History has been brought to life in a North Warwickshire town thanks to an augmented reality trail created by Tamworth emerging technology specialists, Enlighten AR.

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.

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 next to the busy Morrison’s supermarket. 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 1000 years of history with audio and visual markers on their phones and via physical footprints on the street.

There’s 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: “We’re delighted to have worked with North Warwickshire Borough Council and Coleshill Town Council on this project. 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.”

‘Really proud of what has been achieved’

Rachel Stephens from the Community Development Team at North Warwickshire Borough Council, said: “I would just like to take this opportunity to thank Suzanne and Billy for all their help in bringing our project idea to life – quite literally!

“We started our journey with Enlighten with a basic idea that we wanted to use augmented reality to promote the history of Coleshill, and take visitors on a journey through its past. At this stage we were complete novices to AR, and really didn’t understand it or its capabilities.

“However, 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.”

The trail was launched this week by Coleshill Town Mayor, Caroline Symonds, Coleshill Town Council Clerk Michael Greatorex and local businesses.

The project was made possible thanks to the ‘Welcome Back Fund’ which was part-funded through the European Regional Development Fund. The funding, which came to an end on the 31 March 2022, 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.

Enlighten is a company with a focus on emerging tech for good. The business primarily works with augmented reality and looks at the practical application of this to meet client needs. This can be anything from increased learner engagement, mental health support, advertising campaigns, intelligent marketing or reduced carbon footprint.

CAPTION: 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.