Arts project brings Chester's historic buildings to life


Staff reporter (Chester Standard)

A “world-first” arts project which brings Chester’s historic buildings to life opens today.

Louise Minchin, Gyles Brandreth and Lucy Meacock are among the local celebrities to have lent their voices to the ‘Talking Walls of Chester’, which tells the hidden stories behind 26 carefully-selected locations across the city.

From today, people will be able to use their smartphone to scan a code located at any one of the 26 sites. They will then receive a ‘call’ from the wall itself, revealing the history behind it.

There are recordings at a medieval tower on Chester’s city walls, Chester Cathedral, Chester Zoo, shops and cafes across the city centre and Storyhouse, the city’s new £37m cultural centre.

The pioneering heritage project was commissioned by business group CH1ChesterBID and delivered by specialists Sing London.

BBC presenter Louise Minchin, who has voiced King Charles Tower on Chester’s city walls, said: “Chester is my home city and when I heard about this project I really wanted to be involved. I’m looking forward to discovering all kinds of things as the walls reveal their secrets.”

TV presenter and former city MP Gyles Brandreth has voiced Booth Mansion on Watergate Street, one of several independent stores in the city. He said: “It’s often said that walls have ears but through Talking Walls of Chester we’ve given them mouths as well. The stories they tell are colourful ones and I really hope that people enjoy hearing them.”

ITV Granada Reports presenter Lucy Meacock added: “It’s a privilege to be the voice of Storyhouse for Talking Walls of Chester.

“It’s a fantastic project that encourages people to get out and explore the city to uncover fascinating stories from the past in a way that’s interactive and fun.”

Other walls on the citywide route have been voiced by local personalities, including shop managers, bartenders, the Town Crier and a Roman soldier tour guide.

Using a specially designed citywide map – available online or at a range of city centre locations – passers by simply scan a code or type in a link from any of the heritage-style plaques on walls throughout the city centre to hear a different story.

Carl Critchlow, BID Manager at CH1ChesterBID, said the project had unearthed “many fascinating stories” and he hopes it will encourage people of all ages to explore the city.

Colette Hillier, director of art production company Sing London, added: “Talking Walls of Chester invites listeners to jump into history and hear what happened right there, in the very place they’re standing.

“We’ve delivered projects like this in cities like Chicago where we’ve given voices to statues, but it’s never been done with walls so this arts project really is a world first.”

The walls in Chester can be heard from today for a period of one year.

Free trail maps are available from the Visitor Information Centre at Chester Town Hall or can be downloaded from the Talking Walls of Chester website. There is no charge for calling a wall but standard network connection charges do apply.

See full story in the Chester Leader

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