With traditional tours of the Tunnel currently limited to single household groups, an £18,000 grant from Historic England earlier this year has enabled the Trust to develop an online experience that can be accessed anywhere in the world.
The resultant Virtual Victoria Tunnel Experience is optimised for computers, tablets or mobile phones and features a range of narrated videos alongside a real-life tour guide delivering an illustrated presentation of the 19th century structure.
“At a time when everyone’s safety and wellbeing is of critical importance, I’m delighted we have found the means to adapt our offer for an even broader audience, offering even more people the opportunity to engage with the heritage of the Ouseburn Valley from the comfort of their homes,” says Chris Barnard, chief officer of the Ouseburn Trust.
With the attraction having welcomed more than 15,000 visitors in 2019, the loss of income endured throughout lockdown and the subsequent limits on tour groups has left the Ouseburn Trust – which oversees the Tunnel as an independent charity – in need of new revenue streams.
The Virtual Victoria Tunnel Experience will admit its first digital visitors on Tuesday 3rd November at 7pm, with tickets priced at £5 per device. Alongside this inaugural foray into virtual experiences, the Trust has also announced plans for an autumn/winter programme of online talks.
In addition to welcoming back supporters in a new way, the charity hopes these digital tours will enable it to reach new audiences, such as those who have previously been unable to visit due to additional mobility needs, anxiety, claustrophobia or physical proximity.