StoryTrails in Wales

Stories of Italian immigrant and Windrush families featured in ground-breaking UK-wide immersive storytelling experience as it launches in Wales


Download the "StoryTrails in Wales" press release (PDF)

The stories of two immigrant families who used their passion and drive to become central to their adopted communities are told in a completely new way, in English and Welsh, through an augmented reality trail around Newport and Swansea this August as part of StoryTrails , the UK’s largest immersive storytelling experience.

For Windrush family, the Freckletons, music was central to establishing themselves in Newport, while Joe Cascarini and his sister triumphed over hardship to establish the renowned ice cream brand Joe’s Ice Cream, now in its 100th year. The stories, narrated in English by actresses Michelle McTurnen (Swansea) and Adeola Dewis (Newport trail) and in Welsh by Tonya Smith, are among hundreds told through ground-breaking multimedia technologies, this summer.

StoryTrails, part of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, features digital experiences that invite residents to experience Swansea and Newport like they have never seen before through augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and an immersive map of the city. Centred around Swansea Library on 10 and 11 August and Newport Central Library on 13 and 14 August and on the streets of both cities, the experiences are among 15 locations around the UK to host StoryTrails this summer.

The augmented reality trail in Swansea, accessed through mobile devises, invites visitors to discover the Joe Cascarini’s route to building the now famous Swansea ice cream brand, from his arrival from Italy in the 1920s, through his supportive relationship with his sister to present day and a digital centenary party to which everyone is invited. While the Freckletons arrived in the Newport neighbourhood of Pil in the 1950s, drawing local crowds to their home church and meeting place. Visitors witness them decamp to a bigger congregational space with tambourines soon joined by guitars, banjos and drum kits.

The trails were created using film from BBC, British Film Institute and local archives to present a window into the past. Visitors can borrow devices from the library and follow guided augmented reality trails across the two-day event as well as follow the route independently by downloading the StoryTrails app onto their own devices.

Inside the library, immersive maps in each location reveal ten stories of local people and familiar landmarks, such as Mumbles Pier, Swansea.com Stadium and the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea; and Tredegar House, Newport Transporter Bridge and Gilligan’s Island in Newport. The maps were created by Owen Richards in Swansea and George McDonagh in Newport by 3D scanning the people and buildings that build up a picture of the life and heritage of each location. The 15-minute films play on a loop throughout the day and a further 20 stories can be viewed on iPads in the library.

Owen and George, and Jay Bedwani and Mohamad Miah, who created the AR trails in Swansea and
Newport respectively, are four of 50 emerging creatives from around the UK selected to take part in the development of StoryTrails and benefit from expert training and mentoring opportunities from StoryFutures Academy, the National Centre for Immersive Storytelling, the team behind StoryTrails. StoryFutures Academy is run by Royal Holloway, University of London and the National Film and Television School (NFTS).