Map of the month – The Moon, Eclipse and Sun Rising

Moon, Shetland Isles Mainland – Map: Revised New Series 1:30,000 1911
Moon, Shetland Isles

The proportion of the sun covered by the moon in the Shetland Isles was expected to be 97% in today’s eclipse – not far off a total eclipse and was measured as the darkest place in the UK. The perfect place to have watched would have been Moon on the west coast of Shetland Mainland.

Records of solar eclipses have been kept since ancient times. Eclipse dates can be used for dating of historical records. A Syrian clay tablet records a solar eclipse which occurred on March 5, 1223 B.C. while a stone in Ireland is thought by some to record an eclipse in 3340 B.C. Chinese historical records of solar eclipses date back over 4,000 years and have been used to measure changes in the Earth’s rate of spin.

Places in the UK that reflect the main elements needed for an eclipse include the previously mentioned Moon in the Shetland Isles, Sun Rising in Warwickshire and Eclipse Street in Cardiff.

The UK will not experience a solar eclipse on this scale again until 2026 and there may be a lucky few, who are already born, who will live to see the next total eclipse in the UK in the year 2090.

To buy this map, or any Cassini map of your area, go to:  Cassini Maps

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.

Find out more about your area of the UK

The Scriptorium & the birth of the OED.

Main Map: Ordnance Survey County Series 1:2500 – 1886
(Frederick Furnivall on the left, James Murray top right)
Oxford English Dictionary
In 1884 the first section of The Oxford English Dictionary was published.

Work on the project had begun in 1857, when members of the Philological Society agreed that existing dictionaries of the English language were far from adequate. Three members of that learned society were the great drivers of the idea in its early days: Herbert Coleridge; Frederick Furnivall; and Richard Trench. In June 1857, they formed an “Unregistered Words Committee” to search for unlisted and undefined words lacking in current dictionaries.

After Richard Trench’s appointment as Dean of Westminster and the death of Herbert Coleridge, Furnivall became editor. Furnivall believed that since many printed texts from earlier centuries were not readily available, it would be impossible for volunteers to locate the quotations that the dictionary needed. As a result, Furnivall founded the Early English Text Society in 1864 and the Chaucer Society in 1868 to publish old manuscripts. Furnivall’s preparatory efforts, which lasted 21 years, provided numerous texts for the use and enjoyment of the general public, but did not actually involve compiling a dictionary.

In the 1870s, Furnivall approached James Murray, who accepted the post of editor.
Murray started the project, working in a corrugated iron outbuilding, the “Scriptorium”, which was lined with wooden planks, book shelves, and 1,029 pigeon-holes for the quotation slips.
Through newspapers Murray appealed for readers who would report “as many quotations as you can for ordinary words” and for words that were “rare, obsolete, old-fashioned, new, peculiar or used in a peculiar way”.  1,000 quotation slips arrived daily to the Scriptorium, and by 1882, there were 3,500,000.

In 1878, Oxford University Press agreed with Murray to proceed with publishing the massive project; the agreement was formalized the following year. The dictionary project finally had a publisher 20 years after the idea was conceived. It would be another 50 years before the entire dictionary was complete.

In spite of this involvement, the work was not to be known as The Oxford English Dictionary until 1895, its working title until then having been the wordier ‘A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles; Founded Mainly on the Material Collected by The Philological Society’.

The first dictionary collection was published on 1 February 1884—twenty-three years after Coleridge’s sample pages.  the 352-page volume, words from A to Ant, was finally on sale for 12s.6d

The first fully bound and complete edition of the work finally appeared in 1928, long after the three men whose original vision it was had died.

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. 

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.

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.

Newton, an apple and a space shuttle

Ordnance Survey 1:2500 County Series 1888 – Woolsthorpe Manor, Lincolnshire
Sir Isaac Newton

Sir Isaac Newton (4 January 1643 – 20 March 1727) was born in Woolsthorpe Manor and here he made many of his most important discoveries about gravity after returning from Trinity College Cambridge which had temporarily closed as a precaution against the Great Plague 1666-7.

In the garden of Woolsthorpe Manor grows the most famous apple tree in science. Popular mythology has it that an apple fell from the tree, hitting Newton on the head and inspiring the great man to discover his theory of Gravity. Like all good stories it elaborates on the truth.

The story of the falling apple does appear to have some foundation. William Stukeley recorded in his Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton’s Life, in April 1726, that Newton, told him of his thoughts when seeing an apple fall to the ground  “… why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground…why should it not go sideways, or upwards? but constantly to the earth’s centre?

He is often regarded as the most influential scientist in history and is most famous for discovering the Laws of Gravity, and the Laws of Planetary motion, although rather than his ideas on Gravity sprouting fully formed from that single seed, he acknowledged his debt to those great mathematicians that had gone before him, most famously in his quote “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”. A quote which is now to be found imprinted into the edge of the British £2 coin. A fitting tribute to Newton who also went on to become Master of the Royal Mint.

According to the National Trust, the original apple tree fell over in 1820, but then rooted happily and is still growing today, making it nearly 400 years of age. This observation is not universally accepted. The King’s School in nearby Grantham, stake their own claim that the tree was purchased by the school, uprooted and transported to the headmaster’s garden after Newton’s death.

What is known for sure is that cuttings from the original tree have been planted at some of the worlds greatest universities, including one outside the rooms in which Newton lived and studied at Trinity Cambridge. Other universities known to have cuttings of the famous tree are MIT Cambridge (USA), Monash University Australia, York University Canada and Manchester University.

In 2010, a piece of the famous apple tree from Woolsthorpe Manor was launched into space on the Space Shuttle Atlantis, nearly 350 years after Newton wrote his influential work. An act of defying gravity only made possible by the genius of Sir Isaac Newton.

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.

Maps, Genealogy and Local History

Many people today are interested in genealogy to understand not just where and when people lived, but also their lifestyles, surroundings and motivations. This often requires knowledge of old political boundaries, migration trends and historical social conditions. One important way to understand how one’s ancestors fit into the landscapes of the past is to place them in space and time by using historical mapping.

family

“My Mother’s grandmother came from Woolbeding, a tiny settlement near Midhurst. I found your map very useful when I went to visit the area because I could trace the original roads unobscured by modern developments. It was great to see the house where my great-grandmother’s twin sister was a dairy maid in 1871 and the tiny church next door still candlelit where they were baptised.” Miss Driscoll, Manchester
Genealogical research is a complex process that uses historical records to answer questions about ones ancestors, the time they lived in, the work they undertook and their surroundings. Reliable conclusions are based on quality sources and historical maps have an important part to play in discovering where and how your ancestors lived.

From the beginnings of Britain’s industrial past to the more sedate life of a victorian country village more detailed can help to put the lives of your ancestors into context. The interest In old maps is constantly growing as more maps become available and the ability to see more and more detail allows the researcher to view ever increasing details of the past.

For example – In the last 200 years Coventry has grown in population from 21,853 in 1801 to 310,500 in 2010. Many of the old outlying towns and villages have been absorbed into the conurbation we see today and the only way of understanding the landscape they used to live in is to view the maps of the time.

coventry2 coventry1
Old Series 1831          Present Day

“Old maps of the sort published by Cassini are an excellent introduction to local history throughout the United Kingdom because they focus the user’s attention on the sort of unexpected questions that act as starting points for research.  “Well, I never knew that there was a house in that location 200 years ago”.  “I never realised that xxxx Road followed a different course 150 years ago . . . why?”.  Of course, detailed local histories will probably contain the answers to some of these questions – but they hardly ever force them on you as vividly– and attractively – as old maps. And, in some cases, you will find yourself asking questions that even the standard histories do not answer.  So, before consulting those published histories, look at the maps!”    Peter Barber  MA, FSA, FRHistS Head of Map Collections, British Library

From the beginnings of Britain’s industrial past to the more sedate life of a victorian country village more detailed maps are now available to put the lives of your ancestors into context. The interest In old maps is constantly growing as more maps become available and the ability to see more and more detail allows the researcher to view ever increasing details of the past.

 

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.

Cassini downloadable maps – Site Centred

Whatever your interest in the past our historical maps are invaluable works of reference.

Ideal for reasearch, or print and frame for a personalised decorative map centred on the location of your choice.

Find downloadable maps of your area at Cassini Maps!