Secrets of historic Goyt Valley hall revealed by new augmented reality app

A long-ruined stately home in the Goyt Valley has been brought back to life for the 21st century thanks to a new augmented reality (AR) app which lets visitors to the site experience how it would have looked in its heyday.

By Ed Dingwall
Friday, 5th August 2022, 4:13 pm

The remnants of Errwood Hall, southwest of the Errwood reservoir, have intrigued visitors for decades but few have ever known its story – or the significance of the once magnificent Victorian country property.

But all that has changed, thanks to the Errwood Hall Revealed app, created by Derby developers Bloc Digital and funded by the Peak District National Park Foundation via £5,000 in donations to the Big Give Christmas Challenge 2021, and £1,250 from the Outdoor Guide in memory of Buxton-based employee Liz Mackenzie.

Catherine Parker Heath, of project partner the South West Peak Landscape Partnership, said: “It is amazing what has been achieved within a limited budget and timeframe and the result is a multi-media app that everyone can enjoy.

People should download the Errwood Hall app to their mobile devices before visiting the site.

“It includes not only a 3D model of how the hall once looked – complete with AR capability – but also a 3D image of how the hall looks today, fact files and sound files for audiences to peruse. It certainly shows the potential of what can be done with this technology.”

She added: “One of the aims behind the creation of the app is to engage new audiences in the heritage around them. A feature of it is that not only can it be used on-site but it can be activated off-site too, so those who cannot get to see the ruins in person can still see it in all its 3D glory!

“This also means that, in cases where footpaths have to be closed due to tree felling in the area, people can still access and learn about the heritage around them. We hope that local teachers will use the app in the classroom to help teach aspects of Key Stage 1 and 2 curriculum using a technology that younger people can truly engage in. A teachers’ pack will soon be available to support its use in this way.”

The hall was built in the early 1840s by wealthy Manchester merchant Samuel Grimshawe and remained in the family until the death of his granddaughter, and last surviving heir, Mary Gosselin-Grimshawe in 1930.

The app can create 3D models using augmented reality (AR).

The estate was purchased by the Stockport Corporation as it built Errwood and Fernilee reservoirs, and the hall was briefly used as a youth hostel then demolished in 1934.

Katy Stead, head of content development and production at Bloc Digital said: “We’re delighted to be part of this project using our digital visualisation and immersive technology to help bring Errwood Hall’s rich history to life in the palm of a hand.

“The Errwood Hall Revealed app is a perfect example of how local communities and digital media can combine to inform and engage visitors near and far as well as preserving social history and research for the next generations.”

The Peak District National Park Foundation is the park’s official charity, raising funds for projects which help to combat climate change, support nature recovery, maintain heritage and habitats and ensure the National Park is accessible and welcoming to all.

The app reconstructs how Errwood Hall would have looked in its original Victorian splendour.

Spokesperson Claire Barlow said: “We’d like to say a big thank you to the many people who have supported the development of this app – from those who so generously donated to the fundraising campaign to the people whose knowledge and expertise have made the app possible.”

The app is free and available to download on the Apple App Store and Google Play. Just type in Errwood Hall Revealed and follow the prompts to download and install. It is self-explanatory to use, with instructions on how to launch the different sections.

Due to the remote nature of the site there is no WiFi provision and limited mobile phone signal, so explorers should download the app via WiFi before visiting to avoid inconvenience and unnecessary data usage charges.

To learn more about the project, check out Catherine’s blog at bit.ly/SWPErrwoodHallApp.

The app was built by developers at Derby business at Bloc Digital.

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