A recently purchased map arrived in the Map Room this week for us all to pore over. The River Thames from its source to the sea was produced at a time when the Thames was enjoying an explosion of interest as a source of leisure. Small boats were available for hire at towns such as Oxford, Reading and Windsor, locations which were now conveniently in reach of the railway travelling public.
This beautifully executed map was compiled and engraved by Edward Weller to be issued as an insert to the popular newspaper the Weekly Dispatch and subsequently included in The Dispatch Atlas published early in 1863. It is the first state of nine states which were finally produced in the next thirty six years. Weller was one of the first to produce maps using lithography, a cheaper method of production than the more traditional intaglio printing. After his death in 1884 these steel plates were acquired by the firm of Cassell, Petter and Galpin. The Cassell’s Complete Atlas was issued in 1865, and as Cassell’s British Atlas with the addition of statistical information.
The map shows the whole length of the river from the Thames Head, marked, west ofCirencester to the estuarine mud flats at Southend, in three strip maps at a scale of half and inch to 1 mile (1:126,720). The minimal but precise hand colouring of just the county outlines is still bright and adds definition to the map without taking away from the very fine detail. The railways, including the recently built Epsom line are shown by double cross hatched lines.
The River Thames from its source to the sea. London : Weekly Dispatch Atlas  C17:8 (380)