Map to the past, and back to the future
Fri, 29 May 2020

The archives team launched an app to turn back time; a virtual 'time machine' to see what used to be at various locations across Hull and East Yorkshire, using historic photos.

Until now, the What Was Here? app has let people see through to the past of their surroundings, from where they're standing, but now people will be able to see that past from a bird's eye perspective: with historic maps.

The What Was Here? app has gone back to the year 1855 to bring a map of Hull and the East Riding, superimposed onto a modern Google Maps base-map.

This allows the user to go back and forth from the present day to 1855 across the whole region using a special 'opacity slider'. Whether it is 'What was here?' before Princes Quay, Ferens Art Gallery or the KCOM stadium, or 'What was here?' before Bridlington Spa, or before Flemingate Shopping Centre in Beverley, the app is covered (using historic Ordnance Survey maps from the East Riding Archives). As a bonus, York is included too.  

Archivist Sam Bartle, the app's creator, said: "It's taken a while to get these maps onto the platform, but now they're here, in addition to the historic photos, we've doubled the fun of the app experience, and it's such a pleasure to be able to offer this new element to the public."

The historic maps timeline goes back even further with whole region maps for 1832, 1793, 1686 and 1610 (although these obviously don't compare in as much detail with the present day).

So-called 'enclosure' maps from the 1700s and 1800s are also on there. These were small surveys of the rural landscape and although only a few villages are currently included, this will be the first time many people have seen this kind of map,

At this year's Remarkable East Yorkshire Tourism Awards, What Was Here? was nominated finalist in two categories: Remarkable new tourism experience of the year and Remarkable new tourism business of the year.

It is currently English Tourism Week and, as with everything else, the tourism industry has been hit hard by COVID-19, with people having to adapt and many traditional visitor destinations unable to function as normal.

As social distancing is vital, the What Was Here? app puts the heritage tourism experience onto personal devices, removing he need for interaction with other and giving users a way of exploring an area responsibly through social distancing, provided users respect Government guidelines at all times.

What Was Here? is free on Google Play Store and the App Store, and there is a great experience for desktop PC users, available at www.whatwashere.org

Further details can be found on the East Riding Archives website under 'Archives Online'.


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