THE Keane Trail, which launched to much fanfare in February, has provided a welcome boost to businesses in Battle, Bexhill and Hastings this summer.
The Battle Marketing Group, funded by Rother District Council and in collaboration with 1066 Country Marketing, created a geographical tour of the band’s Strangeland album.
The intuitive and well-informed website features key locations as featured in the music of Battle boys Keane, including the 1066 battlefield and Bexhill’s Sovereign Light Cafe, in a bid to encourage new visitors into the area.
The Keane Trail was well-received by the band’s worldwide fan base, with the new trail inspiring many to make the trip.
Christina, a Keane fan from Germany, had visited the area before and returned to 1066 Country for a break this summer.
She said: “I stayed for two nights at Chestnut Meadow Camping, had breakfast at the Sovereign Light Cafe and lunch at the Abbey Cafe.
“I absolutely loved it and will definitely come back when I plan to do the 1066 Country Walk and visit Hastings Castle.”
Sandra Wood, who hails from a village in Lincolnshire, said: “We followed the Keane Trail everywhere and then some!
“We stayed at Lilac Tree Lodge in Battle, which is a beautiful place. Pauline and Bob are lovely people who looked after us.
“We visited the Abbey which was beautifully quiet until Battle Tactics started! We walked the battlegrounds too.”
But the idea of the Keane Trail isn’t new, with some fans previously visiting the area to follow their own Keane trail.
But by adding new locations to the trail, it has encouraged many to make a return trip.
Fan Kaz Wright acted as an adviser when the official Keane Trail was put together.
She said: “I did the Keane Trail long before it became THE ‘Keane Trail’.
“I visited Battle and Bexhill in October 2009, three weeks after the band first sang Sovereign Light Cafe on their North American tour.
“I’ve also helped organise two fan gatherings in Battle, in 2010 and 2011.
“About 15-20 of us stayed at the Abbey Inn, did the Keane Trail and held a raffle and did other things to raise money for Rwanda Aid.”
She added: “The first time I saw the De La Warr Pavilion I thought it would be a great venue for a Keane gig.
“Last year, my wish came true.”
The Keane Trail has also inspired plans for an international gathering of fans in 2015.
Jolien Bakker, from Apeldoorn in The Netherlands, is organising the event which could see fans from as far away as Australia and Japan make the epic journey to 1066 Country.
Liz Honey, from the Battle Marketing Group, said: “A lot of Keane’s fans hold Battle and Bexhill close to their hearts and for some of them it can be quite a spiritual visit.
“These are the places they’ve heard about since 2004 but more so since the launch of the Strangeland album last year.
“Keane understand how much this area means to their fans which is why they became involved in the Keane Trail project.
“The trail helps make sites of significance known and accessible to the fans, particularly those sites less well known or not necessarily name-checked in the lyrics.
“And we’ve learned a lot from the fans too - it’s thanks to their in-depth knowledge that we’ve included sites including Chequers Inn and Pilgrims Rest.
“They’re a great bunch and it’s fun interacting with them and hearing about their visits, particularly on Twitter.
“A couple of significant new sites will be added to the Keane Trail website in the coming weeks.”
Jane Ellis, from the 1066 Country Marketing Group, said: “The sun has truly shone on 1066 Country in what has been a fantastic summer.
“The Keane Trail, launched by the Battle Marketing Group back in February, has helped to attract a new type of visitor to the area.
“Keane fans have been discovering the attractions of 1066 Country, in particular Battle and Bexhill, by following the trail.
“Some have made a short break of their stay, using local accommodation and the towns’ eateries too.
“Though more difficult to measure, the knock on effect of this visitor spend to other businesses will have been considerable.
“They haven’t stayed quiet about their trips either.
“Via the Keane Trail Facebook and Twitter accounts the fans have spread the word about their visits and we all know that there is no better form of marketing than word of mouth recommendation.
“Though we can’t guarantee wall to wall sunshine as we have had this summer, we look forward to even more fans coming down to follow the Keane Trail where they’ll be assured of a warm welcome.”
The Keane Trail was set up with the co-operation of the band and is a not-for-profit project.
To check out the trail for yourself, visit www.keanetrail.org.uk