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Dorking and Reigate Area These samples have been chosen to show varying styles of relief treatment, including the simplest style of all – contours on a monochrome map – and the two most elaborate systems used by the Ordnance Survey for standard topographic mapping. 

New Series sheet 286, 1893. The one-inch New Series emerged from the 1840s out of the original one-inch map of England and Wales, the Old Series. In its mature form it was characterised by being derived from the 1:2500 mapping begun in 1853 and completed in 1893, and it was published in two forms: in outline with contours, and hachured. This was enabled by electrotyping, which enabled a duplicate plate to be prepared once details common to the two forms had been engraved, but before the hachures were added. In 1872 replacement of the Old Series was authorised, and sheet 286, originally published in 1878, was one of the first sheets to emerge. It was based on survey of 1866-71, but in the version seen here has had some revisions and design alterations of the late 1880s. It is therefore an interesting hybrid of the original design and later refinements, more particularly the road classification. Originally only the turnpike roads, such as that running almost due south from Reigate past Hookwood, were distinctly classified, by ‘shading’ – emphasising the casing of the road on the eastish or southish sides – but in the late 1880s this casing was extended to the second-class roads as well. This made them easier to distinguish from the numerous lanes and tracks leading to farms and the like, though the turnpike roads were now somewhat less obvious. Mileages have been added along some main roads: these derive from milestones recorded on the parent larger-scale mapping. The dedication and living-status of Anglican churches are shown: this was discontinued from those New Series sheets first published from 1887 onwards. Foot and bridle paths as such are not shown, although some of the ‘minor roads’ shown with pairs of dotted or broken lines may have been little more than paths. Some details later shown by sign, such as windmills, are here indicated by description: see, for example, on Reigate Heath. Whilst the ‘default’ land-cover is assumed to be cultivated land – arable and grass – four other types are shown, apart from buildings: woodland, heath, parks and gardens. The first two are shown by suggestive pictorial signs, the third by dotting, and the last by rows of diagonal broken lines. The New Series one-inch map is fully described in Roger Hellyer & Richard Oliver, One-inch engraved maps of the Ordnance Survey from 1847, published by the Charles Close Society in 2009, and available via this website.

New Series (revised, in colour) sheet 286, 1902. Originally the hachured version of the New Series was printed in black, and in areas of heavier relief other detail was often not easy to read. The solution adopted from 1889 was to engrave the hachures on a separate plate: those wanting consistency with earlier mapping could have an all-black map, albeit printed in two stages, and those wanting a legible map could have one with the hachures printed in brown. In 1892 a War Office committee recommended that the Ordnance Survey produce a coloured one-inch map, and that the information content should be improved: there should be a new road classification, postal facilities should be indicated, and more signs should be used, notably for churches with and without steeples, windmills, and single and double-track railways. Examples of all these can be seen on the extract presented here: ‘P’ by a village name indicates that it has a post office, and ‘T’ indicates that there is a telegraph office. A ‘revised New Series’ embodying these began to appear in 1895. The coloured map was the subject of some experiment and uncertainty. The style that emerged was in five colours: outline in black, water in blue, contours in red, roads in ‘sienna’ and hachures in brown. (On the extract illustrated here the red has tended to acquire a brownish tinge.) The ‘sienna’ infill was originally a variety of ‘burnt sienna’, rather chocolaty brown, but by 1900 a much more yellowy shade, akin to ‘true sienna’, was being used. Most of the plates were prepared by transfer from copper onto lithographic stones, with unwanted detail scraped away, but the contours were redrawn, and the road infills were also drawn anew. Railways were emphasised by thickening-up the signs. Effectively the map was one in which colour was used for enhancement rather than to provide extra information: all the ‘hard’ information here could have been obtained from a black-hachured version of this sheet – though that would not be as legible. Sheet 286 was one of the earliest coloured one-inches to be issued, in 1898; for the reprint in 1902 new transfers from copper were used, and the image is somewhat sharper than on the 1898 predecessor. By this time the coloured one-inch – originally only to have been produced, mainly for military users, for a seventy-mile radius from London – was being extended across Britain: it was on its way to becoming the standard form of one-inch map. The colour ‘sienna’ (sometimes ‘siena’) takes its name from a particular earth found near the city of that name in Italy. ‘True sienna’ is yellowy: ‘burnt sienna’ is encountered in all manner of shades. The background to the early coloured maps can be found in Tim Nicholson, The Birth of the Modern Ordnance Survey small-scale map, published by the Charles Close Society in 2002, and available via this website.

Dorking & Leith Hill, 1914. ‘Explaining’ this map involves discussing more than the one-inch. By 1902 the War Office had decided that they preferred a half-inch rather than the one-inch as the standard military map, and so the Ordnance Survey set about producing one: it was effectively a diluted and generalised version of the one-inch. Evolving a satisfactory style proved very difficult; much of this development took place from 1905 to 1911, whilst Major Charles Close was in charge of mapping at the War Office. The Ordnance Survey’s half-inch was at first hill-shaded, giving an effect broadly similar to hachuring, if not looked at too closely, at a fraction of the cost, but the War Office decided that it wanted hypsometric tinting (‘layering’), and from 1908 the half-inch was being produced in both layered and hill-shaded versions. There was already a layered half-inch map of Britain produced by Bartholomew, and the style of official half-inch that had evolved by 1910 bore a general resemblance in approach to the Bartholomew product. The latter carried a road classification supplied by the Cyclists Touring Club that combined width with infill to give nine basic classes. In August 1911 Close, now a Colonel, moved from the War Office to become Director-General of the Ordnance Survey. A few months later a committee at the War Officer, chaired by Colonel Aylmer Hunter-Weston, met in order to consider aspects of the half-inch map. These included road classification, and the system recommended by the Committee, if implemented unchanged, would have produced a still further convergence of style between the Ordnance Survey and the Bartholomew styles, based as it was on one infill colour, with one solid and two intervals of pecking, combined with variable-width casings, to give nine classes of road. The new classification was adopted by the Ordnance Survey, and data for it was collected as part of what was officially the third national revision of the one-inch map, which began in earnest shortly after the Hunter-Weston committee had reported. Although the revision was made for the one-inch, any data gathered would also be used to update the half-inch map, even if it appeared at the larger scale first. Close thought that the style of the one-inch, which was similar to that adopted in 1896, but now with woodland infilled green, could be improved, and one suspects that any improvement on the one-inch could provide guidance for improving the half-inch as well. Close was inspired in this not least by the new 1:50,000 mapping of France, a style known as the ‘Type 1900’, on which relief was shown by hill-shading and contours, with land-cover indicated by various tints. Close was constrained by having to reuse existing material as far as possible, which meant the engraved outline and hachure plates for the New Series-type mapping, but he was able to develop new styles of road depiction and relief colouring. His style included two road-infill colours, red and yellow, enabling the basic Hunter-Weston system to be implemented with one variety of pecking instead of two, and relief was shown by hachures, selective hill-shading, contours and layers. At the same time Close was concerned to reduce the number of styles of map available, and the new ‘fully coloured’ style would have been complemented by a single ‘outline’ edition. The new style made its debut on a one-inch special sheet of Killarney, in south-west Ireland, issued in 1913. A number of further special sheets were issued over the next year or so, with some detail variations in style: the biggest seller of these appears to have been Dorking & Leith Hill, issued in June 1914. The sheets known to have been issued for sale were all based on the one-inch revision of 1901-12, which used the road classification recommended by the War Office committee of 1892. Consequently, though the infill colours used were those selected for ‘Hunter-Weston’ mapping, the colouring remains ‘enhancing’ rather than ‘informative’: all first class roads are infilled red, and all second-class roads are infilled yellow. At least four sheets based on the third revision begun in 1912, with the Hunter-Weston classification, were printed in 1914 (two sheets, Aldershot (N) and Aldershot (S), of which there are examples in Cambridge University Library; 144, Plymouth, illustrated on this website at, and now known in two copies; 145, Torquay, copy in the RGS-IBG collection), and these embody a layer-colour scheme differing from the published experimental sheets based on the second revision. In the event, the ‘third revision’ mapping was published from 1919 onwards in a ‘coloured outline’ style that has become known as the Popular Edition. The extract from New Popular Edition sheet 170 of 1945 in this group exemplifies the ‘coloured outline’ approach. There are several identifiable printings of Dorking & Leith Hill: the one illustrated here seems to be the second, with somewhat stronger woodland colour. The map appears to be printed in eleven colours: outline in black, water in blue, contours in brown, woodland in green, roads in red and yellow, hachures in brown, hill-shading in grey, and possibly three layer-colours, though these are so subtle that they are hard to distinguish. No ‘layer-box’ was provided, and these colours were intended to give a feel for the shape of the land rather than provide material for the analyses of cartographic historians. The shades vary considerably on later printings – the last was made in 1925 – and they tend to lack the delicacy of the 1914 originals. Though the effects of the experiments of 1913-14 on the one-inch are well-known, the ultimate object appears to have been to improve the half-inch map, and eliminate the separate hill-shaded and layered forms: a single surviving example of the proposed style, with obvious affinities to Dorking & Leith Hill and the other ‘fully coloured’ sheets, can be seen on this website at More on the experiments of 1913-14 and on the Popular Edition can be found in Yolande Hodson, Popular Maps, published by the Charles Close Society in 1999, and available via this website.

One-inch Fifth (Relief) sheet 124, 1934. The ‘coloured outline’ style of the Popular Edition sold better that had the earlier ‘fully coloured’ styles of one-inch mapping. This may have been due to its merits, but was probably more because of a general rise in demand for the one-inch with the growth of motoring, recreational walking, geographical education, and other uses. The Popular Edition of England & Wales was based on engraving on copper, but this was an obsolescent technique, and the corresponding mapping of Scotland was based on redrawing, although the general style imitated that of the engraved maps that were being replaced. The drawings were then photographed to produce negatives, from which zinc printing plates, duly sensitised, could be produced: this process was known as heliozincography. What was to be the Fifth Edition of the one-inch, to be based on the fourth national revision of the New Series mapping, was based on a new design. The most obvious element of this was the style of lettering, which was designed by Captain J.G. Withycombe and Ellis Martin, the Survey’s resident artist, and was based on that on Trajan’s Column in Rome. The new map was also to have a new geodetic basis: whereas the New Series had been on the Cassini projection, using the meridian of Delamere, the Fifth Edition was to be on the Transverse Mercator projection, origin 49° north, 2° west, and would carry a co-ordinate reference system, based on the yard. The road classification was somewhat simplified from the ‘Hunter-Weston’ classification used on the Popular Edition. The original intention was to publish the map in a ‘coloured outline’ style, similar to the Popular Edition, but Brigadier Harold Winterbotham, who became Director-General in 1930, decided that a relief style, similar to that of the 1913-14 sheets such as Killarney and Dorking and Leith Hill, should be used. One of the factors behind the adoption of the ‘coloured outline’ style was the reduction in the number of printings needed: the first such sheets were in five printings (outline, water, contours-and-second-class-roads, woods, first-class roads) though six or seven (depending whether a separate water infill tint plate was used) were thereafter standard. What emerged in October 1931 as the ‘Fifth (RELIEF) Edition’ was in seven printings: outline, water, contours-and-first-class-roads, second-class roads, woods, hachures and layers in brown, and some hachures in grey to create a ‘shaded’ effect. (The layers were at 500 feet intervals, so there is only one change on this extract.) It thus achieved the object of being in ‘no more printings than the Popular’, though the preparation of the relief plates must have been an expensive process, even though the hachures were reused from the engraved material. The emphasis of ‘(RELIEF)’ in the series title was perhaps in the hope that it would be referred to as just ‘the Relief Edition’ as successor to ‘the Popular Edition’: posterity has insisted on the Fifth Edition. The result produced a mixed reaction at the time, and has continued to do so since. Some, such as Sir Charles Close, welcomed the revival of the intentions of 1913-14; others regarded it as either an over-rich confection or actually less legible (the RAC said it was ‘mud-coloured’), and preferred the simplicity of the Popular Edition. Collectors and students of cartography have taken a similar line: perhaps ‘distance lends enchantment to the view’, and the mapping appears better if it is not being used for navigation in the ground. A complication was that, because of slow publication and changing sheet lines, it was necessary to keep the Popular Edition in print for a while, and this certainly drew off some sales. From January 1935 the Fifth Edition was offered in both Relief and ‘non-relief’ form: the latter was initially in five colours and was an immediate success. Up to 1936 22 Fifth (RELIEF) Edition sheets were published: none were reprinted, whereas the ‘non-relief’ sheets quickly went to reprint, and further publication was wholly in the ‘non-relief’ style. The Fifth Edition in its various forms is described in Richard Oliver, A Guide to the Ordnance Survey One-inch Fifth Edition, published in 2000; both are available via this website.

One-inch Fifth (physical features alone) sheet 124, 1934. From about 1920 printings of the one-inch Popular Edition, and also the quarter-inch, were to be had in contours-and-water form, ‘run-ons’ being produced in association with reprints. These printings were produced for educational purposes with the collaboration of the Geographical Association: they were not standard publications, and it is uncertain what printings were made of what sheets and when, though the practice apparently continued into the 1960s. The production of the ‘physical features’ form of the Fifth Edition was a logical development of this: they were a formal publication, available for sale, and used the ‘relief’ elements of the mapping. This was undertaken with the minimum of extra work and of ‘making good’, so that there were, for example, still breaks in rivers for bridges; on the other hand the ‘layering’, with the subtle change at 500 feet, is more obvious. The sheets were printed in runs of 200 or 300 copies: although they were available to anyone, in practice sales appear to have overwhelmingly to educational users. The exclusion of all cultural and land-cover detail can give a curiously disorienting effect even to an area that one thinks one knows well.

New Popular Edition sheet 170, 1947. A wide-ranging investigation into the Ordnance Survey in 1935-8 under Viscount Davidson led to the adoption of a metric grid as both a geodetic and a sheet-layout basis for the mapping. The first-fruit of this was a remodelling of the one-inch, which was now to be a single national series, in 190 sheets. The Fifth Edition, in its non-relief style, was the basis for the earlier sheets, though an economy was to combine second-class roads and contours, in one printing, in orange. (This can be seen on a Dover area sheet elsewhere in this collection.) This was not a complete success, and the definitive New Popular style, as illustrated here, had second-class roads in yellow, and contours in brown: in this it fairly closely followed the style of the ‘old Popular’. There is more on the ‘New Popular Edition’ in the Ross-on-Wye area extracts in this collection.

See also our collection of Rare Maps online that complement these.