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The new Vision of Britain web site is starting to look the way it was intended, and we have just made some major changes to the "place" and "location" pages.  The "place" pages are reached by typing place names into the home page, or by clicking on a geographical name in the travel writing.  The "location" pages are reached by typing a postcode into the home page, by selecting the "information" option in the historic maps and then clicking on a location, or possibly by following a link to us on another web site (see below).

The original site was very much designed around information about administrative units, and both "places" and "locations" were a bit of an afterthought;  most users probably never even found the location pages in the old site.  In the new site, they are more central.  A key idea behind the changes we have just made is that basic "places" are really just locations we have given a name to, so the basic information for places and locations is the same.  For each place and location, we offer four pages that you move between using the side bar; and these pages sometimes include:

(1) Location.  This is the page you see first, and provides both a general map showing the location within Britain and a detailed map centered on the location/place.  Clicking on the detailed map takes you into our map library with that point selected.  Tabs never appear on this page, but if the page is for a named place we try to provide some text from a descriptive gazetteer.

(2) Historical writing.  This page provides access to both historical gazetteers and travel writing.  What you always get is the results of a "nearest neighbour" search which looks for nearby places which have text available for them.  For places, you may get an additional tab which contains links to gazetteer entries and travel writing which are actually ABOUT the place.

(3) Historical units and statistics.  This page always provides the result of a "point in polygon" search for administrative units that CONTAIN the location, but for places may include a second tab listing units NAMED AFTER the place.  Note that neither tab will list all unit relevant to a given location, as the point-in-polygon search inevitably misses units like Registration sub-Districts for which we have statistics but no digital boundaries, while the directly-linked units for villages will rarely include the local government district or parliamentary constituencies that covered them.

(4) Related websites.  This page always provided links to other geo-referenced sites, i.e. web sites that provide pages based on geographical coordinates.  It sometimes has a second tab providing links to other local history sites based on our having systematically indexed them, like the Victoria County Histories and GENUKI (these links went from unit pages in the old site, but on balance linking from "places" works better).

The set of geo-referenced sites is currently a bit limited, and we would welcome suggestions of other and more relevant sites we can link to.  We can link to either sites covering Britain and using National Grid coordinates, or global sites using latitude and longitude (WGS84).  You can also link into Vision of Britain in the same way, using URLs of this form:


  www.VisionOfBritain.org.uk/location_page.jsp?easting=NNNNNN&northing=NNNNNN

The coordinates must be six-digit numbers measuring the number of meters east and north from the OSGB grid origin west of the Scilly Isles.

This is not the end of our work on "place" and "location" pages, as we need to improve the place pages for counties and nations (though the nation page for "Wales is at last showing up), and make the pages for places and locations outside Britain work properly.  We will also be substantially extending our underlying list of places by adding data from the Ordnance Survey's 1953 placename gazetteer.  These additions provide just coordinates and placenames.

Humphrey Southall