A new QR audio trail across Lewes district has been formally launched with the support of the Southeast Communities Rail Partnership.

Audioways QR signs tell eclectic, site-specific stories – from Lewes ghosts and wartime pig adoption to the fascinating stories of the chalk and flint which surround us.

These free, easy-to-access audio recordings are set in Lewes town and at five railway stations along the Lewes to Seaford line.

With the support of Southern Rail, SCRP, Lewes District Council, Lewes Town Council and the Enjoolata Foundation, co-producers Jeannine Inglis Hall and Galia Pike have worked with a wide range of collaborators from paleontologists, archaeologists and historians to residents who have shared their local insights and personal stories to create a trail of short audio recordings.

Co-producers Jeannine Inglis Hall and Galia Pike launch the codes trail at Lewes station alongside Chris Fowler, director of customer services at Southern

Featuring diverse themes ranging from local prehistory to history, ecology, archaeology and more, the recordings will be accessed via colour-coded QR signs dotted around Lewes town and local stations. Participants will be able to listen to these recordings as a singular experience or curate their own route to listen to them all. The trail is a great way to explore the local area on foot or via rail – discovering new and interesting stories as you go.

QR code in use

With stories as diverse as adopted pigs, Lewes ghosts, a 20-year love affair with Lewes FC and the fascinating stories of the chalk and flint which surround us, the project promises a story to interest everyone.

Audioways have worked with a team of Lewes district locals: Susie Maidment, paleontologist at The Natural History Museum, Dr Michael Shapland, senior archaeologist from UCL and several Sussex historians including Kevin Gordon and Dr Jenny Flood. They have also gathered local voices and oral history recordings (with thanks to the British Library, Imperial War Museum and The Keep).

Co-producer Galia Pike said: “We have a wealth of fascinating stories in Lewes. Audioways is a great opportunity to share these – connecting tourists, young people and the wider community to the many tales from our district. Not only will the project make these stories more accessible, it will also create a community resource which can be built upon and evolved over time.”

Co-producer Jeannine Inglis Hall commented: “Everyone benefits from the project – it’s free at point of access, instantly conveys local knowledge and clearly communicates historical and present connections. The site-specific format immerses participants in their environment and aims to change our perception of the spaces we inhabit.”

Lewes District Council’s tourism, arts and heritage manager, Helen Browning Smith, said: “Audioways is a great way to engage with all visitors to Lewes. This is an inventive and fun method of telling the rich story of our town and it celebrates the unique creative spirit of our brilliant community. I’m looking forward to seeing how the project grows.”

Southern’s support has been key to the success of the project. Chris Fowler, customer services director at Southern, explains: “The trail is great as it’s free to participate and is helping to promote sustainable tourism. By taking the train to get to QR locations between Lewes and Seaford, by using one of our electric trains you’ll be using one of the greenest and quickest ways to travel. We’re looking forward to welcoming passengers exploring the local area on-board and help people discover new and familiar parts of the UK.”

The initial phases of the trail can be accessed around Lewes town centre and the following stations: Lewes, Southease, Newhaven Town, Bishopstone and Seaford.

Following funding support from Lewes District Council and Southern Rail for phase one, Audioways is currently working on the next phases of their project with help from Lewes District Council and the Enjoolata Foundation – producing codes in partnership with Sussex Past to tell more stories from around the district.

The Audioways map will be built on over time with many more audio codes planned.