Post by Roland Perry
That's precisely what we are discussing, but in the absence of any
evidence of who/what made it official (and when).
This is the best explanation I've seen.:-
"The custom of considering the location of the old Charing Cross to be
the arbitrary centre of London seems to have arisen in the late 18th or
early 19th century. Laws and rules were often written from that period
specifying that everything within a certain distance of Charing Cross
was to be considered part of London. In 1864 the new Charing Cross
railway station opened on the Strand, just adjacent to the new Trafalgar
Square, and the South Eastern Railway commissioned a new Cross to stand
in the station forecourt - a few hundred yards from the site of the
medieval original. London’s black-cab taxi drivers treat this new Cross
as the centre of the city: their famously rigorous “Knowledge” training
requires them to commit to memory every street and point of interest
within six miles of the station forecourt."
The original Charing Cross was on the site of the current statue of
Charles I, but the cross in the station forecourt dates from the 1860s,
so the cabbie's idea of the central point is from 1864 at the earliest,
when the station opened to traffic. The official centre is apparently
the plaque marking the site of the original Charing Cross, not the
statue.I was mistaken earlier.
I reckon treating Charles as the centre just arose out of "custom and
practice" as the Government grew and moved into Whitehall, and distances
from the centre of Government needed to be specified for various
reasons. One example of this in the 1970s was when I worked for BR in
Watford, and the "London allowance" which would have increased my salary
by about 10% was only available as far out as the South side of the road
our office block occupied the North side of.
The London Stone, originally sited in the middle of what is now Cannon
Street, has also been considered to be the "centre of London", and was
traditionally a place to seal a binding bargain up until at least the
Tciao for Now!