Posts Tagged ‘map’


June 24, 2016

Isfield – not to be confused with my childhood home of Ifield – is an important place to me. I can trace direct ancestors, baptised at the church, back into the 17th century. Isfield is in East Sussex. It’s about 5 and a bit miles north east of Lewes and is, in many ways, an ordinary enough place but to me it is special. Right through into the 1960s I visited relatives in Isfield but if I have any now, I don’t know them.

Unsurprisingly, when I was really into my own family history, ten or more years ago, I acquired postcards of relevant places including Isfield to supplement the family ones I had. This is one I acquired.


This attractively tinted photo shows the forge at Isfield. I have a detailed 1899 map of the area and we can see ‘smithy’ marked on it.


Now I guess my great grandfather’s brother, Harry, learned his trade here. The 1871 census lists him as a blacksmith, living with his parents in Isfield. Later he worked in neighbouring Ringmer but he returned to Isfield after his wife died.

Isfield was the place three sisters from Butley in Suffolk happened to come to. I really don’t know why, but Sarah Ann Crosby – mentioned in yesterday’s blog post – came, met and married my great grandfather and they lived the rest of their lives in or quite near to Isfield.



When politics mattered

June 5, 2016

We are less than three weeks away from voting, here in the UK on whether we should stay in the European Union or not. I certainly don’t want to be too political, but I do have a firm view based on friendship between nations rather than antagonism and I’ll leave the current debate almost at that. What I’m looking at is a map of the results of a General Election back in 1885. I love maps of all kinds. This flimsy old map joins the ranks of battered old relics.


Politics clearly mattered to some back then. This map, telling people the results, was produced in three versions of which this was the cheapest – a flimsy sheet of paper which cost just one shilling. A person who earned a shilling in 1885 would get something like £41 for the same work today so it wasn’t that cheap.

Just to make a point about lack of change, lets look at an ad on the back for another map.


It sounds as though Turkey in Europe was a talking point then and now!

The map is large and hard to photograph well.


Ireland was, of course, part of the United Kingdom then which meant we had a total of 670 constituencies. Most of England, Wales and Scotland appear to be in red and blue which may seem familiar (in England and Wales) in 2016. But back then red meant liberal.

I’ll now take a look at my constituency – East Wiltshire or Devizes.


It’s coloured blue for Conservative – no change there then!

But the map also has the voting figures, around the edge, and here we have the figures for Wiltshire.


So our MP was W H Long but it was a close run thing for he had less than 100 votes more than W Barber, his Liberal rival. We can see that all the other Wiltshire constituencies returned Liberals. I note with interest that Lord Thynne was the defeated Conservative in Westbury. His descendant has lost more than once standing as a Wessex Nationalist.

But we also note the tiny size of the vote which looks tiny. Well women had not been given the vote in 1885 so that cut potential voters by 50%.. Only two thirds of men were allowed to vote which ended up meaning the electorate was only about 18% of the whole population.

It’s an interesting map which sheds light on some fascinating history. It doesn’t have much to say about the upcoming referendum though.

The London and South Western Railway

March 21, 2016

As a kid I lived in the south east of England. Of course, back then our railways were nationalised but the stock we saw reflected history. I was accustomed to seeing locos built by the London Brighton and South Coast Railway which had ceased to exist some 25 years before I was born. I lived on what had been that company’s network so no wonder it was always my favourite old company – the one I deemed built the best locos and had the class coaches.

But the London and South Western Railway ran it a close second. That company had much longer main lines and needed big, powerful locos. These had not survived on the old Brighton network for the main lines had all been electrified.

Given a free choice of railway memorabilia to own, I’d always pick a Brighton item. But sometimes things just come your way and this carriage print showing a map of the old London and South Western system was something my sister had (probably hoping to sell) and I have inherited it,


We can pick out that main line down to Exeter which looks so straight on the map and from there to the west we have the line that curves round Dartmoor to Plymouth. Had that line not been closed the sea wall being washed away on the ‘other’ line at Dawlish would not have been quite so disastrous. Lines also head off to the North Devon and Cornish coast.

There are a couple of inserts to show more detail.

image004Lines around the Solent and near Plymouth.

image006I don’t know much about this map but I assume it dates from before 1923 so it is more than 90 years old. I do know that Bude didn’t join the rail network until 1898 so that gives the map a 25 year window.

A very battered relic

October 22, 2015

You have to forgive yourself past mistakes and I certainly made one when repairing an old map with sellotape. I’d have been about 12 at the time so that was over fifty years ago.

I bought the map – probably just about given away – at a jumble sale. It was a map of the railway network of Great Britain and it showed the new grouping.

Before the First World War there had been dozens of privately owned railway companies. My favourite company from that time (always ancient history to me) was the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway. I lived roughly in the middle of what had been its area and even though my memories start 30 years after the demise of the old company there were still locos and carriages from that long gone era around.

During World War One the railways were taken over by the government and then, in 1923, they were returned into private ownership. But it was thought that small companies, like my favoured Brighton one, would never have the resources to manage well so all of the dozens of old companies were merged into the ’Big 4’. These were largely regionally based. Again, my favourite was the one in the area I lived and was called the Southern Railway which incorporated the old Brighton company, along with others and it operated trains south of London from Kent to Cornwall.

My map was to show this new grouping of railways. As this took place in 1923 the map must date from about then.

That’s the map cover today showing my awful sellotape damage.

image002 And here’s a little section of the map.


The lines shown in red are those of the Southern Railway whilst the green routes belonged to the Great Western Railway. One line is shown in red and blue dashes. This was a joint line owned by the Southern Railway and the huge London, Midland and Scottish Railway. Each of the counties is shown in colour so here we see parts of Devon, Somerset and Dorset.

Just for interest here’s much the same area 90 years on, in 2013.


There are a lot fewer lines than there used to be!


April 2, 2014

Found between the books

I mentioned yesterday that we were decorating. Bookshelves have to be emptied and that means the odd treasure turns up.

Here’s one of them – a Metropolitan Railway map of London.


That’s just the cover. The map itself opens out.


It certainly makes sure the Metropolitan lines, shown in red, are highly visible.

The map doesn’t carry a date, but there are clues.


Finsbury Park station tells us it is for the L&NE Rly. The London and North Eastern Railway was formed in 1923 and lasted until 1948. However, the old Metropolitan Railway became a part of the London Passenger Transport Board in 1933. So that really gives the map a date of between 1923 and 1933. For those who like the strange or bizarre items, the map shows the Brill branch.


Between 1933 and its closure in 1935, Brill, a remote village in the Chilterns, was served by London Underground trains!

This map has other useful information.


Cheap fares to Metro-land could take customers to pretty villages and some are shown on the back of the map.


But for people who need the information, central London is explained too


That’s quite a historic piece.

Map cover art – alive and well

February 10, 2014

A couple of days ago I featured A Christmas 2013 present I received about map cover art. I’m now pleased to report that the art of map cover illustration is alive and well.

Here is another of my Christmas presents from December 2013. It is a map. It covers an area where I live but is an updated version of a 19th century map.


What Cassini, the publishers, have done is taken the old survey which dates from the early 19th century and enlarged the scale so that it  can precisely match the current Landranger series of OS maps. And as they say, you can discover the landscape of the past.

And yes, an interesting picture has been put on the front, this time showing Salisbury Cathedral.

Actually, the old series maps of the 19th century were always something of a nightmare. They lacked colour and used shading to try to indicate hills. The contour lines used now are much easier to cope with.

Here is a section of the map.


I have deliberately chosen what might be called a quiet area of the map. The Salisbury or Hampshire River Avon is running more or less south through the map. On either side of the valley we rise up onto Salisbury Plain. Busy areas, like Salisbury itself are very crowded and would have been even worse at the original one inch to one mile scale.

Another Christmas Book

February 8, 2014

Christmas 2013 must be a distant memory for many. But I, being the lucky chap I am, get a lot of books at Christmas.  Some are new but my sister is expert at finding interesting second hand books. This one, which has reached the top of the pile, is just such a one. It sounds about as unlikely as a book could be, but in fact, I rather like it and have even, in the past, had a similar themed post on this blog. That was about a French map and you can click here to read it.


Yes, indeed! It’s an illustrated history of map cover art. Well, I do love maps and although nerds aren’t supposed to think much of art, maybe it proves I’m not a true nerd, for I do appreciate much art and I have always thought the covers of good old Ordnance Survey maps (the best maps ever) are really very attractive.

This book is lavishly illustrated and I’ll pick on a few. This one reminds me of childhood, for my dad had maps with this style of cover. They were the tough maps, mounted on some kind of woven cloth material. They were maps to withstand the rigours of hiking.


I should say that maps with such covers were well out of date in my childhood. This captures the 1930s with a pipe smoking hiker, some cyclists and some motor vehicles – implying the map was good for all. It’s a delightful and well thought out image.

My own map buying life (other than 2nd hand at jumble sales) began in the 1960s. This was the era of stark simplicity in map design. As a student I lived in London. One of the map covers shown in the book I bought then (and still have).


I could suggest this is almost ‘pop art’ in style with simple areas of bold colours and silhouette images of features of London.

Another map I have from the same era is of Dartmoor in Devon. The cover of that is illustrated as well.


It’s a similar theme for colours, but has separate Dartmoor images. I wouldn’t rate that cover these days.

I’ll finish with a map I don’t have, although we did have one in my childhood family at one time. It’s the O S map of Roman Britain


This cover was, according to the book, in use from 1924 to 1990 – the longest serving cover ever. It fits the need perfectly.

As I said, my sister has real skill in selecting these items. She gives herself plenty of opportunity, for she trades in second hand goods – collectables and antiques so is regularly patrolling stalls at car boot sales.

Brittany – Castel Meur

April 16, 2013

This is going to start by being a map recommendation. I certainly don’t go out of my way to endorse products. My wife and I fight very shy of wearing clothes which proclaim who the manufacturer is, sometimes going as far as unpicking embroidered names from second hand clothes. But when it comes to maps, I want the best. In the UK that means Ordnance Survey and I was really lucky that someone I knew made a mistake which ended up with me being given all of the 1:50000 series of maps covering the entire country. They are now quite old and out of date, but so so useful.

But our Ordnance Survey is not matched elsewhere and we have been fairly frequent visitors to France. It’s harder over there – well, nobody has given me maps for the whole country and it is a much bigger area than our little UK. Once in an area, we do our utmost to buy the local maps at a scale of 1:100 000 or about an inch on the map represents about a mile and a half of reality. These are made by a company called IGN (Institiut Géographique National)and give you something like a 100 kilometre square (That’s about 60 miles). Here’s one of them.


I have to say it looks as though we bought this one in England for a pencilled price says £3.50. On this occasion, back in 2002, we knew where we were heading for. That isn’t always the case.

As we can see, the map has a pretty picture – a house weirdly wedged between rocks. Underneath, in tiny writing it tells us this is ‘environs de Tréguier’. Well, being quite close, we had to go and find this strange house.


We weren’t so lucky with the weather as the map photographer But it really is there. It was built in 1861 and was made famous by a postcard although the house is still privately owned. It is sometimes known as Castel Meur.

Being on a map and now well documented on the web, I suppose it isn’t unusual, but it is somewhat off the beaten track and on the other side of the house there is the wild Atlantic Ocean.

It isn’t easy to find! I dare say getting there is easy these days, with sat nav (that’s a technology I haven’t taken to). Otherwise, you’ll certainly need good maps!