Exhibit of the Week: 1907 Scarborough Map, Scarborough Maritime Heritage Centre

1907 Scarborough map in the collection at Scarborough Maritime Heritage Centre.
1907 Scarborough map in the collection at Scarborough Maritime Heritage Centre.

Scarborough Maritime Heritage Centre has a collection of about three hundred donated charts and maps. One of the maps is a rare 1907 edition of the Ordnance Survey map of Scarborough and District, on a scale of one inch to one mile (1:63,360). With railway revisions to 1914, it covers the area from Heathard Point to Flamborough Head along the coast, and the North York Moors to the west.

Measuring just 18 x 9.5cm, it is cloth-backed, which makes it more robust than later paper editions. This third edition is also the first colour version, showing what was to become the standard Ordnance Survey design, with green denoting woodland areas, blue for the oceans, red for upland contours and sienna for trunk roads. These maps were produced in both ‘outline’ and ‘hill’ versions, with the latter having brown shading (known as hachuring) for the hills. The one inch maps were essentially leisure maps for tourists, walkers and cyclists – available these days as the 1: 50,000 metric version (in pink).

The Ordnance Survey was set up in 1791 to survey south-east England, later expanding to cover the whole of Britain and Ireland. It was set up partly in response to crises such as the Jacobite rebellions and the Napoleonic Wars, since it was realised that accurate mapping was essential for military purposes. Surveys were carried out using theodolites and a system of triangulation, with the first one inch to one mile map (of Kent) being published in 1801. By the late nineteenth century most areas had been mapped, both to a one inch and six inches to one mile scale. The Scarborough area was first mapped in 1856 -7 to a one-inch scale (the Maritime Heritage Centre has a facsimile copy), and a second edition was produced in 1896. More detailed large-scale plans as well as geological maps were also produced. Even the Ordnance Survey does not have a complete collection of maps, having lost many from bomb damage to its Southampton premises in the 1940 blitz.

The early maps were in black and white, with plain covers. Later editions were in colour, with more appealing cover designs. From 1919, under the directorship of Charles Close, the Ordnance Survey employed artist Ellis Martin who produced beautiful illustrated covers; this helped to capture the consumer market for tourist maps, and to compete with commercial map makers such as Bartholomew.

From the late nineteenth century most map making came to be based on the Ordnance Survey standard. However this meant that the very artistic and detailed maps of Scarborough produced by cartographers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries – men such as John Cossins, John Wood, Thomas Hinderwell and William Smith – became less common. Local street maps were produced by commercial publishers such as Phillips and local artists sometimes produced colourful poster maps. Local authorities continue to produce detailed town plans based on their own surveys.

Scarborough Maritime Heritage Centre is run entirely by volunteers and public donations and situated at 45 Eastborough, entrance is free and the centre is open Wednesday to Sunday, 11am to 4pm.