What Was Here App Takes On A Whole New Dimension

What Was Here App Takes On A Whole New Dimension
What Was Here App Takes On A Whole New Dimension

Last year, East Riding Archives unveiled a new app to turn back time. 

‘What was Here’ is a virtual ‘time machine’ on or tablet devices to let users see what used to be at various locations across 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…with 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 & forth to the year 1955 on their adventures.  For ‘What Was Here?’ we’ve gone back 100 years earlier to 1855 to bring you a map of 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 Spa, or ‘what was here’  before Flemingate shopping centre in ; or ‘what was here’  before , , or the 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). 

So-called ‘Enclosure’ maps from the 1700s and 1800s are also included – 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 will have seen this kind of map, which would normally entail a visit to the Archives. 

At this year’s ‘Remarkable East Yorkshire Tourism Awards’ (REYTAs), ‘What Was Here?’ was nominated ‘Finalist’ in two categories: ‘Remarkable New Tourism Experience of the Year’, and ‘Remarkable New Tourism Business of the Year’.

Councillor Shaun Horton, the portfolio holder for tourism, culture and leisure, said:

“It’s currently English Tourism Week and, as with everything else, the tourism industry has been hit hard by , with everyone having to adapt and many traditional visitor destinations unable to function as normal.

“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.” 

‘What Was Here?’ 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

More details can be found on the East Riding Archives website under ‘Archives Online’ at https://www.eastridingarchives.co.uk/archives-online/

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