Marketing and exploring EC1
The next phase of Exploring EC1
Over the past two years I've been investigating how maps, apps and stories can help residents, businesses and visitors explore and engage with the past, present and future of Farringdon and Clerkenwell. Background here. For the next phase I want to follow through with some conversations about how things might join up. I'll amend these notes once I've checked in with the projects and organisations mentioned ... and apologies in advance if I'm off track on anything. Do please get in touch David Wilcox email@example.com.
Culture Mile map currently focussed on Barbican station. The new Farringdon station will open about 100 metres away. Update: here's an interactive Culture Mile map I developed.
When the Elizabeth line opens in 2022, Farringdon station will be one of the busiest in the UK, connecting with Thameslink and the London Underground to provide links with outer London, the home counties, the City, Canary Wharf and three of London’s five airports.
The station is at the heart of the City of London's Culture Mile, and a wide range of heritage and other attractions are within a few minutes walk north in Clerkenwell and south in the City.
Over the past two years, working on the Exploring EC1 Project, I've discovered a lot of exciting projects and experimented with ways to map and record what's happening.
I've found lots more from the excellent EC1 Echo community newspaper - but even so I get the impression that Clerkenwell remains a hidden village, and Culture Mile has more to offer both residents and visitors as, we hope, activities expand beyond pandemic restrictions.
I've pulled together some ideas for possible collaborations in EC1, as an opener for further conversations in the area.
Here's some ideas
Culture Mile marketing and business development could provide an opportunity to both promote events and attractions along the Mile, and also alert people to wider opportunities. There are already events and attractions on the Culture Mile site, and plans for a Business Improvement District. Here's the video from the launch January 2022.
Develop maps and discovery trails building on existing guides, and use the unparalled resources of the Museum of London and London Metropolitan Archives for more content.
Make Farringdon a walking and exploration hub by working with the Footways and Slow Ways projects that are developing quiet and interesting routes in London.
Build on the developing collaborations between major heritage attractions. The Ring consortium has created an audio walking tour.
Support local groups and residents who are developing their own guides and mapping projects, in Clerkenwell and Farringdon. Some are already supported by Culture Mile and The Peel Institute.
Map stories from the EC1 Echo to show what is happening in the area now.
The new Layers of London site has a Footways layer - and could host records related to Footways routes and more generally the past, present and future of the area.
We could demonstrate how these projects and activities built relationships by creating a dynamic network map. A network of urban wildlife project in Islington has shown how to do this.
Addition April 2022: one map I forgot to include earlier is Favourite places in EC1. In April 2021, with the EC1 Echo, I promoted a map on which people could add their favourite places. At that point we hoped to be out of the pandemic by the summer. Now would be a good time to relaunch something similar with Culture Mile. Favourite places and hidden gems could be added to the interactive Culture Mile map I have since developed. The Mapotic system I've used alloows people to comment on, and rate places, and also join the mapping community.
Culture Mile is "a new home for contemporary culture in the ancient heart of London's working capital". The five founding partners are City of London Corporation, Barbican, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London Symphony Orchestra and Museum of London. In January 2022 Culture Mile launched plans for a Business Improvement District with aims to promote cultural destinations, create inspiring places, develop connected communities, and support sustainable development. The Culture Mile Imagine Fund has already supported two mapping projects.
Maps from the Exploring EC1 project
Over the past two years I've experimented with a number of mapping platforms, and developed an extensive database of routes and places of interest. The first map I developed was an online version of the 1977 Clerkenwell heritage trail created by Mike Franks. At the time I was Evening Standard planning correspondent, seconded to Celebrations Committee for the Queen's Silver Jubilee, and I helped Mike secure funding. More here about the Clerkenwell maps, and the idea of a Clerkenwell Commons for conversation and collaboration.
As well as Esri storymaps, used for the Clerkenwell map above, I have experimenting with my son Dan with several mapping systems including Maphub and Humap, and Google My Maps. Each of the markers in the maps below has text, an image and links. Some have 360 video of locations. There is a system of information sheets, described here. Data is stored in Airtable and can be displayed as gallery.
As well as mapping platforms, I've discovered a host of mobile apps to support walks and tours, and enable people to create their own.
Humap is a sophisticated storymapping system used for the Layers of London project. Click map above to open the EC1 example. More here for Humap examples.
Building on and promoting existing guides
There are a host of maps and self-guided trails ands tours for the EC1 area - but there is currently no one place to find them. I've used the free bookmarking tool Wakelet to create some collections. You can scroll those in the windows below. There are also a lot of expert guides for Islington and City of London whose walks could be promoted as part of a a collaborative programme,
Footways and Slow Ways
The London Living Streets Footways project has mapped quiet and interesting routes throughout central and inner London, and produced an excellent printed map. Footways are now exploring how to improve the online map created using Google maps, and we are experimenting in EC1. More here about that, and also in the EC1 Echo. We have used Maphub and Google maps to show routes and places of interest, and Dan has used Google Earth web to create a virtual tour along the route from Angel to St Paul's Cathedral
Slow Ways is an initiative to create a national network of walking routes connecting all of Great Britain’s towns and cities as well as thousands of villages. Routes are also being developed with London. In each case routes are developed to and from "hubs" and in London these are generally stations. Slow Ways has a sophisticated online system that enables people to propose and review routes.
Is there scope for the two systems to work together, and make Farringdon a hub for walks and explorations? This might start with existing routes on each system, but expand as residents, businesses and visitors develop their own routes. Hopefully we could find ways to link to trails and tours I have bookmarked above, and the walks with specialist guides.
Slow Ways routes in EC1. The hubs are currently Holborn, Angel, and Liverpool Street. Making Farringdon a hub would connect with those and other routes and locations.
Footways routes in EC1. See below for an experiment in using Google Earth to provide people with a virtual tour preview of a route.
Google Earth Web virtual tour
We created a Footways route from Angel to St Paul's Cathedral with places of interest using Maphub, and Dan then developed a virtual tour using Google Earth web which you can view here.
Flyover of Footways route
Dan also used Google Earth desktop to create a flyover of the route. The aim is to experiment with different ways of show routes to see what is most useful, and which apps to focus on.
The Ring consortium of culture and heritage sites
Two years ago a groups of culture and heritage sites formed The Ring consortium to develop and promote projects together. The consortium now includes the Charterhouse, the Museum of the Order of St John, St Bartholomew’s Hospital Museum, Smithfield Market, and the churches of St Bartholomew the Great and St Bartholomew the Less. The Ring has produced an Historic Farringdon audio tour of the area, with links to other various attractions. It looks as if there is scope for wider collaboration.
The Geotourist tour can be downloaded here for smartphone, and it is possible to use Geotourist for free to create your own tours.
Community mapping and media projects
Culture Mile has supported a wide range of community projects under its Image Fund, including Paul Lincoln's project mapping London Wall.
The Peel Institute is a charity that has been making Clerkenwell a more connected community for over a hundred years.
Is there scope for further support and collaboration in future - perhaps leading to a permanent service to help groups who wish to develop their own maps and media projects in the area? Here's what The Peel is already doing for groups through its Connecting Clerkenwell project.
Our local community newspaper, funded by The Peel Institute has been generous in its coverage of Exploring EC1, and we have organised stories from the Echo into themes like arts, community, eating an drinking. Individual Echo stories can be featured on maps. More here on how the system works.
The Peel Institute reports in their newsletter on a project with nearby London Metropolitan Archives and The House of Ilustration in whi ch participants explored the history and stories of Clerkenwell and then shared their own life stories linked to the area, as well as favourite places and memories.
London Walled City project
Paul Lincoln has a fascinating site and initial map for his project, together with a display of his prints. Paul explains:
London Walled City will look at the history of the wall, its constantly changing appearance, its impact on its neighbourhood, its relationship with nearby buildings old and new and its role in enclosing [or maybe liberating] those who live and work nearby.
Layers of London
The Layers of London site has a Footways layer, and I have started to experiment with a collection of records along one route. The site has now moved to the excellent Humap system, which I've been trialing in Clerkenwell. Islington Council has demonstrated its potential with their Islington Pride map, and there are more examples here. The Humap Coventry Atlas is impressive, and I wonder whether the Layers site - or a dedicated Humap system - might be a good way to create a shared platform for mapping. It could hold records of the main places, with trails to connect them, and act as a reference for other maps that people might develop.
I think that mapping the past, present and future of neighbourhoods, using Layers of London with other tools, could be a good way to help professionals and Londoners engage with the changes that we face. The maps could link with a growing knowledge base of resources for London and localities. EC1 could be a good place to pilot these ideas. More here on past, present and future of the area.
Showing how collaborations develop over time
Geographic maps can show where things are - but they don't show how people, projects and organisations relate. If we aim to develop new collaboration in EC1, I think it is worth using network maps to show, if people agree, both what's connected now, and how that changes. More here about network and other maps from the Networked City project, which Drew Mackie and I worked on.
In 2020 Octopus Communities, a network of community centres Islington, asked how to use mapping and media to demonstrate how the Urban Wild Places project not only created new natural habitats, but also led to new relationships in the community.
Mapping Urban Wild Places
We set up a simple Google sites website to combine three elements:
Stories about gardens, using photos, audio and video
Click on the image on the right to bring up the network map page, and follow the instructions there, clicking in the map pane on 1, 2, 3 etc to reveal the development of the network.