An interactive heritage trail is being launched this week on the streets of Barking.

The digital trail, which can be accessed on a smart phone using the pioneering Street Tag app, uses augmented reality technology to encourage people to tour the streets of Barking to discover its rich history and tell their own stories.

The app allows users to see images from the local archives, hear stories and read about Barking’s past at key sites such as the Abbey ruins, the Curfew Tower and Town Quay. Crucially, participants can also add their own photos, reminiscences and even poems, and the app rewards participants who walk and share the most.

The Barking Heritage Trail is the first stage of an ambitious new collaborative project – the Pen to Print Digital Storytelling Trail – which will be extended across the borough over the course of the year. The heritage element uses content developed by Barking’s heritage volunteers, with backing from Valence House archives, Be First and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Later stages will feature a host of other creative input, such as poetry, illustration, photography, podcasts and film reflecting the creative talent of the borough.

Councillor Saima Ashraf, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Community Leadership and Engagement, said: “You don’t have to be a history buff to enjoy this exciting new heritage trail. The Street Tag app is really simple to use, so whether you’re on your way to work or just out walking the dog, you can find out more about Barking’s past and share your own stories at the same time!”

Simone Panayi, Be First’s Heritage Engagement Manager, said: “Our heritage volunteers worked with the local archives to research Barking’s key historical monuments, and then teamed up with Street Tag inventor, Seun Oshinaike, to bring their stories to life and available to all.

“Street Tag is fun to use and encourages people to walk and exercise more, providing information about interesting places to visit and engage, and offering points for getting involved”.

Lena Smith of Pen to Print, added: “The Barking Heritage Trail is the first element of the Pen to Print Digital Storytelling Trail that we plan to launch during this year. Focusing on the Becontree Estate in 2021, we’re asking local people to start sending us their stories, fact or fiction, about anywhere in Barking and Dagenham and in almost any format to add to the trails now. Details of how to do this are on our website.”

More information, including how to download the Street Tag app, is available here.