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Augmented Reality Trail in Coleshill

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by Tony Collins (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer specialising mainly in health and education and living in Staffordshire. Find me on Linked In
Published April 26th 2022
Dandy highwayman leads visitors on town's history
History has been brought to life in a North Warwickshire town with the creation of an augmented reality trail. Visitors to Coleshill can now go on a journey through 1000 years of the town's history, guided by the legendary dandy highwayman, Jack O'Watton, who springs to life from a 'Wanted' poster. The fascinating new trail is the brainchild of emerging technology specialists, Enlighten AR, based in nearby Tamworth in Staffordshire. Suzanne and Billy Edwards from Enlighten AR worked with North Warwickshire Borough Council and Coleshill Town Council to deliver the trail in celebration of the area's rich heritage. The trail starts by the information board in Park Road. Visitors simply download the 'Zappar' app onto their smart phone or tablet and point it at the code on the Jack O'Watton Wanted poster to trigger the experience. Through the magic of AR, the character comes to life and sets people off on their journey into the town centre, guiding them through a thousand years of history with audio and visual markers on their phones and via physical footprints on the street.

Coleshill Augmented Reality Trail
Colin Greatorex and Coleshill Town Mayor, Councillor Caroline Symonds pictured with dandy highwayman Jack O'Watton's Wanted poster at the start of the trail in Park Road.

There is another appearance of the highwayman at the end of the trail in Chamberlain Walk, where visitors can also download a PDF guide to Coleshill's businesses and attractions. Enlighten director, Suzanne Edwards, said: "Augmented reality has many uses and bringing history to life in a much more interesting and interactive way is just one of them. We're really pleased with how the heritage trail has turned out and we hope people will enjoy following it through Coleshill town centre. We'd also like to thank local video production company, Agate Media, who worked with us on the video elements of the trail which we then turned into the augmented reality poster. It was a Coleshill actor who performed the role of Jack O'Watton, so it was a really local project, which is great." Rachel Stephens from North Warwickshire Borough Council said they were "complete novices" to AR at the start, but added: "With the support and patience of Suzanne and her team we were able to work together to create a truly amazing project. We are really proud of what has been achieved, and hope that visitors will enjoy the experience."

Enlighten AR, Suzanne and Billy Edwards
Suzanne and Billy Edwards of Enlighten AR

The project was made possible thanks to the 'Welcome Back Fund' which was part-funded through the European Regional Development Fund. The funding was designed to provide short-term revenue support to boost the look and feel of the three North Warwickshire towns of Atherstone, Coleshill and Polesworth.
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Why? New augmented reality trail explores town's rich history
Where: Park Road, Coleshill, North Warwickshire
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