What and Where is London?

Location, Location, Location

For these purposes London is defined as a combination of the area covered by the thirty two London Boroughs plus the City of London, the space within the M25 road system and an hour’s travel time from the centre (which for road mileage is measured from the roundabout with Charles 1 statue just south of Trafalgar Square – not quite Charing Cross.)

An extended commuting time of over an hour will reach along the South Coast of England, out to East Anglia, include the Midlands and down the Thames Valley towards the West Country and South Wales.

Postcodes or GPS?

To assist with finding and confirming locations of places, buildings and facilities postcodes are provided in the texts. The numbering of postcodes does not follow concentrically from the centre; they follow the previous alphabetical sequence in each area.  This can be confusing. Within the centre the codes tend to reflect points of the compass; further out they reflect the initials of the key towns.

The range of places of interest and the wealth and poverty in London are probably represented to many people by the Monopoly board game – originally from 1935 – so not completely up to date.

In 1884 London became the officially agreed ‘centre of the world’ when the prime meridian was agreed – at Greenwich – from where ships had set their timepieces to deal with longitude; and ultimately leading to GPS on which many modern project managers depend.


The timeline for project purposes in London starts with the Romans, passes through various epochs and revolutions (agricultural, industrial, civil, housing, social, military, media, energy, communications, fashion and hairstyle revolutions), including three Olympics ( in 1908, 1948 and 2012), right up to today and moving into a still changing future – not forgetting that change is largely unpredictable. During this timeline in London there have been amazing incidences of famine, fire, frost, plagues, war and civil rebellion.

Place in the World

In surveys of cities in the world London usually comes out well. In the Time Out global survey it is 5th of thirty two when assessing food, drink, culture, friendliness, affordability, happiness and liveability. London is good on culture, eating and happier than might be expected. However, it is lower on liveability – with most stress and longest commutes in Europe, plus poor affordability. Conde Nast rates London 13th in the world, the independent 5th and Lonely Planet 5th.

Of the top ten cities in the world for University Students London comes out first with free museums, easy access to cultural landmarks, diversity and willingness of graduates to remain after graduation. Although for affordability alone it would rank 113th.

The Heyday

The primary features and characteristics of London have been formed largely in the late Victorian period or the second half of the 19th century – and are reflected in this omnibus collection.  Key factors included:

  • the amazing population growth from 2 million to 6 million in one hundred years…
  • facilitated by brand new transport means and truly new urban infrastructure…
  • with the products, services and trade of the Industrial Revolution…
  • a growing, educated middle class – with leisure time and disposable income…
  • London being the capital of the United Kingdom and of the British Empire…
  • plus developments to government, social systems and welfare services, education, science, arts and culture arising from and contributing to such prosperity.

This period saw development of many of the modern ways of working and living we see today around the world – developed or adapted in London.

It was a period of amazing change, and change is delivered through projects. So it may be said that many of the features of project management were consolidated in this period, in London, for “project managers” who were pioneers, inventors, innovators, entrepreneurs, engineers – with determination, dedication and focus. Many aspects were new or novel – hence there were trials, difficulties, reservations, objections and failures. 

Some projects took longer than initially predicted; some cost more than anticipated or could be afforded; and yet some are delivering benefits for many more years than expected for later generations. 

This period of prosperity, with adversities being overcome, provided a confident and optimistic culture and outlook in Londoners which has continued to the current day.

The established institutions in London including such as the Bar or legal professions, the church, the civil services and Central Government itself remain essentially Victorian in their constitutions and outlooks. 

It has been said that London demonstrates enterprise with ingenuity, high courage with low cunning, determination and optimism, administrative skills with political bluff.  These are all parts of the legacy in London of the Victorian age – including the proliferation of the English language across the world – including frequently in the world of projects and project management.

London is particularly strong on pageantry. Some of it is static as buildings, displays, monuments. But much of it is mobile and spectacular – with processions, parades, festivals and events – with pomp, ceremony and music. These include for monarchy, government, civic, military, religious, social, entertainment, celebrations and in combinations.

London is forever changing. The River Thames flows constantly – with high and low tides twice a day. The weather changes every day.  The seasons affect everyone and everything.  New ideas, fashions, entertainment and architecture arise, live for a while and then die away.  London is forever changing. For many people these features make London a great place to live, work, study and visit.

Further reading:

For more information please visit the following pages at our sister site – dash round London – hosted at dashdot.co.uk

Project Anecdotes

Eras and Epochs