East Riding Archives app mapping out area’s history

People who are still staying at home during the COVID-19 crisis can turn back in time thanks to the East Riding Archives.

Thursday, 4th June 2020, 11:22 am
The Bridlington 1855 map close-up.
The Bridlington 1855 map close-up.

The ‘What was Here’ app is a virtual time machine on smartphones or tablet devices that lets users 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 users see through to the past of their surroundings from where they are standing, but now they can also see that past from a bird’s-eye perspective via historic maps.

Archivist Sam Bartle, who created the app, said: “In Back To The Future, Marty McFly and Doc Brown did a lot of travelling back and forth to the year 1955 on their adventures.

An Hunmanby Enclosure map (early 1800s).

“Using the What Was Here’ app we’ve gone back 100 years earlier to 1855 to bring you a map of Hull and the East Riding, superimposed onto a modern Google Maps base-map.

“This lets you go back and forth from the present day to 1855 across the whole region using a special ‘opacity slider’.

“Whether it be ‘what was here’ before Bridlington Spa, or ‘what was here’ before Flemingate shopping centre in Beverley; or ‘what was here’ before Princes Quay, Ferens Art Gallery, or the KCOM stadium, we’ve got your patch covered in 1855 (using historic Ordnance Survey maps from the East Riding Archives). There’s also the added bonus of York being included, too.

“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 new historic maps timeline goes back even further than 1855 with whole region maps for 1832, 1793, 1686, and 1610 (although these don’t compare in as much detail with the present day).

Councillor Shaun Horton, portfolio holder for tourism, culture and leisure, said: “In times like these, when social distancing is vital, the ‘What Was Here?’ app puts the heritage tourism experience onto our personal devices, removing the need for interaction with others, and so giving users a way of exploring an area responsibly through social distancing, provided that they respect Government guidelines at all times.”

The What Was Here? tool is free on Google Play Store and the App Store.

There’s also a great experience for desktop PC users available at www.whatwashere.org

Visit www.eastridingarchives.co.uk/archives-online/ under ‘Archives Online’ to find out more information.