Return to index page

Appendix Six - Maps

Toward the end of the eighteenth century cannons were built that could fire further than the crew could see, this meant that accurate maps were required. Ever fearful of rebellion, particularly in view of events in Scotland, the Government set up the Board of Ordnance in 1795 and they began to draw up accurate maps of the entire country. The word ordnance is the military term for supplies but is usually associated with cannons and other forms of heavy artillery.

The survey teams started with two carefully measured base lines, one in the north another in the south, and a complete set of maps was drawn up from each of these. When they reached each others respective base lines the two sets of maps were found to be surprisingly accurate. The first map to be published was of Kent, in 1803 and by 1840 the whole of England south of a line from Preston to Hull was drawn at one inch to the mile. Subsequently larger scale maps were adopted and maps of Ireland, Northern England and Scotland at six inches to the mile were drawn up. One thing to beware of when using Ordnance Survey maps for research is that the early maps of 1800's were brought up to date in the 1850's and 1860's to show railways and the expansion of towns but they often retained their original date, the changes were added but the maps were not drawn afresh.

Maps proved very popular with the general public and after a successful experiment in drawing up a very large scale map of St. Helens in 1844 similar large scale maps of towns were systematically drawn up for any town of over about four thousand people. For researching your local station the first map to look for would be the twenty five inch to the mile maps from the later nineteenth century (the local reference library usually holds a set of these). Later maps contained less detail on the shape of buildings but more on who owned what, so do not assume that the original bay windows on the station masters house were subsequently removed. Note that track plans were not always accurate on Ordnance Survey maps, and in any case these relate only to the date the map was drawn up or amended, beware!

Go to top of page

International Good Guys ~ Making the world a better place since 1971 ~ Site maintained by Disabled Access to Computing
All material Copyright © Mike Smith 2003 unless otherwise credited