Ordnance Survey Map. 6 inches to the mile, 1867
A few years after the earliest Ordnance Survey of the Chiswick area appeared on a one inch to one mile scale in 1822, there were demands for a more detailed map of the country. After mapping Ireland at six inches to the mile for accurate land taxation between 1824 and 1846, it became clear that “six inches would be the thing”, especially for railway engineers planning new routes. As well as the railway mania, exploitation of mineral resources, unprecedented town expansion and land drainage schemes added to the demand. There was, however, opposition to the large scale mapping, both from vested interests amongst private surveyors, and on the grounds of cost. Others wanted an even more detailed survey, such as 24 inches to the mile.
The Survey Act of 1841 gave surveyors the legal right “to enter into and upon any land… for the purposes of making and carrying out a survey” so there were no excuses any more for blank spaces. The surveyors, men of the Royal Engineers and the Royal Sappers and Miners, had to start afresh. However, they seriously miscalculated the amount of work involved, especially in urban areas and it took far longer than expected.*
This map shows Chiswick as still predominantly rural, with large areas given over to horticulture and farming. However, it also shows that suburban house building has begun to have an impact, especially near the border with Hammersmith, in Chiswick New Town and in areas along the High Road.
Acknowledgements: ©Crown Copyright 1867. With thanks to Chiswick Public Library and the collections at the London Metropolitan Archives, City of London.
* See Richard Oliver, Ordnance Survey Map: A Concise Guide for Historians, The Charles Close Society for the Study of Ordnance Survey Maps, 2005; Seymour, W.A., ed. (1980). A History of the Ordnance Survey. Folkestone: Wm Dawson & Son, 1980; J.B.Harley, The Historian’s Guide to Ordnance Survey Maps, reprinted from The Amateur Historian, with additional material, published for the Standing Conference of Local History, Blackfriars Press, 1964