Map collection charts Manchester's history

By jonbauckham, 3 January 2013 - 4:53pm

A collection of historic maps showing the changing face of Manchester since the 18th century are now available to view online

Thursday 3 January, 2013
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© Manchester City Council/University of Manchester 

A collection of maps revealing over 200 years of Manchester’s history is now available to view online
The University of Manchester Library’s Centre for Heritage Imaging and Collection Care (CHICC) has scanned and uploaded 300 historic maps online, enabling web users to zoom in and navigate at street level.
Encompassing both Ordnance Survey maps and plans created by private surveyors, the new release includes the first large-scale map of the city and environs, produced by William Green at the turn of the 18th century. Complemented by a street map collection from 1750 to 1930 and detailed traffic plans for the Manchester Ship Canal, the free resource demonstrates the extent of urbanisation of Manchester and Salford during the Industrial Revolution, when the North West of England became the world centre of textile manufacturing.
The changing face of the city can also be seen following the addition of bomb maps held by Manchester City Council, which were recently unearthed following renovation work at the Town Hall. Unseen for over 60 years, the colour-coded maps show the devastation wreaked on Manchester during the Second World War.
While sections of the bomb maps were shaded red to indicate which buildings had been completely demolished, those which were highlighted in pink indicated the structures which were reported as damaged, but still standing. The markings are so precise it is possible to identify exactly which individual houses, shops and factories were damaged, enabling locals to find out how their neighbourhoods were affected.
But crucially, the availability of all the map data online will enable genealogists all over the world with Mancunian forebears to understand the city's changing geography, and learn about the environment in which they would have lived.
“These wonderfully detailed maps are a fabulous resource for family historians,” says Sue Wilkes, the author of Tracing Your Lancashire Ancestors.
“If you know your ancestor's address, a map can help you explore their lives ‘on the ground’ and make sense of their daily routine. Where was the nearest church, and which denomination was it? Which schools were within walking distance? A good map can give clues to possible areas of future research.”
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