Literary Footsteps, Preston

19 September 2014

Chris Theobald

UCLan Students celebrate Proud Preston’s Literary Heritage.

More than 200 first year students from the School of Language, Literature and International Studies, at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) have taken take part in Preston’s first literary tour using QR codes.

The tour was the brain-child of Elsa Carron, a third year student of English Literature with Japanese and Dr Helen Day, Senior Lecturer in English Literature. Elsa, originally from Switzerland, was employed as Helen’s research intern over the summer; she researched and set up the tour in just 10 weeks. 

Elsa, an international student from Switzerland, explained:

“We wanted to combine literature with technology, so we’ve linked each location to online content that is easily accessible via a QR code.”


Armed with a map detailing Preston and the UCLan campus, a list of clues and a smart phone, students searched for the QR codes, which have been placed around the city and campus. Each QR code is a link to a webpage that contains a mini biography of the author, an extract from their writing, related courses at UCLan and nearby features of interest.

Participants are invited to take a selfie with props at some locations, including a pair of pointy shoes next to a tombstone outside St Peter’s Art Centre on the UCLan campus. In Joseph Delany’s fantasy series The Spook’s Apprentice, main character Tom Ward is warned by the Spook not to trust village girls with pointy shoes (as they are probably witches)!

Elsa explained: “The tour encourages people to take a closer look at the area around them. It's a great way to introduce the city to students, whilst allowing them to discover authors and literary figures who've either written about Preston, lived there or were born there.”

Helen Day added:

“The aims of this tour are twofold – firstly to celebrate Preston’s proud literary heritage and secondly to introduce new students to the University campus and the wonderful City of Preston."

"Setting up the tour has been a revelation as I have learned so much and have discovered so many beautiful and interesting locations in Preston that I didn’t know before.”

The tour celebrates Preston’s links with famous writers such as Charles Dickens, Daniel Defoe, J R R Tolkien, Elizabeth Gaskell, Karl Marx, Gerald Manley Hopkins, Anthony Burgess and Thomas de Quincey, as well as lesser-known authors such as Angela Brazil, one of the first writers of school stories for girls, and poets Robert William Service and Francis Thompson. It also celebrates UCLan staff who are also published writers and poets such as Elizabeth Burns, Yvonne Reddick and Dinesh Allirajah.

Local businesses, from the hugely popular Harris Museum & Art Gallery, to niche cafes like Korova Arts Café which hosts poetry readings, were delighted to be included.

Elsa concluded: “We will be approaching Preston’s Tourist board in the next few months to investigate the possibility of setting up a more permanent version of the tour so that all students, visitors and Prestonians alike can take part.”


Visit our facebook page or email Helen Day for news and events relating to everything literary including visits by authors, creative writing competitions, links with libraries and writing groups, as well as student, staff & alumni projects, publications and successes.