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Heritage Connect Lincoln

How much do we know about the history and ecology of our hometown?Not enough if we are truthful!Heritage Connect has changed that for the city of Lincoln in the East Midlands. 

Heritage Connect helps people make a stronger, richer connection to the places where they live, work and visit.

Heritage Connect uses web and mobile technology to enable people to access and contribute to a unique resource about the city of Lincoln.

Map of Lincoln
Mobile view of website


Heritage Connect Lincoln displays the results of the Lincoln Townscape Assessment (2005 to 2009), and contains the findings from a number of heritage related projects conducted in the city since 1993, including:

  • The Lincoln Heritage Database (1993 - Ongoing)
  • The Lincoln Archaeological Research Assessment (2000 to 2003)
  • Lincoln Ecological Survey (2006)

Using videos, MP3 audio, maps, photographs, interactive maps, descriptive text and GPS navigation, the Heritage Connect Lincoln site can be used by residents and visitors alike to find out about the heritage of different places in the city, how they formed and why they look and feel the way they do today.  There is also scope for people to add their own knowledge and memories to the website, and to upload photos and videos.   

Heritage Connect Lincoln is the first of its type in the country. This ambitious product was delivered in partnership by Free Rein Ltd, the City of Lincoln Council, English Heritage and The Heritage Lottery Fund. Audio-visual material was produced by Dragoman Sound Guides.

Children looking through spyglass

Their Needs

Heritage Connect Lincoln – the first website of its kind in the UK - cumulates over 17 years of work bringing together colossal amounts of information about the city’s rich character.Available on smart phones as well as desktop computers, the website reaches into many aspects of Lincoln life.The site reflects almost £1 million of investment in the city’s heritage in a partnership with the City of Lincoln Council, The Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage.

Heritage Connect Lincoln was formally launched on the 22nd of June 2010 at The Old Palace in Lincoln.A further launch seminar entitled ‘Connecting People with Place’ was held by the Historic Towns Forum in Lincoln on 5th of July 2010 and was attended by over 60 local authorities and heritage professionals from across the UK.

For Lincoln people

Easy to use for local people and visitors, the website splits the city into 108 different ‘character areas’, showing detailed information about each place using maps, photos, descriptions and videos.As well as finding out about their own neighbourhoods, people have the chance to add to the site, giving their memories or comments on particular areas and uploading their own pictures.

Adam Partington, Townscape Character Projects Manager at the City of Lincoln Council, has managed the project and helped to build the website itself.He said:“Heritage Connect is a website that connects people with places.It gives them an understanding of how a place has developed into its current character over time, and why it is functioning the way it is today.A simple example might be explaining why Eastgate carries such high levels of traffic.The reason is because, after 2,000 years, it is still the main eastern gateway to what was the upper Roman city.

“This website is about Lincoln’s entire character, but it’s not about individual monuments or buildings – it’s about all the places that make up Lincoln.There are traces of the past everywhere in the city and if you know where and how to look, you can understand the reasons why a place looks and feels the way it does today.

For Lincoln’s future

The information brought together on Heritage Connect will now be an important tool for local authorities, businesses and organisations in shaping the future of Lincoln.The site will be used as part of the planning process, as a reference and consultation tool and for attracting tourists to the city, helping them and residents make the most of what the city has to offer.It will also impact the city’s young generation, with local schools shown how to include the site in various projects – ranging from history and art to science and geography.

Paul Seddon, Development Control Manager at the City of Lincoln Council, said:“Heritage Connect is already helping to manage change in Lincoln.We use it in the planning process and when looking at the overall vision for the city, to consider how new developments and changes to the city’s built environment contribute to the existing and historic character of a place.”

Since Launch in June 2010 there have been over 4000 visitors per month to Heritage Connect Lincoln, viewing over 30,000 pages of information.This is currently increasing at 1000 visitors per month and 10,000 pages of information per month

The Challenge

The Heritage Connect website is available on smart phones as well as on desktop computers.It uses GPS technology, locating the user in a specific character area of the city, letting them know what is in the surrounding area.Web development company Free Rein Ltd built the site.“Heritage Connect has been designed to embrace the mobile internet and offers an optimised experience for smartphone users (e.g. iPhone and Android).Heritage Connect uses W3C Geolocation to suggest points of interest that are close to your current location – e.g. Monuments and Character Areas, and open standards such as GeoJSON and Google Maps for the storage, delivery and presentation of geospatial information.”

Eighteen character areas of the city have ‘Sense of Place’ videos on the site, which give people a broad understanding of the historical development of an area, focussing on the things to look out for when trying to read the past in the present.They encourage people to be ‘place detectives’, discovering and experiencing the character of a place.Three areas – Steep Hill, High Street and Bailgate – also have point-to-point ‘Heritage Trails’, which unite to form one journey through Lincoln’s past.

The Results

There are four main areas where Heritage Connect Lincoln has offered benefits to City of Lincoln Council and the customers they support:-

Heritage Connect allows the City of Lincoln Council to provide a better service to the customers it serves and to better engage with them. The key customers affected by Heritage Connect include:-

i) Local people – The website helps local people look at a place and – understand it – enjoy it – and tell other people about it.Understanding how to read the past in the present encourages people to become ‘Place Detectives’ .Communities can use the website to take greater ownership of their places, creating consultations about specific issues in their areas, and uploading memories, photos and comments directly to Heritage Connect Lincoln.

ii) Visitors/tourists – helping tourists get a more informed experience of Lincoln, whether planning in advance of a visit or finding out more about what the places around them have to offer when in the city.

iii) Developers/planners – Information in the site is already providing a context for planning, urban design and regeneration.The site empowers all stakeholders, planners, developers and residents alike to achieve better and more informed change in the city.

iv) Education – Huge amounts of information available for tertiary, secondary and primary sectors, including specific downloads such as bundles of historic maps for a specific area and written descriptions.Information is hands on, encouraging students to go out and explore their surroundings in an outdoor classroom approach.

v) Local business – the site will encourage people, whether local or visiting, to investigate all parts of Lincoln, and will be a useful tool for people coming to stay in Lincoln for the short or longterm.

Heritage Connect has led to significant changes in working practice within the City of Lincoln Council that in turn resulted in efficiency savings or performance improvements

i) Heritage Connect is now being used by the City of Lincoln Planning Department to improve the negotiation and dialogue with contractors/developers, integrated into the development management approach and is also now being used at planning appeals.

Heritage Connect has facilitated and improved the sharing and reuse of information within the City of Lincoln Council and with other local stakeholders

i) Heritage Connect is now being used as a resource by archaeological contractors, urban designers, architects, town planners, highways officers and developers to improve the quality plans and proposals submitted to the City of Lincoln planning department.

Heritage Connect has made better use of the extensive heritage related information held and maintained by City of Lincoln Council.

i) By using Heritage Connect any resident, business or visitor to the City of Lincoln can now readily have access to over 20 years of work online.This information was previously accessible ‘by appointment only’.

The Future

Heritage Connect Lincoln is the first of its type in the country.This ambitious product was delivered in partnership by Free Rein Ltd, the City of Lincoln Council, English Heritage and The Heritage Lottery Fund.

The underlying technology and infrastructure delivered for Heritage Connect Lincoln is both flexible and scalable and can easily accommodate other Heritage Connect projects.

Who knows, this time next years we may be talking about Heritage Connect Cambridge, Heritage Connect Oxford, or Heritage Connect Edinburgh.

For further information please contact:

Jeff Hume, Free Rein Ltd, 01473 810002, jeff.hume@free-rein.net

To see some recent articles about the launch event please visit:-