Tag Archives: maps

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.

The 2010 South of England Postcard Fair, Woking, Surrey

23 May

It had been quite a while since I had been to a postcard fair at Woking Leisure Centre, in Woking, Surrey, although I did go to the leisure centre in October last year for the family history fair.

The leisure centre is a great venue for a postcard fair (and a family history fair) because it has all the facilities that you could need on site, such as a restaurant and plenty of car parking. There is also plenty of space to move around and most importantly for me it is just a short walk (less than 10 minutes) from Woking railway station.

The fair was held over two days (Friday 21st May and Saturday 22nd May), with a specialist modern postcard fair included on the Saturday as well. There were supposed to be over 75 dealers (spread over more than 110 stalls) over the whole weekend, but I didn’t count them. There were certainly more than enough to keep me busy for almost four hours, before my money ran out and I decided I needed to start heading home.

It wasn’t just postcard dealers, although were in the majority, there were dealers selling accessories (albums and pages), cigarette cards, ephemera and most surprisingly for me someone selling old Ordnance Survey maps, something I had never seen before.

So was it worth me going? I would have to say “yes”. The cost of admission was only £2 (£3 on Friday) and with such a large number of dealers it was inevitable that I would be able to add to my collection. I came away with eight postcards, several of which were incredible bargains, and one Ordnance Survey map (a 6” to the mile, 1912 edition of Henfield, Sussex).

There was however on item which I would have loved to have bought, a professional and probably unique photo of the shop in Hailsham which once belonged to my GEERING ancestors. The photo was a lot later than when my ancestors were there (probably by 60 or 70 years so) and the shop front had changed quite a bit since their time, so I couldn’t really justify the £30 asking price!

The fair was organised by Specialist Postcard & Paper Fairs, their website has details of their upcoming fairs, the next one being at Twickenham on the 16th and 17th July 2010. Time to start saving my pennies!

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.

See Sussex on Google Street View

11 Mar

At long last Google Street View images of Sussex along with most of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have finally arrived on Google Maps.

I saw the Google car several times last year in the town of Horsham, Sussex (where I was working at the time) and read reports that it had been in Brighton as well.

What I didn’t expect was that Google have covered most of rural Sussex (and the rest of the country) as well, including the small village where I live and of course many of the villages where my ancestors lived.

I’ve had a quick look around the county, visiting Henfield, Brighton, Horsham and Sayers Common. I could easily spend hours on there looking at my ancestors homes, retracing some of my walks, or just looking for people doing stupid things!

So get out there (or rather stay in) and start exploring the highways and byways of Sussex.

Magazine Watch: Ancestors (Issue 92: London Special 2010)

27 Jan

The latest edition of Ancestors magazine from The National Archives is a special edition focusing on the city of London. As the editor Simon Fowler says "Many of our ancestors were drawn to the capital for work, education and pleasure – even if they just passed through the city. No other place in Britain had the same irresistible attraction."

There is a great selection of articles in this issue, covering a wide variety of subjects including features on resources at the Society of Genealogists and the Bishopsgate Institute.

It would be hard to pick out my favourite article from this issue, there really are so many fascinating articles. The interview with novelist Lee Jackson has introduced me to a wonderful resource, the Dictionary of Victorian London which was a result of the background research for his historical novels.

My favourite article (and it was a tough choice) has to be the one by the editor Simon Fowler entitled Drunk and Disorderly, which describes the life of Jane Cakebread who "over a 15 year period, received nearly 300 sentences" for being found drunk and disorderly.

Although she became a well-known figure through the media of the time and despite the best efforts of one or two individuals, she ended her time in a pauper asylum, with only one person attending her funeral.

The most helpful article is probably Peter Christian’s Mapping the Metropolis which is an excellent summary of the maps of London which are available online. It is going to take some time to explore all the sources mentioned, although one worth highlighting is the Crace Collection of Maps of London at the British Library.

This has to be one of the best issues of the magazine I have seen for a long time, it is packed with interesting and informative articles concerning the city that plays a key part in so many of our ancestor’s lives.

More maps for my collection

30 Oct

These are my latest finds from my local Oxfam shop. Three Ordnance Survey maps of Sussex dating from around 1948-9. Not particularly old or in top condition, but they were real bargains, or at least I think so, at £1.99 each

Three maps

The scale of all three is the same,  1:25,000 (about 2½ inches to one mile), which is detailed enough to show the locations and outlines of larger buildings and farms. Most of the farms are named as are many of the country roads.

The one on the left is of the Haywards Heath area. Not so many places of ancestral interest here, apart from the asylum and the village of Cuckfield.

The middle one covers an area from Washington and Thakeham in the west to Bramber and Partridge Green. This includes part of Henfield, where the TROWER family were, Ashurst (home to the HAYBITTLES) and part of West Grinstead, showing some of the places where the FAIRS family lived.

The one on the right covers many ancestral villages: Cowfold, Twineham (showing the location of Ridden’s Farm, believed to be home to my WELLER ancestors), Bolney, Slaugham and Warninglid.

Whilst I don’t expect to actually discover much new information from these maps, there is always a chance of finding the location of a previously unidentified family home, that has since been demolished or changed its name.

The real interest comes from studying the maps and comparing with the present-day maps, seeing how things have changed. For example, one thing that immediately stood out was the number of trig points on these old maps, and how few of them survive today.

They had a few others in the shop, from the same series, if they are still there on Monday I may well get another couple, although these were the only ones of real family interest for me. Although I think I need to make a list of the ones I already have because I am starting to build up quite a collection.

Parish maps: where are they?

16 Mar

I can’t believe how difficult it is to get hold of maps of parish boundaries. I have been searching online to find a historic map of parishes in Hampshire, with very little success.

I have a splendid map from The Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies but unfortunately it is approximately A3 size, not really practical for taking to the record office with me and not the sort of thing I want to be scribbling notes on as I go about my research (even if it is only in pencil). If only they or someone else produced a range of county maps that researchers could download and print copies.

I am sure there would be a market, just as there appears to be for old Ordnance Survey reprints, if I had the time I would try and do something on Google Maps or such like. I would love to be able to overlay parish boundaries, registration district boundaries and any of the dozens of other administrative divisions on a present day or historic map.

If anybody knows of a such product, preferably free, then let me know, until then I will make do with my old OS maps.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 118 other followers

%d bloggers like this: