Newark launches the Civil War Trail App in style
This week, Newark has been at the centre of the media spotlight. However, for this market town nestled in the rural east of Nottinghamshire, this is only the beginning of the attention that it is about to receive.
With the impending opening of the National Civil War Centre on May 3rd, Newark rolled out the red carpet for a night of glitz and glamour at the Palace Theatre on Monday to launch the brand new Civil War Trail that will take visitors on a historical tour of the town and museum. The evening was fantastic for everyone involved, from the production team behind the mini period dramas, to actors, set designers, researchers and those who will be working at the museum. Everyone associated with the project was at the premiere of this much-anticipated app.
The clips were reminiscent of something you would watch in a feature episode of Downton Abbey or Poldark. Everything from the lighting, costume detail, sets and special effects was executed to an incredibly high standard. The best part about all the mini dramas is that they are not simply telling a linear story of the Civil War with a dull narration over the top, but instead presenting the stories of people who lived during the conflict.
From King Charles I, to a local servant girl, the Civil War is played out through the eyes of those who saw it and experienced it for themselves. It’s truly gripping and the audience in the packed out Palace Theatre agreed, judging by the rapturous applause the premiere received.
After the premiere, I ventured back to Newark to put the new app through its paces. Armed with nothing but my iPhone and the free WiFi connection provided by Newark and Sherwood District Council, I visited each point on the trail and re-lived Newark’s civil war past.
It’s a simple app to navigate around and the augmented reality (AR) truly immerses you in the stories of the people who shaped the future of the town during the conflict. Simply select the point on the trail you’re at, read the blurb that accompanies it, and click the AR Reader before you point your camera at the image on the board to see a story unfold on your screen.
In fact, if you want a sneak peak at the app in action, click here to see some footage I shared on Twitter. On the trail, you can visit many key locations such as Newark Castle, The Prince Rupert Pub and St Mary Magdalene Church. History is brought to life before you, bringing the 17th century into the 21st century in an innovative way. The most impressive moment, was finding that if you point your AR Reader at the castle itself, the fortification comes to life on your screen, transforming into a 16th century battle scene – my mind was well and truly blown at this point.
I have to admit, when I first visited the National Civil War Centre at the beginning of the project in November 2013, I had no knowledge of the Civil War or Newark’s role in the outcome. I’ve learned so much along the way, but experiencing it through the trail has taught me everything in an engaging and interesting way. This isn’t just a trail for historians; it’s a trail that is inclusive for all ages and levels of knowledge because of the content and the way the story is told.
So my advice would be to download the app and get ready for the opening of the National Civil War Centre on 3rd May when you can experience the Civil War in a truly new and unique way at this brand new UK attraction.