Fleet Street Heritage Sundial - Design and Access Statement
Piers Nicholson is a sundial
designer who has produced an innovative horizontal sundial, the Spot-On
Sundial, of which some 2,000 have now been made. He has also designed a number of public sundials,
Several years ago he moved
in to a Flat in
The result was the idea for this sundial. It has taken over a decade to develop, largely because of the difficulty of persuading successive owners of the wall that they would like to have a sundial on it.
The purpose of the sundial is to remind the many users of Fleet Street (residents, City workers, and tourists) of the worldwide reputation of Fleet Street in the days when it was the hub of the newspaper industry, and also to provide a permanent memorial to those like Richard Carlile (who lived on this site) and others who fought and suffered for the freedom of the press.
The design of sundials is tightly constrained by the mathematics of obtaining a consistent shadow. The gnomon (which casts the shadow) has to be pointing at the North Celestial Pole. To achieve this, the gnomon must be pointing to true North (viewed on plan) and the angle of elevation must be the same as the latitude. If the dialplate is at right angles to the gnomon (that is, in the plane of the equator) the hour lines are at 15 degree intervals. If the dialplate is at any other angle, the hour lines are the projection of these 15 degree intervals on that surface. In the special case of vertical sundials facing exactly east or west, the gnomon has to be held out parallel to the wall and the hour lines are parallel lines at the angle of the latitude as in the east and west dials on the tower of St. Margaret’s, Westminster (pictured).
The wall discussed in this proposal is facing some 7 degrees away from east, so the hour lines are not quite parallel to each other.
Design of the Fleet Street Heritage Sundial project
The project can be divided into four sections:
The face of the sundial located on the wall
The gnomon projecting out from the top left corner of the sundial face
The three explanatory panels at head height at the foot of the wall
The fleetstreetheritagesundial.uk website
The sundial face is marked out with the lines where the shadow falls for every hour between 6 and 10 with additional lines at 10.30, 10.45 and 11. Between the six lowest of these lines appear the mastheads of 5 newspapers. The particular newspaper titles to be used have not yet been selected, but 3 or 4 of them will be newspapers no longer published (starting with the Republican which was printed on this site) and 1 or 2 of them will be current newspapers.
The final selection of newspaper mastheads to be included in the sundial
will be decided in consultation with local interests such as the Castle Baynard Ward Club.
The hour lines and the newspaper mastheads will be painted on the wall by a
very experienced signwriter who has undertaken major projects in
The position and size of the gnomon is determined by the mathematics derived from the orientation of the wall relative to due South. The gnomon will be fabricated from stainless steel tube with welded joints between the components and with stainless steel fixing plates to attach it to the wall. the attachment will be done by suitable anchor bolts into the wall.
The 3 plaques will be made out of 5 mm. marine grade stainless steel, which will be deep-etched. This will ensure that the text is readable for many years to come.
Freedom of the Press
Fleet Street Heritage Sundial
Fleet Street was the hub of
the British newspaper industry for over 100 years until the late 1980s when the
need to adopt new technology, to work in modern buildings, and to modernise
their labour relations caused them to move to other parts of
More about sundials
Sundials are a very ancient
technology, starting in
It has a link to the
Site plan (indicated by red
line at north end of
Elevation of wall showing
hour lines and illustrative newspaper titles and view of the wall from the
This drawing shows the detail of the gnomon at the top left hand corner of the sundial
 More details at http://fleetstreetheritagesundial.uk/designer.html