Project Newport

Past, Present, Future

Half term, February 2017

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Your challenge

The idea is simple... Over half term create your idea of the past, present or future of Newport.

If you want you can send us pictures or videos of your creations. [Safety rule: never ever mention your own house or school!]

To start you off we've created a Minecraft "colouring book" version of Newport, which shows the river, buildings and trees, but is quite boring. It's your job to make it more accurate or more historical or more futuristic.

On Saturday the 25th we have a drop in afternoon where I'll be talking about the project, and you can meet other enthusiasts and compare notes. Check back to this webpage for more details about how to share your creations and the drop-in event.

To share your work, take one or more screenshots to show it off. It can be a little tricky to find the screenshots folder, but here are some instructions.

If you are under 18, please ask a parent to send the email for you. By sending us your images you give us permission to publish them on the web, display them, and give them to media agencies to publish.

Send your work to:

(There are no prizes, we're just doing this for fun).

After half term, check back to this page to see what people submitted.


Images on this website may be used on this site under a CC-BY-NC license. Press may use the images for the purposes of describing the project. You may not use images I created for making money or advertising your business (without my permission).

These downloads are Minecraft maps for use with the PC or OSX or Linux version of Minecraft. They won't work on Playstation, XBox or tablets, sorry.

Each of these downloads is a ZIP file which you will need to unzip. The resulting folder should be moved to your Minecraft "saves" directory. They you will have the option to play that would when you choose "single player". If you need more help see this guide to installing new Minecraft maps.

If you have any trouble, drop me an email, and when I next read my email I'll try to help.

Download Base Newport Map

This map is built from data from OpenStreetmap and DEFRA. It reaches from St Mary's Hospital and Medina College all the way to Carisbrooke Castle.

Download page

I'm using MinecraftMapWorld to host the map as they've got a nifty feature that lets you view it in a web browser.

Osborne House

OK, Osborne House isn't really in Newport, but it's a nice big historical building, so I was asked if I could add a map for it. It's just an outline. Can you make it more accurate?

Download Osborne House map.

Source Code

The software for producing minecraft worlds from LIDAR data and open streetmap is free to reuse (if you manage to figure it out).

Software page.

Minecraft Newport of the Past

The good thing about the past is there is a lot of it to choose from. People have lived around Newport for thousands of years.

Here's some ideas to inspire you.


Wikipedia - has a bit of the history of the area

Postcards from Newport 1900

Old maps of the Isle of Wight


Here's some ideas, but do whatever inspires you!

Newport 1900

Try to rebuild part of the town from the 1900 pictures. Stone roads, horses, gas lights.

Osborne House

OK, it's really in Cowes, but it's a piece of the history of Britain. It was the home of Queen Victoria and has lovely complicated gardens that might be fun to build.

The Roman Villa

The remains of a Roman Villa was discovered near Newport. What would it have looked like?

Newport a really long time ago...

We know from the fossils that there were lots of dinosaurs on the Isle of Wight. That could make a cool model.

Carisbrooke Castle

Castles are a Minecraft classic and the Newport area has it's very own. There's been a stronghold on that site for more than 1000 years, and the model I've made really picks out the earthworks nicely, and someone could do something brilliant building the castle how it would have been in times past.

You can zoom around the site here...

Minecraft Newport 2017

Building a model of part of modern Newport is in some ways the easiest option. It's also the hardest because people know what it should look like.

When I built my model of Ventnor Seafront, I used lots of tools. I used Google Earth and Goole Streetview. I searched Google for photos, but they were all the pretty things, and I ended up taking my own photos of the rubbish bits like the bins and carparks. I used aerial photography, and I used open streetmap.

Minecraft Newport of the Future

How will Newport look a year from now? How will it look in 2100? How about a million years from now?


Maybe techonology makes everything better? Most new buildings are made from futuristic materials but some old landmarks from 2017 still survive. People get around by a monorail or flying cars, so the old roads are now covered with grass and flowers.


Zombies and skeletons are a constant problem in Minecraft? You could make a version of Newport infested by monsters. (don't worry, this won't happen in real life, Zombies aren't real.)

Aliens on the Isle of Wight!

OK, it's not very likely, but it's a nifty excuse to make some really weird stuff! What would happen if aliens visited Newport? Would they be mean or friendly? If they decided to live in Newport, what would their houses look like?

Ruins of ancient Newport?

1000 years in the future, humans now live all over the galaxy and almost none on Earth. Newport is now in ruins, and the trees, plants and animals all live there now. Some humans are visiting to learn more about the history of the Isle of Wight... what would they find? What buildings would last 1000 years? Where would their spaceship land?

So many people! Build all the things!

The population of Earth goes up every year. Maybe in the future we will build giant towerblocks in Newport so everybody has somewhere to live. What would you demolish to build them? What would life be like on the ground? What if a tower contained shops, schools and hospitals so people had everything they need in one place?

Frequently Asked Questions

Can't see your question? Email me at and I'll try to answer it.

What's the prize?

There's no prizes. Just more fun. We won't be judging the work, but we'll try to share cool creations you make with other people.

Who can enter?

While this is aimed at people on half term, anybody can play!

How well researched should a "historical" creation be?

That's entirely up to you. We'll try to share useful resources to give you ideas. It's not cool to make something up and pretend it's accurate, but it's cool to make something up for fun if that's the way your ideas go.

How can I quickly get to a place on the map you made?

If you go to the newport map page on Minecraft Map World, it gives you a Google-maps style way to explore. If you hover your mouse it shows the X and Z coordinates of that spot (Y is up/down of course). To get to X 2447, Z -1528 in creative mode, type /tp 2447 100 -1528 ... the 100 puts you way up in the air, but that's better than being underground!

Does it have to be Newport? Can't I do somewhere else?

Sure, this is a creative project, so if you have a great idea that doesn't quite fit, go for it! I've lots more minecraft maps of bits of England you can play with.

Why are some buildings brick and trees made of leaves, but in other places they are just gray wool?

To build the map, we look at OpenStreetMap to identify roads, buildings, water, grass and so on. If it's not on the map we just leave it as a blob. OpenStreetMap is like wikipedia for maps... anybody can update it. If you ever get bored of Minecraft, why not learn to improve the maps of the Isle of Wight?

How this started: Open Data Ventnor

Once I had finished everything, I was surprisingly ahead of schedule and I thought to myself how nice it would have been to have a tool that projected open street map roads and building outlines into Minecraft...

I happen to be a computer programmer and do quite a lot of work in the area of Open Data so decided to try to write it. The first version was useful but boring as you can see from the picture on the left. It works out for each block what the real world latitude and longitude would be then looks at open streetmap to see what colour that bit is and sets a block based on that... water, grass etc.

The screenshot is the area around Ventnor Library run through this process.

To make it more interesting I then ran it over Southampton, using LIDAR data from Hampshire Hub (Hampshire country-council open data service). This data gave a reading of how high the ground was on a 20m grid of all of Hampshire and was open data (thanks!). LIDAR is a distance-measuring laser that is waved around from a aeroplane, usually at the same time as doing aerial photography.

I also set buildings to be 10 blocks high. It looks a bit weird that the tops of the buildings follow the slopes, but generally it worked nicely. The data didn't quite line up and I had to apply a fiddle factor -- I suspect that I have an error in my geometric conversions somewhere. Ah well, works OK warts and all...

This picture is Highfield Campus at the University of Southampton

I went along with this to a map-maker's club in Southampton, run by someone from Ordnance Survey. There I met a lady who works for the Oceanography Center who told me about the wonderful open data they have buried in their site. This includes 1m scale LIDAR for the coast of much of the UK, including Ventnor. Unlike the HampshireHub data this doesn't remove buildings and trees, so no need to do my extrude trick. As you can see the results are slighly wobbley but pretty cool and make a great basis for making proper models of the town.

The screenshot is the area around Ventnor Library with the Channel Coast Observatory LIDAR data applied.

Where it came out really cool is along the cliffs and coast. It's a bit gutting to see the cascade and cliffs rendered automatically after spending night after night pouring over reference photos trying to build it by hand!

The final version is about 3000x2000 blocks and extends from The Undercliff to Bonchurch, the beach to Upper Ventnor.

An unexpected application is shown here, where you can see clearly an error in the Open Street Map data (which someone nice has now corrected as a result).

This entire huge version of Ventnor is free to download, modify and redistribute so long as you credit: Christopher Gutteridge, Open Street Map and the Channel Coast Observatory for our contributions.

About Me

My name's Christopher Gutteridge. I grew up (ish) in Ventnor but moved away in 1997. When I went to university I was shocked to hear about all the cool geeky events for kids that happened on the mainland but not the Island. I'm really pleased to finally have a chance to help fix that.

I spend most of the rest of my time working for the Web & Data Innovation & Development Team at the University of Southampton. The most interesting stuff I work on is open access to research papers, open data and research data management.

My previous major Minecraft project was Ventnor Seafront at Ventnor Fringe 2015. A few people paid real folding money for pictures I made in Minecraft. I'm very proud of that.

Mail: | Twits: @cgutteridge | Minecraft: cgutteridge


Thanks to...

Joanna Kori - for the idea and opportunity.

Quay Arts

Jesper Öqvist - author of Chunky which I used to do the nice ray-traced versions.

Open Stretmap

The Channel Coast Observatory

On The Wight