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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 October 2005, 10:43 GMT 11:43 UK
UK centre row over Harrods raffle
Centre of Britain Hotel
The Centre of Britain Hotel was named in 1997
A raffle by the Harrods department store has reignited a long-running feud over where the centre of the UK lies.

Store owner Mohammed al Fayed offered shoppers the chance to win one square metre of land in Lancashire's Dunsop Bridge in the centre of the country.

But people in the Northumberland town of Haltwhistle, which has signs proudly declaring it to be "Centre of Britain", have disputed the alternative claim.

Ordnance Survey map makers say the result depends on calculation methods.

Bright red banners and colourful signs adorn the streets of Haltwhistle, and David Taylor, who runs the Centre of Britain Hotel in the town, has written to Mr al Fayed asking him to reconsider his prize.

He said: "The centre of gravity, of course, is one way of measuring a country.

Changing tides

"But it only applies to countries which have a roughly symmetrical shape. Countries of an irregular shape like Britain, it throws it completely off what is the obvious centre.

"On any map, look where the centre is and you will see it is at Haltwhistle."

The main rival to the title is Dunsop Bridge, 71 miles (114 km) away to the south.

A spokesman for Ordnance Survey said: "It would be easier if we were living on a flat, square plain but we are living on a three-dimensional shape which is lying on a spherical object - the earth.

"You've got movement of geological plates and tides constantly changing so it very difficult to say one particular spot is the absolute centre."

One method used has been to find the point at which a cardboard cut-out of Britain would balance on a pinhead - its centre of gravity - and that the spokesman said was Dunsop Bridge.




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