“They also reinforce the idea of canals as dirty and industrial, while they actually have a long history as a focus for leisure.”
The Brighton researchers have worked with local groups, designing and producing three multimedia heritage trails for Ancoats, Holt Town and Ashton-under-Lyne.
Avoiding the usual tales of the cotton industry, one trail has an ‘invisible heritage’ theme featuring sounds and smells of Manchester past, like a 19th century corruption scandal, involving sewage. Another is an entirely ‘underground’ heritage trail, pointing out the location of underground rivers, canals and even pubs.
The team hope the points of interest will tempt even knowledgeable locals to walk the canals and learn to love these under-appreciated parts of Greater Manchester.
The trails are available on the Izi.travel website and mobile app, and will soon be released on a bespoke app, designed by colleagues in the Netherlands. The materials have been uploaded to a database and GIS maps, which can be handed over to local organisations to continue to produce their own heritage itineraries and allow them to capitalise on the unique heritage of Britain’s canal network.