The joys of a landscape website

by Martin

As there hasn’t been a lot of landscape-related news involving Liverpool lately, I thought I’d take this chance to discuss the joys and frustrations of creating the Liverpool Landscapes website. The site uses MapServer, a piece of software that draw the maps to show you where the listed buildings and scheduled monuments are, along with other points if interest. Using a series of layers, I can tell MapServer how to draw the maps, and the user – you – can have some control over how those layers are displayed. The points and shapes representing the monuments are free to use and easy to come by on one of English Heritage’s websites. The boundaries of the townships were traced from an old map I found Googling around the ‘Net at Christmas. However, I think the map has limited use until I find decent street-level map. In Britain, mapping is produced by the Ordnance Survey, and that organisation has very protective rules over the re-use of its data, despite opposition to this. Despite the fact that they seem to be creating some more permissive licensing, I’m still a bit wary over how I’m allowed to use any maps I can find, unless I shell out more money than my salary allows. I’m still researching the best way to get MapServer compatible maps of Liverpool to use as a backdrop, without breaking the bank. Considering I’m not making any profit from this site, I’d be fascinated to hear of any suitable ways of getting hold of this data. Meanwhile, the best option looks like New Popular Editions.

Anyway, apart from the problems of creating the maps, there are the small details that come out when looking at the landscape of Liverpool. Recently looking at the development of Everton, and the Welsh community that grew up in the area during the 19th Century, I came across a row of streets built near Goodison Park by the father and son team Owen and William Owen. Read the initials of the roads starting from Oxton Street, heading north.

More interesting snippets on the way!

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