City Hall’s new website reveals an alternative map of London

Alternative Tube maps are objects of fascination for many – but now the mayor’s office has got in on the act with an alternative map of London itself.

GLA website

The new Greater London Authority website features a map that invites you to “find out what we’re doing where you live and work”. You’re invited to select a borough from a dropdown, then you’re presented with some blurb about that borough and a map of neighbourhoods.

GLA website

So here’s Greenwich… with a photo of a building site. And a blurb that’s rather similar to the Royal Borough of Greenwich Wikipedia entry.

GLA website

And here’s the map. Charlton seems to encroach a bit far west and Hither Green seems to be making a bid to escape the borough of Lewisham, where it wholly belongs. But hold on… what’s that in the top right-hand corner where Thamesmead should be? Creekmouth? Wrong side of the Thames…

GLA website

And that’s not Erith and Thamesmead MP Teresa Pearce. (Thanks to Teresa herself for identifying the photo as being of the Conservative MP for Twickenham, Tania Mathias.)

GLA website

Let’s switch over to Lewisham, where the blurb also seems to have been lifted from Wikipedia.

GLA website

Where’s Catford gone? It appears to have been almost wholly replaced by Ladywell (yet is being represented by Catford South’s councillorsone of them isn’t impressed).

GLA website

Here’s Bexley. Who says they live in “Blackfen Lamorbey”? (Blackfen & Lamorbey is a Bexley Council ward covering Blackfen and the western end of Sidcup.)

GLA website

Here’s Bromley, where Chislehurst has vanished. Horns Green, a hamlet on the Kent border consisting of a few houses, gets an entry. And what’s “Woodlands?”.

GLA website

Tower Hamlets. Poplar Riverside? (It’s a development zone.)

GLA website

Over in Camden, Camden Town and Kentish Town have been swallowed up by an expanding Gospel Oak.

GLA website

Here’s my favourite – someone clearly stuck Ewell in before realising it’s actually in Surrey, not in Sutton, and so nothing to do with the mayor.

What’s happened here, then? It looks like an odd mix of reality combined with Wikipedia searching, council wards and the wishful thinking of developers and estate agents.

It must have been a good idea at the time to try to map London’s hundreds of neighbourhoods, and present some interesting data to go with them – but it’s actually harder than you think.

10 comments

  1. diamond geezer

    I love Ewell’s entry!

    Other clangers, inaccuracies and errors include…
    * Barking and Dagenham was one of six London boroughs to host the 2012 Summer Olympics.
    * Barnet is also home to League Two football team, Barnet Football Club.
    * Kingston upon Thames has a rich history. Notable landmarks include Richmond Park and Hampton Court Palace

    We should crowdsource all the errors into a single list – I’m sure the team at City Hall would appreciate the feedback.

  2. Darryl

    I’ve just realised the design is the same as the map featured in Patrick Abercrombie’s 1940s County of London plan: https://thesemaphoreline.wordpress.com/2013/05/21/the-abercrombie-plans/

    Other errors: Enfield’s map includes Waltham Cross, which is in Hertfordshire; Hammersmith & Fulham’s doesn’t feature Hammersmith or Fulham.

    Enfield highlight clearly taken from Wiki: “Parts of Enfield experienced rioting in August 2011. In September 2012, a year after the attack, a rebuilt Sony Distribution Centre was opened by the Prime Minister.”

  3. Stuart

    The amorphous Bromley blob is not all fare zone 5. A tiny stupidity but indicative of the daft website.

  4. diamond geezer

    And what’s this statistical rubbish about “Popular secondary schools”?
    In Tower Hamlets the most Popular Secondary School is apparently Bethnal Green Academy with 17%… whatever that means.

  5. Pete

    If this was the output from a GCSE student project you could understand the lamentable quality but no doubt a City Hall employee and/or a Consultant or two has chewed up our taxes on this garbage.

  6. Natalie

    Thank you very much for bringing your concerns about the new ‘in my area’ section to our attention. As this is a new product, which we launched a week ago, we are very keen to get user feedback and to make improvements.

    Regarding the general introductions to each borough we are already working with individual boroughs to flesh these out, so they will be improved soon.

    The map is bespoke, created by our Regeneration Team, with the aim of describing London in a way that is more recognisable to Londoners than Ward boundaries or statistical areas. It is based on a map of London’s ‘communities and open space’ in Abercrombie’s 1943 County of London Plan, and is layered with over 600 localities based on information from a range of sources, including Ordnance Survey maps and historic growth patterns.

  7. Natalie

    It is not intended to be a definitive record of London’s socio-geographical structure, but an aid to help understand London’s localities at a glance.

    We recognise that this is difficult to achieve given that many people have a different definition of their area and we are therefore very open to your feedback, so that we can make it better. In direct response to the points you have made, we are going to add an explanation to the map itself explaining this background.

    We are also grateful for the errors you have pointed out, which we are currently rectifying.

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