Explore Barking's history with new mobile app

the street tag app

The Street Tag app uses augmented reality to reveal details about key historic sites in Barking. - Credit: Be First

An interactive heritage trail is being launched on the streets of Barking.

Accessed on a smart phone using the Street Tag app, people can discover the history of Barking through augmented reality on the digital trail.

The Barking Heritage Trail is the first stage in a new project - the Pen to Print Digital Storytelling Trail - which will be rolled out across the borough over the course of the year.

The heritage element uses content developed by heritage volunteers, with backing from Valence House archives, Be First and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

 Volunteers Alexandra Lynch, Lesley Gould, Simone Panayi and Sue Hamilton

Heritage volunteers Alexandra Lynch, Lesley Gould, Simone Panayi and Sue Hamilton walk the trail. - Credit: Be First

Simone Panayi, Be First’s heritage engagement manager, explained how volunteers worked with the local archives to research Barking’s key, historic monuments before teaming up with Street Tag inventor Seun Oshinaike to bring their findings to life and available to all.

With the app, users can see images from the borough's archives, listen to stories and read about Barking’s past at sites including the Abbey ruins, Curfew Tower and Town Quay.

Participants can add photos, memories and poems, with the app rewarding those who walk and share the most.

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Lena Smith from  creative writers network Pen to Print said: "The Barking Heritage Trail is the first element of the Pen to Print Digital Storytelling Trail that we plan to launch during this year.

"Focusing on the Becontree Estate in 2021, we’re asking people to start sending us their stories - fact or fiction - about anywhere in Barking and Dagenham to add to the trails."

Later stages will feature poetry, illustrations, photography, podcasts and film showcasing the borough's creative talent.

Cllr Saima Ashraf, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for community leadership and engagement, said: "You don’t have to be a history buff to enjoy this exciting, new heritage trail.

"The app is really simple to use so whether you’re on your way to work or just out walking the dog, you can find out more about Barking’s past and share your own stories at the same time."

More information, including how to download the app, is available at pentoprint.org/digital-storytelling-trail/