Where is the centre of London?
Have you ever wondered where the centre of London is? Ever wanted to pinpoint the exact spot so you can stand there, take a “selfie” and say you’re the most central person in London? Well if you have wanted to do this you may have stumbled across 9 potential candidate according to Google, with some being more well-known than others.
So where is the centre of London then?
1. According to general consensus (Charles I statue – Trafalgar Square)
The most commonly mentioned “centre” point is the Charles 1 statue, located just south of Trafalgar Square on a little mini roundabout. It’s known for being the location where all distances to London are measured from. Sometimes this central measurement point is mistakenly thought to be the Eleanor Statue at “Charing Cross” station but that’s actually number 2 below. Here at Trafalgar Square there’s a plaque on the floor denoting where you’re standing:
“On the site now occupied by the statue of King Charles I was erected the original Queen Eleanor’s cross, a replica of which stands in front of Charing Cross station. Mileages from London are measured from the site of the original cross”.
The custom of considering the location of the old Charing Cross to be the arbitrary centre of London seems to have arisen in the late 18th or early 19th century.
The plaque is just behind the statue in the image above! So far as “feeling” central it does give you a sense of being at the epicentre of the capital. Buckingham Palace lies to the west, Trafalgar Square and Soho just to the North, Piccadilly to the east and the River Thames to the south.
Central feeling 10/10
2. According to taxi drivers (Eleanor Statue, Charing Cross station)
In 1864 the new Charing Cross railway station opened on the Strand, just adjacent to the new Trafalgar Square, and the South Eastern Railway commissioned a new Cross to stand in the station forecourt – a few hundred yards from the site of the medieval original (where Charles 1 above now sits instead). London’s black-cab taxi drivers famously rigorous “Knowledge” training requires them to commit to memory every street and point of interest within six miles of the station forecourt.
Central feeling 9.5/10
3. According to developer Harry Hyams (Centre Point – Tottenham Court Road)
The famous Centre Point building at the eastern end of Oxford Street at the junction of Tottenham Court Road. Back in 1966 property developer Harry Hyams called this imposing skyscraper “Centre Point”. Presumably he did this to give it a little bit of extra kudos. You’d have to be a bit gung-ho/daft to name a building “Centre Point” if it wasn’t convincingly at the centre of anything.
Central feeling 8/10
4. According to the TFL tube map (Roadhouse – Covent Garden)
Just for fun I decided to see where the centre of London might be according to the tube map! Downloading the TFL’s map as the definitive version I drew 2 diagonal lines across the image. ‘X’ marked the spot exactly due east of the Leicester Square tube station and south of Holborn – but left a bit. So rather crudely lining up this location on Google Maps lead to Roadhouse in Covent Garden being the centre point. Any excuse for a beer I guess.
Central feeling 9/10
5. According to researcher Tom Bill (King’s College – Embankment)
Tom Bill, head of London residential research at estate agents Knight Frank, commissioned a calculation using army cartography techniques to put this ‘X’ on the map in front of King’s College along The Embankment at 51°30’37.6”N 0°06’56.3”, The ‘X’ lying rather beautifully on the north bank of the Thames overlooking the London Eye. Plus rather conveniently with a raised bench for you to sit and ponder on. The ‘X’ is between the bench and the lampost where the 3 light coloured paving slabs are! Being on the river gives you a good sense of being in the middle of the city.
Central feeling 8.5/10
6. According to the old city map (Guildhall – City of London)
Guildhall is the ceremonial and administrative centre of the City of London. The City of London is the original part of London … and is pretty much still in the centre so that’s good enough for me!
Central feeling 7/10
7. According to the Romans (The London Stone – 111 Cannon Street)
Until every recently I’d never heard of this sight and I imagine few others have either. It’s full history is unknown but one of the theories is that it was used as measuring point in Roman times and some of that legend has stuck over the centuries. After all this part of town is the old City of London and this hub could be considered the centre of town. Legend has it that all mile stones on Roman roads measure their mileages from the mysterious “London Stone” in the City of London, although this doesn’t appear to be substantiated anywhere. Currently the actual stone resides at the Museum of London while 111 Cannon Street is being redeveloped.
Central feeling 7.5/10
8. According to CAD user Tom Hoban (Frazier Street – Lambeth)
Next up is a geographical centre point based on some work done by Tom using AutoCAD software to determine London’s centre of gravity. Essentially if you balanced London on a pin where would the balance point be. According to his calculations the centre point lies in Lambeth, controversially for some south of the River Thames. Argubably a less scenic part of town compared to some of the other places mentioned but then his ‘X’ did end up in a housing estate just a short way east of Waterloo station. The ‘X’ apparently is just where that white van is in the top-right corner
Central feeling 5/10
9. According to mapping specialists Esri UK (Baylis Road – Lambeth)
And then comes along another entrant in the last month! Mapping and analytics company Esri UK have identified the geometric centre of London plus 9 other UK cities too. I imagine using similar techniques to Tom above they pinpointed the exact geometric centres – or where each city would balance on a pin. Their centre of London is just 100m to the west of Tom’s location, in Baylis Street opposite the De-Lady Salon. As London continues to grow and grow maybe this balance point will continue to shift further over the next few years. The exact ‘X’ location is where the lady is on the right side of the picture below.
Central feeling 5.5/10
So now you know the various options you can treat yourself by staying at the Savoy hotel, which lies roughly in the middle of all 9 of these locations above. Are you going to head off to any of them to say you’re the most central person in London? 🙂 Maybe check some of them out when the wonderful Lumiere event returns to London in the dark months of January.