University of Roehampton
The Watts Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice in Postman's Park, London, contains fifty-four memorial tablets commemorating sixty-two individuals, men, women and children, each of whom lost their life while attempting to save another. The earliest case featured is that of Sarah Smith, a pantomime artist who died in 1863 trying to extinguish flames that had enveloped her friend. Those commemorated on the Watts memorial are predominantly ordinary working-class people who would have remained largely ‘hidden from history’ were it not for the circumstances of their death.
The Everyday Heroes of Postman’s Park project utilises mobile platforms, such as smartphones and tablets, to interactively engage public audiences with knowledge and interpretation about the Memorial. Many visitors chance upon the memorial accidently and, although captivated by the tragic stories, there is no onsite facility or insitu opportunity for them to discover more. The monument is grade-2 listed so it is not possible to install any physical interpretation. Our free mobile application creatively solves this problem and truly transforms public engagement with the memorial by establishing playful and innovative methods of connecting people with the history and heritage that physically surrounds them. The engagement process is straightforward and intuitive with visitors only having to point the camera of their device at any tablet in order to access the wealth of material about it. Users of the app are able to quickly and easily shift between the real and the digital, between the present and the past, between reality and imagination and simultaneously experience both the historical and contemporary space in entirely new ways.