Map of the week – World adopts Greenwich Mean Time

Greenwich meridian chosen as the official prime meridian.

From the 17th century onwards Greenwich, home to the national observatory, had been the centre for the study of time as well as the skies, the link being the need for accurate timekeeping for navigation. Accordingly, a meridian at the Greenwich Observatory(originally the site of Greenwich Castle, constructed by the Duke of Gloucester, in 1433) was set, by the British, as the zero point of reference for determining time and longitude.

GreenwichObservatory
Greenwich Mean Time was first adopted across the island of Great Britain by the Railway Clearing House in 1847 to standardise train timetables, and by almost all railway companies by the following year. By the end of 1880 GMT had been legally adopted throughout the island of Great Britain.

In 1884 the US Government called a conference to determine a standard for world time keeping. After deliberation the Washington conference decided on the meridian at Greenwich as the reference point. Forty-one delegates from 25 nations met and by the end of the conference, Greenwich had won the prize of Longitude 0º by a vote of 22 in favour to 1 against (San Domingo), with two abstentions (France and Brazil).
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Map of the week – Why troops “break step” when crossing a bridge.

Broughton Bridge was a suspended-deck suspension bridge built in 1826 to span the River Irwell between Broughton and Pendleton, now in Salford, Greater Manchester. It was one of the first suspension bridges constructed in Europe.
broughton
On 12 April 1831, the bridge collapsed, reportedly owing to mechanical resonance induced by troops marching over the bridge in step. A detachment of 74 men from the 60th Rifle Corps were returning to their barracks in Salford by way of Broughton bridge marching four abreast. At first the bridge begin to vibrate in time with their footsteps. Finding the vibration a pleasant sensation some of them started to whistle a marching tune, and they began to “humour it by the manner in which they stepped”, causing the bridge to vibrate even more. As a result a bolt in one of the stay-chains snapped, causing the bridge to collapse at one end, throwing about 40 of the men into the river. None of the men were killed, but 20 were injured, including six who suffered severe injuries including broken arms and legs. As a result of the incident, the British Army issued an order that troops should “break step” when crossing a bridge. A requirement that is still in place to this day.

Map of the week – The Great London Beer Flood of 1814

On October 17 1814 tragedy struck as nine people lost their lives in tidal wave of beer. The Horse Shoe Brewery of Messrs. Meux & Co. at the junction of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street (where the Dominion Theatre now stands) was an impressive collection of buildings with enormous beer-vats towering above the roof tops.

OxfordStreet
(map shown: OS County Series 1:2,500)

Every one of these vats held 3,550 barrels of beer each amounting to more than a million pints.

At around half past five on the evening of Monday October 17 an iron strap binding one of the giant barrels snapped, causing the weakened vessel to split, releasing its entire contents. Worse was to come as the force of its disintegration ruptured nearby vats, releasing more than 300,000 gallons of beer that smashed down the brewery wall and surged through the streets. The surrounding area, known as St Giles Rookery, was a multitude of small tenements, crowded with tenants of the poorer classes. Several people were found drowned in their basements; one was crushed in a pub demolished by the wave; two children were also described as having been swept away by the onrushing wall of beer. One source also tells of a man who died days later due to alcohol poisoning after succumbing to the lakes of beer left behind.

Map of the week – Bournemouth 1811

Map of the week – Bournemouth 1811
Bournemouth

Ordnance Survey Old Series 1:50,000  (and present day OS 1:50,000)

At the start of the 19th century the area was largely a remote and barren heathland, used only by smugglers and revenue troops.

A man called Tregonwell is regarded as the first inhabitant of Bournemouth. In 1810 he visited the beach with his wife. She loved the area and persuaded him to build the first house. By 1840 a small village had sprung up. By 1851 Bournemouth was still a little village with a population of only 695, but it was growing rapidly and by 1861 the population had grown to 1,707.

The railway reached Bournemouth in 1870, which caused the town to boom. By 1881 the population of Bournemouth stood at 16,859. Ten years later it reached 37,000.

In two hundred years Bournemouth has grown from Tregonwell’s single house to a population of 183,491 making it the largest settlement in Dorset. With Poole to the west and Christchurch in the east, Bournemouth forms the South East Dorset conurbation, which has a total population of over 400,000.

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