Category Archives: Feasibility studies

Digital Reconstruction and Display of Landscape Models: Reviving Mayson’s Ordnance Model of 1875


Gary Priestnall (lead, Geography, UoN), Mike Heffernan (Geography, UoN), Katharina Lorenz (Classics, UoN), Keswick Museum (Catherine Stead, Curator), Ordnance Survey (Glen Hart, Head of Research)

Overview of the Project :

This project aims to use a range of digital technologies to explore the role of maps and landscape models in the nineteenth century tourist industry. The specific case study is a physical model of the English Lake District created by Henry Mayson in 1875 which gave tourists to Keswick, Cumbria an unprecedented view of the landscape they were about to explore. Huge efforts went into creating this model which faithfully represented the contours and other details of the Ordnance Survey mapping which had recently been surveyed but which were not at that time available to the public in any form. The model is believed to have been displayed until the 1960s but all that now remains are some mouldings created ‘for future use’, found in storage in 2012. These moulds are being captured using laser-scanning technology in order to digitally reconstruct the scale and detail of the original model and create an exhibit for Keswick Museum which aims to explore and celebrate the original Victorian visitor experience whilst utilising contemporary digital display technologies.
Continue reading Digital Reconstruction and Display of Landscape Models: Reviving Mayson’s Ordnance Model of 1875

A History of Coal Mining in 10 Objects – Update

About the project

Coal Mining Website displayed on iPad screen

‘A History of Coal Mining in 10 Objects’ explores the significance of various iconic mining objects; how they relate to the development of mechanised mining and how they have impacted upon Nottinghamshire communities. The study comes at a pivotal time in the industry when UK Coal’s production capability is reduced to just three working collieries and many former mineworkers are now entering their twilight years.

The project is jointly spearheaded by Dr David Amos, a mining historian and former mineworker, and Paul Fillingham a miner’s son and digital producer. Both share a connection with local coal mining communities in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire and have experience of developing heritage projects and cultural trails.

Responsive design works on mobile devices
Website adapts to mobile devices and other displays.

The website for ‘A History of Coal Mining in 10 Objects’ has been designed to adapt to mobile tablets and smartphones and incorporates picture galleries that scale beautifully on PC, connected TV and double-density displays that are typically found in WiFi-enabled coffee shops. The website also contains embedded video clips with the prospect of additional audio archive material being added before the end of the pilot project.

The website is augmented by a range of social media pages that encourage the submission of user-generated content and help publicise a busy schedule of community events where the project team engage with former miners, their families and members of the public. Social media pages are also used to announce the publication of fresh content on the main website.

Community Engagement

Mining heritage event at Bestwood Winding House Museum.
Mining heritage event at Bestwood Winding House Museum.

Community engagement has helped build an archive of mining artefacts related to the project. Photographs from private collections presented by members of the public at these events are being digitised and conversation often reveals further themes for investigation. Some important historical documents have also been donated to the University of Nottingham Archives, these include direct references to Arthur Lawrence, the father of working-class novelist D.H. Lawrence.

Facebook page showing inaugural meeting of Mining Banner Trust.
Facebook page showing inaugural meeting of Mining Banner Trust.

Union Banners

One of our successes has been the discovery of fourteen union banners and other artefacts at the former NUM Headquarters near Mansfield. The union banners have been digitised and can be viewed as an image gallery on the mining heritage website which discusses their history and  iconography.

Mansfield Colliery Union Banner
Mansfield Colliery Union Banner

The issues surrounding the preservation and restoration of the  banners has since been raised with union representatives, heritage groups, the University of Nottingham, Mansfield District Council, Mansfield Museum and Alan Meale MP.  As a result, a trust has been established to ensure these important objects can be cared for and eventually loaned out to the communities they represent.


Musical Echoes: Engaging the past through virtual performances in a Victorian Music Hall


Dr Jo Robinson (School of English), Prof. Pat Thomson (School of Education), Dr James Goulding, Victoria Shipp (Horizon Digital Economy Research), Matt Buck, Jo Cox-Brown (Malt Cross), Julian Hanby (Hanby and Barrett), Time/Image, Broadway Cinema, Nottingham Theatre Royal

Overview of project

Malt Cross

This pilot project aims to examine the creative and engagement possibilities for using archive film footage of music hall performances in combination with projection technologies, to enhance the experience of visitors at a musical heritage site: Nottingham’s Grade II listed Malt Cross Music Hall. In doing so, we seek to explore what we are terming Musical Echoes, performance memories ingrained into the structure of the building over the centuries, but which are now re-emerging from that fabric. Through innovative re-adaptations of archived performances, we aim to investigate how new technologies can bring histories of working-class entertainment back to life in a way that is both compelling and integrated into the architecture of the building itself.

The broad aims of this feasibility project synthesize three aspects:

  • To investigate archived document and film material of performances at the Malt Cross in the late 19th and early 20th century and develop historical understandings around them.
  • To understand how projection technologies may be employed to engage visitors in musical heritage environments, assessing display and content challenges associated with presenting the archived data.
  • To work alongside both heritage professionals and audiences to examine visitor engagement, via a design workshop and a feasibility exhibit at the Malt Cross Music Hall.

These goals will result in a technological pilot, a research report based on the archival materials, an impact analysis, and recommendations for further advances and future funding opportunities.

The Malt Cross: A Victorian Music Hall


The Malt Cross is a charity run entertainment venue based in the former Victorian music hall on St James’s Street in the heart of Nottingham. The Malt Cross runs a social enterprise café bar whose profits are donated to the Trust and plays host to a diverse and vibrant programme of arts, events, artistic communities and live music. The organization has recently submitted a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HFL) with a view to celebrating its heritage in a variety of ways; this collaboration represents an opportunity to bring the history of the building to life in innovative ways. Given the compelling architectural space presented by the Malt Cross, we are particularly interested in exploring the possibilites of (sensitive) integration of projection technologies within the environment.

Our Research

This project brings together 3 parallel research strands:


  • Led by the Horizon Digital Economy team, we are undertaking an ethnographic study establishing current practices at the Malt Cross, examining current visitor experience, the architectural space and interaction with archive materials to provide a baseline for comparison during the project installation. This phase will include carrying out observations and informal interviews with staff and visitors, as well as exploring the use of techniques such as first person digital ethnography
  • A collaboration between Julian Hanby of Hanby and Barrett and the Horizon team to explore the possibilities for using projection technologies to present archive film to a contemporary audience as musical echoes. How might best use be made of a heritage site for such activity? What are the technical barriers to such work and how can they be overcome?
  • Led by the School of English, research into the performance history of the Malt Cross Music Hall during the 1890s and the location of film archive material. This research is well under way and we have identified a number of performers and performance types: serio-comic vocalists, Negro comedians, big boot dancers, jugglers and boxers. The nature of the Malt Cross and its relatively lowly position on the theatrical circuits of the Victorian era means that these records are patchy and the performers themselves obscure but our knowledge of performance types now means we can locate appropriate films with the help of the Centre for Creative Collaboration.

Planned Outcomes:

Charles Coborn - Music Hall Performer
Charles Coborn – Music Hall Performer

Following initial research, a participatory design workshop will be held later this month with key stakeholders (the project team, Malt Cross representatives, and HORIZON representatives) that will bring together the findings obtained in the first phase and relevant demonstrations of existing HORIZON and UoN technologies. Participants will be encouraged to examine the potentials of these technologies for developing engaging experiences with the newly archived material as well as assets at the Malt Cross.

Outputs of this workshop will inform the design of a small-scale deployment at the Music Hall – planned for the weekend of 25-27 October – which will be followed by an evaluation of the technologies enacted and their impact. The outcomes of the technical pilot study will be analysed, including an in-depth evaluation of visitors’ feedback.

Drawing of the fractured cast iron beam, from the Illustrated London News, 1864

Mining Heritage: The Hartley Calamity (1862) – Poem

The Hartley Colliery Disaster of 1862 lead to government legislation that decreed that all mines must consist of two shafts. You can find out more about the incident in our video interview with mining historian Robert Bradley. Here is a poem for National Poetry Day about the men and boys who perished in the tragedy.

The Hartley Calamity, January 6th. 1862.

By Joseph Skipsey.

Continue reading Mining Heritage: The Hartley Calamity (1862) – Poem

Archive to Asset Heritage Projects Start in Nottingham and Leicester

The following projects have been awarded funding under the AHRC Creative Economy Knowledge Exchange Project led by the Universities of Nottingham, Leicester and Nottingham Trent: Archives, Assets and Audiences: new modes to engage audiences with archival content and heritage sites. The projects are funded by the AHRC and through match funding from the Universities.

Feasibility projects:

Dr David Amos, Dr Sarah Badcock (University of Nottingham), Paul Fillingham (ThinkAmigo) and Bilsthorpe Heritage Society: A History of Mining in 10 Objects. This project will pilot the use of digital technologies to engage former mineworkers, their families and the public in the history of mining in the East Midlands.

Dr Sarah Badcock (University of Nottingham), Vicky Shipp (University of Nottingham) and Bev Baker (Galleries of Justice): Young people at work and play in penal institutions at the turn of the 19th century. This project seeks to pilot the use of digital technologies to enhance the visitor experience and engagement with the collections and archives at the Galleries of Justice Museum in Nottingham.

Dr Ben Bedwell (University of Nottingham), Dr Gaby Neher (University of Nottingham) and James Parkinson (Stonebridge Trust): Wander Thoresby. The Project will use a location-based digital platform Wander Anywhere to co-develop an exhibition of Thoresby’s industrial heritage, providing a novel visitor experience that extends the limited indoor exhibition space to encompass the Estate’s expansive grounds.

Sean Clark (Cuttlefish Multimedia Ltd), Katie Flaherty (Phoenix Leicester), Dr Simon Dixon (University of Leicester) and Thomas Hulme (student intern, University of Leicester): Locative Media Production Hub. This project will use collections from the University’s Special Collections Archive, multimedia resources and new material captured through open workshops to develop a rich multimedia tour of Leicester’s Cultural Quarter.

Dr Elizabeth Hurren (University of Leicester) and Esther Simpson (Watch This Space): Just a Step Away.  The project will draw on a range of archives and collections to research the rise, fall and reinvention of the boot and shoe industry in Leicester. The project  will result in 6 short films that will be projected onto the windows of The Royal Arcade for one week in November 2013.

Julian Hanby (Community Theatre Practitioner), Dr Jo Robinson (University of Nottingham), Dr Anton Frank (University of Nottingham), Dr James Goulding and Victoria Shipp (University of Nottingham) and Jo Cox-Brown and Matt Buck (Malt Cross): Musical Echoes. This project will explore and expose the history of Nottingham’s last remaining musical hall (Malt Cross) by combining research into the archives of the Malt Cross and other musical halls and experimenting with different digital and projection technologies to produce a virtual performance for the current users and audiences of the Malt Cross venue.

Dr James Goulding (University of Nottingham), Dr Richard Gaunt (University of Nottingham), Prof. Mike Heffernan (University of Nottingham), Dr Gary Priestnall (University of Nottingham), Dr Stuart Reeves (University of Nottingham) and Adrian Davies (Nottingham City Museum and Art Galleries): Projection Augmented Relief Models for Historical Understandings in Museum Settings: The 1831 Nottingham Reform Bill Riots. This project will examine how to deliver complex historical, educational and geographical information to engage audiences in a specific historical event.

Dr Boriana Koleva (University of Nottingham), Dr Richard Mortie (University of Nottingham), Dr Amanda Briggs-Goode (Nottingham Trent University), Dr Sarah Kettle (Nottingham Trent University) and Judith Edgar (Newstead Abbey): Using Aestheticodes to enhance visitor interactions with lace collections. The project will investigate how patterns in lace design can be used as a basis for generating a recognisable digital code that can store information about the heritage of the lace industry and be made accessible to visitors and collection users.

Don Munro (Munro and Whitten) and Dr Rebecca Madgin (University of Leicester): Makers’ Yard, Leicester: Contemporary Interpretation through the Leicester Creative Industries. The project will re-interpret the history of Makers’ Yard and the place of this former factory in Leicester’s hosiery industry and its potential role in emerging creative industries. The project aims to demonstrate the potential sustainable re-use of Makers’ Yard historic environment as a part of a regeneration project.

Dr Gary Priestnall (University of Nottingham), Catherine Stead (Keswick Museum), Prof. Mike Heffernan (University of Nottingham) and Katarina Lorenz (University of Nottingham): Digital Reconstruction and Display of Landscape Models: reviving Mayson’s Ordnance Model of 1875. This project aims to demonstrate the potential for digitally reconstructing and displaying artefacts that would not normally be viewed by the public. Working with individual tiles of a 19th-century physical terrain model the project will produce an exhibit to demonstrate the process of reconstruction and give a digital impression of the original large scale model.

Dr Iain Simons (Nottingham Trent University) and Stella Wisdom (British Library): National Video Game Archive: Cultures of Play. This project aims to establish a new platform for research into cultures of (videogame) play within the UK and new insights into the history of the videogame industry. The project will create an online archive of oral histories recording cultures of play within family units and will promote the National Videogame Archive as a research resource.


Nick Alfrey (University of Nottingham) and Isobel Whitelegg (Nottingham Contemporary) will work with a post-doctoral intern, Dr Oliver Dunnett, to  conduct an initial survey of the archives related to the Midland Group, an arts organisation founded in Nottingham in 1943. The project aims to explore the archives and how they might be used as part of a digital archive and research resource for Nottingham Contemporary and its audiences.

Dr Graham Black (Nottingham Trent University) will work with the Framework Knitters Museum at Ruddington to develop an overall vision and interpretation of the Museum taking into account its planned acquisition of Gunn Cottage.

Dr Alan Chamberlain (University of Nottingham) will work with the People’s Collection Wales to explore how the cultural assets of the collection can be ‘released’ through re-packaging and re-purposing the content in different and innovative ways including how the collection might be made more readily available as a research resource.

Sarah Cole (Time/Image) will take up an industry fellowship in the Centre for Advanced Studies at Nottingham to share her experience of working with film archives as part of digital presentations to the public and explore means of curating digital trails through different resources to guide new audiences. Sarah will work with many of the feasibility projects listed above.

Dr Tim Coughlan (University of Nottingham) will work with Nottingham Contemporary will explore new ways of combining the built environment, archives and technology to provoke reflection and creativity in the Lace market area of Nottingham.

Dr Stefan Egglestone (University of Nottingham) will work with Broadway Media Centre to explore how different digital technologies might be used to reveal different aspects of the history of Nottingham’s Lace Market and create narrative trails and ‘urban screens’.

Dr Colin Hyde (University of Leicester) will work with Leicester City Council to develop the ‘Story of Leicester’ initiative and engage new audiences to the project through archives relating to Leicester’s industrial past.

Dr James Moore (University of Leicester) will work with Hinkley and Bosworth Borough Council and Hinkley and Bosworth Museum to establish the resources, archives and oral history material available to enable the history of the knitwear industry to be told through local and regional participants and audiences.

Nick Patrick (Producer of BBC Radio 4’s Making History) will work with Dr Richard Jones (University of Leicester) to explore the potential of different media to disseminate history and engage audiences in research. The project will focus on Leicester Forest East Services: the Cultural Landscape of a ‘non-place.’

Anna Peavitt (Big Difference Company) will work with the Centre for Urban History at the University of Leicester will explore archives and library collections to enable a large-scale outdoor celebration in 2014 on the theme of ‘A Changing City’.

Dr Deborah Skinner (Nottingham Trent University) and a student intern will work with Nottinghamshire County Council to explore publicly accessible archives relating to industrial heritage at risk within the county.

Dr Néstor Valero-Silva (Nottingham Trent University) will work with Nottingham Contemporary to explore the contribution of the institutional archive and the process of archiving to the development of artistic, learning, public and digital strategies.

Updated 15th August 2013