The new Buckley Digital Trail

Following a generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund together with match funding from several local sources, Secretary Paul Davies and Archivist Carol Shone of the Buckley Society have been working in recent months on projects to contribute to the ‘Explore North East Wales’ tourism initiative which encourages people to learn more about their area and visitors to explore towns in Flintshire.

Our stated objectives were to create a digital trail around Buckley, to design a 4-sided visitor information point, to produce a short animated 3D film containing computer generated images of the town in times past and to gather information, images and fashions from the colourful history of the Tivoli Cinema and Nightclub.

The rich resources contained within the Society’s comprehensive archive proved of huge advantage and served our purpose well.

Our first challenge was to complete training on how to create a digital trail ‘app’ (application) for use on mobile phones and tablets. In preparation a plan was drawn up for the framework and a timeline was developed highlighting significant events in the town’s history. To meet the specifications required for the ‘app’, every photograph had to be resized, enhanced if needed and supporting, informative text had to be compiled.

At the start of the project all the primary schools in Buckley were visited and after a brief input into the history of the town, pupils in year four were invited to contribute material to the project. Each of the schools rose to the challenge with enthusiasm providing some wonderfully imaginative artwork, word searches, photographs, poems and short stories.

Drury Primary School pupils completed a clay project and the colourful ‘pinch pots’ they made are a treat to behold. Mountain Lane Primary School pupils looked at collieries and brickworks, contributing many pieces of imaginative artwork. Westwood Primary School pupils looked at wildlife and the countryside, sharing their favourite photographs, whilst Southdown Primary School pupils created several word searches. So many excellent word searches were created by Buckley school pupils that several have had to be combined. We are extremely grateful to the staff and pupils of all four schools for their much valued contribution.

Courtesy of Mandy Cartwright from the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust (ARC), features on the Buckley commons and wildlife include superb images of amphibians and reptiles that now inhabit the quarries and ponds at former industrial sites around the town. Mandy also provides an audio recording describing why Buckley is so important to ARC.

Committee member and keen photographer Kevin Williams snapped many modern images of the town to help demonstrate the changes that have occurred. Society member Ray Roberts who had previously carried out similar work for a trail in Mold used computer widgets to make some ‘then and now’ comparison images and to create several picture puzzles to engage the interest of the younger generation.

The completed bilingual Buckley digital trail highlights dozens of locations and facts of interest. It is filled with photos and information about the town as well as fun features. Using the app you can discover, for example, how the Buckley Jubilee started, and read a short history of the Royal Buckley Town Band. Links to audio recordings of the band performing are provided as well as film footage of Jubilee processions being led by the band. Audio and video links also enable you to listen to reminiscences, and examples of the old Buckley dialect.

The trail includes many areas of the town; it looks at social history, the industrial past, the natural environment and the town’s heritage. The history of the various coal and clay industries which powered the engine of the town’s prosperity and fashioned the Buckley landscape is described, with many illustrated examples of the type of clay products for which the town is famous.

The app is very user friendly and you do not need computer skills, just a modern touch screen Android phone / tablet or iPhone / iPad.

As the digital trail developed, so too work progressed developing the information sign and many adjustments were made before we were happy with the final lay out. Unfortunately, when the much-awaited day arrived to erect the sign in March 2020, Corona Virus lockdown measures had commenced. The town centre was busy with people queuing into shops at two-metre distances to each other and so the installation had to be abandoned on health and safety grounds. The bilingual sign is however now in position in front of the main shopping precinct. It is filled with images, local history and visitor information, the timeline, and a map of the town centre highlighting places of interest.

Martin Moss of Dextra Visual was commissioned to produce the short animated film containing computer generated images of the town in times past. The finished product surpassed our expectations and can be viewed via either Vimeo or You Tube see links below.

An initiative to gather information, images and fashions from the colourful history of the Tivoli Cinema and Nightclub was hampered by the Corona Virus outbreak. The need for social distancing and closure of the Heritage Centre lead to a ‘Memories’ day in March being cancelled. However Lorna Kernahan of ‘Keystone Heritage’ was approached to start up a Facebook page entitled Buckley Tivoli Memories. This proved an excellent initiative through which a considerable amount of material has been collated from which some exhibition banners were created.

It is hoped to organise a public event as soon as circumstances permit and to also hold an exhibition of fashions through the eras thereafter. Please make contact if you have anything to offer.



National Lottery Heritage Fund

Buckley Town Council

Aura Leisure and Libraries

Flintshire County Council, Countryside Services

Flintshire County Council, Tourism Department

Technical support

Jo Danson, Wow Factor interpretation

Bill Smuts, Interpretation, map & illustration

Ann Hughes, Welsh translation work

Martin Moss, 

To access the ‘App’ on your mobile phone or tablet

Search for ‘North East Wales’ in the App Store or in Google Play.

Animated film of Buckley industries click on either


About the National Lottery Heritage Fund

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the National Lottery Heritage Fund aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage.  Follow us on Twitter @heritagefundcym, Facebook @heritagefundcym, and Instagram @heritagefunduk

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