Mapping the Three Mills Loop

The weekend before last we went on an organised walk and talk called Three Mills Loop around Bow in East London. It was organised by Gordon Joly, who is someone I meet up with at wiki gatherings. He’s a prolific photographer of random bits and bobs around London, as indicated by his flickr photostream which literally streams a constant flow of new photos appearing on my ‘friends photos’ display. But while he was guiding us and talking about some of the sites on the walk, I thought I’d out-photo him on this occasion. I took 274 photos around the route! They were mostly exceedingly uninteresting though, because I was actually doing some photo mapping, so it was pictures of street signs, pubs, post boxes and other mappable things. In the openstreetmap software I can lay out the photos along my GPS trace.

Three Mills Loop photos in JOSM
click to enlarge

That’s what it looks like alongside the nodes and ways of the openstreetmap data (shown here as a deselected layer in faint grey). The openstreetmap data can be modified in this JOSM software. I was able to develop the coverage, adding new street names etc which were missing from the map before. My contributions now appear on the map of the area

A recently added feature of openstreetmap is the ‘Export’ tab, which allows export to SVG format. This means you can play around with a vector representation of a map, with full power and flexibility to craft your own image. I tried this for creating map images for wikipedia articles. This walk presented another opportunity to give this a try. Here’s a map illustrating the route of the Three Mills Loop walk:

Three Mills Loop Map

This map image isn’t just a yellow line overlaid on top of an OpenStreetMap image. I’ve customised the map graphic (using inkscape) to tidy it up. I corrected some of the rendering quirks, including moving some street names, removing extraneous one-way arrows and A/B road markers. I’ve also made the area around Bromley-by-Bow station much clearer, including pedestrian underpasses, to make it easier to find the House Mill meeting place:

House Mill Access

This has been made possible by the recently added ‘Export’ tab feature of OpenStreetMap. Try doing that with google maps!

The walk route took us past some pleasant canal scenery, and we passed right through the Olympic construction zone. It turned out that the extents of this needed to be updated on the map (although it no doubt still needs some further corrections). This was an interesting sight to see, as was the old Victorian Abbey Mills pumping station.

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