We’ve talked before about trap streets – fake locations that cartographers put on their maps so that if somebody else reuses the map and claims it as their own, then it’s obvious where it came from. The culprits can then be hounded down and prosecuted for copyright theft. Trap streets have figured in a Dr Who series and a China Mieville novel.
Prosecutions seem to be incredibly rare. True, in 2001 the British Automobile Association paid £20 million to Ordnance Survey because they’d been misusing O.S. maps, but they weren’t caught by trap streets, rather by cartographic “fingerprints” of distinctive design elements.
A little while back I found, posted by a Facebook Psychogeography group, the above image of what may or may not be a trap, though it’s a place rather than a street. It’s on an O.S. map and the post said it refers to a field in Suffolk. The only Lover’s Lane in Suffolk that I can find on Google maps is in Leiston, site of the Household Waste Recycling Centre.
Now, life being as it is, I used to live fairly close to Leiston, walked around there from time to time, and I still own a copy of the map O.S. Pathfinder 987 Leiston, and a good look reveals this same Fiscal Policy, right on the fold. The map is copyright 1983, and there’s no indication that it’s been updated.
Since it’s not a street, there’s some speculation that it might be an Argleton – the name given to phantom settlements that appear on Google maps. However, although a look at Google maps and Google satellite images locates Lover’s Lane and the other features, thereby confirming that this is the right place, Google doesn't label any site as Fiscal Policy. Go pick the cartographic gristle out of that one.
Need I say that in the days when I walked in and around Leiston, I never noticed the name Fiscal Policy on the map I often carried. If I had done, I’d have been off like a shot looking for it.
In one sense, I suppose I’d never have found it.