Tag Archives: old maps

Whereabouts Wednesday: old-maps.co.uk

24 Nov

Old-maps.co.uk is one of my favourite websites and an essential tool for family historian. It provides access to digital copies of a large number of UK Ordnance Survey maps (and now some KGB created Russian ones as well). Although the site is meant to be a portal for buying copies of the maps, it has been many years since I used it as such. Instead I use it is a great way to browse old maps, comparing how locations have changed over time and locating buildings long since gone.

The website received a major makeover earlier this year, and it wasn’t just the appearance to was updated, the entire system of view to maps was updated as well. To be honest it was desperately in need of an update, so much so that I used to try to avoid using it, now that it is a much faster and much easier system to use it is hard to stay away.

Searching the maps is simple, on the middle of the left-hand side of the home page is a search box where you enter the place name you are after and after possibly having to narrow this down if there are multiple places of the same name, you are taken to a modern Ordnance Survey map of the area. Here you can scroll around the map, zoom in and out before finally moving the marker to the place you are interested in.

Over on the right-hand side of the screen you will see a range of maps that cover the selected area, for a variety of time periods and map scales. Click on the one that interests you and the main window changes to the old map, it does take a while to load up but it is worth the wait. Once loaded you can do some basic scrolling and zooming in, but to really make the most of the image you will want to click the orange ‘enhanced zoom’ button, which uses Adobe Flash to provide more options.

This is the best bit, once in enhanced zoom mode you can really zoom in close and see some great detail, you can even see the section of map full screen (for the bigger picture). Obviously the sections of map are quite small and they are watermarked to prevent copying, but you can still learn an awful lot about a place from just looking at the maps.

The website is not perfect, some of the joins in the maps are rather obvious and it would be nice to know the full reference (sheet number) of the map you are looking at. The maps are quite expensive to buy, but they are at least cheaper for a digital version than a printed version, also watch their twitter feed and facebook page for discount codes and offers.

Picture Postcard Parade: The Warren, West Dean

7 Oct

It is always rewarding to be able to be able to identify a view on a postcard and I have had a couple of successes recently, and yesterday I was able to pinpoint the exact location of the postcard below.

The Warren, West Dean

It wasn’t too difficult with this one and the name printed on the front is a bit of a giveaway, but I have been able to pinpoint the exact spot in West Dean, (West) Sussex where the photographer was pointing his camera, using Google Maps and Old Maps.

These cottages are just north-west of main road from Chichester to Midhurst that runs through the village, near The Selsey Arms pub and West Dean school. The photographer was looking in a north-easterly direction, and although most of the buildings are the same there are a lot more trees now.

Several generations of my MITCHELL ancestors lived at Warren Farm/Warren Barn Farm which isn’t actually shown on this view, but I am sure that there will have been relations of one sort or another living in these houses at some time in their life.

Of course I was down in West Dean last Saturday so I should really have got my act together earlier and made the effort to go and get a photograph as it is now, but I have only just got around to looking into this postcard. The card itself was posted in 1918 from West Dean, to an address near Alton, Hampshire but despite have ancestors in both West Dean and Alton it doesn’t look like they are anything to do with me.

It is amazing what you can find with Google Street View

27 Sep

I was lying in bed yesterday morning reading the latest edition of Picture Postcard Monthly pondering their Picture Postcard Puzzles section, which features postcards with views whose location is unknown. I was thinking that it must be a lot easier to identify postcards now with the advent of Google Street View.

It was then that I cast my mind back to one family postcard in particular (shown below) which has been a bit of a mystery. The postcard shows a woman standing outside a quite distinctive small building. The quality of the postcard is not good enough to see any facial features, but I felt that if I could identify the building that would be a good start.

The Lodge, Ord House, Ord, Northumberland

Although this came from the TROWER side of my family tree the location didn’t look like anywhere in Sussex, certainly not one of the two main TROWER homes of Henfield or Sayers Common.

It is not clear what the building is, it looks a bit like a chapel perhaps, or some sort of community building like a village hall. It seems to be a little small for a house, but it is not easy to see how far back the building goes. One important feature is the material that the building is made of, it is almost certainly stone, rather than the more traditional Sussex building materials of flint or brick.

As I lay in bed pondering the image it struck me that there was one branch that I hadn’t previously considered, not actually a TROWER family but the family of Fanny FAIRS the sister of my 2x great-grandmother Annie TROWER (née FAIRS). She married Thomas Arthur BARRY in Henfield, Sussex in November 1894, but they lived in Northumberland at The Lodge, Ord House, Ord (Thomas was a coachman, presumably for whoever was living at Ord House).

I didn’t actually leap out of bed, but when I fired up my computer later in the morning I headed to Google Maps and searched for Ord House. Once the little orange Street View man hit the street I was convinced that this was the right place, because there was a nice long stone wall and stone buildings all over the place.

It took a couple of minutes exploring to find the building, unfortunately the Google Street View car didn’t drive right past the building, but close enough for me positively identify it.

I had a quick check on old-maps.co.uk and this building was identified as “Lodge”, confirming that this was the house of Thomas and Fanny BARRY, and that the woman is probably my 3x great-aunt.

It is a great feeling when you can put a name to a photo or postcard (I can’t be definite about the person, but I can about the place) and a really great way to start a Sunday morning!

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