People will be able to compare the then to the now
People will be able to compare the then to the now

A FREE phone app that will allow tourists to take a step back in time is being launched this week as part of efforts to support Barnard Castle’s high street.

Using historic photos of the town and GPS technology, the app will bring up images and stories of Barnard Castle’s past as people walk by 50 locations. It is being dubbed as “possibly the world’s biggest then-and-now spot the difference” game.

The app is the work of the Making Barney Brighter Team and has been led by resident Geoff Dixon.

A spokesman for the team said: “The tour will show you more than 250 old photos – most taken over a century ago – each revealed to you in the area they were taken.

“The walk goes in a circle around our scenic town and along by the river with 50 stops, so you can join in at any point and end up back where you started.”

The tour includes audio recordings from late town historian Alan Wilkinson and details of 21 blue plaques in the town which celebrate its historic places and people.

“You will stroll along centuries-old streets, and past our cobbled market place, stone cottages, meandering river, old mills, quaint shops, bustling pubs and french chateau museum – while at the same time we will tell you of the people who made their mark on our town,” the spokesman said.

People will be told about the phrase “a trip up Hall Street” which once meant going to jail, stories of pubs where jugglers and escapologists vied for people’s attention and how bulls were once tied to railings and baited

by dogs as large crowds watched. Users will discover why the Market Cross and Hole in the Wall got their names, find out about Richard III’s links to Barnard Castle, and see rare photos of The Bank. Links are provided to old footage including the Meet parade in 1939 which featured a man mockingly dressed up as Adolf Hitler performing the Nazi salute as he cycled past the crowd.

People will also learn how residents avoided the toll charges on County Bridge and be told about a grisly double murder from long

ago with a tongue-in-cheek video. Also featured are the town’s railway heritage and the Barney man who had a moon crater named after him.

Making Barney Brighter, which is backed by the town council and mayor Cllr Sandra Moorhouse, was launched this year in an effort to support the high street following a number of shop closures. Mr Dixon, who offered his services for free, said: “I will be interested to know how long the walk takes people – my guess is two hours. People can dip in and out going round it at their own pace stopping of for coffee a pint or a meal.

“The idea is it will attract tourists, keeps them here longer and takes them along to all our shops.

“As far as I can find it is the first app worldwide to show lots of vintage photos where they were taken – most a century or more old.

To download the app, people should visit the Apple or Google app store, then search for “Tour Buddy App Guides”.

They can enter any user name but the password must be “barney”.