Secret London: deliberate mistakes in the A-Z


You can’t trust a map. Not even the A-Z.

A BBC TV programme several years ago first revealed to many people the news that the A-Z contains deliberate mistakes. These ‘trap streets‘ are inserted as a way to protect copyright – if the map is reproduced or copied without permission, the map manufacturers will immediately be able to spot them (see more here).

(A comment at Reddit clarifies this: the map itself cannot have a copyright as it is a “representation of fact… The trap streets and deliberate mistakes change the work from being purely factual into a creative expression and thus able to be protected by copyright.”)

Nobody is quite sure exactly how many mistakes each A-Z contains or where or how long they last for, but the BBC said there were about 100 and named one, Bartlett Place, a real street which was actually called Broadway Walk and renamed thus in future maps.

Another deliberate mistake can be seen on the photo at the top of this page. Can you spot what it is?

See the ‘ski slope’ in the park just next to the city farm? That’s one of the A-Z’s little phantoms. It comes from an old copy of the A-Z (and many thanks to reader Andrew Lyn) for sending the photograph, as the ‘ski slope’  hasn’t been used for about a decade.

If anybody is aware of any other other deliberate mistakes in recent A-Zs, please let us all know.


5 responses to “Secret London: deliberate mistakes in the A-Z

  1. Reblogged this on Floating-voter.

  2. Am doing The Knowledge. Don’t understand why Kimpton St (see on Google maps) in Camberwell is called Kimbolton St on the (larger scale) AtoZ. Maybe a diliberate mistake? Or just me?

  3. Awesome. I’m trying to put my finger on why this is awesome and I can’t. Mistakes? Awesome? Maybe it’s the treasure-hunt aspect of tracking down all the deliberate mistakes and, I don’t know, making some sort of otherwise insensible tour itinerary out of them.

  4. Rachael Macdonald

    I’d heard that small streets were misspelt for copyright protection but hadn’t realised about phantom streets. I once came across one while trying to find a friend’s house & wondered what was going on. It’s one thing to confuse a few drivers, but re-naming Regent’s Canal as Grand Union, as on the map above, could leave boaters way off course.

  5. Pingback: Trap Streets

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