Map of the month – Webb, Dover & JellyFish

Captain nWebbDover, Kent (MAP: OS Revised New 1:50,000 – published in 1898)

Captain Matthew Webb was born at Dawley in Shropshire, one of twelve children. He acquired his ability to swim in the River Severn at Coalbrookdale.

At age twelve Webb joined the merchant navy, starting with a three-year apprenticeship. Later, whilst serving as second mate on the Cunard Line ship Russia, he attempted to rescue a sailor, who had fallen from the rigging of the ship, by diving into the sea in the mid-Atlantic. Webb swam for more than half-an-hour, but the man was never found. Webb’s daring won him an award of £100 and the first Stanhope Medal, and made him a hero of the British press.

In 1873, Webb was serving as captain of the steamship Emerald when he read an account of the failed attempt by J. B. Johnson to swim the English Channel. He became inspired to try himself.

On 12 August 1875, he made his first cross-Channel swimming attempt, but strong winds and poor sea conditions forced him to abandon the swim. Just 10 days after this first abortive attempt, on August 24 1875 Webb dived from Dover ’s Admiralty Pier and headed towards France. Porpoise-grease helped insulate him against the cold, but couldn’t prevent the pain of numerous jelly-fish stings. Tantalisingly close to the French shore strong currents prevented him from completing the last few miles for several hours; but eventually the currents slowed and his steady breast-stroke won out. Webb walked ashore some 21 hours and 45 minutes after he left England. His zig-zag course across the Channel had totalled over 39 miles (64 km). He was an instant national hero.

After his record swim, Captain Webb basked in national and international adulation, and followed a career as a professional swimmer. He licensed his name for merchandising such as commemorative pottery and wrote a book called The Art of Swimming. A brand of matches was named after him. He also participated in exhibition swimming matches and stunts such as floating in a tank of water for 128 hours… don’t tell David Blaine.

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Map of the week – Hebburn Colliery & the Davy Lamp.

Original Map: Ordnance Survey Old Series 1:50,000 – 1867

Hebburn CollieryOn the 9th January 1816 Sir Humphry Davy first demonstrated the Davy Lamp.

Sir Humphry Davy (17 December 1778 – 29 May 1829), a chemist and inventor born in Penzance in Cornwall, tested his Davy safety lamp for miners at Hebburn Colliery. Three years later Davy was awarded a baronetcy, at the time the highest honour ever conferred on a man of science in Britain. In 1820 he became President of the Royal Society.

Davy’s lamp was made public at a Royal Society meeting in Newcastle, three years after the Felling mine disaster in 1812. Davy had discovered that a flame enclosed inside a fine mesh cannot ignite firedamp (a name given to a number of flammable gases, especially methane). The screen acts as a flame arrestor; air (and any firedamp present) can pass through the mesh freely enough to support combustion, but the holes are too fine to allow a flame to propagate through them and ignite any firedamp outside the mesh. If flammable gas mixtures were present, the flame of the Davy lamp burned higher with a blue tinge. Lamps were equipped with a metal gauge to measure the height of the flame. Miners could also place the safety lamp close to the ground to detect gases, such as carbon dioxide, that are denser than air and so could collect in depressions in the mine (black damp or chokedamp); if the mine air was oxygen-poor the lamp flame would go out.

Unfortunately the introduction of the Davy lamp led to an increase in mine accidents. Although the principle was perfectly sound the lamp encouraged the Mine owners to work mines and parts of mines that had previously been closed for safety reasons. A contributing factor to this rise in accidents was the unreliability of the lamps themselves. The bare gauze was easily damaged, and once just a single wire broke or rusted away, the lamp became a hazard in itself.

If you have an interesting story and would like to see a historical map of your area then why not let us know by emailing us.

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Map of the month – 150 years of the Clifton Suspension Bridge

Clifton Suspension Bridge – County Series 1:2500 1886-1896

Clifton Suspension Bridge
150 years ago today on the 8th December 1864, the Clifton Suspension Bridge had its grand opening. The bridge spans the Avon Gorge and the River Avon, linking Clifton in Bristol to Leigh Woods in North Somerset. The bridge is built to a design by William Henry Barlow and John Hawkshaw, based on an earlier design by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

In 1753 Bristolian merchant William Vick had left a bequest in his will of £1,000 (equivalent to £130,000 in 2014), invested with instructions that when the interest had accumulated to £10,000 (£1,330,000), it should be used for the purpose of building a stone bridge between Clifton Down.

By 1829, Vick’s bequest had reached £8,000, but it was estimated that a stone bridge would cost over ten times that. A competion was held to find a design, but all the designs, including a final one by Thomas Telford failed to gain aproval because of either looks or cost.

An Act of Parliament was then passed to allow a wrought iron suspension bridge to be built instead of stone, and tolls levied to recoup the cost. In 1831 a second competition was held with new judges. The winner was declared to be a design by Smith and Hawkes of the Eagle Foundry in Birmingham. Brunel then had a personal meeting and persuaded him to change the decision, The committee then declared Brunel the winner and he was awarded a contract as project engineer with his design being finalised by William Henry Barlow and John Hawkshaw . The winning design was for a suspension bridge.

Folklore says that a rope was taken across the gorge by kite, or even by bow and arrow! The simple and much more likely event was that common hemp ropes were taken down the side of the gorge, across the river by boat and pulled up the other side.

The towers are built principally of local Pennant stone. The chains and suspension rods are made of wrought iron with the chains anchored in tapering tunnels, 25 metres (82 ft) long, on either side of the bridge. After completion of the chains, vertical suspension rods were hung from the links in the chains and large girders hung from these. The girders on either side then support the deck, which is 3 feet higher at the Clifton end than at Leigh Wood. The construction work was completed in 1864 — 111 years after a bridge at the site was first planned.

to buy this map or maps of your area go to Cassini Maps

14,659 Parish Maps from England and Wales!

Cassini – Old Parish Maps

RRP £12.99 Introductory offer – Now only £4.99
Offer ends 31/10/2014

(Sample)  (Keys & Legends)

Cassini Maps has created these Old Parish Maps an essential resource for family history researchers, genealogists and historians. As parish boundaries have changed over time, its essential to know where your ancestors lived and to understand the landscape that shaped their lives.

• Parish Maps provide a direct link to Census and Parish Records.
• Download the PDF to view on screen and print at home.
• Parish boundaries as they were in 1911.
• Detailed Ordnance Survey mapping published between 1880 – 1910.
• Downloadable PDFs of English and Welsh Parishes.
• Scale: Street-level mapping – 1:10,000 (originally 1:10,560).

Visit Cassini’s Old Parish Maps page

14,659 individual historical Parishes Maps are now available to download and to print at home. These maps provide a vital link to Parish Records and show in great detail the historical Parishes in which your ancestors lived and worked. Each maps is taken from the Ordnance Survey County Series 1:10,560 maps from the cusp of 19th and 20th centuries and show the Historical Parish Boundary as recorded at the time of the 1911 census.

About the Maps
The origins of the six-inch to the mile maps (1:10,560) date back to 1824 when this scale was adopted for a survey of Ireland. By 1840 it had been decided to extend the project to Great Britain. To conduct a survey at such a scale, every corner of the country, including private property, would need to be visited. The following year, the Survey Act was passed which gave surveyors the right to enter any land for the purposes of carrying out their duties. It also specified the types of boundaries that the new maps were to display (down to parish level).

Cassini has reproduced County Series Parish Maps for the whole of England and Wales. This involved combining more than one original sheet to give an appropriate area of coverage. In the process, the maps have been digitally enhanced and enlarged slightly to 1:10,000 to bring them into line with more recent maps at this metric scale.

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Gretna Green, or is it Headless Cross?

Main Map: Ordnance Survey County Series 1:2500 – 1899*
Gretna Green
Gretna Green – the village famous for runaway weddings.

Gretna Green is a village in the south of Scotland famous for runaway weddings, hosting over 5,000 weddings each year in the Gretna/Gretna Green area, and according to the BBC, one in every six Scottish weddings.  It is situated in Dumfries and Galloway, near the mouth of the River Esk and was historically the first village in Scotland, following the old coaching route from London to Edinburgh.

It has been reported that Gretna’s famous “runaway marriages” began in 1754 when Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act  became law in England. Under the Act, if a parent of a person under the age of 21 objected, they could prevent the marriage going ahead. The new law tightened up the requirements for marrying in England and Wales but did not apply in Scotland, where it was possible for boys to marry at 14 and girls at 12 with or without parental consent. By the 1770s, with the construction of a toll road passing through the hitherto obscure village of Graitney (Gretna), that Gretna Green became the first easily reachable village over the Scottish border. The Old Blacksmith’s Shop, built around 1712, and Gretna Hall Blacksmith’s Shop (1710) became the focal points for the marriage trade. The Old Blacksmith’s opened to the public as a visitor attraction as early as 1887.

The local blacksmith and his anvil have become the lasting symbols of Gretna Green weddings. Scottish law allowed for “irregular marriages”, meaning that if a declaration was made before two witnesses, almost anybody had the authority to conduct the marriage ceremony.
To seal the marriage the blacksmith would bring down his hammer upon the anvil. The ringing sound heard throughout the village would signify that another couple had been joined in marriage.
The blacksmiths in Gretna became known as “anvil priests”, culminating with Richard Rennison, who performed 5,147 ceremonies.

Since 1929, both parties in Scotland have had to be at least 16 years old, but they still may marry without parental consent. In England and Wales, the age for marriage is now 16 with parental consent and 18 without.

If you have an interesting story and would like to see a historical map of your area then why not let us know by emailing us.

Keys and Legends

Over the years the Keys and Legends (the two terms are interchangeable) shown on the various Ordnance Survey mapping series have changed as the features in the landscape have evolved. Over time the most important features on a map reflected the spirit of the day.

One inch to the mile (1:63,360)

Old Series
These maps were the result of the first ever national survey of England & Wales. From the late 1790s until 1874, a small army of surveyors covered every corner of the what was still an almost entirely rural country. Their work provided a stunning portrait of the landscape, with every farm, track, copse and hamlet recorded. Many of these features would have been unchanged for centuries, reminders of ancient patterns of settlement dating back to Saxon times. The maps elegantly capture the age of the canal, the coaching inn and the horse-drawn cart: the final decades of an agrarian society that was soon to be over-run by new transport links, rapid population growth and urban expansion.


Revised New Series
After the Old Series came the Revised New Series. By the late 1890s, the Ordnance Survey had produced two complete series of maps of England & Wales but the increasingly rapid pace of change and development meant that revising them was now a never-ending task. The main cause of this change was the growth of the railways. From being little more than a good idea in 1830, the network covered over 18,000 miles by the end of the century, enabling the spread of goods, people and ideas and changing the character of every place it touched. The late 19th-century was without doubt the age of the railway, and the Revised New Series is the definitive record of its glory years.

Popular Edition
The original Ordnance Survey Popular Edition series was conceived before, but published just after, the First World War. This was the first of Ordnance Survey’s series to be conceived from the outset as a mass-market product, and the first to be produced in full colour.
If the railways were the transport revolution of the 19th century, the motor car was certainly that of the 20th. The new Popular Edition had to reflect this. For the first time the gradations of the road network were described, with each route being coloured according to its suitability or otherwise for motor traffic. Twenty times more vehicles were registered in the UK in 1929 compared to 20 years earlier, and many of those who could not afford (or did not dare) to use a car cycled instead. Increased leisure time and rising prosperity fuelled a demand for travel. As a result, accurate, relevant and up to date maps were needed.


New Popular Edition
These maps reveal the reality of the outwards spread of urban populations with great clarity. For the first time, the areas covered by the series shows the build-up of towns and cities and their rapid expansion into the countryside. The railways, though now at their maximum extent, are represented on this map far less prominently than are the roads, reflecting their reduced importance. The New Popular Edition is a record of a battered Britain at the end of a global war and nearing the end of a period of global imperialism.

Present Day Landranger
The current Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 mapping (represented, in most people’s minds, by the Landranger® series) is the culmination of over 200 years of painstaking and continuous surveys of the British landscape. Known as the 1:50,000 First Series when it was first published between 1974 and 1976, the printed form acquired the ‘Landranger®’ name in 1979. These maps have stood the test of time and remain the definitive survey of the country. Features as diverse as shopping centres and disused railway lines, car parks and stone monuments, rock screes and picnic sites are all included, indicated by an increasing range of symbols and abbreviations.

Six Inch to the Mile County Series
The origins of the six inch to the mile (1:10,560) maps date back to 1824 when this scale was adopted for a survey of Ireland. By 1840 it had been decided to extend the project to Great Britain. Work began in Lancashire and Yorkshire in 1841 and in Scotland in 1843 with the first sheet appearing in 1846. It was not until 1890 that maps covering the whole country had been published, a family of maps that later became known as the County Series. By that time revisions to the earlier sheets were underway, a rolling process that continued until the last County Series sheets were superseded by the 1:10,000 National Grid Edition in the 1980s. Each sheet appeared in up to six editions, displaying various evolutions of detail, format and reproduction technology.
1:25,000 County Series
The first maps at 1:2,500 (roughly 25 inches to the mile, or roughly one square inch to one acre) were Published in 1855 with coverage of the cultivated parts of Great Britain being completed in 1896. By then, a thorough revision had already started; indeed, the process of updating the information and publishing the results in a variety of formats has continued until the present day.
Almost every man-made feature of any significance is displayed on these maps which thus form a definitive record of the changing landscape of Britain since the middle of the 19th century. They are of considerable importance to historians (although this would have been inconceivable to their creators). The detail zooms in to house-level and offers a wealth of additional information concerning land usage, communications and boundaries. For genealogists they are of particular use and interest. Not only do they offer countless research clues which no other source can match but they also reveal every nuance of the landscape inhabited by past generations, so helping to explain many of the preoccupations and limitations that ruled their lives.