'Objects in the Landscape' - Ogham Stone branding as proposed in our Heritage Trail

In February 2016, GSAP (acting as secretariat to the Outer North Neighbourhood Partnership) appointed RPD Consulting (funded by DCAL) to facilitate the process of developing, negotiating and preparing a Heritage Trail proposal for the Outer North / Greater Shantallow area of Derry City, building on the rich and varied range of heritage assets which are currently present, but which are either often over-looked, under-appreciated or simply unrecognised.

This study built upon previous research, also funded by DCAL in July 2015, which involved carrying out an audit of heritage and cultural assets across the five Neighbourhood Renewal Areas in the Derry City and Strabane District Council Area plus wide-ranging community consultation that led to the development of a 5 year Arts & Culture Plan for the Greater Shantallow area in 2012 (as part of preparation work for Derry's designation as UK City of Culture 2013).

  

          

Two primary aims underpin the development of our Trail :-

 1. To establish ‘The North Townlands’ Heritage Park (the branding), in order to:

  • Conserve and interpret local history
  • Attract funding to enhance leisure, heritage & tourism assets
  • Bring attention to the need to enhance the physical appearance and condition of local heritage assets

 2. To establish a strategic (city significant) project, highlighting and celebrating the diverse heritage of Greater Shantallow by;

  • Extending the City-wide offer;
  • Enhancing the local educational base in terms of environment and heritage;
  • Adding value and further depth to the ‘Derry Story’
  • Enabling opportunities for the growth of community tourism and social enterprise.

 

The spatial concept which will underpin our trail programme, is based on 7 key locations (destinations), and incorporates a series of 7 linked trails loosely based on the 9 Northerly Townlands of the Templemore Civic Parish, namely :- Elaghmore, Ballynagalliagh, Ballynashallog, Ballyarnet, Shantallow, Ballynagard, Pennyburn, Culmore and Ballymagroaty.

As part of the work undertaken by RPD Consulting 2 of the storyboards were developed for key destinations / routes within the proposed trail – this required extensive research and collation of material / content which highlights and celebrates the heritage of these sites and along the suggested routes.

In February 2017 GSAP applied successfully to the Social Innovation NI’s ‘Techies in Residence’ programme - securing the services of a technical expert from Oli to develop a digital approach to heritage interpretation (through for eg future use of an app, QR Code and /or Virtual Reality technologies as key platforms for interpretative and tourism development).

To support the ‘Techie in Residence’ and finish our Heritage Trail proposition, we will be completing the 5 outstanding / remaining storyboards in the first half of 2017.

Scale of Ogham Stone Design at Amelia Earhart Cottage

 

The spatial concept of our Heritage Trail is based on the idea that the key locations are to evolve, over time, as destinations, comprising clusters of interpretation panels / content telling the stories and history of the site and nearby locations. The number of panels or digital presentation at each destination will vary depending on the stories to tell, but in each case the objective will be to create a sense of place, a combination of the asset/s, their interpretation, the place in which the display and site are set and, where possible, visitor comfort facilities e.g. seating, toilets. The 7 destinations would, over time, be presented as the Principal Trail covering the whole Greater Shantallow Area. Within the main Trail, 7 smaller trails would be developed more suitable for walking or cycling - this might take in other individual sites, for which single interpretation panels could be developed.

However, the early phases of our work focuses on the following 7 destination sites.

(1)   Ballyarnett Amelia Earhart Country Park – beside proposed children’s playpark.

Panels Covering: a) The Country Park, b) The Racecourse and c) Amelia Earhart

(2)   Pennyburn Riverside – utilising the Pier and Birdwatching installation.

Panels Covering: a) Shipbuilding and Railways, b) WW2 US Navy, c) Pennyburn Mill Siege Battles and d) Birdwatching/Bay Road Local Nature Reserve

(3)   Culmore Village and Riverside – panels at the Fort, the Ramparts, Culmore Church and Honourable Irish Primary School.

Panels Covering: a) Culmore Fort, b) The Ramparts, c) Culmore Church and Siege Story and d) WW2 U-Boat Surrender

(4)   Elagh Castle – location of panels to be agreed with landowner and NIEA.

Panels Covering: a) The Castle and b) 1688 Siege Battle and Burial Ground

(5)   Shantallow – location of panels to be agreed.

Panels Covering: a) Belmont House Estate and St. Columb’s Stone, b) Messine’s Park, c) The Troubles, d) Brian Friel and e) St Patrick’s Church

(6)   Boom Hall/Brook Hall – location of panels to be agreed as part of Regeneration Project.

Panels Covering: a) Regeneration Project, b) Siege Boom and c) Boom Hall and Brook Hall

(7)   Thornhill (Ballynashallog) – Panels to be located at Neolithic Settlement archaeological site.

Panels Covering: a) Neolithic Settlement Archaeological Site, b) Thornhill School and c) Thornhill House and Gardens and Convent

As the principle trail programme is being implemented other single panel sites will be considered such as St. Columb’s Stone, Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Pennyburn Chapel, St. Columb’s College.

 

Early 'Raw' Version of Trail Route

Our overall objectives are to –

  1. Establish a series of heritage trails across the Greater Shantallow area (North Townlands) – utilising technological advancements in digital heritage interpretation
  2. Establish a strategic / city significant project highlighting and celebrating the diverse heritage of Greater Shantallow

In addition :-

  • Enhancing the educational base - through environmental and heritage programmes;
  • Enhancing the visitor experience – through providing access to and interpreting a range of heritage assets and stories which are currently undiscovered / under promoted;
  • Engaging with and involving local communities – by raising awareness about and opening up local heritage landscapes;
  • Developing opportunities for community tourism and social enterprises – through, for example, digital interpretation development and design, marketing / promotion, cycle hire, tour guiding, merchandising etc…;
  • Enhancing the visibility and material appearance of heritage sites / landscapes – through a better understanding and appreciation of our local heritage, improving public accessibility to heritage assets, marshalling resources to enhance the physical appearance and character of our assets.

'Ogham Stone' Designs used as objects in our landscape

On 11th April 2017, GSAP presented our work to date on the proposed heritage trail for the Greater Shantallow Area/Ballyarnett DEA to John Kelpie (Chief Executive) DC&SDC and senior staff within Council and they were all very supportive of the project.

On Wednesday 7th June 2017, GSAP under the Techies in Residence programme attended the Digital DNA conference at Georges Market in Belfast.  

At the conference GSAP was given the opportunity alongside 11 other projects across the North to pitch for seed funding from Social Innovation NI/Building Change Trust under the Techies in Residence programme.

GSAP was one of seven winning projects on the day that secured further investment of £15,000  which will ensure that GSAP in partnership with IT specialists Oli can now further develop our prototype app of the North Townlands Heritage Trail into a fully functioning app over the next few months.