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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Guardian's audio app Streetstories features King's Cross Station

The area around King's Cross London Underground has always been rich in history. I remember the days when you never really hung around the Tube station at night as it was the haunt of ladies from the oldest trade in the world! Now with the brand spanking new concourse & station the area's much brighter & open, yet the old history still lurks around the corner. I was intrigued to hear about
The Guardian's new audio app & guide - Streetstories - which helps you explore the area.

Guardian Streetstories at King's Cross London Undergound Station

If you're in King's Cross, your smartphone knows exactly where you are, and plays audio relevant to your location. You can also listen if you're not near King's Cross.  The app, can be downloaded via 3G, features ten stories, althought there is also a much larger version of the app, Streetstories Extra, available on iPhone which has over 70 stories and about two hours of audio material, downloadable via Wi-Fi.  I'm going to try the Android version when I'm next around King's Cross (I've still haven't seen the new station yet!)


The video shows some of the areas & stories the app features. There's stories about 7/7 bombing, all of the architecture of around St Pancras station and hotels, and Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter extracts with his use of platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station to get to Hogwarts.

platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station by Tiki Chris
platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station by Tiki Chris

Francesca Panetta, The Guardian's Special Projects Editor, said: "Streetstories is a great way to experience an area in a new way, and we found out all kinds of things about the area during this project - Charles Dickens lived here for some of his childhood, Thomas Hardy worked as a trainee architect helping to clear bodies from St Pancras Old Church, and along York Way, where our building sits, you would have seen cattle being marched down the road from the Caledonian market, once the largest cattle market in Europe."

As with most audio guides you don't have to play in a particular order, so can wander round as the mood takes you.  Nina Lovelace, their Content Development Manager, said "We're keen to get feedback from users, as well as talk to any potential clients keen to develop similar apps for their locations, organisations or travel routes."

I'd personally love to see something like this for the East End as I'm now there for work and really have no idea of lots of the background & history around Bethnal Green and Whitechapel.  It might also be useful for visitors to the London Olympics if they decide to explore these areas on days off from the games.

You might also like
Walking the London Underground, Overground
Walking London's Lost Underground & Railway Stations: Do Not Alight Here
Stations of the London Metropolis - Oliver Green Talk 
Interview with Christopher Fowler - Tube crime & horror writer
King's Cross Tube Renovation Pictures


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