The Great Storm of 1859 has returned to Wales through augmented-reality technology, especially for those interested in underwater archaeology, historic shipwrecks and coastal tales of disaster and bravery.
Cambrian News reported “In celebration of Visit Wales’ Year of the Sea, Cadw has launched a brand new digital experience, which will allow users to relive the infamous Great Storm of 25–26 October 1859.
Available through the existing Cadw app, the new digital package uses audio-storytelling and AR technology in a steampunk design, to bring a sea of fascinating stories from the fatal historic event to life.
The launch coincides with the 159th anniversary of the Great Storm, which overnight, wrought devastation across Wales, causing serious repercussions for many Welsh coastal communities.
With details on everything from the Great Storm’s catastrophic shipwrecks to its shocking coastal ruins, the new app update will provide users with audio-visual ‘on-the-spot’ reports of what happened that night, including a virtual recreation of the storm — which is known as Wales’ worst-ever maritime tragedy.
Users can unlock access to a whole host of gripping tales at 13 different locations across the country, including Aberystwyth, Aberporth, New Quay and Porthgain.
Spanning Rhyl to Barry Island, the app’s ‘live’ reports are delivered by a Victorian news anchor, Joseph Potter, via Potter’s Electric News Telectroscope Service — a modern take on the late Haverfordwest local newspaper, Potters Electric News.
The Great Storm digital experience can be accessed by searching for Cadw in the app store (Android or Apple), downloading the Cadw app onto your smart device and selecting the Great Storm package, located within the Digital Tours section.
In Aberystwyth, users can discover the deadly dilemma faced by ships out at sea when harbour master Robert Pugh, failed to illuminate the harbour light on the night of the Great Storm. The location for the event is Aberystwyth RNLI lifeboat station.
In New Quay, AR allows users to experience the moment the lighthouse, known locally as the Pepper Pot, was destroyed by the storm causing 11 ships to lose their way to safety.
Schooners and smacks such as the Louisa Jane, the Catherine, the Mary Anne and Major Nannery were among the many wrecks discovered in the aftermath.
The location is the ‘STORM’ plaque on the pier wall (behind the yacht club.
In Aberporth, seven fishing vessels were dragged out to sea from the beach and destroyed into splinters.
After the storm, identifying the shipwrecks proved to be a mammoth task, with very little product left for guidance.
The location is the beach front car park and make your way across the sand to a timber hull of a ship.
The Danish registered barque, Carolina, was docked at Porthgain harbour when the Great Storm hit.
With her crew safe inland, luckily there was no loss of life, but the violence of the storm tore the ship apart, taking Porthgain Harbour with it, wrecking a vital economic asset to the local quarrying industry.
The location is the Welcome to Porthgain panel at the harbourside in Porthgain.
Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport, Lord Elis-Thomas said: “This innovative digital experience is yet another example of how Cadw is successfully using cutting-edge technology to make Welsh heritage easier to access, digest and enjoy.
“In the past, we have successfully used augmented-reality technology, 360-degree cameras and aerial video to provide the local people of Wales, and visitors alike, with new and exciting ways to engage with our rich history.
“And during Visit Wales’ Year of the Sea, I hope that this new offering will encourage people of all ages to engage with the history of the Great Storm of 1859, which is deeply embedded within Wales’s unique historic environment” here.