Time Travel Explorer Blog

Eddies in the Space-Time Continuum

by Bill Visick 16. November 2011 08:41

I'm sorry to report that the Time Travel Explorer team has been trapped by this phenomenon, although unlike Arthur Dent we do at least know who Eddy is. One side-effect of the temporal turbulence is that while we think we've been working hard, it might easily appear that this blog has been untouched for months.

Over the summer a straightforward exercise to streamline the app and enhance the time travel engine, as well as to scrape the barnacles off the bottom of the blog, has turned into an extended period of silence. I'm pleased to say that is now behind us and all systems are go.

We have been able to introduce a couple of major enhancements to the app which you will have discovered if you've installed the recent versions. Firstly, the size of the initial download has been drastically reduced from over 300M to about 10M. This makes installing it much easier, to say nothing of testing new versions, while all the map, image and audio data remains available to be streamed when needed or downloaded in bulk. We hope this makes life easier for everyone.

More excitingly we've been able to tweak the time-travel engine so that it is now possible to slide between any combination of maps, not just the two that were previously available. Sounds simple, wasn't! It's switched on as usual in Settings and you set your time destination by dragging the slider at the bottom of the screen. Then sit back and enjoy as the maps slide from one to the next. The stop button (bottom right) halts time travel at any point and you can move backwards or forwards:

By judiciously enabling or disabling the maps that are displayed in Map Manager, it's possible to time travel between any combination of maps. If you zoom right out, this is a really good way of seeing how London has grown and the centre has shifted westeards from the City. Here it is in 1682 (more on this map to come):

And now...

That's it, really. We think it's pretty cool. More to come, provided the Vogons don't get us.

Traveling Through Time: Trafalgar Square

by Matt Brown 10. October 2010 20:07

Trafalagar Square. You're perhaps familiar with it. The bustling plaza is perhaps the most visited location in central London, drawing in millions of tourists each year - and even a few Londoners - to play in its fountains, climb on its lions and ascend the steps to the National Gallery. But what did the area look like 100 years ago, 200 years ago...longer? Boot up Time Travel Explorer and let's take a look.

The site has long been of importance to Londoners. At its southern end, where the statue of Charles I gazes forlornly down Whitehall, the original Charing Cross once stood. This great pillar marked one of the final resting places of Eleanor, Queen of Edward I. The location has since been used as the official centre of London, from which all road distances are measured. You'll find it marked on all the maps in TTX London with the exception of the modern map. Today, the area is a centre of leisure, tourism and the arts. But let's go back more than two and a half centuries and take a look at how it developed...

Three maps of Trafalgar Square: 1746 (left), 1799 (middle), 1830 (right). View in Time Travel Explorer for greater detail and transitioning effects.

1746: Moving back to the middle of the 18th Century presents the time traveller with a very different square. Indeed, there is no square. Instead, we see a simple T-junction, surrounding the isolated statue of Charles I. The Trafalgar Square site is mostly taken by ‘The Royal Mewse' - a giant stabling yard for royal horses. You'll also find a number of vanished roads. Woodstock Court and Chequers Court stand where, today, you'll find the eastern-most fountain. There's no sign of Nelson - this view is 12 years before the great commander was born. You'll also note that both Northumberland Avenue and The Mall are absent, as well as Charing Cross Road. More on these in a bit.

1799: Moving on a half century, and little has changed. The stables are now known as ‘Kings Mews' and the area previously known as St Martin's Churchyard, and later to become the National Gallery, is a workhouse.

1830: Great changes are afoot. The main mews buildings have been swept away, and the site now contains a large void. Construction of Trafalgar Square began in 1829 and, at this stage, it can't have been more than mud and construction materials. Still, a new road - Pall Mall East - has been driven through the north of the site, and the Physicians' College has established itself on the West side.


Views of Trafalgar Square from 1862 (left) and 2010 (right). Note the presence of The Mall and Northumberland Road to the south-east and southwest of the square in the modern map.

1862: That's more like it. The Square itself looks much as we know it today, with the statues of Havelock, Napier, George IV and Nelson all clearly labelled. The twin fountains are also marked. North of the Square, a slimline National Gallery shares premises with the Royal Academy. Two less artistic neighbours stand behind, in land now used by the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery's extensions: St Martin's Workhouse remainss from earlier times, but a barracks has also been established. Soldiers, paupers and painters, all cheek-by-jowl in the West End.

2010: Back in our own time, the biggest changes concern the creation of major new roads around the Square. Charing Cross Road was knocked through the area in 1877, sweeping away the workhouse and various small streets. Fairwell, Hemming's Row, and White Hart Court; we never knew you. The other major shift in roads in the parts is the joining of The Mall through to Trafalgar Square, accomplished in the early 20th Century. This development and the construction of the monumental Admiralty Arch came at the cost of a small green patch (Spring Gardens) and the church of St Matthew. Finally, we also see the knocking though of Northumberland Road, forming a neat symmetry of angles with The Mall.

To get a better view of these maps, download Time Travel Explorer now for iPhone, IPad and IPod Touch.


Welcome to Time Travel Explorer London

by Matt Brown 11. August 2010 21:36

Welcome to Time Travel Explorer London

Time travel? There's an app for that. Well, almost. With Time Travel Explorer (TTX) you can glimpse the London of Jack the Ripper, Charles Dickens, William Hogarth and Samuel Johnson through detailed and superimposable maps, spoken descriptions from a Blue Badge guide and over 1000 archive photographs.

You don't need a DeLorean or Tardis. Simply switch on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch and begin browsing through history.

  • View detailed maps of London showing how the city has evolved over centuries. Fade-in and fade-out overlaid maps from different eras, to see precisely how streets, parks, boundaries and properties have changed.
  • Find your location with GPS and discover how your current surroundings looked in different eras.
  • Browse over 700 points of interest with detailed descriptions, many with photos and personal commentary from a certified Blue Badge tourist guide.
  • View more than 1200 historic photos, many more than a century old.

Explore the streets of London, let your iPhone tell you what's around you and see how the city has developed in a unique way.

Available now from iTunes app store for a special low introductory price of £1.79 until 26 August 2010.