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Alexandra Palace app brings First World War stories to life

An innovative iPhone app developed by the Middlesex University Media Department tells stories from the First World War when the Alexandra Palace was used as an internment camp

Helen Bendon with a user during testing of the Time Stands Still app

Students and staff in the Media Department at Middlesex University have created a new iPhone app to bring the untold war stories of London's iconic Alexandra Palace to life.

During World War I the north London building was used as an internment camp for 3,000 German, Austrian and Hungarian civilians and the new Time Stands Still app allows visitors to explore the Palace during this period.

Users of the locative audio app can walk around the grounds and hear different stories, diary entries and poems depending on their GPS location – all of which were inspired by Ally Pally Prison Camp, the 2011 book by Creative Writing Lecturer Dr Maggie Butt.

Led by Senior Lecturer in Film Helen Bendon, the app was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and sponsored by the Alexandra Palace, who are now using it as part of their education programme.

"We wanted to reflect the very varied and sometimes contradictory accounts," says Helen.

"On the south slopes you might find someone digging the frozen ground trying to grow their own food because the camp food is rotten. Alongside this content you may hear an official inspector telling you just what great quality the meals were during his inspection."

Archive images from the Alexandra Palace during World War I

The result of a collaboration between students and staff from across the Media Department, Time Stands Still is part of a series of projects Middlesex has worked on with the Alexandra Palace.

This includes a film made in 2014 by the Television Production team which has been watched by tens of thousands of visitors to the attraction.

"Responses to the app experience have been really positive", adds Helen.  "The nature of this kind of project is collaborative, and the team that we formed at Middlesex have been fantastic to work with."

Time Stands Still is free to download for iOS in the App Store.

Top: Helen Bendon (right) during user testing of the app.
Bottom: Archive footage from the Alexandra Palace during World War. Clockwise from top left: the allotment, the camp in the Great Hall, the boating lake.

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