Burnley’s historic canal welcomes new ‘digital trail’

New QR Code Tag Trail unveiled and a guided walk as part of the Burnley Canal Festival, Burnley 14.09.2013 Pictured; Dylan Manning Age 13.
New QR Code Tag Trail unveiled and a guided walk as part of the Burnley Canal Festival, Burnley 14.09.2013 Pictured; Dylan Manning Age 13.

A historic stretch of Burnley’s canal has burst into the digital age with a futuristic new tourist trail.

High-tech wizardry means visitors will be able to explore the fascinating history of the centuries-old waterway using their smartphones.

The pioneering “Quick Response” code trail means tourists can now scan a series of barcode-like tags with their phones which pop up with web pages packed with videos, pictures and information around the canal’s history.

It is believed to be among the first digital trails in the country. It boasts 10 QR codes along the stretch of water between the Gannow Tunnel and Thompson Park which includes the iconic Weavers’ Triangle and Straight Mile. It was officially opened to the public during this year’s Burnley Canal Festival after the Canal and Rivers Trust pumped £4,000 into the project.

Emma Bartlet, of the Canal and Rivers Trust which dreamed up the trail, believes it will help draw new visitors to the waterway.

She said: “It is a very new thing and I think it is really exciting.

“I think it will help engage new audiences and it will help people learn about the history of the town and the history of the canal.”

The project, funded by Heritage Lottery cash, started a year ago recording fascinating social history stories about the canal from Burnley people.

One tells the tale of a man who saved someone from drowning near the Gannow Tunnel, another is from a volunteer who created a wildlife diary on the hundreds of species of birds, butterflies and flowers found along the canal in Burnley.

These recordings have been compiled along with photos, videos, old maps and other interactive information with the help of volunteers to be used on the QR tag trail.

Visitors can simply download the QR code “app” on their smartphone or android and then scan the QR tag which will bring up the information. Hard copies are also available to pick up from the visitors’ centre.