Old Town Maps


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Old Town Maps

View old maps of British towns and cities. Access hundreds of old maps, focussing on the towns and cities of Great Britain as they were around the middle of the twentieth century. The maps shown are derived from the revised half inch contoured map series of Great Britain produced by John Bartholomew & Son Ltd of Edinburgh throughout the last century. See map detail of the cities, towns and villages of England, Scotland and Wales as they were then, captured in the maps of the time. The navigation links above, indexing the old town maps alphabetically by country, allow free access to hundreds of old town maps throughout Great Britain. Large scale maps, extracted from Bartholomew's reduced survey maps of the period, are centred on the towns, showing the extent of the built up areas, classified roads, railways and other geographical detail of the surrounding areas.

Old Town Maps
All the old town maps may be viewed at the click of a mouse. To see an example, click on the map of York above.  

Old Maps of British Towns

Great changes have taken place in the British landscape since the middle of the last century, in city and townscape, in road and rail links, in the land used for houses and new industries, changes reflected in the maps of each period and most evident when comparing the old town maps with the maps of today. If you travel through the British countryside today, you are likely to see very different scenery from that shown on the old mid twentieth century town maps shown here. The beautiful English, Scottish and Welsh natural landscape of wild mountain and moor will be much the same, as will the picturesque hills and dales, the rivers and lochs, the remote western islands, the rich farmland. The geography of the long and varied British sea coast will not have changed a great deal. It is in the historic cities, towns and villages of England, Scotland and Wales where the change of scenery will be most marked; in the human landscape of houses, shops, roads, railways, seaports, airports and industry; in the character of the great English, Scottish and Welsh cities, of the popular coastal holiday resorts and busy summer tourist centres, the bustling market towns and the quiet, sleepy rural villages. Many of Britain's towns and villages have seen great growth in recent times, in new accommodation, homes for an increasingly affluent population, improved transport and communications and new industries to replace the old. Such history is reflected in the maps on this website, old maps which show British cities, towns and villages, and the surrounding countryside, as they were half a century ago and the historical detail of city and town, road and rail, are recorded on the old town maps. Although many places of scenic and historic interest, particularly those famous old towns, cities and villages, full of interesting history and character, have been conserved, the visitor planning a trip to England, Scotland or Wales is likely to find a very different landscape from that shown on the old maps. The maps on this website, made not long after the Second World War, may provide useful information for those interested in genealogy, family history or the recent history of British towns.

Background to Old Town Maps

Bartholomew's Half-Inch Maps (scale 1:126,720 ) were published, with variations in format and titling, from 1875 through to 1999, at the Edinburgh Geographical Institute. The Revised Half-Inch map series, from which the old town maps on this website are derived, were published, with frequent revisions, from 1921 until 1974. The series consisted of 62 maps sheets covering the whole of Great Britain. The series was aimed mainly at those involved in recreational pursuits, such as cycling and motor touring, and were extremely popular throughout the last century.

Old Town Maps