Stanfords Helps Decide London as ‘Capital of the World’

Stanfords was used as a point of research in The Independent Traveller survey that resulted in London being named the capital of the world.

Researchers from the Saturday travel supplement used the criteria of the number of individual guidebooks that appeared on the shelves of our store to score each capital city of the world. They also used criteria such as populations, number of Unesco World Heritage Sites, the number of non-native restaurants listed in the current Time Out City Guide, and ‘Three-star sights’ (the top rating) in the Michelin Green Guide.

London came out top, followed by New York, Paris, Tokyo and Chicago. The results were published on 22 December 07 and are on the Independent’s website.

In the article, travel editor Simon Calder also mentioned our store as he celebrated London’s result: ‘To see how much there is to fathom [of London], wander down the basement of Stanfords, the map and travel guide shop in Covent Garden (and venue for some of our researches). You can walk across the full extent of the city in about 10 seconds flat, because a giant map of the capital is printed on the floor.’

The World In Figures

Andorra is the place to live long – it has the highest life expectancy in the world, at the grand 83.5 years.

The five most populous countries in the world are:

1. China
2. India
3. USA
4. Indonesia
5. Brazil.

Women in Niger, Afghanistan and Guinea-Bissau have the world’s highest fertility rates – with an average of over seven children each. Read More The World In Figures

007's Car Drives from Tokyo to London with help from Stanfords

Two adventurous British men have returned from a record-breaking epic charity drive from Tokyo to London in James Bond’s favourite car. The length of the Asian Highway and across Europe was driven by Phil Colley and Richard Meredith in an Aston Martin V8 Vantage to raise awareness of the Make Roads Safe campaign.

The tour operator and school teacher began their feat where all great journeys begin, at our very own store in Covent Garden, London – all the maps the pair used on their trip were from Stanfords, and they even shunned their in-car sat-nav system in favour of the trusty paper map. Phil told us, “The maps we used to get from Tokyo to London were all purchased at your wonderful shop. There was a sat-nav in the car for Europe but we never used it – even if we’d known how! Thanks for the great maps!”

The UN-backed trip took them through countries including South Korea, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, with the car attracting much attention along the way. On arriving in Istanbul, Phil and Richard became the first people to drive the entire length of the new Asian Highway.

After 10,000 miles and 49 days, crossing two continents, 18 countries and four seas, the triumphant pair pulled into London on 12 August, exactly on schedule, for an official reception at the Park Lane Intercontinental Hotel.

Make Roads Safe is an international campaign to put global road traffic injuries on the G8 and UN sustainability agendas. The campaign aims to raise awareness of a global road traffic injury epidemic that kills at least 3,000 people and 500 children every day.

Aston Martin provided the car, counting the journey towards an ongoing long distance testing programme which would have been undertaken on European motorways, and together with other sponsors, including Intercontinental Hotels and Bridgestone, has used the journey to raise money for a Unicef-led road safety programme for children in China. The car will also be auctioned in support of Unicef.

Read Richard Meredith’s blog on the feat

Author: Rachel Ricks

Bristol Stanfords' 10th Birthday

We have given a new look to Stanfords in Bristol, marking the 10th anniversary of the shop. The new bookcases in Stanfords Bristol shop

The Stanfords store in Bristol was our first branch to launch outside of London and the doors were opened 10 years ago by the great travel writer Eric Newby.

The shop has now been entirely refitted to mimic the London Covent Garden store with walnut and silver furniture, and a combination of wooden floors and carpets. A new highlight is a 1:5000 map of Bristol covering the staircase wall from the ground floor to the basement, and Caroline Bowler, Stanfords Bristol shop manager, says, “This will be quite a talking point with customers as you are able to identify individual houses on the map.” Read More Bristol Stanfords' 10th Birthday

Best Map of the Year Announced

A map of important geological sites has been announced as 2007’s winner of a new British Cartography Society (BCS) award sponsored by Stanfords.

Rosemary Duncan’s entry, the Hamps and Manifold Geotrail, details Regionally Important Geological and Geomorphological Sites (RIGS) – areas of significant earth science importance – and was commissioned by the Staffordshire RIGS Group.

Stanfords’ Margaret Ross, buyer of map products imported from overseas, and Chris English, responsible for map graphics on our website, were among six judges from the maps and graphics industry who assessed more than 30 entries. Chris says of the winner, “This map fulfilled its intended purpose, as well as being nice and tidy, with good graphics, and it looks really attractive. It’s great that it guides you through a walk and puts the landscape into context, pointing out features along the way. Just looking at it made me want to go to the area straight away.” Read More Best Map of the Year Announced

Stanfords Supports Coast-To-Coast Trek

An intrepid businessman trekked from coast to coast of France to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. Mike Heyes, a senior consultant from Cheshire, set off on 11 July from Hendaye, a small French town on the Atlantic coast and, with the help of maps supplied from Stanfords, traversed his way across 800km of varied landscape. Forty-seven days later, having climbed a total of 40,000 metres, he enjoyed a swim in the Mediterranean.

Walking every day, except for three rest days, Mike walked an average of 20km and ascended about 1,000m each day, which he says, “The total ascent, 40,000m, is nearly five times the height of Mount Everest.” Mike adds, “The scenery was continuously breathtaking. The weather was generally kind to me, mostly blue sky days, but there were several big storms and half a dozen total white-out days, when thick cloud covered the mountains and tested my navigation skills.”

With a pack weight sometimes reaching 20kg, Mike experienced vastly varied temperatures – from sub zero in the high mountains to a steamy 35C during the last few days towards the Med. He says, “I encountered a number of problems on route, but I was totally focused on the end result and that helped me to overcome them.”

Back home, Mike says, “The experience has left me feeling strong and self-confident but very humble, in that I am very fortunate to be healthy enough to have taken on and completed this adventure. We should not forget that many people are not so fortunate. Their lives have been turned upside down by cancer, so let’s remember that the main event is raising money for Macmillan.”

Donations can be made at For more information on Just Giving, visit their site at and for Macmillan Cancer Support, visit Author: Rachel Ricks

Bibendum – The 'Michelin Man' Revealed

Following a recent store promotion involving prominent map and book publishers Michelin, and the antics of a certain member of staff who (rather enthusiastically) volunteered to brave the streets of London dressed as the ‘Michelin Man’ (or ‘Bibendum’ as he is known in his native France), we at Stanfords decided to look into the story behind this iconic character…and came across some surprising facts in the process…

Did you know…

Bibendum was first introduced in 1898 on a poster commissioned by André Michelin after his brother Édouard noticed that a stack of tyres displayed at a Michelin exhibition stand resembled a person. Édouard Michelin is said to have remarked “Give it some arms and legs and it would look like a man!”

 The name Bibendum first appears on the original 1898 poster with the slogan ‘The Michelin tyre drinks up obstacles’, which depicts Bibendum toasting his competitors with the Latin verse ‘Nunc est bibendum’ or ‘Now is the time to drink!’

Michelin Poster - Bibendum in 1898Bibendum’s career as a mascot began when he appeared as a cardboard cut-out on the Michelin stand at the Paris Motor Show. Visitors were so taken aback by his imposing silhouette – again shown toasting – that for a period he was known as the “road drunkard”.

The names associated with this iconic character have entered popular language to describe someone who is large or obese. In Spanish, the word ‘Michelin’ is associated with having a “spare tyre” – or roll of fat – around the waist.

The swanky Bibendum restaurant in South Kensington is housed in the original Michelin London headquarters that opened in 1911. The design of the restaurant refers directly to the building’s association with the Bibendum logo, and if you go there today you will see him adorning the floors, walls and windows!

In 1985 Bibendum shared the limelight with James Bond in the film ‘A view to a kill’. In a scene where Bond is trapped in a Rolls Royce pushed into a lake, he manages to escape by breathing air from the car’s Michelin tyres.

Bibendum also made a brief appearance in the popular Asterix comic-book series as a chariot-wheel dealer, and French reggae band Tryo have even written a song about him, with the lyrics ‘Mr Bibendum, he is truly enormous, Mr Bibendum; happiness in person’!

Did you know - Bibendum through the years

Bibendum is one of the world’s oldest and most iconic trademarks, representing Michelin in over 150 countries.

In 1998 Bibendum celebrated his 100th birthday, with the year being declared ‘The Year of Bibendum’. Bibendum has evolved a lot over the years – the original logo was based on bicycle tyres and was shown wearing glasses and smoking a cigar! He has since slimmed down to reflect the smaller tyres of modern cars, has given up the cigar, and has even been seen running!

Stanfords restores glory to flagship store

Stanfords is looking forward to the highlight of our 150th anniversary year: the 2003 re-launch of our flagship store on Long Acre, Covent Garden, at the end of our £1 million-pound refurbishment programme.

Already the world’s largest specialist map and travel bookshop, our refurbished store will be 50% larger than before, allowing Stanfords to offer an expanded range of both maps and books, which will be merchandised together by region for extra convenience. Large graphic displays will guide you to each area, and other original features include lectern browsers with map index information.

Starting in September 2002, exterior building work has been undertaken in parallel with the interior refurbishment and our store has remained open throughout. Read More Stanfords restores glory to flagship store

Now We Are 150 Years Old!

2003 has been, it seems, the year of exploration and travel anniversaries: celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first successful ascent of Everest, the 100th of the first powered flight, the 80th of Footprint’s South American Handbook, the 30th for Lonely Planet and the 10th for Wanderlust. Of course, we are biased to the notion that the most important anniversary this year is our own 150th.

Edward Stanford made his reputation rapidly upon setting up his independent business in 1853. One of his first series of maps, covering the Crimea in 1854-55, made Florence Nightingale a customer. Stanley and Livingstone were fans too, with the former writing to Stanford, “Had it not been my fate to be an African explorer, I should have wished to be a geographer of your attainments.” Amongst the other explorers and travellers Stanfords has had the honour of serving are Captain Robert Falcon Scott, the late Sir Wilfred Thesiger, Sir Chris Bonington and Michael Palin to name but a small handful.

Read More Now We Are 150 Years Old!