We help historic towns celebrate their roots

We help historic towns celebrate their roots

Visit Gravesend: In Gravesham Footsteps

Our family-friendly Gravesham AR trail – In Gravesham Footsteps – celebrates Gravesend history at 14 locations around the town centre and encourages tourists and locals back to the high street post-pandemic.

Try it yourself

700

Years of history

14

AR experiences

2.5

Kilometre trail

Partners

We created the Gravesham AR trail ‘In Gravesham Footsteps’ in collaboration with Visit Gravesham and staff from the Gravesham Borough Council thanks to funding from the Welcome Back Fund.

Bringing people back

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, footfall on UK high streets has dropped drastically. Many people now work from home and shop online to avoid close proximity with others and a risk of infection. This has left many high street businesses with fewer customers and town centres feeling empty and unloved.

We were tasked with reinvigorating Gravesham by making a Gravesham AR trail that interprets the vast and diverse spectrum of Gravesend history. Our Gravesham AR trail explores centuries of the town’s long heritage, its figures, its buildings, its architecture and its stories using augmented reality.

Discover Gravesend's long history

Our brief was to develop a historic trail to make more people aware of Gravesend history and the offer of Gravesend Town Centre, using technology to attract new visitors and bring heritage to life.

Gravesend is a remarkable town with a wealth of history. Around every corner was a forgotten story waiting to be shared and celebrated so we wanted to make our Gravesham AR trail accessible and simple to use to encourage as many people as possible to have a go.

We used Spark AR to create 14 Instagram/Facebook filters which each reveal a fact about Gravesend history: from the Grade II listed Milton Chantry to the porcupine mural which relates Gravesend’s crest.

Whilst some experiences act as you’d expect a social media filter to work – changing colours in the camera feed, or letting you ‘try on’ different costumes – others worked in unexpected ways.

For example, for the New Tavern Fort location in our Gravesham AR trail we designed an experience that lets you fire a muzzle-loading cannon at passing ships on the Thames. You can reposition and rotate the 3D model using your fingers and tap the screen to fire, stepping into the shoes of the 16th century British defenders.

We ensured the cannon in our In Gravesham Footsteps trail accurately resembled those used in 1700s, when the New Tavern Fort became an essential part of London’s maritime defences.

The location, looking out across the water, combined with water dripping particle effects and the atmospheric sounds of the cannon firing and water splashing make it a surprisingly immersive experience.

As well as restoring objects to their historic locations, we also used AR to rebuild ruined buildings. We’re quickly becoming AR architectural historians thanks to our Carrickfergus Castle, Hidden Florence, and Bristol Old Vic projects.

Our Gravesham AR trail was the perfect opportunity to recreate the Gravesend Blockhouse in augmented reality. If you visit Gravesham today, remnants of the foundations, a series of cat’s eyes embedded in the road to mark the boundary wall, and an information board with an artistic impression are all that reamins of the original blockhouse.

Assisted by local historian Victor Smith, we rendered the 18th century blockhouse as a 3D model. Using the Gravesham AR trail you can build the model where the blockhouse once stood, and walk around the exterior to see the many cannons and viewing points that helped the British defend the Thames.

We know people enjoy putting themselves in the picture, so several experiences allow you to take a historic selfie. You can try on Queen Victoria’s crown, capture yourself searching for smugglers outside the Three Daws pub, or add a risograph filter to the street outside the New Prince of Orange mimicking an old postcard.

Other AR experiences on the trail let you restore places to their former glory. You can step back in time and see New Street filled with Georgian horses and carts, and Victorian steamboat passengers on route to London. Or visit the pier to watch ships from different eras of history pass by on their way to London or head to the Milton Chantry to see Gravesend’s oldest building change through time.

As the name of our Gravesham AR trail suggests, you’re literally following ‘In Gravesham Footsteps’!

We wanted locals and visitors to come to our town and have a fun experience, discovering snippets of local history whilst shopping and spending time in the vicinity... Zubr has demonstrated great professionalism throughout, they listened to our ideas and did their best to make our vision a reality. The various fields of expertise within the team are also a great asset and it ensured all angles of the Experience were covered.

Virginie Whittaker, Tourism and Town Twinning Manager.

We wanted locals and visitors to come to our town and have a fun experience, discovering snippets of local history whilst shopping and spending time in the vicinity... Zubr has demonstrated great professionalism throughout, they listened to our ideas and did their best to make our vision a reality. The various fields of expertise within the team are also a great asset and it ensured all angles of the Experience were covered.

Virginie Whittaker, Tourism and Town Twinning Manager.

Celebrating forgotten histories with simple but impactful AR

The Gravesham AR trail is accessed via a microsite which provides historical context and instructions. It’s an accessible, QR-code based means of accessing augmented reality that is much simpler than downloading an app. 

Our solution removes the need to waste data or mobile storage on an app. It also means we can quickly update or amend the information or experiences without needing to resubmit the content for approval by the Google Play store or Apple app store.

Throughout development, we were able to send test links to the Gravesend team to try out at home and on location.

Due to the simplicity of our solution our partners had easier access to the trail throughout its creation, making them more confident sharing it with their teams and with the public. This led to greater promotion and widespread use of the AR trail overall.

Interested in creating your own AR trail or want to learn how you could benefit from AR? Get in touch and we can advise on the best way to incorporate AR into an exhibition, permanent collection or seasonal offer.

We like sharing your stories

AR trails are a family-friendly and accessible way to share information, highlight historic figures or enjoy myths and legends. Follow in the footsteps of famous faces or don the garb of another time. See ruined buildings remade or uncover forgotten stories. By linking places with the past, AR trails let visitors experience history first hand. Remake the world around you with AR trails.

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