Centre of London – the Debate Rumbles On


There’s a lot of ways you can define the centre of London.

The Londonist had a good go last month, and CASA geographer Adam Dennett has a shot too, following an article in today’s Evening Standard newspaper.

  • The former site of the Charing Cross, marked by a plaque in front of the Charles I statue at the small roundabout in Trafalgar Square. It is where distances to “London” are measured to on the UK road network.
  • Trafalgar Square itself as the “focal point” of London events.
  • Centre Point by Tottenham Court Road station (because of the building’s name).
  • Bank junction (because a lot of roads converge at a single point there, and it is the heart of the historic City of London).
  • Farringdon station because that is where Thameslink and Crossrail, London’s two major cross-capital railway lines, will meet.
  • Oxford Circus as this is the busiest tube station on the network.
  • The Londonist definition of Frazier Street near Waterloo, based on the centroid of the Greater London administrative boundary.
  • The Evening Standard definition of a bench on the Victoria Embankment, based on the centroid of the inner London ring road.
  • Adam’s definition which is between Jubilee Gardens and Waterloo, based on the centroid of a weighted population distribution (so the dense inner city populations affect the location more than the sparse surburbs). Jubilee Gardens is just by the London Eye.
  • There are, I’m sure, many others.

I offer an alternative definition – the place which is within London but furthest from the Greater London boundary as the crow flies. A few negative Buffer operations in QGIS reveal that this place, 16.77 km or 10.42 miles from three places on the Greater London border (to the north-east, north and south-west), is Tyler’s Court in Soho , just off Wardour Street – see map above. There is nowhere else in London that is further away from its borders. I don’t think my definition is as geographically appropriate as some of the others above (as it is subject to the whims of the meandering London border more than its area or its population), but certainly if you are ever wandering around Soho on a Saturday evening, it feels a long way from the Great British Countryside.

Image background mapping © OpenStreetMap contributors.