State Of The Map 2013/Call for venues/Durham

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Durham (map) may not have it's own OpenStreetMap website, or regular meetups, but it's a beautiful location in the North East of England map that provides everything a mapper would want in a place to meet including the opportunity to improve OpenStreetMap's data, community, and tools.

  • World renowned Durham University as a venue
  • Keen interest and support from the local academic sector
  • Historic cathedral city and world heritage site
  • Good maps available for delegates, but plenty to contribute
  • Lots of opportunities for building the local and international community
  • A good place to come on holiday, and a good starting point to go on to the Lake District, Scotland, and London
  • To conference program would most likely run from Monday 23rd to Wednesday 25th September, allowing social/excursions on the preceeding weekend.
  • Some photos can be viewed by downloading them from

Statements of support

  • "I think OSM is a very worthwhile project and I'd certainly be very happy to see the conference take place in Durham." - Professor Joe Painter, Head of the Department of Geography at Durham University
  • "Durham would be the absolute best place for State of the Map to be held in 2013." - Gregory Marler, author of the blog

How SotM13 might look

As you arrive at Durham Railway Station map, set your eyes to a bearing of ~155 degrees to be greeted by the Durham Cathedral and Castlemap, a World Hertiage Site and internationally renowned university. Just a mile away, walking through the woods along the river or through the historic town with it's ginnels and little coffee shops, you'll reach Durham University Science Site map. Chances are you passed your B&B or hotel on route, or maybe you're staying in the university halls less than 400 metres on. On the science site is the Calman Learning Centre, only 5 years old and nicely spacious with a view back to the cathedral.

The 2011 SotM-EU conference had a strong emphasis on academic research and publishing of conference papers. With interest from several individuals at Durham University, it may pose a good opportunity to make a repeat of this. However nobody has yet been identified to read and put together the proceedings, this may be suitably done by international volunteers and those who previously did it. In 2011 it was well received, welcoming new delegates and adding an interesting new edge to the commercial/volunteer and developer/mapper mix of attendee backgrounds.

In the evening will be time for socialising with old and new friends over a bit of food and entertainment provided by kind sponsors and supporters of our work. To be confirmed, but this could include dinner in the Great Hall of Durham Castle map, a BBQ on the Price Bishops boat, or perhaps a trip further afield to the larger city of Newcastle map. There is "Hill Island" Micro Brewery in the town and "Durham Brewery" just a 10min bus ride away, both of which offer brewery tours and good real ales.

For those that stay a day or more extra, I think it would be great to have some mapping challenges available to sign-up to. These might be tasks such as getting on a local bus and mapping the many villages in the countryside, an area still a bit lacking in OSM. Another task might be to do some "Gorilla Mapping", map an area with a specific detail(e.g. cycle racks, barrier specifics, addressing) either something you do already or pick from the hat some tags you might not use yet.

Many people loved the "1 way" coins given out in Japan last year, and it would be great to continue this and make "1 node" coins for delegates. It was also noted by some that there should be more "Map Love", that is looking at maps people have made and clapping them. Perhaps at the welcome desk you could submit a map url and get a coin in return (a maximum per delegate), the maps could then be displayed at various times during the conference (such as between talks).

The Team

This proposal is being submitted by Gregory Marler (wiki name 'LastGrape', OSM user name 'LivingWithDragons', skypename 'nomoregrapes', info at, UK phone number available). The team has not been finalised, as Durham is not the confirmed venue yet, however we have an array of interest in helping and will also benefit from worldwide experience of organising SotM.

Local to Durham, Mike (OSM username Interchange), is willing to help with the conference although declares his skills are more in goodie-bag packing than mapping it is very good to have such volunteers with local knowledge to aid delegates in getting around and understanding certain things (especially when we're on social trips in the evening). Three users have shown interest in attending and perhaps helping if the conference was close by, including a new-but-prolific 16-year mapper (who is unlikely to attend SotMs far away!). About 5 non-OSMers would also be available to help volunteer for a Durham conference.

The following table is UK-based mappers expressing an interest in helping, taken from State Of The Map 2013/Bids/UK

Name Location Availability Skills/Experience
LastGrape/Gregory Durham, North East
(& occasionally Kingston, SW London)
Some evenings, most weekends & Mondays (more available Feb onwards). Would like to put a lot of time into SotM UK where possible. Organised small weekend mapping parties. Co-organised an event where I managed the tech team (PA/Video/Recordings). Performed at many SotMs. Have skills in overall organisation/administration (finding out what needs doing, finding who can do it).
Smsm1 Ipswich, South East Able to help during work hours, evenings and weekends. Organised various mapping parties in the UK. Been to several previous SOTMs. Work for potential sponsor.
Spiffy/Jonathan Coventry, Midlands Weekends, some evenings, sometimes work hours. Happy to travel but tend to be time-limited. CEO of a small software company (but happy enough as a team member). Have been chief organiser of a community convention and assistant organiser of an academic conference, both with >200 people. Been to several SotMs.
nickw Southampton, Hampshire Generally weekends only, but evenings possible from mid March to late September and weekdays maybe possible July-Sep. Local events only, i.e. 2hr train travel from Southampton, e.g. Guildford. Organised mapping parties in southern England, given presentations on OSM at several SOTMs and local BCS events. Part of OSM since the early days (2005). Finding sponsors isn't really my forte and I have little free time to organise venues, book rooms etc but happy to help out with general organisation of a nearby SOTM (such as Guildford) at the event itself and over the summer.
monxton Winchester, Hampshire Available to help at odd hours, middle of the night being a speciality. Can travel sometimes if necessary. I can't claim that event organising is a natural talent, but I have helped organise and also spoken at several open-source events in the past (as well as some musical ones). Have not been to a SotM though. Have managed online / physical ticketing. Like collating and organising data. Dislike asking people for sponsorship (I've tried it).

The venue

Durham University, managed by Event Durham. The main venue would be The Calman Learning Centre map (locally known as The Biscuit Barrel) on the university Science Site would be the main venue. It has a reception desk and cafe downstairs with a tiered lecture room that can hold up to 400. There are two additional tiered lecture rooms with a capacity of 260. The top floor(great views of the city & cathedral) has two rooms that can seat ~75 or be used for catering up to 200. For additional catering, rooms in the adjoining Earth Sciences building could be used.

Video streaming can be done between rooms in the building. Passwords for free WiFi would be given out that work around the Science Site and in communal areas of the colleges(for people staying in them).

An initial quote provided is:

  • Hire of Calman Learning Centre & Earth Sciences: £2,500 per day.
  • Tea/Coffee/biscuits £2.50 per person per serving.
  • Lunches from £6 per person.
  • Currently pending details on potential discount (with support from the Geog department)

The Calman Learning Centre is available from Sunday 1st September to the Wednesday 4th September and also Monday 23rd to Wednesday 25th September. The latter date might be preferred for it's proximity to FOSS4G (17th - 21st) if people wish to travel to the UK for both. At least part of the organising team should be in the team a couple of days before the conference starts, especially if we did something on the Sunday before.

Other venues in the city were considered. Durham University stood out primarily for it's strong internet connection and flexibility to easily go above 250 delegates.

Evening/social venues

  • Dinner at Durham Castle, £34.50 per person (capacity 200)
  • Servery dinner at Grey College map or Collingwood College map, £16 per person.
  • Private hire of Prince Bishops River Cruise.
    • Buffet or BBQ on the boat, £6.50 to £10 per person
  • The Lindisfarne Gospels will be in Durham!
  • Pubs recommended: The New Inn(across the road from the venue), Swan and 3 Cygnets(Samuel Smith), Bishops Mill(large Whetherspoons)
  • Other good, but small pubs: The Victoria, The Market Tavern, The Elm Tree, The Colpits.


  • Grey College & Collingwood College (2 mins walk from the venue), £32.50(single)/£44(single en-suite)/£72.50(twin en-suite) per night
  • St Chad's College, next to the cathedral, runs a Youth Hostel with rooms from £25/night.
  • Premier Inn 'Durham City Centre' map or 'Durham East' map(the latter is about 3 miles away), £30-80/night.
  • Travelodge map within 15 mins walk, from £20/night.
  • Lots of small B&Bs in the city centre and others easily accessible by bus or car.
  • The Fallen Angel with themed rooms, if you like something different!

Getting to Durham


  • Durham Train Station (East Coast Mainline)
    • East Coast Trains: London(3-4hrs £30-£300 return), York, Durham, Newcastle, Edinburgh.
    • Cross Country Trains: Reading, and even unheard of places like Birmingham
    • First Transpennine Trains
    • Northern Rail

Other methods

  • Coach (about 7hrs from London)
    • National Express to Durham or Newcastle from many towns in the UK
    • Megabus, London to Newcastle
  • By car, it's just off the A1 motorway.
  • By Ferry, DFDS Seaways operate overnight for about £90 each way between Newcastle map and Amsterdam. There is then a cheap transfer bus to Newcastle Central Station
  • Bicycle, Durham is well served by National Cycle Network 14 and 70(previously Regional 20) map, and 1, 7, 10 and 70 are also close by.

Fly me to SotM

  • Newcastle Airportmap, then take the Metro and change at Newcastle Central for a train to Durham.
    • KLM from Amsterdam(1hr 20mins), Tokyo(13hr 40min via Amsterdam or London Heathrow)
    • British Airways from London Heathrow(1hr 10mins)
    • Eastern from Birmingham(1hr)
    • Ryanair from Dublin(1hr 5min)
    • EasyJet from Amsterdam, Barcelona(~2hrs or via Amsterdam), Bristol(1hr 5mins), and Belfast International(55mins)
    • Flybe from Belfast City, Bergen, Exeter(1hr 20mins), Southampton(1hr 25mins), and London Gatwick
  • Durham Tees Valley Airport is served by KLM, offering 3 flights a day to/from Amsterdam.

Some non-direct flights to Newcastle Airport, approximate times

  • Tokyo - 13hrs 40mins, via Amsterdam or London Heathrow (KLM)
  • Toronto - 11hrs, via Brussels or London Heathrow (British Airways)
  • Seattle - 12 to 14hrs, via London Heathrow(British Airways or American Airlines) or via Amsterdam(Air France/KLM or Delta)
  • Madrid - 4hrs 40mins, via Paris CDG (AirFrance/KLM) or London Heathrow (British Airways)
  • Nairobi - 11hrs, via Amsterdam (Kenya Airways/KLM)
  • Cape Town - 15hrs, via Amsterdam(KLM) or London Heathrow(British Airways)

Travel tips

  • Don't get confused with Durham, NC (in the USA).
  • If travelling by coach from London, it is often cheaper to book the Megabus or National Express to Newcastle. National Express usually stop at Durham on the way, so you can get off then (but to Newcastle is cheaper due to competition).
  • UK Train Ticket pricing can be strange. I recommend EastCoast's Website for finding the best prices. Booking at least 2 months in advance will get you much better prices.
  • Trains between Durham and Newcastle are frequent, taking about 12 minutes. These tickets cost £4.10 (or £6.70 day return), and for such a short distance it's just as cheap to buy them on the day at the station.
  • Getting around in Durham is easy, everything is so close so just walk! Local buses are available, which may be more desired if you are staying a little out of the way.