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The BoilerHouse at Foxton Locks now open for a fantastic day out

Visitors can explore the history of the Inclined Plane in new interactive exhibit with smartphone app that recreates the famous boat lift using virtual reality.

The new BoilerHouse at Foxton Locks is now open to visitors following a major investment and development of the facilities at this world-famous lock staircase and Inclined Plane in Leicestershire. The new exhibition space includes immersive and interactive digital technology to showcase the rich history of the Inclined Plane, together with a new app that virtually recreates and simulates the boat lift.

The BoilerHouse at Foxton Locks shows how the Inclined Plane worked and brings to life what it was like to live and work on the canals and locks of Victorian waterways. The BoilerHouse displays a fascinating range of exhibits including an interactive game where visitors can stoke the boiler to create the right conditions for the Inclined Plane, an immersive theatre and the app that brings the boats back to life.

The new ‘Foxton Discovery’ app uses the latest Augmented Reality (AR) technology to recreate the Inclined Plane boat lift. Using a marker system at Foxton Locks, visitors will be able to use their smart phones or tablets to see the Inclined Plane working, precisely as the boats would have made their actual journeys and all in real time.

To download the app, visit Google Play Store, Apple App Store or www.foxton-locks.co.uk. It is free to download for information but requires a £3.99 in app purchase to unlock the full virtual reality experience. Buying this upgrade gives a free admission into The BoilerHouse.

The project has been supported by the Arts Council’s Renaissance Strategic Support Fund and hardware was sponsored by experiential solution expert, Holovis. The successful bid to secure the Arts Council funding was led by Leicester Shire Promotions with support from The Canal & River Trust, Foxton Inclined Plane Trust, Leicestershire County Council and Harborough District Council.

Martin Peters, Chief Executive of Leicester Shire Promotions added: “The development of The BoilerHouse at Foxton Locks has created a major new visitor experience in Leicestershire, providing people with a virtual window into the sights of the Victorian waterways and the unique Inclined Plane boat lift at Foxton.”

All technology was delivered in partnership with Holovis and was designed at the company’s Innovation Campus in Lutterworth using their virtual reality CAVE technology and the complete museum fit-out was carried out by the Holovis team as a turn-key project.

Stuart Hetherington, CEO of Holovis explained: “We are delighted to be deploying our knowledge and expertise to preserve this fantastic local historic site by bringing it back to life using the latest technology. Usually our virtual and augmented reality solutions are used within the automotive, manufacturing, defence, and theme park industries, so it’s exciting to be using these cutting edge systems in a very different way, giving the public a chance to explore Foxton Locks as it once was through an interactive and highly immersive experience.”

Steve Bowyer from the Foxton Inclined Plane Trust said: “Our investment in digital technology adds a whole new dimension to a visit to Foxton. Designed to engage visitors of all ages and interests we believe that the history of Foxton and the iconic Victorian boat lift will fascinate visitors and make a day out at the locks even more special.”

James Clifton from the Canal & River Trust said: “In Victorian times, the boat lift was considered the forefront of modern engineering so it’s really fitting that we have brought the lift back to life using today’s modern technology. With this new virtual tour a new generation of canal explorers can see how exactly how the boat the lift worked and appreciate just how simple yet brilliant it really was.”

Last updated September 2015