Tag Archives: map

Finding the Broken Bridge: Part One

13 Sep

One of the key sources in finding the location of the bridge where the accident that nearly cost Thomas KINGHORN his life took place has been a book called The Manchester and Glasgow Road: Vol 2 by Charles George Harper. Published by Chapman & Hall Ltd, London in 1907 it is now available for download on Internet Archive.

Chapter 34 of the book describes the road leading up to the bridge, albeit from the opposite direction from which the mail coach was travelling on that fateful night:

The old Glasgow road, that goes up from Moffat past Meikleholmside, and so across Ericstane Muir, is everything a road should not be. It is steep, narrow, exposed, and rugged, and, except as an object-lesson in what our ancestors had to put up with, is a very undesirable route and one in which no one would wish to find himself. It has not even the merit of being picturesque.

Further along the road things did improve, apparently due to the efforts of Thomas Telford:

The road that Telford made continues onward from Beattock in more suave fashion. It follows the glen of Evan Water for nine miles, and the three of them-road, river, and Caledonian Railway-go amicably side by side under the hills, to Beattock Summit and down to Elvanfoot, where the Elvanfoot Inn of other days now stands as a shooting-lodge.

Finally the author describes the bridge where the accident happened:

Elvanfoot Bridge, that carries the road over the Evan (i.e. Avon) Water, looks down upon a pretty scene of rushing stream, boulders, and ferns, or "furruns," as a Scotsman would enunciate the word.

It all sound quite picturesque and the author even includes a sketch of the scene:

The Broken Bridge

Of course if you have read my earlier blog posts (like this one) you will know that on the night of the 25th October 1808 the bridge gave way and sent the mail coach, passengers, driver, guard and horses plummeting into the swollen river below.

The author describes the incident in some detail, although it is not clear where he got his information from, or whether it can be relied on, although the facts do pretty much tie-up with the newspaper reports. This uncertainty is a shame because the book provides an excellent piece of evidence for the exact location of the bridge:

For many years the bridge was not properly mended, funds being scarce on these roads; and the mail, slowing for it, lost five minutes on every journey. The part that fell may still be traced by the shorter lime stalactites hanging from the repaired arch. It is still known as "Broken Bridge," in addition to "Milestone Brig," from the milestone on it, marking the midway distance between Carlisle and Glasgow: "Carlisle 47 1/2 miles. Glasgow 47 miles."

That milestone would be the key to finding the location of the bridge, in the days before detailed Ordnance Survey maps and long before GPS it is a fixed point on a certain route (the road between Glasgow and Carlisle) and even if it wasn’t there now it would probably be shown on earlier maps. If all else failed I could resort to tracing the route on a map and measuring the distance.

From my bookshelves: Map Addict

14 Jul

Map Addict book cover I have just finished reading the book Map Addict by Mike Parker (published by HarperCollins in 2009) and I must say it is probably the best book I have read this year. I heard the author earlier in the year presenting a series on BBC Radio 4 entitled On the Map, which was enjoyable but disappointingly short. Much of the material from the radio series is also featured in the book, or probably in truth it was the other way round.

I have a strong interest in maps but would not really consider myself to be a map addict (and certainly not to the same extreme as the author), so the subject matter obviously appealed to me, but the book is so wide ranging that you don’t really need to have an obsession with maps and mapping to enjoy it. The style of writing is passionate and engaging, and in some places very personal and funny.

The book covers the origins of the Ordnance Survey, through to the impact of the satnav and internet mapping and many points in between, including how Greenwich became home to the Prime Meridian and the Summer Solstice alignments in the heart of Milton Keynes. The book also describes the many and varied reasons for the creation of maps over the centuries.

It has been a long time since I have found a non-fiction (or fiction) book impossible to put down, but it really was the case with this book. It has made me laugh out loud, as well as making me question my own relationship with maps.

Festival of Postcards: Brighton District

26 Apr

I would like to thank Evelyn at A Canadian Family for hosting the Festival of Postcards and for choosing the theme Geography, which has given me a great excuse to combine so many of my interests in one post.

Brighton District Map

This card was part of The Wrench Series (No. 2715) and the map itself was produced by G. Philip & Son, Ltd. Neither of these facts help me come up with a date for the postcard (I am sure there must be someone out there who has documented all the cards of The Wrench Series).

My interest in both maps and postcards stems from an interest in local history, and now they are both an important feature of my family history research. Without a date it is not going to be a great deal of help in any research, but it contains some wonderful features and names so many places connected to my family history. I would list all the places that have a family connection or a personal connection, but it would take far too long.

Railways are another interest of mine, and this map shows the rail network in Sussex at it’s height. About half of the railway lines on this map were closed about forty years ago. Looking closer you can see that the stations are marked (Sta) and it even shows the line up to Devils Dyke beauty spot.

Another obvious feature of this map/postcard are the brown areas which indicate the hills of the South Downs. The South Downs are the most prominent geographical feature of the Sussex landscape (and a great place for going for walk). We can also see two of the main rivers heading for the coast, the River Adur on the left (west) and the River Ouse on the right (east).

Old Ordnance Survey Maps – The Godfrey Edition

9 Apr

By now it should be obvious to my readers that I love maps. Both historic and modern maps are useful tools for family history research, and of course modern maps are almost essential for a wandering genealogist who doesn’t want to get lost in the middle of nowhere.

There is one type of map which I find irresistible, these are the Old Ordnance Survey Maps published by Alan Godfrey Maps known as The Godfrey Edition. These maps are reprints of historic Ordnance Survey maps for selected areas at a specific point in time. The series now covers not only Great Britain, but has also extended over the channel into France, Belgium and Germany.

Most of the maps are taken from the 1:2500 scale OS maps, usually covering towns and cities (London is particularly well covered) and as well as the map they usually contain historical notes, historic photographs of the area and a brief extract from a local directory. All very helpful in building up a picture of the area your ancestors came from.

Alan Godfrey Maps were at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2010 (see their March newsletter) and I just missed out on getting a copy of their Brighton map, so I took advantage of their online map shop and quickly received my map through the post. They are tremendous value for money as well, at the time of writing they are £2.25 each (excluding postage).

It wasn’t until I found myself exploring their website that I discovered that Alan Godfrey had been awarded a well deserved MBE in the 2010 New Years Honour List for services to heritage.

If like me you find yourself getting lost exploring the minute detail of old maps then you probably already know about Alan Godfrey Maps, but if not give their website a visit and see what you are missing.

Mapping MITCHELL movement on Google Maps

5 Apr

I have spent some time today plotting the baptisms of the children of William Henry and Harriet MITCHELL, the results can be seen below. The map itself is OK, but I may go back and try and change one or two things like the fact that some of the markers are for more than one event, and I think it would be better if there was some way of showing the order of the markers (I could create date markers for each year but that would be too much like hard work). A good start, but definitely something I could improve upon.

So what does the map actually show, well between 1860 and 1882 there were baptisms in nine different parish churches, so that almost certainly means that there were nine different houses they lived in, in fact probably more because they left Bedhampton for Stoughton for a while before returning. Ten different addresses in 22 years seems quite astonishing, especially for someone like me who spent the first 22 years of his life (well more than that) in the same house!

I hadn’t appreciated that there was such a nice north-west to south-east alignment of the parishes, this doesn’t mean that there was a gradually drift south-east towards Chichester, Sussex where they ended up, because they start in the middle and move north-west before heading south-east.

Listed below is the actual data used to create the map (name, baptism date and baptism parish):

Mary Ann MITCHELL        26 Feb 1860  Exton, Hampshire
Henry James MITCHELL      3 Nov 1861  Exton, Hampshire
Robert Charles MITCHELL  25 Jan 1863  Exton, Hampshire
James MITCHELL           18 Dec 1864  Chilcomb, Hampshire
Sarah Ann WRIGHT*        10 May 1866  Easton, Hampshire
William MITCHELL         22 Dec 1867  Kilmeston, Hampshire
Emma Louisa MITCHELL     11 Jul 1869  Meonstoke, Hampshire
Elizabeth MITCHELL        9 Apr 1871  Soberton, Hampshire
George MITCHELL          25 May 1873  Clanfield, Hampshire
Alfred MITCHELL          12 Sep 1875  Clanfield, Hampshire
Albert MITCHELL           5 May 1878  Bedhampton, Hampshire
Harriet Ellen MITCHELL   21 Dec 1879  Stoughton, Sussex
Frederick MITCHELL        5 Feb 1882  Bedhampton, Hampshire

*This is a bit of a strange one, but despite being baptised with her
mother's maiden name I am sure she should be Sarah Ann MITCHELL.
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