Rich history of Leeds suburb can be heard on latest app for gadgets

Phil Legard and Simon Bradley who have developed an app about the history of Holbeck.

Phil Legard and Simon Bradley who have developed an app about the history of Holbeck.

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The rich history of a Leeds suburb is being brought back to life thanks to technology.

Phil Legard, a music technology lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University, has teamed up with Phd researcher Simon Bradley, to create a living history of a suburb, which lies on the doorstep of the city centre.

Simon has collated memories of people living in Holbeck, which have been recorded and placed onto an app, which can be downloaded and listened to as people take a stroll, as they use an easy to read map.

Simon, whose Phd is being completed at Huddersfield University, said: “It allows people to explore this fascinating area of Leeds while they listen to real people’s stories and experiences relating to the area as they pass by landmarks.”

He points to an area of wasteland where several tower blocks once stood and said: “This place has changed a lot in the last few years, The towers have gone and Holbeck urban village, with a host of new pubs has opened up.

“Another big change was in the 1970s when the motorway cut through the area.”

Today, many pubs are boarded up in the old part of Holbeck, but the community remains rich in historical stories. Now memories dating back to the 1930s can be heard on the app, which is free to download.

Simon, of Armley, interviewed 20 people for the project including councillors, residents, planners and developers.

The Holbeck Audio Walk builds on Simon Bradley’s research in identities of place and community, which was an audio walk of interesting subjects relating to the area.

He used prototype software developed by lecturer Phil to deliver oral history and sonic arts on mobile devices, called LOAM – Locative Oral Audio Media.

Simon added: “It is living history, we look back at war-time and how people lived, it is fascinating.”

Phil added: “We collaborate both in technical and creative capacities and we hope that the release of LOAM will enable oral historians, local historians and interest groups to use the communicative power of sounds and media in their own projects.”

To download the app visit: www.holbeckaudiowalk.org

Barry McGrath.

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