The Fictional City of Yeardley: From One Source All Things Depend Part I

The start of the city, if it was going to be successful, needed to be perfect. I decided early on that if it was going to be realistic, there needed to be a reason for the city to exist in the first place, and my basic geography came back to me – the most frequently supposed reason for a city or town existing is a crossing point over a river. The first instance was to build a wide and powerful river.  The second decision was to put a bridge over the river and work from there, expanding on both sides as the two sides grew to support the population.

A second and major decision I made was the location of the city – I decided it would be in the North of England, just south of Scotland, but without thinking where it actually was.  A loosely designated area of the country. It is not based on anywhere, it is just based in somewhere. This also meant I could timeline it’s expansion, with the original bridge being built somewhere in the 1700s.

After that, I decided on a colour – white was the default background for Visio, so orange leapt out at me. If was going to go back and do this again, I’d change my colours, but once I had started there was no way to stop. Light blue for the river seemed fair, and after that I quickly started to plot roads and built the town from a small series of main roads.

The Key
Orange - a simple road.
Red - a dual carriageway A road
Pink - a Motorway (or A road classified as a Motorway)
Dark Blue - a build of importance, like a castle or sports stadium
Light blue - a body of water from rivers to lakes
Green - a forest or country park
Black - a railway line
Red Circle - a railway station
Dark Grey - a light railway line
Green Circle - a light railway station
Light Green - a future addition to the city planned, like a new road or a new railway

See the below image (click for fullsize) to see a selection of these things.

In the above shot, there are two motorways: the M768 and the A798(M). More about the numbering and naming of these roads will be mentioned when we get to the roads section. Also, the red road is the A780 which again we will discuss. Xavier is a railway station and the terminus of one of the railway lines which i will detail further in the future. And lastly, the blue is the river as you might have guessed. This area that I have detailed is to the North West of the city, and the M768 is one of the extremities of the city limits. This, if you will, is the Eastern Suburbs - a commuter area of families. But, as I said, more will be explained about that in the future.

It is exciting to note that the original roads are still there. The roads that run from the south to the north are still there, a continuation of the idea that the citry grew from nothing into something rather than just appearing there fully formed.  Which brings me onto an important point that will crop up over the next few months – the most important point of the city was to feel normal, and real. To achieve this, I had to think like a planner would have done, and as such make loads of mistakes.

Taking cues from Glasgow initially, motorways were part of a massive grand scheme that faltered and failed. Railways too were built extravagantly, before being pulled back. In fact, a regret of the city’s development is that I didn’t save intermediate versions, so I could look back upon the older versions see exactly where something came from – my memory is good, but it’s not perfect.

So once the basic roads and shape was in place, I had to start thinking about expanding – Victorian railways, canals and others suddenly were the right thing to be building, and I did this until the early 1900s in my time line, with railways and roads expanding beyond control. Remember, expressways or bypasses were post-war, so if my city was to expand, the railways needed to. Canals, something I smile at, vanished – there are none left. Ship building too was a factor, but because of the cities location and the competition from Liverpool and Glasgow, it never felt like a genuine way to grow the city.

So now there was industry, rail and factories. What could possibly happen now?  And then came two World Wars and the biggest shift in development the city would have.  And where, in my mind, the real fun began.