Cassini’s map of week – Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace 1878 – Ordnance Survey County Series 1:2,500

buckinghampalace2

Originally known as Buckingham House, the building which forms the core of today’s palace was a large townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1705 on a site which had been in private ownership for at least 150 years.

It was acquired by George III in 1761 as a private residence for Queen Charlotte, and known as “The Queen’s House”. During the 19th century it was enlarged, principally by architects John Nash and Edward Blore, forming three wings around a central courtyard.

Buckingham Palace finally became the official royal palace of the British monarch on the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837. The last major structural additions were made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including the East front, which contains the well-known balcony on which the royal family traditionally congregates to greet crowds outside. However, the palace chapel was destroyed by a German bomb in World War II; the Queen’s Gallery was built on the site and opened to the public in 1962 to exhibit works of art from the Royal Collection.

buckinghampalace-todayThe Palace at the time of the above map had a facade of soft French stone that became blackened over the years due to pollution. The familiar white Portland stone facade of the Palace that we see today wasn’t added until 1913 by Architect Sir Aston Webb.

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SS Great Western & Bristol Docks

Map: Ordnance Survey County Series 1:2500 – 1886
SS Great Western
SS Great Western – the largest vessel in the world.

19th July 1837 – Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s 236 ft steamship, the Great Western, was launched at Bristol. She was the largest vessel in the world. On the same day in 1843, his ‘Great Britain’, the first Atlantic liner built of iron, was launched at Wapping Dock.The Great Western was an iron-strapped, wooden, side-wheel paddle steamer, with four masts to hoist the auxiliary sails. The sails were not just to provide auxiliary propulsion, but also were used in rough seas to keep the ship on an even keel and ensure that both paddle wheels remained in the water, driving the ship in a straight line. The first steamship purpose-built for crossing the Atlantic, and the initial unit of the Great Western Steamship Company. She was the largest passenger ship in the world from 1837 to 1839.

In 1838 after sailing to London, where she was fitted with two side-lever steam engines. the Great Western set sail for Avonmouth to start her maiden voyage to New York. The ship hadn’t gone far when a fire broke out in the engine room. During the confusion Brunel fell 20 feet, and was injured. The fire was extinguished, and the damages to the ship were minimal, but Brunel had to be put ashore at Canvey Island. As a result of the accident, more than 50 passengers cancelled their bookings for the Bristol-New York voyage and when the Great Western finally departed Avonmouth, only 7 passengers were aboard.

The Great western’s first voyage in April 1838 was set to be a race with the British and American Steam Navigation Company’s rival ship the SS Sirius but the fire delayed the Great western’s start. Even with a four-day head start, Sirius only narrowly beat Great Western, arriving in New York on 22 April. When coal ran low, the crew of the Sirius burned 5 drums of resin. The Great Western arrived the following day, with 200 tons of coal still on board. Sirius is often credited as the first winner of the Blue Riband (even though the term Blue Riband was not coined until years later) at 8.03 knots. However, Sirius only held the record for a day because Great Western’s voyage was faster at 8.66 knots.

Still capable of making record Blue Riband voyages as late as 1843. Great Western worked to New York for 8 years until her owners went out of business. She was sold to the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company and was scrapped in 1856 after serving as a troop ship during the Crimean War.

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Map of the week – Dracula, Mercury, Gold, and a Fat Duck

Bray Studios

Map: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 County Series from 1875 – Bray, Berkshire.

Down Place country house (1750) and Oakley Court, a castellated and turreted Gothic mansion (1857) were built on the banks of the River Thames between the towns of Bray and Windsor and went on to find fame and fortune as Bray Studios.
In 1951 Hammer Film Productions settled on the derelict Down Place as a way of avoiding the need to build sets and the large grounds were ideal for location work for their budget horror films. The following year Hammer decided to build a full studio in the grounds of Down Place, and name it Bray Studios, after the local town. Oakley Court was acquired in the 1960’s and became an ideal setting for many Bray productions.
Films included the 1950’s films The Quatermass Xperiment, The Curse of Frankenstein, Dracula and the Mummy. The 1960’s saw The Brides of Dracula, The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll, The Curse of the Werewolf, and many, many more. The last Hammer production made at Bray was The Mummy’s Shroud, which wrapped on 21 October 1966.
Bray went on to produce many other films including the St Trinians series and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, as well as special effects and model work for TV and film. including Doctor Who, Space 1999, Alien, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and Terry Gilliam’s 2009 film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

Due to the size of its sound stages and it’s relative remoteness, Bray Studios also became a popular rehearsal studio where many artists fine-tuned their performances before going on tour. From Led Zeppelin in the 1970’s to The Kings of Leon in 2008, by way of Queen’s Freddy Mercury tribute concert, Cream, George Harrison, Radiohead and Amy Winehouse, the studios became home to many of the worlds top bands.

On the opposite side of the Thames lies Eton Dorney, the scene of rowing triumphs in the 2012 Olympic rowing events, where Team GB won four gold medals, two silver and three bronze.

The town of Bray is also famed for its culinary delights, boasting two of the four restaurants in the United Kingdom to have three Michelin stars, The Waterside Inn founded by the Roux brothers, and Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck restaurant.
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Map of the Week – Pont Britannia

Pont Britannia (Britannia Bridge)
Brittania BridgeMap: 1889 – County Series 1:2500

To celebrate St David’s Day, Cassini has been exploring our collection of historical maps of Wales and has found one of the ground breaking engineering feats of the eighteen hundreds.

Pont Britannia (Welsh for Britannia Bridge), a bridge across the Menai Strait between the island of Anglesey and the mainland of Wales, opened on 5 March 1850. When built it had the longest continuous wrought iron span in the world.

It was originally designed and built by Robert Stephenson as a tubular bridge of wrought iron rectangular box-section spans for carrying rail traffic.

In 1840, a Treasury committee decided in favour of Railway pioneer George Stephenson’s proposals, which included the Britannia Bridge, over those of Thomas Telford and final consent for the route was given in 1845. Stephenson’s son Robert was appointed as the chief engineer.

Britannia Box SectionThe design required the Menai strait to remain accessible to shipping and the bridge to be sufficiently stiff to support the heavy loading associated with trains, so Stephenson decided to constructed a bridge with two main spans of 460-feet (140m) long rectangular iron tubes, each weighing 1,500 tons, supported by masonry piers, the centre one of which was built on the Britannia Rock.

Two additional spans of 230-feet (70m) length completed the bridge making a 1,511-feet (461m) long continuous girder. The trains were to run inside the tubes. Up until then the longest wrought iron span had been 31 feet 6 inches (9.6 m).

When first conceived, the tubular bridge was to have been suspended from cables strung through the openings at the tops of the towers. However, after engineering calculations and tests of the finished tubes it was decided that they were strong enough by themselves to carry the weight of the trains.

The bridge was decorated by four large lions sculpted in limestone by John Thomas, two at either end. These were immortalised in the following Welsh rhyme by the bard John Evans (1826–1888):

Four fat lions
Without any hair
Two on this side
And two over there
Pedwar llew tew
Heb ddim blew
Dau ‘ochr yma
A dau ‘ochr drew

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Map of the week – The Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company

The Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company, HMS Warrior and London’s only lighthouse

The Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company Limited (1837-1912) was a shipyard and iron works straddling the mouth of Bow Creek at its confluence with the River Thames. Its main activity was shipbuilding, but it also diversified into civil engineering, marine engines, cranes, electrical engineering and the auto industry.

thames-iron-works

lighthouseThe company produced ironwork for Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Royal Albert Bridge over the Tamar in the 1850s, and notably the world’s first all-iron warship, HMS Warrior, designed and built for the Royal Navy as a response to the first iron-clad warship, the French Gloire. The tender to build the new iron-cased frigate was awarded to the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company and after 35 months she was launched on 29 December 1860, although not without difficulty. As a result of the coldest winter for 50 years, Warrior was found to have frozen to the slipway and six tugs were required to haul her into the river.

Trinity Buoy Wharf, by the confluence of the River Thames and Bow Creek, is also the site of London’s only lighthouse, although the lighthouse no longer functions. Designed in 1864-6 by James Douglass for Trinity House, it was used for lighting trials for Trinity House’s lights around England & Wales and for training prospective lighthouse keepers. Michael Faraday also carried out a number of experiments there. Sometimes known as Faraday’s Lighthouse it is more commonly known as Bow Creek Lighthouse.

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Map of the week – Stratford 1894 (Olympic Stadium)

and the crowd goes wild at the Bone Works end!

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Map of the week – Stratford 1894  OS County Series 1:10,000

For those lucky enough to have a ticket to the Olympic stadium you may find yourselves sitting in what could be called the ‘Bone Works’ end.
It is common practice for the stands of modern stadia to be named after features and locations in the local environment. By looking at this County Series map from 1894, two years before the first modern games were held in Athens, you can see how the history of the landscape could influence the naming of the present day stadium.
So, if you hear people mentioning the Knobshill stand overlooking the one hundred metres track, the Distillery stand opposite or even the Tallow Works end, you’ll know that, for some, Stratford’s past lives on.  Find maps of your area.