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Mark Hodgson Preserves Memories With Plastic Bricks

Nostalgic graduate recreates university halls with Lego

Nostalgic Mark Hodgson has such fond memories of his time at university that he had recreated his old halls of residence – out of Lego.

Mark, 62, spent six months building part of the University of East Anglia’s now demolished Waveney Terrace halls and one of its rooms with 1,500 plastic bricks.

The nostalgic computer studies graduate said he had unforgettable memories of his time in the concrete dormitory, where he lived for two years between 1980-83.

But very few photos remained showing the inside or exterior of the 1970s brutalist building before it was demolished in 2005.

So he decided to produce a faithful model of the halls that would help other ex-students remember their time there.

Mark in front of Suffolk Terrace. Mark, 62, spent six months building part of the University of East Anglia’s now demolished Waveney Terrace halls and one of its rooms with 1,500 plastic bricks. PHOTO BY MARK HODGSON/ SWNS 

Mark said: “I wanted to commemorate the building because it had gone, and to help other people remember the details.

“When it got knocked down in 2005, a lot of people missed it. And I struggled to find photos of it, inside and out.

“We were very tight-knit. I think a lot of the corridors bonded, especially during the first year when we were all at sea – not knowing where to go or what was going on.

“I wanted to remember what the room was like. But film was expensive and developing it was expensive, and I was on a student budget.

“I rarely took color photos, even spread over three years, I haven’t got many photos of that time back then.”

Mark, who now lives in Wimborne, Dorset, got back into Lego after a 40-year break in 2015 when his partner spent three years working overseas.

Mark Hodgson’s bedroom at Waveney Terrace made out of Lego. The nostalgic computer studies graduate said he had unforgettable memories of his time in the concrete dormitory, where he lived for two years between 1980-83. PHOTO BY MARK HODGSON/SWNS 

He’d been ‘at a loose end’ and made architectural models using plastic bricks to pass the time, including his childhood home and his grandparent’s house.

In 2020, he spent three months making a replica of a dorm room at his old Waveney Terrace halls, using a few photos he’d found from the 1980s.

And earlier this year, he spent a further three months building a replica of three exterior blocks of the hall using 1,000 bricks, which he finished in October.

Mark, a retired technician in TV post-production, said: “You shared a bathroom, loos and showers. And the kitchens were huge social units.

“There was always someone in there to have a chat with. Quite often in the evening, when you’d finished work, you’d blow off steam with people.

“But I didn’t take many photos at the time. I was busy taking other things. I only had about half a dozen decent photos of the building and a couple of the inside.

“People who lived there are delighted with it – they’re delighted at seeing something they might not have photographs of, bringing memories back.”

Mark said he’d struggled to recreate the soft furnishings that would have been present in the 1980s student dorm, which he made out of 500 Lego bricks.

He added: “The hardest part was doing the stripey blanket hanging off the bed.

“A lot of it is trial and error. You build it, look at the photograph and think, ‘nah’, and then rebuild it until it looks right.”

He included features still present on the campus to help other ex-students who still wanted to find where it used to be located.

He said: “The building housed 750 students, it stretched from block A to Q. I have built three blocks – but it was quite huge.

“People go to the campus now and don’t know where it stood. I built the pavement and road so people could still find out.

Mark later shared photos of his model on social media and received a lot of praise, including from a man who asked to buy it.

He said: “One guy wanted to buy the exterior, I think he works at UEA [the University of East Anglia] but had been at the university when the building was there.

“I said it wasn’t for sale, so he didn’t mention a price, but because of it having that many Lego bricks, it doesn’t make it cheap.

“Usually a Lego set of this size would go for several hundred quid.”

A University of East Anglia spokesperson said about Mark’s work: “It’s great to see nostalgia for our campus buildings, particularly during our 60th year.

“We love the way that Mark’s recreated a big part of UEA history in Lego form.

“Waveney Terrace holds great memories for so many of our alumni and Mark’s creation has inspired them to share them with us.”

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

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