Posts Tagged ‘Greenwich Meridian’

Meridian 3

Friday, August 28th, 2020

Following the Greenwich Meridian is rather easier since the Ordnance Survey helpfully added it to their 1:25000 maps in 1999, but these pictures were made five years earlier in my project in preparation for the Millennium. I’d had to draw my own pencil line in their maps, which fortunately did show in their outer margins the Longitude at one minute intervals, including 0°00′, so it wasn’t hard to add the line.

I’ve never quite understood why the National Grid doesn’t quite align with this, the Prime Meridian, but presumably there were good reasons for choosing another starting point and working very slightly at an angle. The street maps which I needed to work out my actual route as they had the street names follow the National Grid, though they rather hide this behind their own system of letters and numbers based on half-kilometre squares.

For the northern part of my walk, the Meridian ran roughly down the gap between two pages of my Master Atlas of Greater London, a book too large and heavy to carry on my walks, and I marked out my route with highlighter pens on illegal photocopies of its pages.

There are several crossings of Southend Road, the North Circular Road at this point close to the Meridian which I think was actually a few yards to my east as I took a picture looking roughly west. But the road layout had changed a little from that since my OS map had been revised. It was a view which made a better picture – and close enough to the line for me, as was the level crossing at Highams Park – where again the actual line is a few yards behind me – to the west.

The view of Mapleton Rd and Stapleton Close (wrongly titled Mapleton Drive in my notes) is perhaps a hundred yards west of the Meridian, but close enough for me. The war memorial at the junction of The Ridgeway and Kings Head Hill is spot on target, while Woodberry Way is perhaps around a hundred yards to the west.

Finally, Pole Hill has two markers; the obelisk, set up by the Astronomer Royal to align his telescope in Greenwich due north is on the old Meridian, but the trig point to its left is on the version adopted internationally (except by France) in 1884. Nowadays we use GPS based on the International Terrestrial Reference Frame which has its zero meridian 102.478 metres further east.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Meridian 2

Wednesday, August 26th, 2020

Continuing with pictures from my walk along the Greenwich Meridian in Greater London in 1984-6.

Stratford Bus Station – Peter Marshall, 1995

My walks took me as close to the line of the Meridian I had pencilled on my 1983 1:25000 OS map as possible, though that line may not have been quite exact. I think it goes through the area at the extreme left of the picture above, here just a few yards east of the roadway. My series of walks kept as close as possible to the pencil line, but it often runs through private property, buildings, across rivers etc and many detours, some quite lengthy were required.

Barge carries contaminated earth from Poplar gasworks site, Peter Marshall, 2011

One of those fairly lengthy detours was north from Poplar, where the line ran through the gas works site and across Bow Creek. It wasn’t until 2011 that I was able to go onto the former gas works site, having been engaged to photograph the use of a barge to carry away the heavily contaminated soil from the site. The line crosses the river here, going through the left end of the large shed close to the opposite bank, near to Cody Dock. This is also part of a private business estate, though you can now walk along the roadways in it. There are several such areas I have been able to photograph in later years, but I won’t add any other later pictures to these posts.

Stratford Station – Peter Marshall, 1995

The line continues through the east end of Stratford Station.

Thinking of the line of the Meridian, I had decided it was appropriate to use a panoramic format, and these pictures were all taken with a swing lens panoramic camera. I think at the time I owned two such cameras, an expensive Japanese model and a cheap Russian one. The Russian was a little more temperamental and it was sometimes difficult to wind on the film, but had a much better viewfinder and I think was probably used for most of these. Both give negatives which are roughly the width of medium format film – 55-58mm – but only 24mm high, the limit of 35mm film, giving a roughly 2.3:1 aspect ratio. There is no discernible difference in image quality.

Langthorne Rd, Leyton – Peter Marshall, 1995

Both used 35mm film and curve it in the horizontal plane around a little over a third of the outside of a circle, with the lens pivoting roughly 130 degrees around the centre of that circle during the exposure. This keeps the distance between the centre of the lens and film constant, avoiding the distortion produced by using flat film, where the edges of the film are further from the lens node. This gives a very noticeable distortion with ultra-wide lenses, limiting them to an angle of view (horizontal) of roughly 100 degrees.

St Patrick’s Cemetery, Leyton

Swing lens cameras are limited in angle of view only by the mechanical limitations and can generally cover 130-140 degrees. But the curvature of the film does produce its own unique view. Assuming you keep the camera upright, straight vertical lines remain straight as the film is not curved vertically, but non-vertical lines show curvature, increasingly so as you move away from the centre of the film. You can see this clearly in the shop window in Langthorne Rd.

Whipps Cross – Peter Marshall, 1985

To be continued…

Meridian 1

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020

One of the blogs about London I keep my eye on and occasionally read with interest is the rather oddly named ‘Diamond Geezer‘, who posts daily articles, usually about his walks or bus rides around some of London’s more obscure areas. As someone who spent around 20 years walking around many of these taking photographs, I often find these interesting even though I don’t share his preoccupation with some of the minutiae of Transport for London’s oddities.

The two most recent of his posts have been Prime Meridian 0° Day 1 and Day 2 and by the time you read this, there will probably be a Day 3. Since he is only walking along the line (or rather as close to it as you can) in Tower Hamlets and Newham there probably won’t need to be a Day 4.


Greenwich Observatory – Peter Marshall, 1985

I was particularly interested because I carried out a similar but rather longer project in 1994-96, completing it despite failing to get any of the Millenium funding which was on offer. I began at what seemed the obvious place, the Royal Observatory in Greenwich – as this was the Greenwich Meridian. My walk, carried out over several days, was rather longer, ending more or less at the Greater London boundary in Chingford – and later I extended it south from Greenwich to New Addington at the southern boundary.

Greenwich Riverside – Peter Marshall, 1985

It was rather harder then to actually trace the Meridian on the ground. There were rather fewer actual markers then and I think no published walks along it. Although my application failed, others were successful and obtained funding to put in new Meridian markers and publish walks at the time of the Millenium and yet more have been added since.

West India Dock – Peter Marshall, 1985

Back in 1994-6 I had to draw my own line on my maps – it was only in 1998 that the line was added to the Ordnance Survey maps – in order to allow people to celebrate the Millennium on it. Back then we had no mobile phones and no GPS – the first phone based GPS navigation system was only introduced by Benefon in 1999 and it was a few years before this became universal.

Greenway & Channelsea River, Stratford – Peter Marshall, 1995

I first published these images on the web in 1996, having then recently acquired a colour film scanner. It wasn’t a very good scanner and getting good results from colour negative film was tricky. I think I scanned most of them again later, but some could still be improved.

Stratford – Peter Marshall, 1995


To be continued…