Dunedin man heading to Wales to claim back Baldwin Street title

6:51 pm on 6 August 2019

A Dunedin surveyor who thinks Baldwin Street was robbed of the world's steepest title plans to travel half way across the world in an attempt to claim it back.

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Baldwin Street in Dunedin. Photo: RNZ / Tim Brown

Toby Stoff was the first to cry foul when Baldwin Street was stripped of its title and now plans are in place to go to Harlech in Wales to put his theory to the test.

When Ffordd Pen Llech last month claimed the title of the world's steepest street, something seemed off to Mr Stoff and he was proved right when Guinness World Records confirmed the Welsh record was measured at the inside verge of a curve - exaggerating the gradient.

During the weekend he took some quick measurements of Baldwin Street, which had re-proven what was already known about Dunedin's contender.

"I think the first survey was done back in the 1980s, we're able to do it a bit more accurately now. I think I got something like 34.7 percent at the steepest off the top of my head - so within cooey of the 35 percent, not a million miles away."

With the assistance of Global Survey a complete scan of Baldwin Street would be taken tomorrow morning, giving the most accurate picture of the street yet.

Ffordd Pen Llech in Wales, which took the steepest street Guinness World Record title from Baldwin Street in New Zealand.

Ffordd Pen Llech in Wales. Photo: Google Maps

Thanks to some behind-the-scenes string-pulling the same would happen with Ffordd Pen Llech and then the world - and Guinness World Records - could make up their mind, Mr Stoff said.

"I'm going to go over and survey it as well, then I'll probably do a comparison. I can do two profiles, just plot one on top of the other and say there's the centreline profile of both streets. I'm not going to say anything after that - just you guys be the judge."

He remained reasonably confident the final picture would demonstrate Baldwin Street as the rightful holder to the claim of world's steepest street, when measured at the centreline.

"I mean they better," he said, laughing.

"If they don't I'm going to look like a bit of a chump. As I understand it the Welsh street, the steepest part was measured at inside of a curve. Once you get out to the centreline it should be a lot flatter. Hey, maybe it isn't, maybe it's really steep on the centreline as well but until we actually take the measurements and compare them there's no way of knowing."

He had found support among his former surveying school classmates, who hatched the plan to send him to Wales and had so far raised about $5000 to make it happen.

Mike Constable, who was now based in Singapore, said they were preparing for the backlash which might come when they contested the record.

"We are a bit concerned about Toby getting some leeks thrown at him and things like this, so we are going to outfit him with some protective equipment."

Mr Constable and another classmate Dave Mitchell started the online fundraising effort with former classmates and were now reaching out to others in the surveying world.

Mr Mitchell, who was based in Vietnam, said claiming the record back for Dunedin was about righting a wrong.

"It's [Ffordd Pen Llech] a bit of a lane isn't it," he said.

"It's hardly what I would call a proper street and I think a visit over there and a few measurements will expose it for what it is - a bit of a sham."

The pair aimed to raise more than $10,000 and were hoping to send Mr Stoff to Harlech sometime in October, when Gwyn Headley - the man behind the Ffordd Pen Llech record - would be in town.

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