Keele University William Smith Building

Keele University logoKeele University William Smith Building

This building is named after not one, but two William Smiths, both of whom were influential in the development of mapping. The first William Smith (1546?-1618) laid the foundations of the conventions of county mapping and of urban cartography.

Smith was an antiquarian and Rouge Dragon at the College of Heralds whose work, ‘The Particuler Description of England. With the portratures of certaine of the cheiffest citties and townes’, made an important contribution to cartography of the time.

The second William Smith (1769-1839) is credited with creating the first nationwide geological map. While working as a miner, Smith noted the patterns in strata of rock, leading to a lifelong fascination. He developed a way of displaying the horizontal extent of rocks, which eventually led to his ‘Map that Changed the World’.

In 2014, Keele Professor Peter Styles was awarded the prestigious William Smith Medal for 2014 by the Geological Society of London for his outstanding research. The Medal is awarded for excellence in applied and economic aspects of geoscience. Peter said: “William Smith developed the concept of the ‘Geological Map’, which has underpinned our transformation of observed 3-D Geology onto a 2-D surface representation for some two hundred years

We can do nothing in geoscience without them. That is why at the merger of those two Departments at Keele, we named the Geography and Geology building after him. I am therefore both honoured and humbled to receive this medal… it is the high point of my career.”