Android technology brings Buxton’s past to life

13 July 2016

Tourism students at the University of Derby have used Android technology to bring echoes from the past back to life in an audio tour of the Buxton campus.

They have created an app for Android tablets called ‘Horses to Courses’, which guides visitors around the historic Devonshire Dome – reflecting the Grade II* listed building’s history which began as a gigantic stable, became a hospital and is now listed in the Guardian league tables as a Top 50 UK university.

The tours, which are on tablets that can be hired at £3 a time from the University Library, will meet a demand from the many tourists who often drop into the Dome.

Built in 1779 by the Fifth Duke of Devonshire, the Campus building was originally a stable to serve The Crescent, currently being restored as the Peak District’s first five-star hotel.

The central exercise yard was covered more than 100 years later with what was then the largest unsupported dome in the world when the building was donated to the community for use as a hospital.

Its eventual owners, the NHS, declared it redundant in 2000, but six years later it was opened by Prince Charles as the University’s Buxton Campus.

The University prides itself on providing an experiential learning experience and this is one of the examples of how students are equipped with various transferrable skills for their careers.

Senior Tourism Lecturer Dr Iride Azara, at the University of Derby, who was in charge of the project, said she had come to Buxton as a tourist from Sardinia but had now made it her home.

Buxton Building

“I was mesmerised by the architecture, and most importantly by this building,” she said. “I feel a great sense of pride and protectiveness about it and the million and one stories this building has to tell.”

Part of the project was to educate students who would be able to communicate their own passion about tourism.

BA Destination Management student Laura Jane Stewart was project manager of the audio tours. She said: “The experience has been a part of the real world learning that was promised when I signed up for the University.”

Dr Sarah Rawlinson, Head of the School of Hotel Resort and Spa Management, at the University of Derby added: “Our historic environment is more than just a matter of legacy of wonderful architecture. It is central to how we see ourselves.

“There is significant research showing that students are influenced by the history and heritage of where they study. Derbyshire provides us with a rich heritage which we need to embrace as part of our University offering.”

The audio tour starts from the University Library.