A mobile phone and iPad application is being developed to allow visitors to Welford Road cemetery to find out about the lives of people buried there.
Computer experts at De Monfort University are creating the application that will provide an interactive tour of the Victorian cemetery.
Visitors will able to hold their phones up to headstones, buildings and areas of the graveyard to activate on-screen digital animations of famous figures from history – such as Thomas Cook and Alice Hawkins – sharing their stories.
As well as the well-known characters from history, the app will also tell the stories of more than 200,000 other people buried there.
Dr Douglas Cawthorne, from the university’s digital building heritage group, which specialises in 3D digital reconstruction, said: “The cemetery is the final home to virtually all of those who died in the city during the Victorian period and they all have a story to tell.
“We think this is a really fascinating project to be part of – not only will we be developing the application, but we will be developing the content, too.”
The app will use global positioning technology (GPS) to establish where the user is in the cemetery and is expected to be finished by December 2013.
Dr Cawthorne said: “We can create digital animations of the people buried there who can talk about their lives, how they lived, and where they came from and all visitors have to do is point their phone or iPad towards an object or area to activate the animation.
“It’s a step further than wearing head phones and listening to some audio because this means we can actually see who we’re talking about.”
The Friends of Welford Road Cemetery will be working with De Montfort University on the project entitled Unlocking Victorian Leicester.
It has been funded by £6,100 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Chris Powis, chairman of the Friends of Welford Road Cemetery, which dates back to 1849, said: “This is a hugely exciting historical project, which we think will give a fascinating insight into the lives of people living in the city at that time.
“There are many interesting stories to come out of this, including those of murder victims such as Alice Starkey, whose throat was cut by her husband, and Australian nurse, Kathleen Brennan, who worked in a hospital in Leicester, but died of Spanish Flu.
“We’ll be helping to create the content for this project and I’m sure it will bring a whole new dimension to those who visit Welford Road.”
Welford Road Cemetery covers around 31 acres and is listed as a Grade II site in the English Heritage register of parks and gardens.