Free historic OS maps of England and Wales go online

The National Library of Scotland unveils zoomable collection of English and Welsh maps from 1842-1952. By Steve Newell

Salisbury map

The National Library of Scotland has announced a major new online resource for family historians – a collection of English and Welsh maps covering more than 100 years.

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The highly detailed zoomable maps of England and Wales from 1842 to 1952 allow anyone to browse through a catalogue of place names, modern street names, postcodes and grid references. You can access the maps here. Alternatively, you can look through a clickable graphic index at the site’s Find by Place viewer here.

The website compiles 37,390 sheets, including 35,124 quarter sheets of A2 size, and 2,236 full sheets at A0 size, which makes for a wide range of search options.

The National Library of Scotland’s map digitisation work in recent years has been externally funded, leading to a recent expansion in map images beyond Scotland including a Victorian plan of London which was uploaded last year.

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The Ordnance Survey six-inch mapping system is the most detailed map scale to cover England and Wales and can record most man-made features in the landscape such as roads, railways, fields, fencing, streams and buildings. Smaller features such as letterboxes, bollards and mileposts can also be seen.

For many of the towns featured, the maps show the detailed urbanisation and rapidly changing landscape from 1914 through to the 1940s thanks to 25 inch to the mile mapping.

Although images can only be viewed individually, you have the option via the map group tool to look at an area from the 1840’s up until 1952.

[Published 14 March 2014]