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State-of-the-art gadget maps historic sites in Britain’s oldest town

PUBLISHED: 16:37 31 October 2018

There are over 120 plaques in Colchester, with the project ongoing to record the location and history of all of them. Picture: SU ANDERSON

There are over 120 plaques in Colchester, with the project ongoing to record the location and history of all of them. Picture: SU ANDERSON

Archant

The rich history of Britain’s oldest recorded town is being brought to life in the 21st century with new digital gadgets.

Dr Bensusan's plaque is located on what is now The Minories gallery and tea room. Picture: SIMON PARKERDr Bensusan's plaque is located on what is now The Minories gallery and tea room. Picture: SIMON PARKER

The Colchester Civic Society have spent two years finding, photographing and researching over 50 plaques, monuments and memorials - compiling all this information into three thematic walks around town.

Deputy lord lieutenant of Essex Dave Monk will be launching these brand-new on November 5 in the town centre.

Mr Monk said: “I’m surprised this has not been done before because there is so much history in the town.

“This has been assembled by local people with a passion for Colchester who are bringing its history to life through modern technology.

Dr Ruth Bensusan-Butt is just one of the people remembered with blue plaques in Colchester. Picture: SIMON PARKERDr Ruth Bensusan-Butt is just one of the people remembered with blue plaques in Colchester. Picture: SIMON PARKER

One of the three trails the civic society are launching on November 5 is called Military and Wartime, which is of particular importance to Mr Monk in the buildup to the centenary of the armistice.

He said: “My grandfather was a World War One pilot who lost his life before my father was born, who may not have known that he had a son to return home to.”

The other two walks available are titled Town Centre and Out Of Town and pay homage to the famous people that have called Colchester home.

Civic society member Rosemary Jewers has said that when all the plaques are found and added it is thought there will be over 120 for history fans to find.

Relatives of Frank Daniell David Daniell, Anna Daniell, Nigel and Peter Morrison were present when his plaque was unvielded. Now Mr Daniell's story is being recoded digitally on the civic society's new trails. Picture: SU ANDERSONRelatives of Frank Daniell David Daniell, Anna Daniell, Nigel and Peter Morrison were present when his plaque was unvielded. Now Mr Daniell's story is being recoded digitally on the civic society's new trails. Picture: SU ANDERSON

Ms Jewers said: “The most memorable moment for me was photographing a plaque on the Loco Shed at Colchester North Station. A member of the station staff took me to the location, which was along the railway track - the plaque commemorates the Cromer Express crash, which took place in 1913. Users will only be able to see this plaque via the map, or from the train as it passes.”

Mr Monk added: “This will be a timeless trail, embedding itself into the heritage of the town and showing that Colchester is more than just Britain’s oldest recorded town.”

“A town is made by its people and these are the stories of people through the ages.

“The town itself is just stones and walls - this is about the power of the people who made history here.”

Dr Fabrizio Casale, the Colchester Medical Society’s archivist, on Head Street, the site of a new blue plaque marking the home the society’s founder Dr Robert Richardson Newell, who lived there from 1750-1814. Picture: SU ANDERSONDr Fabrizio Casale, the Colchester Medical Society’s archivist, on Head Street, the site of a new blue plaque marking the home the society’s founder Dr Robert Richardson Newell, who lived there from 1750-1814. Picture: SU ANDERSON

The official Colchester Civic Society launch takes place at 11.15am at Greyfriars hotel, high street, Colchester.

The trails are accessible on the society’s website now.

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