AN IDEA BEFORE ITS TIME
The London Subterranean Survey Association (LSSA) and the archaeology of the GIS industry
It sometimes happens that small pioneers, ahead of their time in areas that subsequently develop into elaborate systems, are unrecognised and unknown. This article attempts to put the record straight in the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) discipline.
On 15 October 1968 the Centre for Advanced Studies in the Environment in Bedford Square, London held a three day conference on ‘The Subterranean Structure of London -
The conference set out to determine the feasibility of assembling records of underground London in a comprehensive map covering natural, archaeological and historical structure with tubes, tunnels and utility services. It was the first conference in London to gather together representatives of the various utility authorities, central and local government, professional engineers, architects and archivists in order to discuss the recording and exploitation of the capital's subterrain.
Following the huge success of the conference the ‘London Subterranean Map Committee’ (LSMC) was formed as a broad spectrum grouping of interested parties under the chairmanship of GLC Member Ellis Hillman, and a follow up seminar was organised in January 1969. In November 1969 the LSMC convened a third conference at the Building Centre under the title ‘The Foundation of London’. This concentrated on the practical problems of instrumentation and detection of underground objects, the range of problems thrown up by the state of existing utility maps, and the value of data banks as against maps.
As a result of the very wide interest engendered by these conferences the LSMC reconstituted itself in May 1970 as the ‘London Subterranean Survey Association’ (LSSA), reflecting the view that the solution to the problem was not necessarily in the form of a physical map, and invited wider membership at a subscription of five guineas per year. The objects of the LSSA were to promote the discovery, recording and dissemination of information on the natural and man-
The educational aims of the Association were furthered by yearly courses and visits from 1975 under the auspices of the University of London and City University Extra-
However, independently, and unknown to the LSSA, the four major utilities formed the National Joint Utilities Group (NJUG) in September 1977 to facilitate record sharing, and in 1979 the NJUG Digital Records Working Party was constituted to consider digitising their plant records. NJUG went on in 1981 to recommend a full trial of a digital map based system, and Dudley, which had been developing a comprehensive LAMIS system since 1979, was selected. From the Dudley NJUG\LAMIS combination has developed the whole GIS concept, culminating in the Chorley Report.
Scanning the organisers of the 1988 AM\FM Conference I see an early member of the London Subterranean Survey Association committee -
Papers given at conferences in the formative stages of the London Subterranean Survey Association 1968-
The Subterranean Structure of London
A. T. J. Dollar, BSc PhD. FGS, Geology Dept.. Birkbeck College.
Historical and Archaeological London
Peter Marsden, Guildhall Museum.
London’s Main Drainage System
S. H. Dainty, BSc. MlCE. MIWP. Chief Public Health Engineer, Greater London Council.
London Beneath the Plan
J. C. Craig. ARICS. MTPI. Chief Developments Planning Officer. Greater London Council
Site Investigation Problems in the Greater London Area
T. R. M. Wakeling. MSc (Eng), AMICE. AMlWE. Foundation Engineering Ltd
Underground Parking and Garaging
G. Williams, MA, MICE. Scott, Wilson. Kirkpatrick & Partners.
Diversions and Obstructions
T. Stevens. BA, AA School ofArchitecture.
Underground Tunnelling: An alternative for urban motorways
D. Hennessey BSc, MICE, MlStructE. MConsE.
London Transport Underground
E. R. Ellen. BA (Oxonl, Planning Officer, London Transport.
Is there a Case for an Underground Map for London?
B. Benjamin, PhD. SIA, FSS, Director of Research & Intelligence, GLC
An Existing Data Bank for Planners
W. Oxburgh, MEng. AMlCE, AMBIM, Planning & Transport Research & Computation Co. Ltd.
Chicago Below the Surface
Alvin Boyarsky, BArch. MRAIC. AlP.
London Underground: 2000 AD?
John Hawkes ARIBA, AMTPI. Hancock and Hawkes.
The Problems of Mapping Subterranean London
Ellis Hillman. BSQ. FGS.
Panel Discussion ‘Records of Underground Services'
Discussion led by representatives of Metropolitan Water Board, Gas Council, General Post Office
The Problems of the Borough Engineer
J. C. Stoneham CEng. MlMunE, Assistant Borough Engineer, London Borough of Newham.
The London Atlas and Its Relevance
Dorothy Castle. London Atlas. London School of Economics.
Aerial Surveys of Urban Areas
P. E. Forsey and L. Scott FRICS, Fairey Surveys Ltd.
Ground Survey Aspects of a Subterranean Map
M. Layland. J.A. Story and Partners.
Alisdair Burnett. MSc, Royal School of Mines.
Col. K. Orrell. OBE, BSc. MICE, Ministry of Public Buildings and Works.
Special Information and Data Centres
T. H. Cannon. MA, PhD. Office of Scientific and Technical Information.
*The Future of Subterranean London
Ellis S. Hillman. BSc. FGS. Chairman, London Subterranean Survey Association.
*Practical Aspects of Putting Existing Underground Installations on a Plan
R. W. Vango. J.A. Story and Partners.
*Transporting Mail across London Underground
G. M. Mew. BSc, FIEE. Chief Regional Engineer. General Post Office.
*The Cost of Underground Motorways
S. G. Tough. FICE, FGS. Mott. Hay and Anderson.
*Underground Plant for Telecommunications
A. J. Thompson. ISO. Regional Controller of Works, General Post Office
*Given at a conference sponsored by the London Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with the Association.
Published in ‘Mapping Awareness’ magazine Vol 2 No 2, Editor Peter J Shand, May 1988
Copyright Roger J Morgan 1988