News and Events | All Posts From 2016

Drawing Whitechapel

Posted by Peter Guillery on Sept. 14, 2016

Artist Judit Ferencz has been commissioned to produce a series of drawings around Whitechapel. In her charismatic style, she has evoked place and inhabitation, visually exploring aspects of Whitechapel in a new way. We'll post some of the drawings here very soon

Write Idea Festival

Posted by Shahed Saleem on Sept. 14, 2016

You can meet us and try out the website at the Write Idea Festival, which is taking place at the Idea Store on the 12-13th November, and where we will have a stall. Come along and tell us about your stories, research and experiences of Whitechapel.

More information and a programme of events at

Stories of Whitechapel

Posted by Shahed Saleem on Sept. 14, 2016

Date and Time: Friday 25th November, 2016

As part of the Being Human Festival 2016, and in collaboration with Spark London, we are holding a storytelling evening on the 25th November. Ten local people of Whitechapel will participate in a workshop with Spark London, then perform their true stories on the theme of Hope and Fear.

If you have a true story to tell of your life in Whitechapel, please let me know

Keep watching this space for details of the location

For more about the festival

And about Spark

The Royal London's Hoardings

Posted by Shahed Saleem on Sept. 14, 2016

The currently vacant Royal London Hospital on Whitechapel Road has a rich history, and a bright future as the Borough's new Civic Hub. We are working with the Tower Hamlets Archives and the Royal London Hospital Archives to create a display along the 200m of blue hoardings along Whitechapel Road. The display will show archival material and tell stories of different aspects of the hospital's history.

Designs are currently being finalised, and we hope to have the panels in place before Christmas. Watch this space, and that space.

History of the East London Mosque

Posted by Shahed Saleem on Sept. 14, 2016

We are working alongside the East London Mosque Archives to produce a digital display about the history of the mosque. Material for the display will be taken from the newly catalogued archives of the mosque, and will tell stories of important characters in the history of the institution, as well as its architectural history.

The display will be installed in the foyer of the London Muslim Centre / East London Mosque in the Autumn, and we'll keep you updated on progress.

Co-producing Research

Posted by Shahed Saleem on Sept. 14, 2016

We are keen to collect and share all kinds of research about Whitechapel, and on November 5th we are bringing together people working on their own research projects about the area for an informal, work in progress, research seminar.

If you are researching any aspect of Whitechapel, in whatever media, please get in touch and tell us about it


At Home in Whitechapel

Posted by Shahed Saleem on Sept. 14, 2016

We have commissioned local photographer Rehan Jamil to make a series of photographs of people in their homes in Whitechapel. Some of the work he has produced is here, with more to follow. 


Whitechapel Walking Tour

Posted by Peter Guillery on Sept. 2, 2016

Saturday 17 September 2016, 2-5pm

Focusing on architectural and social histories, this tour will highlight Whitechapel's rich stories of immigration, religion, industry, medical care, solidarity and entertainment.

In association with Whitechapel Gallery. Pre-booking essential, see

How we made the Map

Posted by Duncan Hay on Sept. 1, 2016

When the project was conceived, the Survey of London had hoped to use Ordnance Survey MasterMap as the source of our building outlines, as this is the basis of all of the maps in the Survey of London volumes. However, the terms of the OS licence prevents you from using MasterMap data online in this way, so we had to look at other options.

Our first option was to use OpenStreetMap, but these weren’t detailed enough for our purposes, and there were mismatch issues when working with historic maps because of the different map projections used by OpenStreetMap and by British cartographers. We therefore looked at two Open Government Licensed maps as the source for our buildings: the Ordnance Survey OpenMap Local, which contains block-level building outlines, and the Land Registry’s vector map of the UK’s land ownership units.

Because Whitechapel is a relatively small area we decided to manually split the OpenMap Local building footprints using the Land Registry polygons as a guide. However, Adam Dennett at CASA developed a method for programmatically splitting the OpenMap local polygons, meaning that this method for producing building footprint polygons could potentially be scalable to the whole of the UK. However, we soon ran into another problem: despite the Land Registry polygons being published under an Open Government Licence, because they are ultimately derived from MasterMap, we were advised that building footprints created in this way couldn’t be published online either, which left us back at square one.

Our final option was to draw our buildings from scratch. Happily, there was another open data set which we could use as a basis: the LIDAR imagery released by the Environment Agency. LIDAR is a scanning technique which involves firing a laser from an aircraft at the ground and measuring the time that it takes for the light to bounce back. The results can be used to build up detailed pictures of landscapes and the built environment, which look like this:

Lidar Imagery

LIDAR imagery, © Environment Agency copyright / and or database right 2015

This image shows a section of Whitechapel Road. Whitechapel Station is the large pale orange rectangle towards the top, with the tube line (at this point open to the air) visible as the dark red swathe across the whole image. The light blue shapes are the shopfronts on Whitechapel Road, the dark blue shape at the bottom the former Royal London Hospital building. You can just about make out some of the market stalls, and trees tend to show up as clusters of blue dots.

Whilst for larger buildings it was fairly easy to trace the outlines, it got quite complex around the backs of older buildings, particularly on Whitechapel Road. Moreover, Whitechapel is changing very rapidly, and the LIDAR imagery itself in many places doesn’t reflect what’s on the ground at the moment. However, it was good enough for our purposes to make a first pass. We then spent several days walking around Whitechapel with print-outs verifying what we’d done, and the interactive building outlines on the map are the result.