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Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for January 30th, 2018

Anagram Transit Map

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I have not written very much about our transit system recently. This map appeared on Reddit and may already be viral, for all I know

Anagram transit map

Written by Stephen Rees

January 30, 2018 at 5:05 pm

Posted in Transportation


with 5 comments


The illustration below was drawn by Raymond Briggs. It shows a typical British terraced house, of the type built between 1880 and 1914. The reason I have that on my hard drive is that it was used in a discussion on twitter about the way to increase density in  Vancouver.
Raymond Briggs Terrace house

Originally I wanted to point to Briggs illustration of the home where Father Christmas lives but this was the nearest I could get to it. Note that very little has changed about the houses – the most obvious one being the car that is parked outside each one.

R Briggs FC houses

I was born in a house like this in East Ham. So I know exactly what happened as these houses aged. They were steadily modernised. When my parents bought their house in 1948 it was pretty much in the same state as when it was constructed fifty years earlier. There was an outside toilet, water was heated in a geyser over the sink for daily use, and in a gas “copper” for bath nights and laundry. In the 1950s they got a local authority grant to put in a bathroom (they halved the back bedroom to get the necessary space) and installed a solid fuel boiler in the kitchen to heat the water.

There was some discussion in later years of getting gas fired central heating, but the death of my grandmother meant that the family could sell two houses in East Ham and buy a larger, newer one in Loughton. We joined the exodus from East Ham while I was at university. The local population there now is largely from the Indian subcontinent.

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 4.20.21 PM

The houses continued to be modernised. Compare this current Google streetview to the one below. The original double hung sash windows in wooden frames were replaced by double glazing in modern plastic frames before 2008. No doubt the loft was insulated at that time too. It is also notable that the next door neighbours did the same things to their houses. More recently, the windows have again been replaced, this time with glazing bars closer to the original design but an enclosed porch has now been added, and the decorative masonry mullions have vanished. The house number is once again etched into the window over the front door – just as Briggs illustrates.  The grey French slates on the roof have been replaced by concrete tiles.

But don’t forget I have done this before but amazingly WordPress doesn’t provide me access to images before 2017. This dates from 2008

“Actually the vast majority of London terraces are two storeys. Most were built between 1880 and 1914 and have two distinctive features: the narrow frontage to reduce liability to property tax (then determined by length of street frontage) and designed to meet the specifications of the 1880 Public Health Act. ”

What prompts me to write this is that the building we live is now being studied for potential replacement. It is 44 years old. The windows need replacement as the heavy wind driven rain now gets inside – and some of the sliding doors to the (now enclosed) balconies no longer close properly. The roof needs replacing again and the drains are giving rise for concern. Our flower beds look more like ponds right now.

In this neighbourhood it is not unusual for houses much newer than that to be demolished and replaced by larger, lot filling houses. Unless there is a laneway house, or legal secondary suite, the population density does not change. In fact this census tract lost population in the last ten years.

We do not seem to value buildings here. They are regarded as disposable. Even the ones we declare as “heritage” are not guaranteed a longer life, nor are they preserved but will continue to be “brought up to code” with each generation. And we will certainly not consider how existing buildings could be maintained and repurposed – even though there are plenty of good examples of how that can be done. But we might well convert a few surplus shipping containers into living space for the marginalised.

POSTSCRIPT  This is not to suggest that Britain does not pull down fairly recently built  multifamily buildings

Bacton Low Rise Estate`Demolished

Bacton Low Rise Estate Demolished picture by Roll The Dice on flickr

“With Camden council as client and developer, they retain any value generated from the sale of the units which is then reinvested back into social capital, with no developer cut.” A model which ought to be adopted here, I think.

Story here



Written by Stephen Rees

January 30, 2018 at 1:14 pm

Posted in housing