[ISHMap-List] Book: 'The Ordnance Survey in the 19th century'

Oliver, Richard R.R.Oliver at exeter.ac.uk
Mon Mar 24 20:41:55 CET 2014

[The usual apologies for cross-posting:]

The Charles Close Society for the Study of Ordnance Survey Maps is pleased to announce the publication of its latest book:

Richard Oliver, THE ORDNANCE SURVEY IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY: MAPS MONEY AND THE GROWTH OF GOVERNMENT, London: The Charles Close Society 2014, 25.5 cm, pp xxvii, 607, 16 pp of colour plates, hardback, ISBN 978-1-870-598-32-3, normal price in United Kingdom GBP 45.00 [including postage and packing]
[Orders from outside the United Kingdom will incur a greater cost, due to shipping charges]
To order direct from the Charles Close Society, please go to:

The Ordnance Survey (OS) is one of the world’s best-known state mapping agencies. Whilst its origins are well-known, in a mixture of late 18th century geodetic activity and military topographic survey, until now its development during much of the century after 1815 has been less intensively studied.
The book starts by reviewing various mapping projects in Britain and Ireland that were to prove ‘occasions’ rather than becoming, as the Ordnance Survey did, an ‘institution’ on a permanent basis. The book then goes on to describe and analyse how the OS developed from a small organisation that concentrated on national triangulation and survey for a national map published at the 1:63,360 (‘one-inch’) scale into one whose most important task was the mapping of Ireland at the 1:10,560 (‘six-inch’ scale), to facilitate the reform of local taxation, in 1824-46. The process is then described of how the example of the Irish mapping and the needs of geological exploration for economic development led to the adoption of the 1:10,560 scale for northern Britain in 1840; although not officially sanctioned in 1840, 1:1056 was used for urban areas, and the reasons for this are considered. Dissatisfaction with the slow pace of the work led to investigations that concluded that the most satisfactory survey scale for Britain would be 1:2500, except in moorland areas, where the scale would be 1:10,560, and larger urban areas, where the scale would be 1:500. Whilst such large scales as 1:2500 were used in Europe, there they had the justification of forming the basis of a national cadaster such as did not exist in Britain. Instead, the 1:2500 was adopted because it seemed to offer better value for money than did a smaller-scale survey; 1:10,560, 1:63,360 and other mapping could be and was published, using the 1:2500 as a basis. The value-for-money argument was a consequence of administrative and political developments in the 1850s that are explored in detail.  The policy adopted in 1855 was pursued until 1894; in 1863 a resurvey of southern Britain at 1:2500 was authorised, and in 1887 a similar resurvey of Ireland was authorised. One potential use for the 1:2500 in Britain was land registration to assist territorial transactions, but in practice this developed slowly; in Ireland the 1:2500 was adopted in order to facilitate land ownership changes. This book breaks new ground in its interrelating of developments in Britain and Ireland.
Although the principle of scale was settled in the 1850s, the practices of funding and maintenance continued to be troublesome, and led to the abandoning of mapping of urban areas at larger than 1:2500 after 1894. In 1910 the 1:2500 in Britain received a belated ‘cadastral’ justification in Britain when it was adopted as the framework for taxation of land values, but by 1914 the preliminary valuation was still in progress and the tax had not been implemented. By that time the prospect of self-government in Ireland indicated that the OS was likely to be split into separate organisations for Britain and Ireland. The OS had reached maturity by the mid 1900s, but then its fragmenting was in prospect
The illustrations include both portraits of nearly all the Directors of the OS up to 1914 – several of which have not been published before – and a wide variety of map extracts.

A note on the author: from 1989 to 2009 Richard Oliver was Research Fellow in the History of Cartography at the University of Exeter; since then he has held an honorary position there. He has worked with Professor Roger Kain on tithe, enclosure and other ‘public purpose’ mapping of England and Wales, and on urban cartography of Britain, and has also written extensively on OS maps, most notably Ordnance Survey Maps: a Concise Guide for Historians, the third edition of which was published by the Charles Close Society in 2013.

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lazarus.elte.hu/pipermail/ishm/attachments/20140324/45da143f/attachment.html>

More information about the ISHM mailing list