Marking the Meridian – The Line

It seems a long time ago that in anticipation of the forthcoming Millennium I embarked on a photographic project to document the Greenwich Meridian in London, but it still came as a shock to work out it was almost 20 years ago that I started. The project obviously came from thinking about time, but also came after I’d completed a project on the DLR extension to Beckton using a series of panoramic images with a swinging lens Widelux camera. The long format was ideally suited to documenting linear structures of the DLR viaducts and I decided it would also be appropriate for the virtual line of the meridian.

At the time I was surprised to find the Meridian line unmarked both on the Ordnance Survey maps and only in rare places on the ground. When grants were being made for art projects to mark the Millennium (or at least the year 2000, 12 months before) I put in for a project to produce a series of Millennium walks illustrated by my images, exhibitions at public libraries and other venues close to the line to publicise it and also to mark key points on the routes by suitable pavement markers. It did not even reach the short list.

Now it is rather easier to walk more of the Meridian, with increased public access at various points on or close to the line. The line has also been added to the maps – with my 1999 edition of ‘Explorer 162’ having a green flash on its cover ‘Showing the Greenwich Meridian‘, and quite a few new markers were added around the year 2000.

Of course the Meridian is marked at the Greenwich Observatory, both with a line in the yard where people like to pose a leg in each hemisphere, and also on the footpath just outside. There is another marker near the back of Greenwich Power Station, from where it goes along the river Thames, touching briefly again on the south bank near the Millennium Dome (where there is a rather nice linear marker.) It’s marked again on the north bank in the former East India Dock site but a little north of that was an area which when I carried out my project in 1995 was closed off to the public for around a mile, passing through the Poplar gasworks and then an industrial area adjoining the Bromley-by-Bow gasworks, before emerging to public view again at the Channelsea River south of central Stratford.

Since 1995 when I finished my Meridian project I’ve been able to access a couple of these areas and make more panoramas. West of Bow Creek I was commissioned to photograph the removal by barge of some of the highly toxic contaminated earth from the Poplar gasworks site, and on the east a walkway has been opened up from the Bromley gasworks bridge by the riverside down to the former gasworks dock, within a few metres of the meridian.

The dock itself, Cody Dock, is also the site a new social enterprise partnership with community and educational activities, and I’ve visited them and taken pictures on a couple of occasions – see Gasworks Dock Revived.

The promotional video for a new project ‘The Line‘ starts with images from Cody Dock, and its aim is to bring world-class modern and contemporary to a new sculpture walk more or less along the Meridian line – and to do so this summer by using already existing works. There are already a few fine works more or less on the line, and it would be great to add more. The project is to be crowd funded and you can contribute on Spacehive.

The Line will link Queen Elisabeth Olympic Park and the Millennium Dome (aka O2) and contain up to 30 sculptures. It will provide a great free walk (though you will need to get across the river – perhaps by that splendid white elephant cable car, which doesn’t come on a Travelcard) and will also go by the World Heritage site of Three Mills at Bromley-by-Bow.

It’s a splendid walk even without the sculptures. Phase 1 of the campaign to get on with the planning and organisation has a target of £146,429 and your pledge will only be charged if the project reaches its goal by St Valentine’s Day (Feb 14). Phase 2 will only start if this is reached and is for around £2m for insurance, transport, security, signage, an App and a book etc.

If you are a world-class sculptor with work currently not on show, applications are now open. But the rest of us can support the project by making a pledge online.

One Response to “Marking the Meridian – The Line”

  1. […] Line’. Back in February 2014, when the idea was part of a crowd-funding project I wrote Marking the Meridian – The Line, which looked at my own work on the Meridian in the 1990s and my unsuccessful bid to get a walk […]

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