Plans to recreate Roman and medieval Colchester in virtual reality

Visitors to Colchester Castle and the Roman walls could be taken back in time via virtual reality technology.

Visitors to Colchester Castle and the Roman walls could be taken back in time via virtual reality technology. - Credit: CHARLIE RIDLER

People could wander through the streets of Roman and medieval Colchester, in plans for new virtual reality technology at tourist attractions in the town. 

Historical events and street scenes would be recreated with VR headsets, facilitated by a proposed 5G network in Colchester town centre. 

The borough council is set to invest £1million in a small cell 5G network as part of its town deal scheme, which aims to improve digital connectivity in the borough.

According to a council report, virtual-reality tourism is the most realistic current real-life use of 5G.

A statement from the council also said creating the network would enable other uses, such as air quality and traffic monitoring.

Giving a presentation at a Scrutiny Panel meeting on Tuesday, February 15, Lindsay Barker, strategic director of policy and place, said 5G-enabled virtual reality could be deployed at sites like the Roman Wall and Colchester Castle.

The network would also benefit the digital skills and working hubs which are also being planned as part of the Town Deal programme, and will cost £900,000 each according to the report.

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These projects would see an old gym at the Wilson Marriage Centre in Colchester refurbished with the aim of upskilling 145 residents a year.

Darius Laws, portfolio holder for councillor economy, business and heritage, said in a statement: “The council has a vital role to play in encouraging economic development in the town, and digital connectivity is a key part of this.  

Colchester councillor Darius Laws

Colchester councillor Darius Laws - Credit: Colchester Borough Council

“This project is very exciting and will be front and centre for enhancing Colchester’s visitor experience to future generations.

"It will bring to life key locations, enabling history to be told as an immersive multimedia experience that people will 'see' through headsets. Not only will it be the first experience of its type in Essex but one of only a handful of locations in the UK and globally."

Last year, the council was offered £19.2m by the government for regenerative projects as part of the scheme, including the 5G network.

But councillors at the meeting warned rising inflation rates could eat into the schemes budget by more than £1million.

Other projects which are part of the town deal include urban regeneration, such as building new affordable homes in Greenstead, and skills and enterprise infrastructure, such as improving Colchester’s youth facilities.