GIS Thoughts

Balalaikas in Blackpool

Just listened to a great radio programme which talked about the Soviet Military efforts to map the UK in the Cold War. The BBC are streaming the programme here for the next week. The story was also picked up by The Times.

Here is an example of the type of mapping the Soviets produced for major cities, in this case a 1:10,000 map of Granton harbour in Edinburgh.
Soviet Map

It seems that Blackpool Bus Station was a primary target !

5 replies on “Balalaikas in Blackpool”


I like the format of your website and the openness of your thoughts and ideas. It is very refreshing to consider wider mainstream step changes such as Napster and Amazon and reflect how thay may impact and change the dynamics of our industry to make GI more open and accessible in a much wider context than it is now.

Thank you for bringing these ideas to Informed’s International Conference, your presentation sparked real thought and debate.

Best regards,


Glad you liked ‘Balalaikas in Blackpool’. It was a fun story to do.

Kind regards

Henry Dodds

I’ve been studying these fascinating maps for some time. I published a story in April edition of Sheetlines (journal of Charles Close Society) describing the scope and scale of the Soviet global mapping project and how they went about it.
There’s a follow up in the next edition (August) examining the British town plans in particular and to what extent, if any, they are based on OS material.
There will be a ‘Study Day’ in Cambridge on Sat 8 October 2005 with speakers, exhibition and discussion forum, at which I will present the evidence and show examples of the Soviet maps and relevant OS maps, etc. Anybody wishing to attend should contact me at
I’d also like to contact Henry Dodds to invite him to attend, but have been unable to contact him via BBC. It looks as if you have contact info for him, so I’d be very grateful if you would either pass this to him or give me his email address.
Kind regards
John Davies (020 8504 1766)

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