Nottingham Trams – Phase 2

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Phase 2 of the Nottingham Trams network – the extension of the tram lines to Chilwell and Clifton – is due to be completed in summer 2015. PCGraphics are proud to have been awarded the contract for producing the mapping for this project.

Several years ago we created the mapping for the original routes (you can see some samples on our website here) and we were very pleased when Tramlink Nottingham asked us to produce the new maps.

Each of the maps show an area covering 5 minutes walking time from every tram stop. In total we’ve created 50 maps – 27 new maps this time plus revisions to the original 23 maps.

All 50 maps are based on Ordnance Survey data and were created in the graphics programme Illustrator.

Despite a tight schedule, all the maps were supplied on time and within budget, something which we pride ourselves upon.

Many of the existing 23 tram stop maps can be seen on our Pinterest Board here.

Below, we’re pleased to preview 4 of the new maps produced for Tramlink Nottingham. Click on any of the images to view a larger version.

New Style template 2015   New Style template 2015

New Style template 2015   New Style template 2015

 

Visit the Nottingham Trams website for more information concerning the tramlines.

Details about the construction of Phase 2 of the tram service can be found here.

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More old maps…

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We’ve taken our lives in our hands once again, ventured into the dusty corner of the office and raided the filing cabinet to bring you some more scans of old UK maps, this time it’s from a book called ‘The Popular Road Book of Great Britain’.

The Popular Road Book is undated but, judging by some of the information on the maps, it must have been published just before the Second World War, so the late 1930s is our best guess (apparently, it was after the war that the Western Avenue in west London was changed from the A403 to the A40; the London map shown here has the Western Avenue as the A403, hence our rough guess for the map being mid to late 1930s).

The original book is quite battered and brown/grey now (after about 80 years it’s not surprising) but we’ve cleaned these scans up a bit in Photoshop so they look somewhat better.

If you look back through this blog you’ll find lots of other old maps and guide books which we’ve put online from time to time.

We originally purchased our library of old maps to help us create royalty free UK mapping. Going back a few years, Ordnance Survey was very restrictive, and expensive, to base any new mapping upon, so we were forced to go to great lengths (buying maps more than 50 years old plus street checking every town and city and, more latterly, using GPS to plot motorway alignments around the country) to make new maps.

Since April 2010 however, a lot of the restrictions have been lifted and it’s easier and cheaper to use Ordnance Survey data as the basis for any new UK maps.

The maps shown here are Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry,
Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Manchester,
Newcastle, Nottingham, Plymouth, Portsmouth,
Sheffield, Southampton and Stoke.

Click on any of the maps to enlarge them.

Birmingham BradfordBristolCardiff Coventry EdinburghGlasgowHullLeedsLeicesterLiverpoollondonManchesterNewcastleNottinghamplymouthPortsmouthSheffieldSouthamptonStoke

Remember, you can find out about all our NEW maps on our website.

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London 1939

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In our blog this week we’re looking again at a publication from the collection of old maps which we hold at PCGraphics. This time we’re off to London and it’s 1939, mostly looking at the areas of north and east London. These are taken from an Atlas of London (the London Pocket Atlas and Guide), produced by John Bartholomew & Son Ltd in 1939. It’s similar in format to the Ward Lock Red Guides which we’ve shown previously on here (indeed it also looks very similar to those books in that it is approximately the same size and also has a red cover). This Bartholomew guide, however, has many more maps (perhaps that’s to be expected, as Bartholomew are a mapping company) and less descriptive text than the Ward Lock offerings and no adverts.

There is still some interesting things to read within the covers and the scans below are an example, particularly the derivation of some London place names.

barts_london1

barts_london2

(Click on any of the images to see an enlargement)

A testament to the most popular form of long distance transport at this time is show in the extract below, where there is a listing of shipping companies plus the main docks within London. Contrast this with the much shorter list of civil aerodromes and it is clear that most people travelled by sea.

Heathrow is listed but, at this time, it was only a minor airfield, being upgraded to a larger military airport around 1944. Obviously, when the war ended a year later, it changed to become a civil airport and grew to be what it is today – the busiest international passenger airport in the World.

barts_london3

Next we move on to some of the maps from the guide book. Firstly, the areas around Rotherhithe, Poplar and Greenwich, much of which has been rebuilt lately.

barts_london4barts_london4a

(Click on any of the images to see an enlargement)

Now, a look slightly further east to Woolwich and Plumstead, which, again, has undergone a lot of building work since 1939.

barts_london5

(Click on any of the images to see an enlargement)

Moving north to Tottenham, Walthamstow and Leytonstone, things haven’t changed quite so much.

barts_london6barts_london6a

(Click on any of the images to see an enlargement)

Below is the area from Highgate up to Wood Green, as it was in 1939.

barts_london7

(Click on any of the images to see an enlargement)

North west London now, around Hendon, Neasden and Golders Green. If you looked at a modern map of this area today you’d notice that a lot of the open areas of land in 1939 have disappeared.

barts_london8barts_london8a

(Click on any of the images to see an enlargement)

And, finally, ending with a scan from some of the text, this one informing us of some of the Museums and Art Galleries we could visit along with other places of interest.

It’s quite interesting to look at some of the entries, for example:

•  Bethnal Green Museum – this is now the Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood.
•  The Diploma Galleries are now part of the Royal Academy.
•  Home Office Industrial Museum – heaven knows what this was! Can’t find any records of it.
•  Apothecaries’ Hall – The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries (you may need to refer to Wikipedia for this one).

barts_london9

(Click on any of the images to see an enlargement)

That’s about it for London in 1939. More to come in the future as we make our way through a filing cabinet full of old maps!

 

Remember, if you need up to date, custom drawn maps, visit our website.

 

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Open Studios 2014

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If you’re interested in art then you will surely be interested in Open Studios 2014. The event, on the Isle of Wight, is held across two weekends in July and it’s a unique opportunity to see the work of over 130 artists and craftspeople as they open the doors of their studios to the public. And, what’s more, it’s all absolutely free.

Work on show includes paintings in oil and watercolour, pottery, jewellery, textiles, sculptures, glasswork plus much, much more.

Open Studios is on between Friday 18 July and Monday 21 July 2014 and again between Friday 25 July and Monday 28 July 2014.

To find out more about Open Studios 2014, follow the link below:

http://www.isleofwightarts.com/openstudios/

For a list of all the participants, along with samples of their work, follow this link:

http://isleofwightarts.com/yearbook.php

PCGraphics (UK) Limited are pleased to have supplied the maps for Open Studios, locating more than 130 artists across the Island.

 

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Ward-Lock Red Guide Books – Glasgow

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This is the third in our series of glimpses into the Red Guide Books produced by Ward-Lock. This particular title, Glasgow, was published around 1939-40. The books don’t tend to be dated anywhere obvious i.e. not on the cover or the publisher’s credits page as might be usual. Sometimes they require a little bit of searching to find the publication date and, in this edition, it can be found at the foot of one of the pages of adverts. Occasionally the maps within the Guide Book are dated and this can also give a clue as to the date of publication.

glasgow-cover

(Above, Ward-Lock Glasgow front cover)

(Below, Ward-Lock Glasgow introduction page)

glasgow-introduction

(Click on any of the images to enlarge)

The Introduction to Glasgow page (above) is quite interesting. In the first line we’re told that the population, in 1939, is ‘well over a million’. I think most of us would expect that figure to have increased, perhaps substantially, over the last 75 years but the official figure is now around 625,000. Some of this can be put down to boundary changes but Wikipedia also gives the following explanation:

Glasgow’s population peaked in 1931 at 1,088,000, and for over 40 years remained over 1 million. However, in the 1960s the population started to decline, partly due to relocation to the “new towns” in clearings of the poverty-stricken inner city areas like the Gorbals.

For those who don’t know Glasgow, the Gorbals was a notorious slum area on the south side of the River Clyde with a high population density, many living in tenement buildings. The Gorbals was often referred to as the most dangerous place in the UK in the 1930s.

glasgow-map

 

Mapping in the Glasgow Guide Book, as in previous books, was provided by John Bartholomew and Son, the Edinburgh based cartographic company. The name of Bartholomew is still around in the mapping world today, albeit only as part of Harper Collins – the name Collins Bartholomew is given to Harper Collins cartographic datasets. The map extract, above, shows an area around Kelvingrove in Glasgow.

Adverts from these Guide Books are always entertaining and the one below is no different. Take a look at the Salvation Army advert on the right hand page, below. Who could resist the plea to send a gift to ‘Slum mothers and Children’ so that they may go on a ‘Slum Holiday’?

glasgow-advert2

The advert for the National Provincial Bank (later to become the National Westminster and then NatWest), below right, attempts to paint the bank in a somewhat different light to how we perhaps perceive banks today.

“Not the least of the attractions of the city of London, are the half-hidden by-ways and alleys, so rich in historic association. The ancient rights of way, thus jealously guarded against the encroachments of the master-builder, are a permanent witness to the great traditions of the city. Amongst the institutions proud to share in such a heritage is the National Provincial Bank.”

glasgow-advert1

 

All the Ward-Lock Red Guides used photographs as well as maps to illustrate the publication. The photos were black & white and usually of well known landmarks or scenic views. The picture below shows George Square in Glasgow from the 1939 Guide.

 

glasgow-georgesquare

 

So far we’ve covered Harrogate, Bath and now Glasgow with our look back at the Ward-Lock Guide Books. More of these come in the future.

 

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Premiership Football

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Premiership football is hugely popular, not just in the UK but all around the World, so we were extremely pleased a few years ago to be asked to produce the maps for a Premiership Handbook which was being published.

Our part was to create maps showing the location of every Premiership football club in the UK plus plans of each stadium showing the stand names, away supporter sections etc.

The Handbooks were produced a couple of weeks prior to the start of the Premiership season in August and we worked in conjunction with Pica Design who were running the project.

A spin off from this was a giveaway in the Sun, a national UK newspaper, called the Premiership Fans Guide, which ran to a similar format as the Handbook.

These guides were published for several years with new maps and stadium plans being created for each football club promoted to the Premiership.

As with nearly all our work, the maps were created copyright and royalty free – meaning that no copyrighted sources had been used to make the maps thus keeping the publisher’s costs down. This was especially important in this instance because of the large print runs involved.

 

Man_utd_stadium     Chelsea_Stadium

Stadium plans of Manchester United (left) and Chelsea.

Liverpool     Everton

Location maps for Liverpool (left) and Everton.

Because of the royalty free aspect of the map production, each football ground had to be visited to collect the names of streets etc surrounding the grounds. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see any football matches whilst doing the field checking!

Along with the maps and stadium plans we also created mileage chart diagrams and written directions to each ground.

Apart from the Fans Guide, Pica Design work on several other football related publications and more information can be found on their website.

Of course, not all of us support teams in the Premier League. To find the team that some of us follow you’d have to look a lot further down the Football League, somewhere around 90th place at the moment unfortunately. Can you guess who?

 

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London in maps around 1908

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This is part of an ongoing series on our blog looking back at old maps in our library. We have hundreds of old maps which we’ve collected over the years and which have helped us compile today’s new custom designed, copyright free maps.

Bacon’s Large-Print Map of London and the Suburbs was published around 1908. The map isn’t dated (some publishers still don’t put publication dates on their maps as people don’t want to buy ‘last year’s’ map) but, looking at some of the detail on the map, it’s possible to come up with a pretty good idea of the date.

london-title

In 1908, London hosted a Franco-British Exhibition which attracted 8 million visitors and celebrated the Entente Cordiale signed in 1904 by the United Kingdom and France. The Franco-British Exhibition was held near Shepherd’s Bush in West London, an area now called White City. Looking at the old map below you can see the exhibition site is marked, from which the map can be dated.

Below this we show the same area as it is today and it’s interesting to see how the area to the west of London has built up over the past 106 years.

london1

london1-new

(New map: Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database rights 2014)

The publisher of the map, George Bacon, was actually originally from New York State but moved to Britain in 1861 after which he set up numerous companies – everything from sewing machines to maps. Most of these ventures failed but the cartographic publishing company continued until it was later taken over by another firm. George Bacon operated from 127 Strand, in London.

This particular map of London was drawn at a scale of 2.5 inches to the mile. The two images below show the area to the north of the River Thames, very much as it still is today.

london2 london3

The extract below is of south west London, from Barnes out to Brentford. At the time of this map, Brentford was a separate town, not part of the urban sprawl of London.

london4

Next, are the Chelsea, Battersea and Wandsworth areas of London. If you know this area you’ll realise that, apart from a couple of new main roads, you could navigate pretty well by this 106 year old map today.

london5

The same can be said of the extract below, from Victoria in the north to Clapham Common in the south. The road layout is still almost the same today as it was in 1908.

london6

london7

Docklands in the east end of London has obviously changed dramatically, but go south of the river to Greenwich and beyond and things aren’t quite so different as they were a century ago. Which does all go to show why these old maps have been so useful to us in the past as the basis for our royalty free maps. In many areas, about 90% of the road network hasn’t changed at all which means, when you’re producing a new map which is copyright or royalty free, you only have to find and identify 10% of the roads which obviously saves a lot of time and money.

Apart from this George Bacon map of London, we have literally hundreds of other old maps which are out of copyright. The copyright on an Ordnance Survey map, and many other maps too, lasts for 50 years after which you are free to use them as sources etc without paying O.S. for the privilege. John Bartholomew and Son maps are slightly different, only because they attempted to change the copyright of their maps to 75 years about 10 years ago.

Previously in this series covering old maps we’ve looked at Ward Lock Red Guide Books to Bath  and Harrogate. More to come in the future.

 

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Starting a Business

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Many of us dream of working for ourselves, being our own boss and making all the decisions instead of working for someone else. But how many people actually do it? This is our story of how we got started, the pitfalls, the traumas (and there were a few along the way), the things we’d never, ever do again and the satisfaction when things went right.

Our story actually started a short while before we formed the company in 1998. All three of the Directors who started the company had worked for other cartographic companies in the past, and we’d all also worked together at one time or another.

Our reasons for wanting to start the company were probably all different – whether it was dissatisfaction at where one of us was working, someone needing a new challenge or just the thought that we really couldn’t do any worse than some of the previous bosses we’d had and would hopefully actually be a bit better.

Anyway, the suggestion was made that we should go our own way and the three of us took the idea and ran with it. I’m not quite sure we knew where we were running to, but it felt good.

Then came the reality of company formation, accountants, Articles of Memorandum, business bank accounts, commercial Estate Agents, leases and solicitors. And, on top of that, work was coming in and maps had to be produced.

We struck lucky on the bank account, opening an account with the NatWest purely on the basis that one of us had a personal account with them. We were allocated a Business Advisor by the name of Brendan Minihane and he helped us enormously through those first months, and even for years afterwards. I know it’s not fashionable to praise banks these days, but some of his advice was invaluable and set us off in the right direction. Yes, he did try to sell us various add-ons, insurance and the like but I think he quickly got used to the answer ‘No, thanks’. Can’t blame the man for trying though.

The next big hurdle was office space. None of us had any experience of renting office space so we were flying by the seats of our pants. Fortunately, we fell on our feet with decent, modern offices in a converted church hall in Guildford and a flexible lease. It was at this time that we won our first big contract, with Thomson Directories. We had many other clients as well but it was the sheer bulk of work for Thomson’s that enabled us to quickly expand.

the_hall

(The Hall, Woking Road, Guildford – our first offices)

In fact, we expanded so quickly that within a short period of time we were employing fourteen full time staff and a number of freelancers too. Which was a problem in itself.

The problem wasn’t so much in actually employing people (we’d have input from solicitors and Human Resources experts to help with the legal side of things) and had many applications for employment. No, the real problem was finding the right people. We quickly learnt that a  University Degree was no guarantee of a person’s competence or even their ability to work in an office environment. Added to that, we were also looking for an ability to draw maps. We found some very good staff, but we found an awful lot of very poor ones too.

With the number of staff rising we made the decision to move to larger offices, this time to Old Woking, Surrey. We also took on two new salesmen and looked at finding new markets for our maps. Some time before this one of the Directors dropped out and we were down to the two Directors we have today, Sally and Paul Cooney.

westminster_court

(1 Westminster Court, Old Woking – our offices up until 2008)

With hindsight, moving offices was probably a mistake. But our biggest mistake was taking on a 10 year lease on the new offices. No-one can foresee the future and 10 years is an awful long time in business. It’s not that we weren’t doing ok, we were, but we kept thinking of the higher costs (higher rent, higher business rates, service charges etc) for the larger offices than we had previously and how much better off we’d have been.

Eventually we took the plunge and bought ourselves out of the remainder of the lease and changed the set up of the business, moving to using more freelance cartographers rather than permanent staff.

This had an immediate positive effect on the Company and we had some of our best years ever. It also coincided with the massive downturn in the UK economy (we’re talking 2008 here) but now, with our overheads substantially reduced, we were fairly immune to the forthcoming recession. Fortunately, we also had some major contracts during this period and the Company remained buoyant.

Switching away from permanent staff and working with freelancers also gave us the opportunity to move away from where we had been based in Surrey to the much more relaxed location of the Isle of Wight, which is where we are now.

Which brings us just about up to date.

We’ve learnt a lot over the last 16 years since starting the business. We’ve had a lot of highs and a few lows along the way. We’ve enjoyed drawing maps for a lot of household name companies (British Airways, Virgin, IKEA, Automobile Association, Thomson Directories and Thomas Cook to name but a few) plus thousands of much smaller businesses. Would we do it all over again? Almost certainly, but wouldn’t it be great to do it with the benefit of hindsight too!

 

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Socially Speaking

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As well as this pcgblog, which we try and update every week, you can also find more information and samples of PCGraphics custom designed maps on a number of social media web sites:

We’re on   Facebook   facebook

Also on   Pinterest   pinterest

And    Linkedin   linkedin_icon

Not forgetting   Twitter   twitter

Plus, of course, the   PCGraphics website   pcg_small

 

We’d love to meet you on one, or even all of them!

 

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Walk Maps

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Writing in our blog recently about  Walk the Wight, part of the Isle of Wight Walking Festival, it gave us the idea of looking back and seeing the variety of walk maps we’ve produced at PCGraphics over the years.

Walk Maps are always popular and we’ve done a number of these, some for publishers others for Local Authorities.

The map below was actually produced for the Isle of Wight Walking Festival a few years ago and is the index page to all the main walk routes on the Island.

Route_Index

One of the earliest walk maps we produced was for Shetland Island Tourism. This was a series of walks around Lerwick, the capital of the Shetland Islands. The maps were produced royalty and copyright free, meaning we had to visit the Island and walk every street to ensure we didn’t infringe copyright. Shetland is more than 100 miles (160 km) off the north coast of mainland Scotland and, as we were based in Surrey at the time, quite a trip for our cartographers.

Lerwick_Walk_Map

We’ve produced a quite a few maps for The History Press (Pitkin Publishing) and the example below is one of a number of London Walk maps we created for them. With busy areas such as this it’s best to keep the detail to a minimum (i.e. not showing all the roads) otherwise the route can easily become lost amongst all the other detail. Major landmarks and main roads are all that is usually required.

Walk B

Pica Design commissioned these maps of Kingston and Chessington in Surrey from us back in 2009 as part of a series of six maps. Other maps included Richmond Park and a Thames Walk map.

Basic CMYK  Basic CMYK

For Thomas Cook Publishing we produced literally hundreds of maps to go in their guide books (City Spots, Hot Spots and Drive Around guides). The example below is of a walk route around Taormina in Sicily.

Taormina

For Isle of Wight Tourism we produced a complete booklet of walks around the Island including text, photographs and graphics. As with most walk maps, these were custom designed and produced royalty or copyright free, meaning that we had to walk all these footpaths ourselves. The maps folded down to a pocket sized DL booklet and are still offered as digital downloads from the Visit Isle of Wight website.

yarmouth-brighstone

 

A different style of walk map now, this time what we call a pictorial map. This particular map is of a walk route in Usk, south east Wales, and was one of a number of maps created for Monmouth County Council.

USK

 

Over the past few months we’ve been producing a range of walk maps for Assura for display in the reception areas of Health Centres, Doctor’s Surgeries etc to encourage patients to take more exercise. These are short walks around the local area and are printed at A1 size and encapsulated in acrylic for display in the reception areas. Each map has two walks and also includes a QR Code so that people can download the walk onto their mobile devices.

Basic CMYK  A4 Assura Template

 

The walk maps for Assura are based on Ordnance Survey data, meaning that we don’t have to go out and actually walk around each route – which is a bit of a shame sometimes as some of the walks are quite pleasant and we were getting just a little bit fitter.

Which just about brings us up to date with walk maps as we currently have a new map in production for Assura.

 

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Mapping your holiday

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If you’ve booked a holiday or trip abroad through a Travel Agent or Tour Operator in the last 16 years or so, the chances are that you’ll have seen or used one of our maps.

PCGraphics have produced a huge number of maps for the travel industry, very probably more than any other cartographic company in the UK during that time. From small locator maps for holiday brochures and websites to large format printed maps of tourist destinations for sale in shops, online and on cruise ships etc, we’ve been asked to produce all manner and sizes of maps.

ATG 09 design template  CPM2 Template landscape.ai

(Left, Audley Travel Thailand and right, Vintage Travel Rhodes)

We’ve created maps of holiday locations on every continent. Maps of everywhere from the Arctic to the Antarctic, and from North and South America to Asia, along with most places in between.

So, if you’ve been on holiday with many of the big names in the Travel Industry such as TUI (including Thomson Holidays, Airtours, Quark Expeditions, First Choice etc), British Airways Holidays, Virgin Holidays, Thomas Cook and many others, to smaller Tour Operators such as Vintage Travel, Audley, Ultimate Travel, New Experience Holidays, Helpful Holidays and loads, loads more, you will have probably seen our maps at some stage of the booking procedure.

peru

(Produced for The Peru Experience)

To give you an idea of some of the numbers of maps involved, for British Airways Holidays alone we have produced around 120 maps of holiday destinations around the World and for TUI the total is well over 160.

In our Job Records, which keeps track of each and every job we do, there are 459 unique records for Tour Operators and some of those individual jobs can have more than a hundred maps in each project. Which, by any standard, is a whole lot of tourist maps.

Maps for the Travel Industry come in a variety of sizes and designs, They can be small locator maps, perhaps showing where a particular town or village is within a country or region, or they can be highly detailed maps for tourists to find their way around a foreign city. Over the last couple of years we’ve had a lot more requests for customised maps of areas of Africa showing Nature Reserves, Safari Lodges etc and so, based on that, we’d guess that tourism to the wilder parts of Africa is probably becoming increasingly popular. One thing about all our maps though is that they are all custom designed maps, individual to each client.

Botswana   ATG 09 design template   Rwanda-Uganda

(Produced for Wilderness Dawning Safaris, The Responsible Safari Company and The Africa Travel Centre)

Many of our clients come back to us again and again for new maps or updates to existing maps and we’ve worked with some Tour Operators for well over 12 years.

We really enjoy working with Tour Operators and the Travel Industry in general. Producing maps of tourist destinations is always fun and interesting and, even if we can’t actually get to a lot of the exotic places around the World ourselves, the next best thing can be to draw maps of them.

 

Just a very few of our valued client from over the years. Some well known names in here:

Acorn Ski Ltd,   Affinity Villas,   Africa & Asia venture,   Africa Travel Centre,   American Holidays,   Audley Travel,   Bailey Robinson,   Bonnes Vacances,   British Airways Holidays,   Citysightseeing,   Consort Travel,   Croatian Villas,   First Choice Holidays,   French Golf Holidays,   Helpful Holidays,   Hotel Connect,   Kerala Connections,   Kirker Holidays,   New Experience Holidays,   Quark Expeditions,   Scandinavian Airline,   Shearings Holidays,   Ski Class,   STA Travel,   Sunways,   Swan Hellenic,   The Responsible Safari Company,   Tony Backhurst Scuba Travel,   TUI UK,   Vintage Travel,   Virgin Holidays,   Voyagers Zambia,   Worldwide Holidays Direct………… and many more!

 

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Thomson Directories – a tale of 400 towns

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It was in late 2000 that we first started work for Thomson Directories (TDL) at PCGraphics. We had only formed the company two years earlier in 1998, so taking on a prestigious contract such as this for TDL was a big step for a small, newly formed cartographic company.

thomsonlogo      pcg_small

The contract was to produce more than 400 detailed maps of UK town and city centres which were to be used in the TDL Directories that are delivered annually to nearly every home in the country. The Directories at that time had up to four or five maps in each publication.

Previously, TDL had used the Automobile Association Cartographic Department for the supply of maps but, for a number of reasons, TDL decided to look elsewhere for a supplier.  Fortunately, PCGraphics were in a good position as several of our cartographic staff  had already worked on the TDL maps – the Automobile Association subcontracted the drawing of the maps to a cartographic company in Surrey where a number of us had worked previously.

The requirement was to create ‘royalty free’ maps of each of the 400+ locations. At that time, to produce a royalty free map (which means a map free of all copyright issues), we had to purchase aerial photography and, after taking it into a graphics programme (Macromedia Freehand initially and, later, Adobe Illustrator), trace all the roads and other linear features. The only way to obtain all the names of roads etc, without infringing any other publisher’s copyright, was to send staff to each location where they would annotate a printout of the map line-work with all the names from street signs etc.

This was obviously an extremely time consuming task as an average map could take up to one whole day of walking around every street writing down all the names – and we had more than 400 to do. Larger maps, such as London and other major cities, obviously took a lot longer. This street checking had to be done in sun, rain or snow as we had a tight schedule of map production to keep to.

Torquay-Battersea

Two of the smaller size maps created for Thomson Local Directories – Torquay and Battersea

Most of the production work – both the street checking and the actual map production – was carried out by permanently employed PCGraphics staff members. Several times though we did have to use freelance cartographers for elements of the work and, occasionally, this did cause us problems. One incident which is still indelibly burnt into our memories is where a freelancer, as far as we could make out, simply copied an old map of the town centre we asked them to produce, along with all the errors and omissions in that old map, and passed it back to us as a new map (which was supposed to have been drawn from scratch and street checked). This caused us enormous problems at the time as we had to independently check this freelancer’s work and then redraw the map ourselves.

One other error which slipped through the net was when a Sikh Temple in Huddersfield was wrongly marked on the map as a Mosque. This, understandably, provoked an adverse reaction from the Sikh community and the map had to be quickly amended. Interestingly, this map was also produced by the same freelancer as before. Unsurprisingly, we haven’t used that freelancer ever again!

But, fortunately, mistakes with the mapping were very few and far between. Keeping the majority of the work in-house meant we were able to apply a high level of quality control to the project which was essential with that number of maps and the tight schedule.

After the initial three year period producing the maps, the contract rolled on with updates to the maps, more new maps and improvements.

The contracts with Thomson Directories ran for nearly eleven years, the last work being done in 2011, and we are extremely grateful to Mike Callaghan, Steve Arnold and all the others at TDL whom we worked with over the years and who had faith in PCGraphics back in 2000 when awarding us that first contract.

Michael Callaghan, previously of Thomson Directories, writing on Linkedin:

Whilst working for Thomson Directories a few years ago, we had a requirement to change our cartographic supplier.
Speaking to Sally and Paul at PCGraphics we were impressed.
They were professional, realistic on timescales achievable, well organised, good communicators and the quality of their work was of the highest standard.
Our requirement was for over 400 town plan maps to be generated to a tight schedule.
Sally organised the ground surveys and generation of maps and we were very pleased with the end result which incidentally, was on time.
I would not hesitate to recommend Sally and the wealth of experience she brings to her work.

 

 

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Ward-Lock Red Guide Books – Bath

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This is the second in an occasional series highlighting the Ward-Lock Red Guide Books, which we used at PCGraphics until a few years ago as copyright free bases for UK map information. The books have a wealth of information and give an interesting insight into life getting on for 70 years ago in the UK.

Published in 1950, this particular Guide covers Bath, Cheddar, Wells, Glastonbury and the surrounding towns.

bath_cover

bath_map  map_os

(Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database rights 2014)

The main map of Bath in the Guide (above, left) was a reprint of a John Bartholomew & Son map of the city. Above, right is approximately the same area today, taken from Ordnance Survey digital sources. You can see that the basic layout of the roads (plus the road names etc) are pretty much the same as they were 70 years ago, which is why these old maps have been an invaluable source for us to produce out of copyright maps from. We’ve illustrated this below by merging the 1950s map with the up to date Ordnance Survey map.

map_os_merge

Similar to the Harrogate Guide Book which we covered previously, this Bath Guide also contains some, in comparison to today’s Guide Books, unusual advertisements. Take the one below, for instance. How many times do you see an advert for a light bulb in a Thomas Cook, Lonely Planet or Rough Guides tourist book? Pretty much never I’d guess. Well, 70 years ago, apparently this was pretty normal as Osram, the light bulb manufacturer, used to take a high profile advert on the back page in many of the Red Guides. Obviously, when you are away on holiday, one of the things you always needed to think about was light bulbs.

bath_ad1

And then there’s the radioactive hot springs after which Bath was named. The level of radioactivity is, very probably, harmless but back in 1950 it was thought to be a positive selling point for the springs and had it’s own section in the Guide Book. It did give me cause however to look up the radioactive element radium on Wikipedia and it states:

Radium was once an additive in products such as toothpaste, hair creams, and even food items due to its supposed curative powers. Such products soon fell out of vogue and were prohibited by authorities in many countries after it was discovered they could have serious adverse health effects.

The French physicist Antoine Becquerel carried a small ampoule of radium in his waistcoat pocket for 6 hours and reported that his skin became ulcerated. Marie Curie experimented with a tiny sample that she kept in contact with her skin for 10 hours, and noted that an ulcer appeared several days later. Handling of radium has been blamed for Curie’s death due to aplastic anaemia.

Perhaps we’ll give the radioactive hot springs a miss next time we’re in Bath. Just in case.

bath_water

 

But, luckily, if the radium in the springs does, unfortunately, have an effect on you, you’ll be pleased to find that there are at least six adverts for Insurance companies in the Bath Red Guide. Mind you, by that time it might be too late to be calling an insurance company.

 

bath-insurance

 

Below is an extract from the road map included in the Guide, again produced by John Bartholomew & Son and used under licence. Not as user friendly as road maps produced these days, being only in black and white with a blue tint in areas of water. But then, motoring was probably a lot different too in 1950.

bath-road-map

 

We’ll be continuing this series in the future with other Ward-Lock Red Guide Books from our library.

If you are interested in old maps of the UK, you may like to know that we are gradually selling off our collection of Ordnance Survey One Inch maps. We have collected almost a complete set of these over the years, all of them over 50 years old, and are selling these individually on eBay as time permits. The maps are in varying condition depending on how much usage they have had over the years. Most of these historic maps sell for around £10 – £15. If you would like to enquire about a particular map or to purchase one, please contact us.

 

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Walk the Wight

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Walk the Wight – Sunday 11 May 2014

Each year around 12,000 people gather on the Isle of Wight to Walk the Wight, helping to raise funds for the Earl Mountbatten Hospice on the Isle of Wight.

The Earl Mountbatten Hospice provides end-of-life healthcare for the Isle of Wight community and is the only hospice on the Island. The hospice receives a grant towards the costs of providing this care but needs to raise over £2m a year to provide all of these services. Sponsored events such as Walk the Wight help towards raising these funds.

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Walk the Wight, Tennyson Down (Courtesy of WikiMedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tennyson_Down_during_Isle_of_Wight_Walking_Festival.jpg)

The main route for the walk is from Bembridge in the east, via Carisbrooke to The Needles in the west of the Island and is approximately 26.5 miles. Walk the Wight has been running for 19 years and is now the biggest sponsored walk in the South of England.

This main walk is also broken down into two stages.  There is a 12.5 mile stretch between the start at Bembridge to the checkpoint at Carisbrooke, and a 14 mile walk from Carisbrooke to the finish at The Needles and walkers can complete either of these two shorter walks or the full 26.5 mile route.

There are many other walks apart from the main route across the Island. There is even a Schools Walk the Wight, where Island school children walk the equivalent of the 26.5 miles but in shorter sections over several weeks.

This year’s walk is on Sunday 11 May 2014.

Walk_the_Wight

More information on Walk the Wight:

http://www.iwhospice.org/walk-the-wight.aspx

Registration:

http://iwhospice.org/register-now-for-wtw.aspx

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Ocean Explorer Maps

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Ocean Explorer Maps – 14 years of maps

We get on extremely well with all of our clients – we enjoy creating their maps for them and hopefully that comes across in what we produce – but just occasionally a client comes along who we like to think of as a friend.

When Nigel Sitwell approached us back in 2000 with the idea of a map of Antarctica aimed primarily at cruise ship passengers, we were pleased to take on the job. It seemed like a nice job to work on, combining maps with informative text and interesting photos. Little did we realise how that one project would evolve into a whole series of maps spanning nearly 14 years.

We also knew nothing at the time of the background of Nigel. It’s only over those 14 years that we came to realise that he had been the editor of Wildlife magazine (which became BBC Wildlife) for many years and that he was an Expedition Leader on Antarctic cruises for 14 seasons. Or that he had been awarded the Order of the Golden Ark by HRH Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands for services to conservation. Or that he was Chairman of the Galapagos Conservation Trust from 1997 – 2006. Or that he was the author and editor of many books specialising in natural history. But, best of all, that he’d flown a military plane between the Needles at the western tip of the Isle of Wight!

So, Antarctic Explorer went into work and had it’s first printing in 2000 and a reprint followed shortly afterwards in 2001. This popular map is still in print today, along with a German version in 2001 and a Japanese version in 2002 which was our first venture into working with the Japanese language.

antarctic antarctic_german antarctic_japanese

Antarctica set the style for all the other Explorer maps to follow. One side has an overview of the whole of the continent surrounded by short biographies of important figures (explorers etc). Side two shows an enlargement of the Antarctic Peninsula along with photos of the wildlife, information on Treaties etc.

antarctic_map  Antarctic_peninsula

Spitsbergen was the second in the Explorer series and went into work in 2001. It was reprinted again in 2010. In the latter part of 2001 we created a popular German version of the map which has had two subsequent reprints.

Producing Spitsbergen Explorer brought back memories for our Production Director Sally, who, in 1994 had spent four weeks on this Arctic island on a glacial research expedition. Read the blog entry here.

spitzbergen  spitzbergen_german

spitsbergen

After the success of Antarctica and Spitsbergen, Nigel commissioned us to produce Alaska Explorer in 2002. Again aimed primarily at cruise ship passengers, Alaska followed a similar format to Antarctica with an overview map on one side and an enlargement on the reverse with more photos and information.

alaska

Alaska_Map_Side  Alaska_Cover_Side

Also in that year we started work on a new title in the series, South American Explorer. This focused mainly on southern Chile and, in particular, the fjords which are very popular with cruise ships.

south_american  CHILE_INSET_MAP

2002 was another busy year as we also created Falkland Islands Explorer and South Georgia Explorer. These were slightly smaller format maps than Antarctic and Alaska (750 x 460cm as opposed to the larger format 1000 x 690cm) but still contain a wealth of information and colour photographs.

falklands  FALKLANDS_MAP_SIDE

south_georgia  South_Georgia_ map

Caribbean Explorer was next on the list, going into production in 2003. This gives an overview of the Caribbean Islands along with a timeline of historic events, information on wildlife etc and is ideal for the many cruise ship passengers in this area to plot their trips.

caribbean  CARIBBEAN_ISLAND_SIDE

Galapagos Islands Explorer followed in 2006 and such is the popularity of the map of this unique group of islands that it has been reprinted twice, in 2009 and 2012.

galapagos  Galapagos_Map_Side

2006 also saw us producing Mediterranean Explorer – another large format map at 1000 x 690cm, covering the whole of the Mediterranean area, north Africa and parts of the Middle east.

mediterranean  Med Map

In 2007 we moved back to the Arctic with the commencement of Greenland Explorer, with a further reprint in 2012.

greenland  Greenland_Mapside

Over the years many different versions of Explorer Maps have been produced for various travel companies, including Swan Hellenic, Gap, Quark Expeditions, Peregrine and Adventure Fleet, with their own branding on the maps.

Right at this moment we have a new title in production, which will have to remain under wraps until it is published, hopefully later this year.

These publications have been a delight to work on as they incorporate not only detailed maps of interesting places but also photographs, text and diagrams and bring all these elements together into an attractive design.

If you’re visiting any of these areas, and not just on a cruise ship, it’s certainly worth checking out these publications before you go. They’re also ideal for armchair explorers, which, I guess, is the majority of us!

A few quotes from customer’s who bought Ocean explorer Maps online

Galapagos:
“Excellent map of islands for visitor plus info on people, fauna and flora, geology and history. Local guide said it was the best map he had seen and wished he could buy it in the islands so I gave him my first copy when there last month and bought this 2nd copy for myself on return.”

South Georgia:
“loads of interesting facts about this amazing little island”

Falkland Islands:
“as someone who works in the Falklands, this is the map that I always rely on”

Antarctic:
“this map is the most detailed of this area I have seen”

Spitsbergen:
“Having checked all available maps of area, this was clearest and best presented”

Alaska:
“First class product”

You can buy Ocean Explorer Maps online at these and other stores

http://www.longitudebooks.com/find/d/50097/mcms.html
http://www.nhbs.com/ocean_explorer_maps_sefno_103383.html
http://www.mapsworldwide.com/ocean_explorer_maps_2836pub0.htm
http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=nigel+sitwell

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Fascinating (Isle of Wight) Facts

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Some fascinating facts about the Isle of Wight that you probably didn’t realise that you wanted to know…..

  • The island has more overseas visitors per year than it does residents – 2,467,909 visitors in 2010/11 with a population of only about 138,400.
  • The Island has more sunshine hours than any other UK resort with on average 1800–2100 hours of sunshine per year, which is more than some areas of northern Spain.
  • The Isle of Wight is said by some to be the most haunted Island in the world.
  • The trains on the Ryde to Shanklin line are ex London Underground tube trains and were built around 1938 – making them older than some of the heritage steam engines on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway.
  • The Isle of Wight was called Vectis by the Romans who settled there.

Brading_Roman_Villa
Brading Roman Villa mosaic (Credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brading_Roman_Villa_15.jpg) 

  • The Isle of Wight is England’s smallest county when the tide is high – Rutland being the smallest when the tide is out on the Island.
  • The world’s first radio station was set up by Marconi, at the Needles, on the western tip of the island in 1897.

Needles_Old_Battery

The Needles Battery (Credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Needles,_Needles_Old_Battery_-_geograph.org.uk_-_644576.jpg)

  • The Needles battery was also used as a site for the testing and development of Britain’s space rockets.
  • Blackgang Chine, in the south of the Island, was establishment in 1843, making it the oldest amusement park in the UK and, some say, the World.

Blackgang_Chine
(Credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Blackgang_Chine_main_entrance.JPG)

  • According to audits, the local newspaper, the County Press, is read by approximately 90% of the Island’s adult population.
  • The tallest structure on Isle of Wight is Chillerton Down transmitting station, whose mast is 228.9-metre (751 ft) high.
  • The Isle of Wight is home to the Isle of Wight music Festival. It attracted an audience of 700,000 in 1970 with Jimi Hendrix headlining at the site at East Afton Farm.
  • The world’s biggest gathering of vintage and modern scooters, The Isle of Wight International Scooter Rally, is held on the Island in August each year with between 4,000 and 7,000 participants.
  • Adgestone Vineyard is one of the oldest vineyards in Britain.
  • The hovercraft was invented and developed on the Isle of Wight by Sir Christopher Cockerell, who lived and worked in East Cowes.

hovercraft
(Credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Portobello_Solent_Express1_2007-07-28.jpg)

  • Formed in 1967, and active in the early 1970s, The Vectis National Party was a political party which sought independent status for the Isle of Wight, on a similar basis to other islands such as the Isle of Man.
  • The well known model village at Godshill incorporates a model village of itself. It is so detailed that within that second model there is a third, even smaller, model of the village.
  • Flying Boats were developed and built by Saunders-Roe Limited at their Columbine Works, East Cowes.

flying_boat
(Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Saro_Princess_G-ALUN_Farnborough_1953.jpg)

  • The Isle of Wight is one of the richest dinosaur localities in Europe, with over 20 species of dinosaur having been found on the Island. Dinosaur footprints are visible at Compton Bay, near Freshwater, at low tide.
  • When the dinosaur fossils were laid down, between 125 and 110 million years ago, the island was at a latitude similar to that of North Africa today.
  • Osborne House was built between 1845 and 1851 for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as a summer home and rural retreat and the Island became a major holiday resort for fashionable Victorians. Queen Victoria died at Osborne House in January 1901.

Osborne_House

Osborne House (Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Osborne_House_02.jpg)

  • PCGraphics have worked on 94 projects requiring customised maps of the Isle of Wight for various clients since we started back in 1998. That’s roughly one every two months or so.

 

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Ward-Lock Red Guide Books

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Harrogate

Over the years at PCGraphics, we have collected more than 20 of these Red Guide books produced by Ward-Lock covering various tourist resorts and areas of interest around the UK.

They all contain maps and information regarding the area and were produced by Ward-Lock between about 1900 and 1960.

These were mainly used by us as the basis for royalty or copyright free mapping in the UK. We also have a complete set of 1:50,000 (or 1 inch maps as they were called then) covering England, Scotland and Wales along with some from Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Apart from their use as a basis for current day maps, the Guide Books also give a fascinating insight into how the UK was in times gone by, not only from the text, old maps and photos, but also from some of the adverts.

We’ve scanned below a few of the pages from the Harrogate Guide Book and a selection of short transcriptions of some of the text. The Harrogate Guide is undated but, from reading the text, it would appear to have been published in the early 1940s i.e. possibly during the Second World War.

Attached to one of the first pages in the Guide is a small insert of paper stating
“The Publishers regret that owing to War-time difficulties, it is not at present possible to include the customary complete set of maps and plans in this Guide.”

harrogate_cover

 

harrogate_ad4

Above is an extract from the George Philip and Son map which was included in the Guide. No motorways, obviously, in those days.

harrogate_ad5

There are some parts of the text in the Guide which would, perhaps, be frowned upon today. Take, for instance, the extract above which states that ‘Many people are under the impression that because Harrogate is a Spa it is overrun with invalids in bath chairs or on crutches and that a general air of resignation pervades the place…’. I’m not sure that would appear in a Guide Book these days.

Some of the adverts are quite interesting too. An advert for Table Salt is possibly not what you’d expect in a Guide Book you bought today.

harrogate_ad1

harrogate_ad2

The advert above was for Dr. J. Collis Brownes Chlorodyne. Apparently it cured everything from influenza, asthma and bronchitis to coughs and catarrh as well as ‘Acting like a charm’ in diarrhoea, stomach, chills and other bowel complaints. Chlorodyne was also used as a cure for insomnia. On looking up Chlorodyne on Wikipedia, it appears the principal ingredients were a mixture of laudanum (a form of opium), cannabis, and chloroform. Not surprising then that it helped with sleep problems.

harrogate_ad6

Harrogate was, at the time of the Guide Book, famous for its spa waters and, apparently, there were 88 wells within two miles of the town. One of the ‘benefits’ of taking the waters was that the Barium Chloride present in the water ‘has a great effect in raising the arterial blood pressure’. Funny how the perception of what’s good for you has changed over the past 70 years or so. I can’t see the local Tourism Department using ‘Come to Harrogate for higher blood pressure’ as a marketing slogan anytime in the near future.

All the Guides also ran adverts at the back of the books for Hotels etc in other areas of the country. The St. Ives Bay Hotel in Cornwall were keen to point out in their advert that they had hot and cold running water in all bedrooms. They also make a special mention of ‘Electric Lights’. As they say in the advert, an ‘Up-to date Hotel of Comfort and Charm’.

harrogate_ad7

 

For more information on Ward-Lock Red Guides try these websites:
http://www.wardlockredguides.co.uk/page/aboutRG.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ward_Lock_travel_guides

Ward-Lock Red Guides can occasionally be found for sale on Ebay and Amazon.

 

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World Facts

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Some interesting World facts

First the hottest, coldest, wettest and driest places on Earth.

Hottest Place – Danakil Depression, Ethiopia, where the annual average temperature is 34.4°C. The average daily maximum temperature during the same period was 41.1 °C. However, on July 10, 1913 weather instruments measured 56.7°C in Death Valley, California, but this was a peak temperature, not an average.

Coldest Place – At the Plateau Station, Antarctica, the annual average temperature is -56.7°C. The coldest one-off temperature was -93.2 °C, recorded on 10 August, 2010 again in Antarctica.

Wettest Place – This is Assam in India, where the annual average rainfall is 11,873 mm (nearly 39 inches of rain per month).

Driest Place – The Atacama Desert, Chile, has negligible rainfall on an annual basis. There are parts of the desert which it is believed have received no rainfall whatsoever for hundreds of years. Which is, perhaps, surprising as this is a coastal area.

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The most populated countries in the World, based on the number of people per square kilometre, are possibly not what you might expect:

Monaco         16,205
Singapore       6,386
Malta               1,261
Maldives         1,164
Bahrain           1,035
Bangladesh    1,002
Vatican City       920
Barbados          648
Nauru                621
Mauritius          603

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And, by way of contrast, those with the lowest density of people per square kilometre:

Mongolia      2
Namibia       2
Australia      3
Botswana    3
Iceland         3
Suriname    3
Libya            3
Mauritania 3
Canada        3
Guyana       4

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And now, the World’s largest countries, by area:

Russia              17,075,400 sq km
Canada              9,330,970 sq km
China                 9,326,410 sq km
USA                    9,166,600 sq km
Brazil                 8,456,510 sq km
Australia           7,617,930 sq km
India                  2,973,190 sq km
Argentina         2,736,690 sq km
Kazakhstan      2,717,300 sq km

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And the smallest countries, again by area:

Vatican City                0.44 sq km
Monaco                       1.95 sq km
Nauru                        21.20 sq km
Tuvalu                        26.00 sq km
San Marino               61.00 sq km
Liechtenstein         160.00 sq km
Marshall Islands    181.00 sq km
Seychelles                270.00 sq km
Maldives                   300.00 sq km
St. Kitts and Nevis  360.00 sq km

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The oldest countries in the World, and when they were formed:

San Marino     301 AD
France              486 AD
Bulgaria           632 AD
Denmark         950 AD
Portugal        1143 AD
Andorra         1278 AD
Switzerland  1291 AD

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The most widely spoken languages:

Chinese (Mandarin) More than 1 billion
English                         512 million
Hindi                            501 million
Spanish                       399 million
Russian                       285 million
Arabic                         265 million
Bengali                       245 million
Portuguese               196 million
Malay-Indonesian   140 million
Japanese                    125 million

你好    Hello    नमस्ते    ¡Hola    Алло    مرحبا    হ্যালো    Olá   Halo    こんにちは

 

The population of the World is estimated at  7.14 billion people of which 19.1% live in China and 17.4% in India.

Did you know that the surface of our planet is 70.9% water?

sea

 

Sources/credits:  www.worldatlas.com / wikipedia.org / Google translate

 

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Island Life

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It was back in June 2010 that we moved to the Isle of Wight. Sally and I had been considering a move for some time before that – the nice little canal-side cottage where we were living in Ash Vale, Surrey was becoming too small for a growing family.

ash_vale

Businesswise, we were free to move anywhere. A few years previously we’d changed from directly employing staff to using a team of skilled freelancer cartographers which meant that we weren’t tied to a particular area or having the problem of relocating staff.

So we came up with a shortlist of possible places to live. And, because of the way we work, we felt we weren’t necessarily restricted to living in the UK. Actually, it started off as a pretty long list – we took a list of English speaking countries off Wikipedia and began crossing off places we thought unsuitable.

Australia sounded good but a bit of a long trip to see family and friends at weekends. The same for Canada and the USA. So we looked closer to home.

We had a brief discussion about Gibraltar before moving on to the Channel Islands – until we looked into the problems of buying a house over there and the prices asked for very modest properties.

But, the idea of living on an island had formed in our minds.

One of our other criteria was to move south if possible. Warmer summers and milder winters were a definite attraction, so all of the more northerly islands surrounding the UK were ruled out. Eventually, one of us (and I’m not saying who) suggested the Isle of Wight.

We went through the usual thoughts of ‘Isn’t the Isle of Wight only for grannies and retired people?’ and ‘Aren’t they about 50 years behind the times over there?’ before remembering the great beaches, the scenery, the slower way of life (we’d had holidays on the Island previously) and the slightly warmer weather.

And there was the added bonus that house prices were considerably cheaper on the Island too.

So, we moved.

We’d only been on the Island a short while before ‘island mentality’ set in. I doubt if this is in any way unique to the Isle of Wight, but living on an island does make you think in a slightly different way. Islanders, we quickly noticed, tend to stick together. Everything is very island-centered. There may be around 110,000 people on the Island but you feel you know everyone and people tend to be much friendlier than a lot of places we’ve lived on the mainland.

While everyone else, it seems, is going global, living on an island makes you think very local. From local food and drink to employment for local people.

And then there’s the quirky things. Like the fact that the trains on the Island are ex London Underground trains of around 1938 vintage. They can’t run any other trains because the bridges on the Island were built too low. And they run well too – we actually have the most punctual train service in the UK, notwithstanding the fact that there is only about 8.5 miles of railway line! There are no motorways and only one stretch of dual carriageway about half a mile long. But, apart from during the times of the music festivals, there’s rarely a queue of traffic anywhere.

underground
Island Line train (formerly a London Underground train) at St Johns Rd Station, Ryde

dinosaur_train
An Island Line train in dinosaur livery

No self respecting Island would be complete without its fair share of eccentrics. The clear leader in this field on the Isle of Wight is David Icke. A former professional footballer and sports presenter on the BBC, it all went a bit pear shaped for David around 1990 when the spirit world began, allegedly, to pass messages to him. He followed this up in March 1991 with a press conference where he announced that he was a “Son of the Godhead”. Several books followed, with one making the claim that a secret group of reptilian humanoids called the Babylonian Brotherhood controls humanity, and that many prominent figures are reptilian. The Queen and Tony Blair are, apparently, reptiles. We have our doubts about one of those but are willing to believe it about the other.

David has his own youtube channel where you can view his videos and he does sell-out tours  – he is doing an all day presentation at Wembley Arena in October 2014. Tickets are available online.

Local newspapers are always interesting to read and the County Press is no exception. We’re always amazed at the somewhat trivial stories which manage to make the ‘news’ pages. Take these three for instance:

http://www.iwcp.co.uk/news/news/man-stuck-in-window-37209.aspx

http://www.iwcp.co.uk/news/news/man-freed-after-trapping-arm-43083.aspx

http://www.iwcp.co.uk/news/news/man-freed-from-window-46511.aspx

Perhaps there’s something about folk from the Island and windows, but a worryingly high number seem to have problems with them. Or, maybe, they just have problems with doors and use the windows instead? Who knows? We’ll report back in a few years time when we’ll probably be using the window to get in and out of our house. And calling out the fire brigade when we get stuck.

Along with the lack of motorways, there’s also a complete lack of shopping centres on the Island. What we have are High Streets. Remember them? Their demise everywhere else in the UK has been well documented but here, on the Isle of Wight, every town has its High Street and all have more than their fair share of small, independent shops.

Yes, there’s a very large Tesco where, over time, you’ll bump into just about everyone you know on the Island but there’s also a huge number of small, local food stores and delicatessens, coffee shops, restaurants, greengrocers and fish mongers.

Hey, you know what? It does sound like England from 50 years ago!  And, you know what else? It’s actually none the worse for being like that.

 

Credits:
Island Line photos: Wikimedia Commons 
David Icke: Wikipedia

 

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The demise of royalty free mapping

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When we started PCGraphics back in 1998 one of the most common requests from clients was for ‘royalty free maps’. What people were looking for was maps which were produced from copyright free sources which they wouldn’t have to pay royalties on every time they used them.

At the time, Ordnance Survey would charge a royalty fee of around 5 pence per A3 size printed copy if the maps we produced were based on their sources. For a 10,000 print run this would add another £500 to the cost – and this would be payable every time they printed the maps, usually every 6 or 12 months.

royalty_fees

To get around this we were often commissioned to produce royalty free maps. These were initially more expensive to produce, but there were no on-going royalty or licence fees, and in the longer term they were more cost effective.

To give an idea of the scale of the demand for royalty free mapping, one client alone spent over half a million Pounds with us on royalty free maps. This was, obviously, for a large number of maps and huge print runs but it does go to show the lengths some companies were forced to go to in order to avoid paying royalties to Ordnance Survey.

Then, of course, came web maps and no-one was printing quite so many maps anymore. Things had to change and, in 2010, Ordnance Survey changed their licensing and much of their data became free to use.

Almost overnight this brought to an end the requests for royalty free mapping.

These days, nearly all our customised UK maps are produced from freely available Ordnance Survey data and we rarely, if ever, get asked to produce a map ‘royalty free’ anymore. We’d guess that the days of half a million Pound contracts to produce maps free of royalties are a thing of the past. But, as with all things, you should never say never!

You can read more about royalty free maps and Ordnance Survey on some of our other blog entries:

How do we make maps?
A few words about Ordnance Survey

 

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Coals to Newcastle?

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….. or, the day we bought a map off  ebay

 

First, let’s clear up one thing. At PCGraphics we draw maps, hundreds of them, but what we don’t do is print or publish our own maps. We’re a service company to publishers, tour operators, Local Authorities and anyone else who wants a map drawn. But we don’t print maps.

So, when we wanted a World wall map we, like most other people, went online to buy one. Fairly easy, there’s plenty of suppliers out there.

But then you start looking at the cost. A World wall map can be anything from £12 up to £25 or more. Surely they must all be the same? Why do some cost twice as much as others do?

Anyway, being cost conscious, we opted for one off  ebay for £12. Plus postage, of course.

The map arrived on time, nicely rolled up in a tube. No complaints there. We didn’t actually open up the tube and look at the map until several days later. And then the fun began.

Ok, I’ll admit it, being cartographers we’re a bit fussy about maps. But I don’t think you’d have to be all that fussy to be astounded by the map we received.

We’ve scanned and uploaded here just one small corner of the map (it’s a big map, about A1 size and we could only fit the corner in the scanner!) but we could equally have chosen any part of the map as an example.

world_map(Scan of the bottom left corner of the World map we bought)

At first glance you look at it and think, ok, yes, it’s a World map, that’s what we ordered. Then you look closer.

vatican
(Zoomed in section of map)

Now, most of us know where the Vatican City is, don’t we, even if we’re not Catholics? Even if we don’t know it’s exact location, I think pretty much all of us would know that the Vatican City is not in Corsica (France). Yet there it is, proudly sitting on the west coast of Corsica. Or according to the map we bought anyway.

Next…….

world_text_4
(Republic of Ireland extract)

There’s probably a Gaelic spelling of every town and city name in Eire, but we’re fairly sure that ‘Limerickv’ isn’t one of them. Maybe it was just a typo error which slipped through the net? But then……

world_text_5
(France/Spain extract)

This is certainly an unusual spelling of Bordeaux. Perhaps because it’s pronounced ‘o’ at the end of Bordeaux someone stuck an ‘o’ there as well, just to make sure!

world_text_2
(Sweden extract)

Quite what’s happened to the name Gavle in Sweden is beyond us. How do you get the final ‘e’ to drop down like that? And, did no-one notice?

world_text_3
(Spain/France extract, again)

Geography, and capital cities in particular, aren’t everyone’s strongest subject but, if you’re producing a map, one of the fundamentals is to get the capital cities correct. Most of us know the city of Pamplona, famous of course for the bulls running through the streets, and I think most of us would know that Pamplona is not the capital of Andorra.

world_text
(UK extract)

Not much wrong with the UK part of the map. You’d hope not anyway as the map was produced in the UK (by a company in Sheffield) and it should be fairly easy to get all the UK names right. And, yes, they probably are but………just looking at it makes me feel dizzy and a bit queasy. How many different angles can you spot that the names have been placed at? Just look at Penzance and Plymouth. And then Newcastle and Manchester. And the end of ‘United Kingdom’ seems to have gone awry too. And Dublin and Birmingham. Need I go on? I can’t really as it’s making me feel slightly nauseous looking at it (a bit like sea sickness).

And this was all from just the small corner of the map that we scanned.

So, what’s the moral of this story? Would it be that you get what you pay for with maps, the same as with most things?

Possibly. Except that we sent the map back (we’re £6 something out of pocket now because of the postage but we really didn’t want to keep the map, it was embarrassing, and people might have though we’d produced it) and went down the High Street and bought a new World map from WH Smiths. The new map, published by Ordnance Survey, cost us £9.99 (other publisher’s maps were available at the same price) whereas we’d paid £12 plus postage to a company on ebay for the poor excuse of a map.

So, our moral is, not everything is cheaper on the internet. Lesson learnt. Until next time we find a ‘bargain’ anyway.

 

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World Travel Market and other exhibitions

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The World Travel Market exhibition was on at ExCel (yes, that’s the way they spell it) in London’s Docklands from 4 – 7 November 2013. In their own words, the WTM is ‘the leading global event for the travel industry to meet, network, negotiate and conduct business’.

wtm

Over the years at PCGraphics we’ve attended and exhibited at many tourism and publishing Fairs – both the London and the much bigger Frankfurt Bookfairs, the now defunct British Travel Trade Fair (which evolved into the Best of Britain and Ireland) in Birmingham and the ITB (Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin) along with the World Travel Market (WTM).

Of all these shows, WTM was always the most fun. Undoubtably hard work – a pair of comfortable shoes was always the first thing packed – it was the only exhibition which had an element of gaiety about it. At times it was almost a carnival atmosphere.

Contrast that with our annual trips to Germany for the Frankfurter Buchmesse or Frankfurt Bookfair to you and me.

We have nothing against Frankfurt per se but simply the mention of the city which prides itself on being the financial centre of Europe still causes some of us to shudder uncontrollably and to bring others out in a nervous rash.

No rational explanation can be given for these rather extreme reactions. Perhaps it was all the preplanning necessary. Packing cartons and boxes and airfreighting them to Germany weeks before the show. Printing promotional items. Booking ludicrously overpriced hotels (and having to book them almost 12 months in advance to ensure accommodation was available). Turning up at the hotel only to find you’d booked everyone in to a seedy guesthouse in the red light district. Actually finding your way around the exhibition halls – halls so vast and spread so far apart that travelling between them is done on travelators. Maybe it was all those things, maybe none. All we know is that we dreaded even the mention of the name Frankfurt.

frankfurt
(The Frankfurt Bookfair tower)

World Travel Market was slightly different. It’s probably easier to make an exhibition fun and a bit more exciting when it’s all about holidays and travel. Not so easy perhaps when the subject is books.

We did quite a number of these exhibitions over the years and one thing we learnt is that the more planning you do the more you get from the show.

At our first ever exhibition we didn’t bother making any advance appointments. We set up our exhibition stand with very little thought as to how to get people to stop and take a look. And we got very little from it.

You learn from this and, at subsequent Fairs, we would bring along our own lighting for the stand, have monitors showing presentations, have give-aways on the stand and have prize draws etc. All geared to get people to stop and have a look and for us to get their business card so we could contact them later.

The other thing we learnt was to, literally, tie everything down. Bolt it down if possible. It’s not during the exhibition that things would go missing but, usually, at the set up stage or after the Fair closed each evening. Everything from monitor cables to ladders would disappear if they weren’t attached to something heavy and immovable. Things got so bad that, at one time, we considered CCTV but in the end opted for simply leaving warning signs stating that cameras were in operation. That actually seemed to do the trick.

So, World Travel Market is coming round again the first week of November. We don’t actually exhibit anymore, unfortunately. In the great scheme of things PCGraphics is a small company compared with most of the other exhibitors (most cartographic companies are small these days) and the cost of participating at these exhibitions in London, Birmingham, Frankfurt etc became prohibitive and uneconomic some years ago.

exhibition

(One of our stands at a show. Once you’ve done a few exhibitions you realise that having a corner stand is much more desirable. The organisers know this too and charge a premium)

If you’re not in the trade (publishing or tourism) and therefore unlikely to be given tickets, World Travel Market and the Book Fairs all have public days (usually the last day or days of the exhibition) and we can recommend going along. If you’re looking for a holiday, WTM is the place to go, with just about every destination in the World represented under one roof. If you’re interested in books, the London Book Fair would be ideal. You can even buy books from some of the stands.

In 2014, WTM is on at ExCel between November 3 – 6
Frankfurt Book Fair – October 8 – 12 2014
London Book Fair  at Earls Court between 8 – 10 April 2014

If you do go along to any of these, enjoy yourself but spare a thought for those on the stands. It’s not as easy as it looks.

 

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Why we moved to the Isle of Wight

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Six more views of the Isle of Wight. Can you see why we decided to move here?

culver
(The cliffs at Culver with the Yarborough Monument visible on top)

bembridge_harbour
(Bembridge Harbour at dawn)

brading_marsh
(View over Brading Marsh)

st_catherines
(St Catherine’s Oratory. Known as the Pepperpot, it was built in 1328 as a lighthouse)

sandown
(Looking across Sandown Bay)

freshwater_bay
(
Sunset at Freshwater Bay)

 

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Photos courtesy of  Visit Isle of Wight.  More photos on their Facebook page.

 

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A few words about Ordnance Survey

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A few words about Ordnance Survey – and Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown probably wouldn’t be top of many people’s lists of favourite Prime Ministers (in fact, according to many of the lists I’ve seen, he’s fairly close to the bottom) but he did do one thing during his short reign at the helm which has helped us at PCGraphics along with, indirectly, many of our UK clients.

Ok, it’s not earth shattering in the great scheme of World affairs, and it did nothing to further his career as the man who, almost single handedly, ‘saved the world.’ But in March 2010 he announced plans to free up much of the data held by Ordnance Survey (and paid for over the years by UK tax payers).

GordonBrown
(The man who saved the World – Public Domain photograph)

This meant that, from 1 April 2010, large tracts of O.S. data would be free to use by commercial companies such as ourselves. The idea was to give a push to growth in the digital economy.

Now, you would have thought that this was something which would have received universal acclaim throughout the cartographic world. Detailed data of the UK which we’d had to licence from O.S. on behalf of our clients which, quite often, doubled the price of a job. What’s not to like about getting that for free? Unfortunately not everyone thought so. There were a few cartographic companies in the UK who voiced their disapproval of Ordnance Survey data becoming free to use, mainly it seemed because these were companies which had built a business model based around charging clients on behalf of the O.S. to use the data.

But, enough of the doomsayers. As of April 2010 we could use O.S. data without a licence or royalties. All we needed to do was add a simple credit line at the bottom of the map, like the one at the bottom of this page.

Ok, some of the file formats that Ordnance Survey make their data available in are not suitable for home users (ESRI SHAPE files anyone? Or how about MapInfo Tab data? Or even DXF?) but for cartographic companies such as PCGraphics it opened up a whole new, much more cost effective, market.

rydeOS
(Four levels of Ordnance Survey data, now free to use commercially)

Prior to April 2010, to get around the payment of licence fees and royalties, we would produce royalty (copyright) free mapping. This entailed acquiring aerial photography and sending cartographers out to the towns or areas to be mapped to gather all the street names etc. Remember, Google Street View of the UK was only went ‘live’ in 2009 so before then, to be copyright free, we had to physically visit every location.

So, thanks to our friend Gordon Brown (did I actually write that?), we now had a way of producing Ordnance Survey based mapping of the UK without much of the cost and red tape that we had to endure previously.

Perhaps surprisingly though, now we have Google Street View to check it against, we’ve found Ordnance Survey are perhaps not quite as accurate with their mapping as they would have us believe. Over the last few years we’ve noticed many incorrect street names and other inaccuracies with what O.S. have produced.

It’s funny because, as a cartographer, I remember being told that Ordnance Survey always used to add ‘fingerprints’ (or deliberate mistakes to you and me) to their maps to help catch those who were copying them. Now, maybe they added so many of these ‘fingerprints’ to their maps over the years that they’ve lost track of where they all are or, possibly more likely, there were quite a few unintentional errors in what they were producing? Whichever is right, it’s certainly true that Ordnance Survey maps are perhaps not quite as accurate as we were led to believe.

But hey, maybe we shouldn’t complain about Ordnance Survey maps because things could be a lot worse. A lot, lot worse actually. Imagine if Apple were in charge of UK mapping? Imagine whole towns and cities being left off the map of the UK? No, perhaps we’ll stick with the occasional error in the Ordnance Survey’s work, especially since our great friend Gordon Brown signed the papers which made large chunks of it free to use.

Three cheers for the man who ‘saved the World.’ Hip hip…….ok, let’s not go too mad.

 

(Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database rights 2013)

 

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Company Director profile – Paul Cooney

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Just so you know a little bit more about who you’re dealing with at PCGraphics, this is the first of two quick blog entries to give you the low-down on the Directors who run the company. In other words, it’s all about Paul Cooney.
 
We’ll skip discretely over the early history, except to say that Paul was educated (using the term very loosely) at Gunnersbury Grammar in London W4. From this educational highpoint he joined the Mapping and Charting Establishment (MCE) in Feltham, Middlesex, to train as a cartographer. This was way back in 1972. At that time, it seemed, jobs were plenty and MCE took on around 50 trainees every year, with training taking a full year. This was an apprenticeship in manual cartography with computerised mapping  still some way off on the horizon.Looking back at the photo, below, of the trainees and instructors from that year, a couple of points stand out. Firstly, that the photo was in black and white.
Obviously there was colour photography (it’s not that long ago, honest) but perhaps the photographer thought it was a serious subject so black and white was more appropriate? Or, maybe, as it was part of the Civil Service, the cost of colour film was deemed too high?
 
The second observation, on looking at the photo now, is how much hair there was – and I’m talking about the men here. On a personal level, this was a reaction against the years at school where hair wasn’t allowed to reach your collar.
 
MCE(MCE 1972 Training Section)Life at MCE muddled on for several years, as it does in the Civil Service, until it was time to get out and join a commercial company in the real world.First stop was Engineering Surveys Reproduction. Not the catchiest of business names so they were generally just called ESR.ESR was part of a larger group who mainly performed ground surveys (theodolites and all that stuff). This was the first of two stints with ESR, this initial one lasting somewhat less than a year as it turned out to be extremely cliquey and not very pleasant at that time.paul(somewhat more hair in those days compared with today)

Next stop was Clyde Surveys in Maidenhead. Another company who mainly undertook surveying but tacked a drawing office onto the side.

From there we move to Henley on Thames and GEO Projects. This used to be owned and run by David Fryer until they were taken over by a Lebanese businessman and changed into GEO Projects. The majority of the work was based around creating school books and atlases for the Arab market. Nearly all the work therefore was in Arabic, which did give the opportunity of learning the basics (and I do mean the basics) of the language. Alif, ba, ta, tha etc still stay with me today, locked forever in my memory.

Moving on to 1986 and a switch back to ESR in Byfleet again, this time with the more senior job title of Drawing Office Supervisor. Five years in that role until a promotion to Drawing Office manager came along, followed in three years time by a further promotion to Production Manager.

One of the biggest changes during this period was the switch to computer mapping which left many of those who couldn’t or wouldn’t adapt looking for new employment. This was a turbulent time for ESR, with, at one stage, the owners forcing an almost midnight flit to new offices across the road and the survey division biting the dust. You take what you can get out of these situations and it taught some of us how not to run a company.

It was time to leave before everything fell apart and, judging from the condition of the offices we were moved to, this could be taken very literally.

On to Lovell Johns, a competitor of ESR and the role, again, of Production Manager. This seemed like the ideal move. At the same time that ESR was imploding, Lovell Johns was expanding with offices in Oxfordshire and North Wales. As is often the way, when you’re looking forward to something so much, it very often doesn’t live up to expectations. Unfortunately this was the way at Lovell Johns. Sometimes it just doesn’t feel right, you don’t get the right vibes, and it’s better not to let it drag on.

After several months of Business Plans, forecasts, meetings with Bank Managers etc, PCGraphics was set up at the beginning of October 1998. Initially there were three directors – Paul Cooney, Sally Cooney (née Hill) and Darryll Slater. Darryll was employed as Sales Director and quite soon fell by the wayside, leaving the two directors we have today.

Sally deals with the production side of things and still gets her hands dirty, figuratively speaking, drawing maps whilst Paul does the sales and marketing, accounts etc.

24d000e

 (latter day version – more barbershop friendly)

You can talk to either of us about maps, though Sally tends to deal with the existing clients and knows more about the nitty gritty of map production.

PCGraphics have been based in the Isle of Wight since 2010 and we now use a small team of freelancers as this gives us flexibility and keeps costs down, both of which are important to us and our clients.

 

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How do we make maps?

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It’s a common enough question – ‘How do we make maps?’

Having been trained as cartographers, it’s second nature to us but to others it can seem a daunting task. Yes, anyone can sketch out a rough map on a scrap of paper but, if you want something a little better and a little more accurate, it gets slightly more complicated.

Take a few minutes out of your day while we show you how we produce maps at PCGraphics.

First, a glimpse into the not so distant past when all maps we created ‘manually’. This meant working over a light box (like a glass topped table with lights underneath) where every line was drawn or ‘scribed’ using pen-like instruments with chiseled sapphire points (yes, it sounds like something that would be used in the stone-age but this was only a couple of decades ago). Text, or ‘type’, was placed onto a map manually using a photographic method of typing the words (street names etc) onto very thin film which was then coated on the reverse with a layer of wax and applied to the map sheet. All the elements of the maps were combined together, in negative form, in a reprographics studio. Eventually, four ‘final films’ of the map were created and these were used to make a proof or to print from.

Obviously, this was extremely laborious and costly and, if you made a mistake, it could mean hours or even days wasted. So, when computers, and especially the Apple Mac, arrived it didn’t take long for cartographers to switch to computer created maps.

End of, albeit a rather brief, history lesson.

So, today, cartography tends to be split between GIS (Geographic Information System) maps and maps which are simply graphics. GIS maps have a lot more intelligent data behind them in the form of databases whereas graphical maps are simply that, graphics.

At PCGraphics we specialise in graphical maps (our name gives a clue to that!) and our maps are usually created in a vector drawing programme called Illustrator. Vector simply means that the drawing is made up of points, any of which can be adjusted, moved, deleted etc. Vector artwork is scalable and can be enlarged without becoming pixillated.

The map portion below shows the blue keylines and points which are used to create a vector map. These are what the map is made up of and don’t print in the final version.

illustrator

Ok, we want to draw a map and we’ve spent over £500 on a licence for the Illustrator programme sitting on our shiny new Mac or PC. What now?

The first decision is what to base the map on. There are several choices for this. Taking the example above, a map of Oxford in the UK, we would need to use one or more of the following

  • aerial photography
  • out of copyright mapping or other copyright free information
  • Ordnance Survey data

Prior to April 2010, we would probably have used aerial photography as the basis for creating the map. We would have imported the photography into Illustrator and traced all the roads and other linework from the photographs. Obviously aerial photos don’t come with the names of towns or roads attached, so the next stage would be to send some hapless cartographer out into the wilds of the City of Oxford armed with a pen, paper and clipboard to note down the name of every road or other feature appearing on the map. Nice on a warm, sunny day but pretty miserable when it rained or snowed. At the end of this we would have had what is termed a ‘royalty free’ map. This meant that everything on the map was generated by ourselves and nothing was taken from a copyright source.

This all changed in April 2010 however when large chunks of Ordnance Survey data were opened up for commercial use. Whereas, previously, the O.S. would have charged an arm and a leg, and sometimes more, in royalty payments for using the data we in the UK had already paid for in our taxes, it was now all available free.

So, today, a map of Oxford would probably be based on Ordnance Survey data with no royalties or licence fees to pay. The production costs are likely to be less too than the royalty free method outlined earlier. Oh, and there’s less chance of cartographers getting sunburnt or caught in a rainstorm too! A win/win situation.

This still leaves the drawing in Illustrator to do. Illustrator is one of those programmes which have a steep learning curve. Quite honestly, if there was a viable alternative we’d be using it. There used to be an alternative called Freehand, which was much more intuitive to use, but Adobe, who make Illustrator, bought Freehand and swiftly dumped it.

Don’t get me wrong, you can make great maps in Illustrator, it’s just that Freehand was so much easier to use. But hey, who needs an easy life anyway?

Illustrator, as do most vector software, lets you work in layers. A map of Oxford for instance can have 100+ layers, any of which can be turned on or off and the data on that layer manipulated.

layers

(Above – Just a few of the layers on a typical map created in Illustrator)

A paper proof can either be printed straight from the Illustrator file or, more commonly these days, the file is exported to a JPEG or PDF and sent by email for the client to approve. Once this is done, and any changes made, we’re ready to send the final file to the client or printer.

So, that’s it in a nutshell. Ok, so there’s a few more twists and turns along the way, as there is with most things, but that’s the basics of it.

Cartography, it has to be said, is far easier these days than it used to be even in the early 1990s. It’s much more efficient and a lot, lot cheaper than the old manual methods. It’s still an enjoyable career and one we only (very) occasionally regret entering.

 

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Google Maps

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google_maps_logo

When Google Maps first made an appearance back around 2005 – 2006, one of the questions people nearly always asked us at PCGraphics was ‘has it affected your business?’

The general thought was that having a major player like Google enter the mapping market would badly affect the number of clients wanting maps from us.

Perhaps surprisingly, it’s had the complete opposite effect. Whereas previously maps were seen as staid and, perhaps, even slightly boring, the prominence that Google brought to the mapping market changed that perception almost overnight. Now it was cool to have maps on your website and everyone wanted them.

Obviously people found it really easy to drop a Google Map into the code for their website but, and this is where the market really took off for us, many then found that the map, while functional, didn’t blend in too well with the website design. The other thing was that, well, everyone’s maps looked the same.

At PCGraphics we’d always created custom designed maps and, now that it was almost obligatory to have a map on your website or brochure, we were feeling the effects of having a major company like Google create a huge surge of interest.

When we talk to strangers about what we do and we tell them we’re map makers (we tend not to say cartographers as it has a habit of confusing people!) their usual reply these days is ‘Oh, like Google Maps?’. Now, even though we’ve been around a lot longer than Google Maps, we don’t take offence. We use Google maps just like everyone else. It’s horses for courses. If you want to look up a location quickly on your iPad, iPhone or whatever then head for Google. If you want something a bit more customised and, dare I say it, aesthetically pleasing, then you know where to find us!

So, thank you Google, and keep up the good work.

 

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When maps go bad

if youve landed here

 

We all make mistakes and cartographers are no different to anyone else. And yes, even here at PCGraphics we’ve made the occasional mistake on a map or two over the years. But Apple’s map app has been truly a disaster from the word go.

After Apple’s well publicised dropping of Google Maps in 2012, we all thought that Apple’s new map app would be the best thing since, well, since Google Maps.

It wasn’t. It was a disaster.

And that wasn’t just the opinion of cartographers, it was what ordinary users were saying. Which was all very surprising really, because Apple is well known for putting a lot of thought into the design of it’s computers and software. Apple products normally ‘just work’.

Sadly, the content of the maps was fundamentally flawed. Town names were wrongly positioned, sometimes many miles from their correct location. Sometimes a large town name was completely missing, yet a small village just down the road would be named. It was all quite bizarre and random.

In the screenshot below you can see the small village of Fishbourne named, quite correctly. This is one of the ferry terminals on the Isle of Wight. Along the coast from Fishbourne is Ryde, which is actually the largest town on the Island. Is Ryde named? No, and neither are many of the other towns.

ryde

So, move on a year to 2013 and with iOS7 coming out and being all shiny and new (if a little washed out looking) you’d have thought they would have sorted out the problem of their maps. Apparently not.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24246646

It would appear that, in Alaska, the route finder in the app will take you along airport taxiways and across a runway. Probably not a good driving experience for the more nervous drivers amongst us.

It does beg a couple of questions though (leaving aside why Apple still hasn’t got the Map app right). Firstly, what on earth is a road doing going across a runway anyway? And, secondly, you do have to wonder about the mentality of drivers who follow their satnavs so slavishly that they will drive onto an airfield despite all the warning signs.

Maybe this is a one-off mistake but somehow I don’t think it will be.

And, no, before anyone asks, PCGraphics weren’t involved in supplying maps to Apple! And we couldn’t possibly say who was either…

 

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