App brings story of building Oxford's Donnington Bridge to life

App brings story of bridge-building to life

David Newman and Wendy Hill test the app at Oxford's Donnington Bridge

Demolition of the old Donnington footbridge under way in 1962

First published in News thisisoxfordshire: Photograph of the Author by

IT STANDS testament to 1960s engineering, but 21st century technology will help Donnington Bridge celebrate its 50th birthday.

As part of celebrations residents have created a photo exhibition of the bridge being built.

But in addition to the actual exhibition, one man has also come up with an ‘augmented reality’ app for smartphone and tablet users to transport visitors back to a bygone era.

It means that, during Saturday’s celebrations, anyone with such a device can hold it up to the bridge and it will automatically overlay old pictures and interviews with people involved in the build.

App developer David Newman said: “We found a lot of photos of the bridge being built and what it was like before, so we are spending a lot of time going through those.

“On the day, people will be able to hold up their Android or Apple phones, the phone will recognise the image and a photo or video will pop up.

“This is technology which is being used by advertisers, where people hold their phone over an advert to get access to a video.”

He added: “The only offer being sold here is to think about the past.”

Construction work at Donnington started in October 1960.

It was the first new road bridge across the Thames for centuries, built specifically to ease traffic congestion in the over-clogged city centre. It was officially opened by Lord Hailsham, on October 22, 1962.

Celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary on Saturday will include a procession.

The photographic exhibition at the Donnington Community Centre in Freelands Road is named A Bridge Over Troubled Waters.

Dr Newman said: “One interview which will pop up when people hold up their phones will be an interview with a man who worked as a diver during the build. He was part of the sub aqua club, contracted to put the foundations in and to dive to link up ties in the water, and things which fell in.

“It is a bit like a window to the past.”

To gain access to the photos and video, users must download the free Aurasma application.

The app will be available on the day of the party. Celebrations begin at noon with a costume party at the community centre. Falcon Rowing Club will ferry the Lord Mayor, Alan Armitage, across the river before a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the next 50 years.

A wreath will then be cast into the river to remember those who have died on the bridge.

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