As regular readers of this blog will know, I have recently been trying to get historical data for the West Midlands primarily prompted by the National Trust app [https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/places/find-a-place-to-visit/mobile-apps/] crashing whenever I try and use it (on multiple Android devices).
I was also somewhat interested in the data that Historic England [http://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list] (English Heritage as was) provided as a supplementary source of information for any app that I developed.
I approached the National Trust (henceforth NT) to receive the following reply:
“I’m sorry but we don’t hold a full listing of our places, the only info we have is what is currently available on the Land Map.”.
Astonishing. Unfortunately, as the National Trust is a charity, they do not need to submit to FOI requests, so I next looked at Wikidata. This only contains 332 out of 525 NT properties – at least under the name used by the National Trust…
In the mean time I had been in contact with Historic England and received two files, which I merged but when I tried to combine the NT places with the HE data I found that NONE of my data matched. I was missing the NT data from the HE file(s).
As a new avenue I decided to try and get the data for the Heritage Environment Records (the Sites and Monuments Records [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sites_and_monuments_record] as was) and found the gateway at http://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/Gateway/CHR/. Responsibility is the held (mainly) by the Local Authority, so for the West Midlands I would need to combine data from Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Herefordshire, Sandwell, Shropshire, Solihull, Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent, Warwickshire, Wolverhampton, Walsall,
Worcester City, and Worcestershire.
So a mere 17 sources of information – just for the West Midlands. I find it astonishing that there is no single place this is held. I feel a project coming on…