Surveyor disputes Guinness World Records, says Baldwin Street may still be steepest

It may be an uphill battle, but Baldwin St is determined to fight to the bitter end to regain its mantle as the steepest street in the world.

The Dunedin landmark lost the coveted title in July, after Guinness World Records gave the honour to Ffordd Pen Llech, in the Welsh town of Harlech.

But surveyor Toby Stoff is disputing the methodology used by Guinness World Records, holding out hope that the street may one day be crowned the steepest once again.

"Guinness confirmed verbally that the gradient was measured on the inside of the curb," Stoff told The AM Show on Monday morning. 

According to Guinness World Records, Ffordd Pen Llech has a gradient of 37.5 percent at its steepest point, compared to Baldwin St's 35.

But Stoff says that way of measuring may make all the difference in determining which street is steepest.

"They only specified a gradient measured on the carriageway over a length of 10 metres but they haven't said where, and we've advocated strongly, that it should be measured on the centreline because a, that's where you design it, and b, that's where you'll get the average gradient - left, centre, right. If you measure it on the centreline that gives you a better idea of the overall gradient across the full width."

Stoff said he was in no way insinuating any form of cheating had taken place, acknowledging the surveyor who measured the Welsh street did "a bang-up job".

"There's just a bit of a grey area in Guinness' methodology or their parameters, that's all," he said.

"I want to confirm that that is where they measure the gradient. Then I want to do a little study just to build up a picture of the gradient of the two roads and how we think it should be measured."

Baldwin St held the record for over a decade before losing the title. Dunedin's Mayor Dave Cull said at the time he was "philosophical" about the decision.

"The street certainly hasn't got any less steep as a result of the decision."

The challenge to Baldwin St's legacy began around a year ago when Harlech resident Gwyn Headley contacted Guinness World Records after becoming convinced his town's street was steeper.

Stoff says regardless of the result, it is important for Guinness to be transparent and robust with their judging methods "if their records are to have any credibility".

"It may be that that Welsh street is the steepest street in the world, in which case fair dues boys."


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