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Ross-on-Wye Area Whilst the Ordnance Survey one-inch map and its 1:50,000 successor have passed through a succession of styles, these have usually been successive rather than alternative. An unusual exception to this is presented by a strip of country running up from the Forest of Dean towards the Malvern Hills, which was mapped in four contrasting styles between 1947 and 1952 in the New Popular Edition and its successor. This is explained by an overlap between ‘metric one-inch’ sheets 142 and 143. The New Popular Edition is described in Richard Oliver, A guide to the Ordnance Survey One-inch New Popular Edition, published by the Charles Close Society in 2000, and the Seventh Edition and Seventh Series are described in Richard Oliver, A Guide to the Ordnance Survey One-inch Series, published by the Charles Close Society in 2004; both are available via this website. 

New Popular edition sheet 142, 1947. The one-inch New Popular Edition was conceived in 1937-8, with the aim of covering Great Britain by a single series of 190 sheets, laid out on the Transverse Mercator metric grid. It was intended that the cartography would be in the style of the Fifth ‘non-relief’ Edition, reusing Fifth Edition material where it existed, and otherwise depending on new drawing. By 1939 several sheets were at proof stage, and some were printed in 1940-41, but destruction of materials by enemy action on 30 November and 1 December 1940 resulted in the New Popular Edition being restricted to England and Wales: of the 114 sheets, 50 were in Fifth Edition style, and the other 64 were ‘Provisional’ and based on ‘old Popular Edition’ material. The basis of the latter was engraved copper plates: ink or lampblack was rubbed into the engraved lines, and the ‘inked-up’ plate was then photographed, enabling heliozincographic methods to be employed. It was a clever and effective improvisation. Sheet 142 was based on ‘old Popular’ material throughout; Fifth Edition-style material was available for the overlap with sheet 143, but to have used it would have made for an inconsistent appearance. (A discreet piece of revision taken from sheet 143 is the ‘Golf Course’ and ‘C.H.’ (Club House) north-east of Ross-on-Wye.) Detail characteristic of the ‘old Popular’ includes mileages, derived from mile stones and posts, along main roads, ‘P.t.’ for post office with telephone, ‘T’ for post office with telegraph, and signs for the ‘character’ of woods, that is whether coniferous or non-coniferous. To assimilate the appearance to the Fifth Edition material, building infill in built-up areas is solid black. Two additions to ‘old Popular’ detail are the Ministry of Transport road numbers, and parish boundaries. The latter are grey continuous lines, which might be taken for pencilled additions: this convention was adopted because of a desire to assimilate the content of ‘old Popular’ and ‘Fifth’ material as far as possible, but evidently hasty compilation means that these boundaries, where not fitted to other detail such as roads and watercourses, are often not in sympathy with their ‘true’ positions on the ground. No other detail shown on later nineteenth century or twentieth century Ordnance Survey small-scale mapping has been so compromised in its position. An alternative monochrome ‘outline’ edition of the New Popular Edition was offered, from which the parish boundaries were omitted: as such outline editions were often used as base-maps for plotting data in association with parish boundaries, this seems most unfortunate. The map is printed in eight colours: outline in black, water outline in blue, water tint in light blue, contours in brown, woods in green, first class roads in red, other roads in darkish yellow, and parish boundaries in grey. The actual shades varied over the years, and tend to be lighter on later printings.

New Popular edition sheet 143, 1946. As explained in the commentary on New Popular Edition sheet 142 in this section, it was intended that the whole of the New Popular Edition would be in Fifth Edition style: in the event sheet 143 represented practically the north-western limit of this style. The production method meant that the finished map was at least a second-generation version of the original drawing, and this tended to compromise sharpness and freshness. Whilst much of the detail is in common with sheet 142, based on ‘old Popular’ material, differences include the lack of tree signs in woodland, the omitting of mileages along main roads, the use of ‘P’ for a post office with telephone and telegraph, and the showing of parish boundaries by black dotted lines. The road casings were drawn so as to accord with Ministry of Transport classifications, and these stand out well. The map is printed in seven colours: outline in black, water outline in blue, water tint in light blue, contours in brown, woods in green, first class roads in red, and other roads in darkish yellow.

Seventh (Great Britain) Edition sheet 142, 1949. The hopes entertained in 1938 that the New Popular Edition would provide a long-term solution to the one-inch mapping of Britain were not fulfilled. The need to restore the one-inch mapping of Britain after the destruction of 1940 meant that Scotland was covered by a reissue of the Popular Edition, and the majority of England and Wales were covered by a ‘Provisional’ reworking of ‘old Popular’ material, as exemplified by sheet 142 in this section. The fifty sheets in Fifth Edition style were compromised by a less than ideally sharp appearance, and in 1947, even before the post-war republication of the civil one-inch was complete, Major-General Geoffrey Cheetham, the Director-General, reluctantly decided to replace the New Popular Edition. At first this was designated variously ‘Seventh Edition’ and ‘Seventh (Great Britain) Edition’: in 1951, to accord with NATO standardisation, it was renamed ‘Seventh Series’. Sheet 142 was selected as the ‘pilot sheet’ for the Seventh Edition, as revision material was available, complemented by a start on national revision in 1948, including the overlap strip with sheet 143. Cheetham was unhappy with several aspects of the New Popular Edition, including the emphasis given to main roads, the black infill for built-up areas, and the style of lettering. These difficulties were addressed by reducing the width of the main roads, by using grey infill for built-up areas, and by a reversion to a style of lettering used on the Scotland Popular Edition that closely mimicked engraving, except that the ‘hairlines’ in the serifs were less pronounced. All these can be seen on Seventh Edition sheet 142: it has a clarity and delicacy superior to both the Provisional and the Fifth Edition based New Populars. It represents the apogee of development over the previous thirty years of the heliozincographed small-scale map: it distils experience and asserts a solid, established view of things. The complete sheet was printed in 1949, in limited runs for consultation purposes. There were two versions, one (following the New Popular style) with rouletted grid, and the other with solid grid. Only the first version seems to have been distributed for consultation purposes, and a number of copies survive, mostly in private hands. The one known copy of the solid-grid version was republished by the Charles Close Society in 2016 as the sixth in its series of ‘Maps from the past’. For those of us who grew up with the Seventh Series, as exemplified by the extract elsewhere in this section, a first encounter with Seventh (Great Britain) Edition sheet 142 can be a surreal experience; a feeling, almost, that one has been the subject of some strange practical joke. Part of this is the shock of an apparently well-known design appearing in a seemingly new guise. Yet in fact it has a clear logic: the basic colour-scheme is that of the New Popular, with the addition of the grey for built-up areas. From the point of view of 1952 it seems backward-looking, clinging to the past, obsolescent even before it was printed; from that of 1949 it is a refinement of contemporary practice. Once this point is grasped, then sheet 142 seems perfectly ‘normal’; it is the form of this mapping that was published from 1952 onwards that calls for explanation.

Seventh Series sheet 142, 1952. The Seventh Edition sheet 142 appeared just after Major-General Cheetham had retired, and it fell to his successor, Major-General Reginald Llewellyn (‘Bruno’) Brown to take the next steps. Although sheet 142 was circulated for comment, the definitive form of the map owed at least as much to internal Ordnance Survey developments as it did to comments from potential users. Alterations made included redesigning the symbol for earthworks, away from ‘hairy caterpillars’ to hachures at right angles to the route, redesigning the tree signs for woodland and printing them in grey, increasing the road infill colours from two to three with the introduction of brown for ‘B’ roads, using grey for infilling all but the smallest areas of building, and redesigning the text, to be suitable for photo-typeset rather than hand-written lettering. The last is not illustrated here, as by the time that the exact style was decided large numbers of sheets were in an advanced state, with hand-lettering. The map is printed in ten colours: outline in black, grid in grey, building infill and tree signs in lighter grey, water outline in blue, water tint in lighter blue, contours in brown, ‘A’ roads in red, ‘B’ roads in brown, and other infilled roads in yellow. This made for clarity, but some felt that it was extravagant: a six-colour scheme using screening to replace grey infill was devised, being black, blue, brown, green, red and yellow, which was used on military printings of the one-inch from 1953 and on civil printings from 1961. There was an overall ‘darker’ effect, but there was no loss of legibility, and there was a gain in economy of production.

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