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Environment / Climate change

Bored? Here are some century-old maps of Britain to play with

Do you like history?  Do you like maps? Then today is your lucky day.

Those nice people at the National Library of Scotland’s map department have been spending their days scanning in historic maps of the UK, dating from the late 19th century onwards. (H/T: Lisa Riemers.)

I’m fact, it’s not just one set of maps: it’s a whole series of different ones, which you can access via a drop down.

So you can see that, around the turn of the 20th century, Edinburgh was a fraction of the size it was now, not extending all the way to the Forth, or beyond Arthur’s Seat. (Like all the maps in this post, it’ll expand if you click it.)

Image: Ordnance Survey Six Inch, 1888-1913.

Manchester used to have a lot more stations than it does now:

Image: Ordnance Survey Six Inch, 1888-1913.

While we’re on tour, here’s Liverpool:

Image: Ordnance Survey Six Inch, 1888-1913.

But it’s in London where there’s the widest variety of maps to play with. Interestingly this old Ordnance Survey map eschews the district names that are familiar today (Bankside, Borough, etc.), and uses parish names instead.

Image: Ordnance Survey 25 inch, 1890s-1920s.

The website also allows you to see how things have changed, by comparing the maps with modern street maps or satellite images. (Thanks, Bing!)

So you can explore ye olde Essex village of Walthamstow

Image: unidentified 1:1056 map, dating from 1893-1895, plus Bing streetmap.

Or you can see how at the turn of the 20th century Hampstead Heath led out onto open fields.

Image: Ordnance Survey Six Inch, 1888-1913, plus Bing streetmap.

You can see the streets destroyed to build that much loved urban motorway, the Westway:

Image: unidentified 1:1056 map, dating from 1893-1895, plus Bing satellite image.

Or the streets of terraced houses that were destroyed in the blitz. After the war these streets were demolished to create Shoreditch Park.

Image: OS Six inch, 1888-1913, plus Bing streetmap.

You can explore the lot here. Enjoy. 


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All maps courtesy of the National Library of Scotland.
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