the new information is based centres around the popular town map, which was commissioned and developed by the Ashbourne Partnership to help people locate buildings and places of interest.

Derbyshire County Council Leader Andrew Lewer, who was born and raised in the Ashbourne area, has given the project his full support.

He said: “Reaching visitors, residents and future generations is the key aim of the project with specific pages not only informing them of the history of most buildings but also providing a platform to learn about how working or shopping in a certain period affected everyday life.” John Titterton, chairman of the Heritage Society added: “We recognise that more and more people are interested in learning about the history of their towns and this project allows residents and visitors to do so, and access information via their mobile phone whilst they sit in a restaurant or in a particular shop.

“Each QR Code will not only take the viewer to that building but also link to other areas of interest to encourage greater learning about Ashbourne.” For residents and visitors who do not have access to a computer or smartphone, a dedicated touchscreen system will be installed in the new town library and information will also be published in leaflet form explaining how residents can get involved in the project’s ongoing development.

It is hoped all accessible buildings in Ashbourne, from town houses to pubs, shops and yards, will eventually carry their own QR Code, enabling owners to show off the history of their building and even promote the services currently offered from the location.

Heritage Lottery Fund head of region Emma Sayer said: “We are delighted to support this new Ashbourne Partnership initiative.

“The proposals will allow people to learn about the history of the buildings and the social and economic changes that made the town the place it is today”.

Sarah Wolfe, project coordinator said “This project allows us to reach a wide audience and showcase our rich and diverse history in ways more accessible than before.

“As with many towns Ashbourne has some empty shops and instead of having blank windows the project will also seek to create historical display panels to be used in these shops and outline how people lived and traded in the town over the periods.

“Not only will you be able to learn and see how the town has evolved over the years, but also learn about the curiosities of some of the activities that occurred in various formats including viewing a timeline of events which have taken place since records began all of this and more in one place.”

To find out more about the project, and how to get involved call Sarah on 01335 301145 or email ashbournepartnership@btconnect.co.uk

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