Category Archives: Uncategorized

Heliometer Domes and OS maps

The Ordnance Survey 1:500 map series are amongst the most detailed of all town plans. Dating from the 1880s and covering all towns with a population over 4,000, at this scale roofs come off important buildings to show the layout of the rooms underneath. While going through the maps covering Oxford this intriguing building appeared, the Heliometer Dome, part of the Radcliffe Observatory buildings.

The Observatory moved to Pretoria in 1934 hoping for clearer skies than could be found in Oxford, the buildings are now part of Green Templeton College. As well as showing on a beautiful map the Heliocentre has other cartographic claims for appearing in a map blog as it was a device crucial for measuring distances in space. The telescope in the Heliometer has a split lens, one of which is fixed in position, the second adjustable, thus producing a double image of either nearby stars or either sides of the Sun. By moving one of the lenses these images can be superimposed and then the different lengths of the lenses can be measured which will give the difference in distances between stars, a concept called parallax.

The Heliometer Dome circa 1860.

This next map is an extract from Robert Hoggar’s celebrated map of the city from 1850. At a scale slightly less detailed then the Ordnance Survey (1:528 as opposed to 1:500) at the top of this blog, like the OS map Hoggar maps individual trees and outbuildings, unlike the OS Hoggar includes contour lines.

Plan of the City of Oxford. 1850 (E) C17:70 Oxford (1)

This last image is the front cover from a record of the magnitude of stars according to their observable light recorded at the Observatory in 1853.

We’ve blogged about Parallax before http://blogs.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/maps/2015/07/10/parallax/  and about Ordnance Survey 1:5000 town plans as well http://blogs.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/maps/2018/03/01/pretty-in-pink/

Land ahoy!

Although this is the time of year when the
lights are lengthening and electronic location devices are almost mandatory, shipping still benefits from the presence of lighthouses warning of hazards. The Chart exhibiting the light houses and light vessels on the coasts of Great Britain and Ireland; and also those on the N.W. coasts of Europe between Ushant and Bergen was created by A. G. Findlay in 1863 and shows the location, extent of the beam of each lighthouse, and gives information about the type of beam and frequency of light pulses. This wealth of information is exquisitely engraved and coloured but as a specialist map it would not have had a large print run. However it is a handsome thing mounted on linen and folded into covers with brass decorative gothic clasps. The boards of the covers are covered in cloth with a blind stamped decoration and the title, motto and coat of arms of Trinity House in gilt.


The map was published ‘By order of the hon[oura]ble. the Corporation of Trinity House.’ which is the authority controlling lighthouses, lightvessels and buoys in England and Wales, Channel Islands and Gibraltar (Northern Lighthouse Board in Scotland). The board was established by a charter granted by Henry VIII in 1514. Prior to this there were privately run beacons or towers so it wasn’t until 1609 Trinity House established its first, Lowestoft Lighthouse, as a pair of wooden towers with candle illuminants. The risk of fire must have been very great but it wasn’t until 1777 the first mirrored reflectors were used.


The cartographer of this map, Alexander George Findlay was a leading compiler and publisher of geographical and hydrographical works and after the death of Richard Holland Laurie, took over the well-known and long established printing house of Laurie & Whittle. He researched meteorology, published nautical directories the whole world and received a Society of Arts medal for his dissertation The English Lighthouse. He also served the British Association for the Advancement of Science so he was uniquely qualified to produce this map.


Today lighthouses are still relevant but function more as a back up to electronic equipment. The last manned lighthouse, North Foreland in Kent, was automated in 1998 after the automation process started in in the early 1980s, bringing to an end the work of the lighthouse keepers or “wickies”. This lighthouse had seen the departures of forces defending our islands and the arrival of all manner of vessels – some in joyous homecoming, some limping back after difficult journeys and trade vessels from all over the world. Trinity house currently maintains 65 lighthouses but it has provided temporary lighting. For D-Day it laid 73 lighted buoys and 2 lightvessels to indicate a safe route for landing craft in the poor weather of the English Channel. Redundant lighthouses have been re-purposed as holiday lets or even conversion to domestic properties – albeit ones with fantastic views!

Chart exhibiting the light houses and light vessels on the coasts of Great Britain and Ireland; and also those on the N.W. coasts of Europe between Ushant and Bergen. London, 1863. C15 d.197

Soviet flags and emblems

Published in Moscow in 1987 by the Main Directorate of Geodesy and Cartography of the Council of Ministers of the USSR this atlas of the USSR includes the usual topographic and

thematic maps you’d expect, including this physical map of the USSR.

The treats inside though are the pages Immediately after this physical map. Over the next 17 pages, following an organizational chart showing how all the states are joined to the Soviet

system with the flag and emblem of the  Soviet Union there follows flags and emblems for, amongst others, Belorussia and the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic

and the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic.

 The flag and emblem for Latvia features the sea, befitting for a country that has some of the busiest sea ports onto the Baltic and with an important fishing industry

 while the colourful flag and emblem for Kirgiz Soviet Socialist Republic (Kyrgyzstan) shows the mountainous nature of a country where 80% of the land is part of a mountain chain.

The similarity of the flags and emblems shows an obvious central party influence. All feature the Hammer and Sickle, symbol of solidarity between the agricultural and the industrial worker as well as the Red Star, which for the Soviets was a symbol of the Red Army.

Atlas SSSR (атлас ссср), 1987. C40 e.4

 

KA-BOOM!!!!

With the eruption of its volcano on the 26th of August 1883 the landscape of the island of Krakatoa changed in an instant. Over two thirds of the island disappeared in the explosion,

unleashing a tsunami that killed at least 36,000 people in the immediate area and created waves of sufficient power to register on tidal readings as far away as the English Channel.

New chart of Sunda Straits, 1883. D32 (103)

This map is a remarkable record of the changes caused by the eruption and subsequent tsunamis, made by Captain Morris of the Australian steam-ship ‘Chyebassa’ on the 2nd of September 1883, 136 years ago today. Morris states on the map how “We came through the Sunda Straits after the earthquake and found the Southern or Main Channnel perfectly clear. Flat Cape light is not burning, though the lighthouse is standing. Anjer and Anjer lighthouse is completely swept away [as can be seen in this extract from the map showing both the previous and post-eruption coastline]. The coast is very difficult to recognize, the whole of the trees which lined the shoreline are gone…The Government have a steamer cruising off Flat Cape, to warn vessels not to take the Bezee Channel, as it is completely blocked. There is also a vessel for the same purpose off Nicholas Point. We put Batavia [modern Jakarta] pilot on board the ship off Flat Cape for the “Roma”; after passing Nicholas Point, you must take the Northern passage, as all the buoys are away in the South pass”.

The explosion of Krakatoa was a truly global event, and news of the eruption was transmitted around the world via the telegraph cable (called on the map a submarine cable) which linked Java with the World by the cable laid through the Straits which connected Australia to London via Singapore. A message sent from Java could get to London in as little as three hours. Global in another way, as countries as far away as England and the United States felt the effects of Krakatoa in less violent ways. Sunsets were affected by the dust thrown up into the atmosphere and the remnants of the Tsunamis that swept the region were recorded on tidal gauges as far away as the English Channel while changes in weather patterns were registered in Los Angeles.

In 1888 the Royal Society of London produced a richly illustrated report, ‘The eruption of Krakatoa and subsequent phenomena’ (Vet A7 c.45) which gave detailed accounts, causes and the effects caused the eruption.  Included are watercolours of the sunsets over Chelsea

and a map of the reach of the waves caused by the explosion, that proved so devastating to those near the volcano, throughout the World

The introduction to the report gives some idea as to the confusion and damage to lives and property caused by Krakatoa.

‘ During the closing days of the month of August, 1883, the telegraph–cable from Batavia carried to Singapore and thence to every part of the civilised World the news of the terrible subterranean convulsion – one which in its destructive results in life and property, and in the startling character of the World-wide effects to which it gave rise, is perhaps without parallel in historic times.

As is usual in such cases, the first report of this tremendous  outburst of the volcanic forces appear to have been quite misleading and altogether unworthy of credence. Nor is this to be wondered at. The towns and villages along the shores of the Sunda Strait were, during the crisis of the eruption, enveloped in a terrible darkness, which lasted many hours, and, while thus obscured, were overwhelmed by a succession of great sea-waves; those who succeeded in saving their lives amid these appalling incidents were, it need scarcely be added, not in a position to make trustworthy observations upon the wonderful succession of phenomena occurring around them’.

Opposite this page is the illustration of the volcano at the top of this blog post.

 

The Atlantic Charter

Created by the artist and cartographer MacDonald Gill this map is one of the most aesthetically pleasing items in the collection.

The “Time and Tide” map of the Atlantic Charter, 1942 B1 (174)

Tide and Time was a weekly political and literary magazine starting in 1920.

Not only is it visually stunning the map is also an important historical document. Created in 1941 to promote the post-war aims of the Allied Countries by Sir Winston Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt the charter committed participating nations to 8 points, all of which are stated on the map. This is an idealized view of the World, with agriculture and local industry prominent. Despite the state of the War in 1942 Germany is portrayed without any hint of hostilities currently taking place but is instead basking in the rays of the Sun like any other nation.

In the bottom corner is a quote from the Book of Isiah setting out the hopes and ambitions of the signatories to the Charter. Swords have been replaced by weapons of the War then taking place but the image powerfully portrays the sentiment intended.

Gill created a number of maps, including one of the earliest of the London Underground, but also has a link with the First World War. He designed the font used on Commonwealth Cemetery gravestones.

Churchill and Roosevelt met off the coast of Newfoundland in 1941, with Churchill traveling across the Atlantic on board HMS Prince of Wales. The journalist H.V. Morton accompanied him and wrote a book about the meeting between the two leaders that led to the creation of the Charter.

Atlantic meeting (1943) Bradford e.737

Morton’s book included a map of the route on the inside cover. Morton was a journalist with the Daily Express in 1923 when he reported on the opening of the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings before The Times, who had paid for exclusive rights to the expedition.

An earlier blog post (July 2015) features a map showing the voyages and journeys Sir Winston Churchill made while Prime Minister during the War which included in the top corner pictures of the ships and planes used, including the Prince Of Wales

[Extracts from] Dunkirk to Berlin, June 1940 – July 1945. Journeys undertaken by the Rt. Honble. Winston S. Churchill, O.M., C.H., F.R.S., M.P., Prime Minister of Great Britain in defence of the British Commonwealth and Empire, 1947. B2 (101)

The Charter was such an important event that there was even music written in honour of it

Atlantic Charter, grand march (1942) Mus.120 d.15

 

 

Not a map

The map collection at the Bodleian is arranged by area, and identified by letters and numbers. A is for maps of the Universe, B the World and so on down to N which is for the Antarctic. Further subdivisions within these letters give you individual countries, so for instance England is C17 (the C is for Europe). The system doesn’t end at N though, for there is one further section full of maps which either are of places that don’t exist or are cartographic items without a map on. 

This is the O section. Included in O are maps of Middle Earth and Narnia, of Ambridge and the Island of Sodor (the Archers and Thomas the tank Engine respectively, in case you were wondering). There are also instructional diagrams for drawing maps. Neither have maps on but both have a simple beauty to them, and hark back to an age of plane-table surveying and pencil and paper work.This first example (Land forms & their representation on contoured maps, c1970, O1 (33)) gives examples of different types of profiles and land forms with accompanying examples of how these forms would be reproduced on maps with contours. This map is part of the general collection, the second example is in a frame and hangs on the wall in the Map Office. While the first example shown hasn’t any publishing details apart from the name ‘T.H. Hughes, F.R.G.S.’ in the corner the second example is published by the Army Signal School, in Dunstable, and would have been used as a teaching aid for training Military cartographers.

The School was at Dunstable for a brief period from 1916 until just after the end of the First World War. The Bodleian also has cartographic training manuals for the Austrian and German Armies.

 

 

D-Day

We’ve blogged about D-Day mapping before, with detailed beach and German defences maps featuring here http://blogs.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/maps/2015/09/ and http://blogs.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/maps/2014/06/ but the 75th anniversary of the landings gives us another chance to show some of the items relating to Operation Overlord in the Bodleian. D-Day involved putting onshore over 175,000 troops, 4,500 guns and tanks and another 15,000 vehicles, all transported across the channel by over 11,000 ships. With planning starting in late 1943 maps would play a crucial roll in the organization, movement and attacking abilities of the Allied forces to make the operation a  success. Nearer the time enemy troop deployment and defences were plotted onto existing mapping (see examples in the links at start of this piece) but in the early stages of planning the operation non-military aspects had to be studied and considered. Two examples are shown here from the Office of Strategic Services, the United States Intelligence Agency which after the war became the C.I.A.

The Channel Coast Jan 1944 C2:5 (10) and N.W. Normandy wind conditions June 1943 C21:37 (9)

The first map gives a different perspective of the routes across the Channel and illustrates nicely the different options available, and the distances involved, to Allied Command on where to cross the Channel. The second map is one of a number produced by both the American and British Intelligence Departments dealing with the purely practical information needed to plan the invasion, in this case wind conditions but there are similar maps for tides and inland flooding in Normandy.

The OSS was also involved, along with the British Intelligence Agencies, in a major deception campaign to convince the Germans that the landings would take place anywhere else than on the Normandy beaches. Codenamed Bodyguard, creating new and totally fictitious divisions and artillery, false radio transmissions and leaking information to double-agents meant the Germans were fooled into believing in a build-up of Allied forces in Britain which didn’t exist.

Grossbritannien und Irland mit standorten des engl. Heeres 1944 C15 (468)

This map of Britain made by the German General Staff dates from the 15th of May, 1944 and shows what the Germans thought was the deployment of troops three weeks before D-Day. As well as English Army positions (in red) it also shows American (in black) and French (green).

Defence of Britain, defences as at “D” Day 6 June 1944 and anti “diver” defences 1945 C17 (66B)

This British map shows defences and positions on D-Day itself with divisions and defences (“Diver” was the codename for the  V-1 rocket, first launched by the Luftwaffe in 1944)

One of the earliest actions on the 6th of June was the landing near the bridges over the canal and River Orme near the village of Benouville, the famous glider attack on Pegasus Bridge.

Plan of Ouistreham-Caen Canal 1943, C21:37 (7)

Capturing the bridges were crucial if the advance on Caen was to succeed. The above map is from the British cartographic department, the Geographical Section, General Staff,  while below is a German map of the same area with an extract of the bridge area.

Frankreich 1 : 25 000 Nr XVI-12/1-2 Caen May 1944, C21 (15).

 

Normandy west of the Seine, the Seine Estuary to Avranches, beaches & landings, 1943 C21:37 (12)

Finally a wonderfully simple but hugely informative map from the early stages of planning showing potential landing beaches. Gradients, geological conditions and length of beach are shown by colour and length of markings and direction of lines. This map shows the levels of planning for the invasion that were already in place in 1943. This extract shows the area of the beach landings on the 6th of June 1944.

Sword beach is nu B43, Juno B44, Gold B45, Omaha B46 and Utah B49.

This is the Guardian from the 7th of June. Coverage of the advances made by the Allied Forces through Europe and into Germany continued until the end of the war,

often with maps illustrating the present situation at the time (the main war news on the 6th is on the advance through Italy and the recent Allied capture of Rome. French news is limited to reports on the considerable damage done to the French railway system by Allied bombing). These next three maps are from the few weeks following on from D-Day.

 

These maps and the full page image are from The Manchester Guardian, Jan-June 1944.  N 22891 a.8

The Grand Junction Railway

This is one of the earliest Railway maps held in the Bodleian. Dating from 1839 the map shows the route of the Grand Junction Railway which at the time of the map ran from Birmingham north to join up with the Liverpool to Manchester Railway, a journey of 82 miles.

Drake’s map of the Grand Junction Railway, 1839. (E) C17:5 (18)

As well as showing the route the map also has a distance chart showing the miles from Birmingham and, important from the point of view of having as flat and level a route as possible, a height profile. The map also has a lovely vignette just underneath the title of a train in motion. Maps started to feature railways at the start of the 1800s but these were horse-drawn. The first steam powered engine, George Stephenson’s Locomotion,  was on  the Stockton to Darlington Railway in 1825.

While the Library has a large number of railway maps the Drake is one of the few we have that comes with a timetable. Included on Drake’s Railway Sheet of the Grand Junction… is information

on fares and times along the route. A first class journey from Birmingham to Liverpool would cost 21 shillings (approximately £60, a first-class ticket today is twice this amount) and take four and a half hours. There is also another picture of an engine and first and second class carriages and cattle (horses cost 2 shillings).

 

The things you find in boxes

This blog post deals with the strange and wonderful things that sometimes appear in unexpected places. It’s something that happens often, making the job all the more rewarding for it. While having a tidy up in the map storage area we found an old rectangular box. Inside were 3 rolled maps; one from just after World War I by the Geographical Section of the War Office, the other two from 1857 published by the wonderfully named ‘National Society for promoting the education of the poor in the principals of the established Church’. Underneath these three objects was this single sheet of paper.

The translation of the main text is ‘Insignia of Iraqi warplanes, equilateral green triangle with black border, red sign in the form of an 8, white square’. The page comes from a booklet made by the German Army, presumably about Iraq though it could equally be about Syria or the Middle East. Iraqi involvement in the Second World War was brief. The Golden Square, a group of army officers, staged a coup in 1941, deposing the ruling family. British concerns that oil supplies would be diverted to the Axis powers lead to a brief, and for the British successful, war in May 1941.

It is hard to identify where this sheet has come from. Throughout the war General Staff of the Germany Army prepared pamphlet packages on a large number of countries, including all European countries, most of the African countries north of the equator and those in the Middle East, but this sheet hasn’t come from one of these.

The pamphlets included maps, information booklets and books of photographs. The books were usually compiled by academics familiar with the country in question and there are pamphlets produced for neutral countries as well as allies such as Italy and Romania. The earliest pamphlets date from 1939 and were produced in strong red cases, by 1943 shortages of materials meant that weaker card cases were used.

Considering the single sheet deals with airplanes it’s appropriate that one of the maps in the Irak  collection deals with airfields.

Until we can find out where this sheet belongs we’ll put it in the ‘Irak’ pamphlet box, ‘Militärgeographische angaben über den Irak’, 1943. D19 e.1

The league of Nations

This large (84 x 53 cm) cloth-backed map of the World issued by the League of Nations

highlights the changes that took place after the First World War following mandates issued by the League. Below a general World map insets for Africa, Arabia and the Pacific Islands show colonial possessions once owned by the defeated nations redistributed amongst the victors.

A League of Nations Mandate is a legal transferring of a Country from one nation to another, this was set up in June 1919 following the Treaty of Versailles.  The map is full of evocative names of countries from former times; Persia, South West Africa, Tanganyika and the Gold Coast, and also includes tables showing the birth of the League as well as flags of member and non-member countries as well as pie charts comparing area and populations of member and non-member countries, presumably as a way of showing the benefits of belonging.

The mandated countries are split into three classes. Class A, the countries of the Middle East formerly in the Ottoman Empire, were countries considered ready for some level of independent control. Class B, which consisted of former German possessions in West and Central Africa which would still need to be in some level of control by a mandatory power, while

Class C, the rest of the German Possessions in Africa and those in the Pacific would need to be under full control of the mandatory power. Each transferred country has a box giving details of possession, surrender and mandate, as in Samoa here.

The League of Nations Map of the World, c1926 (C) B1 (1628)