Ever wondered what is behind the railings on Riverside with the impressive brick edifice to Victorian sewage and sanitation beneath the imposing Victorian chimney by the River Cam?  Well, now Historyworks has made two sets of Bluetooth beacons so that you can tour around the Museum using the audio trail as your guide, or you can stand outside the Museum when it is shut, and whilst standing at the Riverside gate, use your smartphone or tablet to find out more about the Museum because of the new trail produced by Historyworks.  The technology is awesome! 
On Sunday 11th September during the #OpenCambridge weekend, when lots of heritage sites had special events and activities, Helen Weinstein of Historyworks selected this date with Pam Halls, curator of the Cambridge Museum of Technology, to officially launch the new Bluetooth trail.  Find out more about the museum here.

On the Sunday, we put out tweets and local adverts at Abbey People and Facebook and via the Museum's membership list to invite people to help up pilot the trail.  Helen Weinstein and Gordon Davies and Pam Halls teamed up as facilitators, on hand to help visitors to put the physical web on their smartphone or tablet, which allows a device to find the beacons!  This is often the tricky bit!  


We had several families from Abbey through the door spot on 11am, tempted in because the museum was open for free between 11am and 1pm to encourage visitors to come along during those times to help us pilot the new tour.   For those who did not have a smartphone or tablet, Helen leant these out to those interested, and we also gave out the *new* printed leaflet of the trail, which has photographs and summary paragraphs to help visitors navigate the spaces.

This trail is a very exciting pilot, pioneering augmented technology to enhance the visitory experience, and improving accessibility. Devised by Helen Weinstein (Creative Director of Hisoryworks) in collaboration with Pam Halls (Curator of the Cambridge Museum of Technology), it uses the Physical Web to deliver the tour to your hand held devcie taking the visitor on 12 stops with audio narrative, photographs, and a transcription for each stop.  


The beacons will help with accessbility to the Museum, where steps and uneven surfaces are an impediment to wheelchairs and also pushchairs, allowing the public to engage with the pumping station's history 24 hours a day!

The trail has been piloted by Historyworks with help from hundreds of pupils from Abbey Meadows, St Matthew's, St Phillip's and Ridgefield whose pupils and teachers and families have  visited the museum to do history tours with Helen, with drama and drawing, and written stories, poems, raps, songs.  If you want to look up more about the museum and the location, if you've not visited, yet it is Cambridge Museum of Technology, accessible via the Tesco Car Park on Cheddar's Lane or walk in via Riverside, CB5 8LD.


For more information and to view the trail (with audio and photos online) go to:


To view the joint press release from Cambridge Museum of Technology and Historyworks go to:


What is really exciting about using the Bluetooth beacon technology is that it makes the tour findable when you stand by the railings on Riverside outside the front gate of the Museum even when the Museum is physically shut! Historyworks is a leader in piloting new technology for heritage interpretation and we are very grateful to Jonathan Austin of ARM for training and introduction and technical assistance from ARM in how best to pilot the Bluetooth beacons, an astonishing new method to use your smartphone or tablet to navigate around the Museum.


Do download the Physical Web app, activate and interact with Cambridge's industrial past and present as you visit this area of Cambridge.  For instructions on how to upload the Physical Web app to your device, which is freely available, please use the instructions provided here.

Every Sunday afternoon the Museum will be open 2pm to 5pm when the *new* trail will be freely available still, but normal entry charges apply (Adults £3.50, Children £1.50). All Welcome!


On the launch day for the beacons, we offered a second 'pilot' activity, to help Pam and Helen make a replica of the Pumping Station's 180 foot Chimney, which we are practicing ahead of the Junction's collaboration for a challenge event on site later this month.  We learnt that the engineering with paper is quite tricky, and that masking tape would have been better than sticky tape. You can take a look to see the start of the build, and we hope to post up a picture of the completed chimney at the end of the month!!


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