It’s been a long time coming, but over the past week the team here at Blueprint: Film have finally launched the Barton Upon Humber Hidden History application! It’s now available on Android devices with an iOS version coming soon. To celebrate the completion of this year long project, this weeks blog will be dedicated detailing the development of the app from initial ideas to launch.
This isn’t the first time we have tried our hand at app development; we previously developed another education app which explored the history of Lincoln in the form of a virtual treasure hunt. On Hidden History Lincoln, users can geo-tag their locations around Lincoln to unlock clues and digital content, uncovering more of Lincoln’s heritage as they go.
With this experience of developing an app from the ground up, we wanted to push our next project even further to deliver a more ambitious range of content. Barton Hidden History is similar but more advanced, taking the user on a virtual walk through Barton and using the exact location of the device to detect when you are near a site of historical interest. The locations span right across Barton, from the Coastguard station where Barton’s famous ferry service ran to St. Peters church, one of the U.K.’s best known Anglo Saxon buildings.
In May 2015 we made a blog post announcing our collaboration with Barton-based contemporary arts company The Ropewalk. Barton has a rich and important history, so it was great to team up with The Ropewalk who had an insiders knowledge of the town and surrounding areas.
To make the app stand out in terms of the quality of historical information, our research had to be as accurate as possible. Barton’s history is relatively well-documented through local records, but in some places certain dates and information was less clear; parts of the town date back to the Anglo-Saxon period, where exact details can get a little muddy. Using a combination of online research, local records, and a few life-long residents, we were able to uncover detailed information about each of the locations. The Ropewalk was extremely helpful here, having dedicated and specialised resources for this exact purpose. However as with all history, there are some details that have been lost to the annuls of time – that’s what makes it so interesting.
Video content was an essential component of this app. Over multiple shooting days, we captured footage of each location as it is today and combined the shots with photographs from the town’s past. In an amazing find, Barton local Brian Peeps provided a mass of old photos illustrating the thriving port town and engineering hub Barton used to be. To give the app another layer, we included some personal stories of those interviews, telling the tales of when they worked on the famous but now defunct Barton ferry service and at the renowned Hopper’s Cycle Works. We also created soundscapes for each of these videos to make the history behind these stories come alive.
Our Android developer quickly turned around the finished product and launched the app on 10th September 2016. We’re still putting the finishing touches on an iOS version, to be launched on the Apple App Store as soon as possible. Keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook accounts for an announcement!