Virtual Norwich with the Red Hatters

Last Sunday, I embarked on a completely new experience, running a live streamed tour in Norwich for Virtual Trips. My tour, ‘Norwich – one thousand years of history in 45 minutes‘, started on the steps of City Hall and went clockwise round the outside of the Market Place, ending up at St Peter Mancroft Church and The Forum.

Up to 300 people can join a Virtual Trips tour and explore the World from the comfort of their living room. It’s a perfect concept for this lockdown era. But I am sure it will continue to grow in popularity as we emerge from the pandemic.

With excellent support from the Virtual Trips team, I have been learning new skills. I have also picked up tips from watching fellow guides in action.  My phone is inserted into a gimbal/stabiliser to make the live stream as smooth as possible.  People on the tour can take postcard photographs, so it’s important to think of good views of historic buildings and keep the view stable.

My fellow tourists can also interact with me through a chat function, which runs down the right-hand side of the live stream feed, as I talk to them via my headset. The chat function was very active on Sunday, with people sending greetings, including  lots of members of the Red Hat Society from the UK, USA and Canada. Janet S, a local Red Hatter, had recommended the tour worldwide. It was great watching the Red Hatters pop up on the screen and say hello to each other.

Just under 170 people joined the virtual trip – huge numbers when you consider I would normally take a maximum of 20 on an in-person tour. There was a good mix of locals and people who had never been to Norwich, along with those who had links with the city. Jennifer G’s (Newfoundland) grandfather had been a Canon at Norwich Cathedral. There was also a former Norwich School of Art student and a former Norwich nurse, along with people who had been born in Norwich, or had relatives in the area.

The chat function was very busy throughout the 45 minutes with comments and questions. Web links were posted by those on the tour to help add to what I had been talking about. There were also several suggestions for other tours that I might do, notably the Norwich Cathedral area and Julian of Norwich.

It’s free to join a Virtual Trips tour, then, if you’ve enjoyed yourself, you can leave a tip. I have two tours  scheduled for next month so far, on Friday 5 March at 1.30pm and Saturday 13 March at 1.30pm.  For more information and booking click here.


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