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Chester's walls can now talk – but listen out for 'fake news'

Project aims to encourage visitors to spend more money in Chester

Mobile phone technology means visitors can now listen to anecdotes linked to some of Chester’s well known buildings – but listen out for ‘fake news’!

The Talking Walls of Chester project, launched today (Thursday June 22), sees 26 walls brought to life with the help of well known locals and some famous Chester residents.

Smartphone users scan a code on a plaque attached to buildings including King Charles’ Tower, the cathedral and Grosvenor Museum as well as shops, cafes and restaurants. They then receive a phone call from the wall with a message about its interesting past.

ITV Granada presenter Lucy Meacock has voiced the Storyhouse cultural centre for the Talking Walls of Chester project.

ITV Granada’s Lucy Meacock, for example, is the voice of Chester’s new Storyhouse cultural centre, incorporating the former Odeon cinema which dates from the 1930s.

Unfortunately the researchers got their facts wrong so while Lucy recalls the Odeon's star-studded opening night was in 1937, in fact it took place in October 1936.

The Talking Walls website also wrongly claims Storyhouse is located 55-57 Watergate Row South instead of Hunter Street. And it says that another featured building, Alexander’s, once hosted Ed Sheenan (Ed Sheeran) and comedian Bill Monkhouse (Bob Monkhouse).

Colette Hiller, of Sing London, at the launch of the Talking Walls of Chester project at Booth Mansion in Watergate Street, Chester.

Colette Hiller, the charismatic director of Sing London, who delivered the project for CH1ChesterBID – Chester’s Business Improvement District (BID) – insisted Lucy Meacock’s message could not be re-recorded saying the year of opening may be wrong but whispered ‘don’t tell anyone’.

She added: “Let’s not get worked up about this please. If we got 37 it was from the research that was given to us and I would not start getting pernickety.”

Ms Hiller said the errors on the website could easily be corrected.

Other stories that can be heard feature a wine bar built in the very place that was once the gateway to Chester’s former Roman fortress; a family-run Italian restaurant with an ancient recipe on its walls; an independent coffee shop which housed one of the few families to survive the 1647 outbreak of bubonic plague and a furniture store with an 18th century love note etched into its windows.

BBC presenter Louise Minchin has voiced King Charles Tower on Chester’s City Walls as part of the Talking Walls of Chester project

BBC Breakfast presenter and Chester resident Louise Minchin has recorded the voice for King Charles Tower on Chester’s City Walls.

Her BBC colleague Roger Johnson of North West Tonight is the voice for Chester’s Grosvenor Museum.

And former Chester MP and University of Chester Chancellor Gyles Brandreth voiced Booth Mansion on Watergate Street where the project was launched.

Former Chester MP and University of Chester Chancellor Gyles Brandreth has voiced Booth Mansion on Watergate Street for the Talking Walls of Chester project.

Carl Critchlow, BID manager at CH1ChesterBID, told those gathered why the Talking Walls of Chester project was commissioned.

He said: “As Chester’s Business Improvement District, one of our key objectives is to drive footfall and increase dwell time.

"We want people to come into Chester and just as importantly, when they get here, we want them to stay. We know the longer we can encourage people to stay in Chester, the more likely they are to visit our businesses.”

BID manager at CH1ChesterBID Carl Critchlow(Image: Nick Spencer - NJS Photography)

The walls in Chester can be heard for a period of one year. Free trail maps are available from the Visitor Information Centre at Chester Town Hall or can be downloaded from the website.

There is no charge for calling a wall but standard network connection charges do apply.

For more information, visit the official Talking Walls of Chester website at www.talkingwallschester.co.uk.

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