Centre points of the United Kingdom

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This stake is one of several way markers across the moor which are often mistaken for markers of the location of the geographic centre of Britain(including all islands)which is in fact a patch of heather next to a bog. It is located just to the West of Whitendale Hanging Stones in Lancashire at SD 64188 56541.
"Centrographers" at the centre of mainland Great Britain, in a field near Whalley, Lancashire at Grid Ref SD 72321.72 36671.1 (approximately), in December 2005.

There has long been debate over the exact location of the geographical centre of the United Kingdom, and its constituent countries, due to the complexity and method of the calculation, such as whether to include offshore islands, and the fact that erosion will cause the position to change over time. There are two main methods of calculating this "centre": either as the centroid of the two-dimensional shape made by the country (projected to the Airy ellipsoid then flattened using the Transverse Mercator projection), or as the point farthest from the boundary of the country (either the sea, or, in the case of constituent countries, a land border). These two methods give quite different answers.

Traditional locations[edit]

The town of Haltwhistle in Northumberland has banners stating that it is the "Centre of Britain".[1] By another calculation the centre can also be said to be Dunsop Bridge, Lancashire (historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire), 71 miles (114 km) to the south.[2]

For centuries the parish of Meriden to the west of Coventry has claimed to be the geographical centre of England, and there has been a stone cross there commemorating the claim for at least 500 years. The justification is that the point farthest from the sea is in the parish.[citation needed] Morton, Derbyshire also claims to be the centre of England as it is not only mid-way along England's longest north-south axis,[citation needed] but also midway between the east coast and the Welsh border.[citation needed] Claims are also made for a tree, the Midland Oak, on the boundary between Lillington and Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, although the basis for these claims is not clear.

However, in 2002 the Ordnance Survey conducted studies that pinpointed the respective centres more precisely, and it is their results that are quoted below.

Centroid locations[edit]

Plaque on the ancient cross at Meriden, West Midlands, the traditional centre of England.
Road sign welcoming visitors to the Centre of England at Morton, Derbyshire.
Map of centres of the UK and Great Britain

Put simply, the centroid is the point at which a cardboard cut-out of the area could be perfectly balanced on the tip of a pencil.[3] Islands are assumed fixed to the mainland in their precise position by invisible rigid weightless wires. A mathematical method is used to do the balancing to a much greater accuracy than the practical method could achieve.

Unless stated, positions are the centroids of the two-dimensional shapes made by the countries. Calculations include offshore islands unless stated.

Great Britain

Great Britain (excluding islands other than the island of Great Britain itself)

England

Northern Ireland

Scotland

Wales

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Locations found by other methods[edit]

Point farthest from the sea

Point farthest from high tide mark (including tidal rivers)

Centre of a rectangle enclosing precisely all of England and Wales

Mid point of the longest north–south axis

  • Haltwhistle, Northumberland. The midpoint of the longest north–south meridian; also approximately the midpoint of each of the lines through it across Great Britain along the 16 main compass directions.[10]

Centre of population

A calculation by Danny Dorling using the mean (least squares) method based on local authority district data from the 1990s gave the population centre of Great Britain at Appleby Parva, Leicestershire, just south of Derby. Since then, the population centre will have moved slightly south and east.[11][12][13][14]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • John Michell (2009). Sacred Center: the Ancient Art of Locating Sanctuaries. Inner Traditions. ISBN 1594772843. 

References[edit]

  1. ^ Vanessa Barford (22 August 2014). "Scottish independence: The town at the centre of Britain". BBC News. Retrieved 20 November 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c Brady Haran (20 October 2002). "Stuck in the middle with ewe". BBC News. Retrieved 2 January 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "Brave hearts of Scotland". BBC. 2002-10-24. Retrieved 2010-01-02. 
  4. ^ "Q. Where is the centre of mainland Great Britain?". MapZone. Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  5. ^ "A tale of two centres". BBC. 2002-10-22. Retrieved 2010-01-02. 
  6. ^ "New centre of England marked in Fenny Drayton". BBC. 2013-06-14. Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  7. ^ "Meg in the middle". BBC. 2002-10-23. Retrieved 2010-01-02. 
  8. ^ "Saving the centre of Wales". BBC. 2002-10-24. Retrieved 2010-01-02. 
  9. ^ BBC News (calculation made by Ordnance Survey) 16 September 2014
  10. ^ The Centre of Britain, Centre of Britain Hotel, Haltwhistle, Northumberland. Accessed May 2012
  11. ^ "News Item:". University of Leeds. Retrieved 25 November 2007. 
  12. ^ "Population Centre". Appleby Magna & Appleby Parva. Archived from the original on 23 November 2007. Retrieved 25 November 2007. 
  13. ^ "Coffee Break: The movable Midlands; ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS". The Daily Mail (London). 7 February 2002. p. 64. 
  14. ^ Dorling, D; Atkins, D J (1995). Population density, change and concentration in Great Britain 1971, 1981 and 1991 (Studies on Medical and Population Subjects No. 58). HMSO.