Although the HullCraft site is only a few weeks old it has already attracted interest and questions from my fellow archivists – with everybody asking how, not why, we have got involved.

It all began with an appeal for donations of Lego for our family events centred around the archives of Bridlington born architect Francis Johnson. A brief piece about our events and the appeal appeared in the weekly email newsletter sent to all university staff and generated just one response –

“…just wondering if you had considered setting up a Minecraft server to extend the building activities that go on in the physical world to the virtual world?”

The question from Joel Mills led to a meeting – I had heard of Minecraft but never seen it until Joel showed me a walkthough of his childhood home and I was immediately convinced.

Joel worked on the website design and implemented the open badges element whilst Claire Weatherall (the project archivist working on the Francis Johnson collection) digitised a selection of plans from the archive and I created the thumbnails and added the plans (in jpg and PDF formats) to the HullCraft website.

Not only was the venture into Minecraft unexpected, it also happened very quickly – the idea became notes which Joel worked-up into a proposal and then a fully blown website in less than 6 weeks. The site was given a soft launch at the first of our family event days on 6th August and with only a few bits of promotion has already resulted in our first submissions (see the gallery of first approved builds). Seeing the creative process turning the historical plans into virtual and Lego masterpieces is really inspiring and allowing us to reach out to new audiences.

It is also encouraging us to be ambitious about how we can build-upon (no pun intended) this and do more. Initial ideas include the possibility of recreating the Hull University campus, or the entire city of Hull. Nor have our ideas been restricted to the current day – Minecraft offers us the chance to build iconic buildings from Hull’s past – the citadel, Beverley Gate, the Prudential tower, Albion Street museum….

The potential is limitless but with City of Culture 2017 rapidly approaching I am keen to hear from users wherever you are

Simon Wilson
Senior Archivist

Share →

Leave a Reply