Digitally Remapping Steers Coastal Reports

Steers Coastal Map Building on the work to create a Digital record of the plotland movement in the UK, I have been working on digitising aspects of the maps produced by J.A. Steers between 1942 to 1946.

As noted in his 1944 presentation to the Royal Geographical Society (Steers, J.A., 1944. Coastal Preservation and Planning. The Geographical Journal 104, 7. doi:10.2307/1790025), Steers’ geophysical explorations of the coastline during the Second World War sought to graphically describe the ‘quality’ of the coastal scenery. These observations of scenic quality are underwritten by his observations of various elements that damage the coastal scenery including industrial areas, derelict mining areas, built up residential areas, and ‘areas of bad scattered development’.

Noted by Steers as X marks clinging to the coastline the location of these scattered developments almost directly relate to plotland sites around the coastline. By mapping these locations against the later work of Hardy and Ward we can begin to gain a wider picture of the extent of plotland sites across the UK at different points in recent history.

These new locations have all been added to the updated Plotland 2.0 map.


Plotlands Map 2.0

Following a long hiatus I have finally found time to resume work on the mapping of UK plotlander sites and have now published an interactive map of all currently known locations.

What is immediately apparent is Hardy and Ward’s focus on London and the South East in the mapping for their book ‘Arcadia For All’. Yet in beginning to map the location of plotland sites from other research and archive resources a wider picture extending beyond London begins to be suggested.

This has long been my suspicion: that the London-centric mapping of plotlanders perhaps only represents a part of the full UK picture.

If the extent of plotlander communities surrounding London can be seen as a response to the problems of industirlasition, poverty, and bomb damage faced by people (and in particular the working classes) living in cities between the late 1800s and post World War II, then it would suggest that all industrial cities would likely have experienced a similar process. This supposition begins makes sense of the sites in similar proximity to Manchester and Liverpool in the North West and the hint of sites around Newcastle in the North East.

It is hoped that many more such sites will be found in the future. To aid in the project of locating lost, forgotten, and previously unknown plotland sites I have now created an online google form by which people can submit the location of unknown plotland site locations so that the full extent of UK plotlanders can be mapped.

The Almost Anarchy of Car-Washing ?

SONY DSCFirst post in this new blog and we are starting off with a fairly sideways looking idea.

In the coming months I am going to attempt to pursue research into the rise and fall of washing your car by hand in the UK.

This research question is part of a wider discussion of space and society are affected by our values and choices.

It is the result of a fairly simple situation; my rented house doesn’t have an outside tap, so I have no hose, making it very awkward to effectively wash my car.

I was raised to wash cars yourself by hand. This is something my dad has always done and the ritual has stuck with me. I like doing it. It has a sort of ‘zen and the art of …’ feel about it.

But without a tap and hose I am struggling.

On the face of it this might appear to be a very small problem, but upon reflection I wonder whether it is suggestive of a much wider issue.

How many people today wash their car themselves by hand?

From childhood memories I seem to remember that the weekend was full of adults washing cars outside their houses, but this social ritual appears to have almost completely disappeared in recent decades.

What are the reasons for this I wonder?

A notable issue is the distinct lack of space and taps allowed for in new home developments in the UK. We are literally building homes where you cannot wash your car. Is this a conscious decision, or simply something that has happened without notice?

Is it even really a problem at all? The proliferation of hand-wash services at abandoned petrol stations and car lots across the country are seemingly constantly busy with people who are willing to pay other people (many of them hard working migrants) to wash their car for them. Is this simply part of the wider cultural acceptance to pay other people to do work for us, like having our shopping delivered to us rather than leave the house?

Against the overwhelming sense that washing your car by hand yourself is a waste of time, does this suggest that the act of still doing so is a socio-political act that runs counter to the existing hegemony? Is washing your own car by hand an almost anarchistic act?

As a very first step on this process I am going to try and push a citizen science data gathering operation using google polls and social media to gather information on whether the UK still washes their cars by hand.

I am going to collect postcode data and map this information onto the UK, and this will give me a project upon which to develop my GIS mapping skills, so it will hopefully be a fun and informative process in a number of ways.

Once I get all the systems in place I will launch the research here and via twitter, but in the mean-time I am just happy to have started working on this new research and to have placed the first post on this blog.