Wednesday 9 February 2011

Old Maps

Many thanks to whose map I have shamelessly copied.

I cam across a fabulous link to searchable Old Maps recently. I have spent several hours exploring our present area, finding that little bits of wall ("oh that was a barn once" I was told on several occasions) were actually cottages with names, and what's more those names lasted on the map until the 1970s, when I can only assume these cottages were condemned and no longer homes . . .

Anyway, this morning I had a bright idea, and have begun searching the area where I grew up in Southampton - Sholing. I knew that the area was called Weston Common, but what I didn't know what that there were brickworks BOTH sides of the road, and that the wooden cabin of Old Queenie Goddard (who I thought was a witch, though she used to give me little packs of biscuits which had gone soft with age . . .) hadn't always been there forever.

The earliest map showed the common before any brickworks, it showed the tumuli by the Roman road at Thornhill, and the Keeper's Cottage, and Spring Road, and Dumbleton Copse and Netley Firs (how could I have forgotten Netley Firs?) and Botany Bay, and a common which was almost totally devoid of any houses.

The next map was dated 1909 and showed a Cricket Ground where I never knew there had been one, and I found that the Surrey House clinic in the middle of a 1940s estate, had got its name from a by-then-demolished Surrey House. Likewise, a Heathfield House had made way for Heathfield Avenue and school and assorted houses . . . The orchard where we used to go scrumping became part of a farm, with a name - Step Bottom Farm. Spring Hill at some point would become Bursledon Road, but not yet. . . There were gravel pits - disused and otherwise - everywhere, and many springs marked.

The next 20 or so years saw a huge building project take place. "Our" road became a row of houses which replaced one sett of gravel pits and disused brickworks. The house where I grew up was built, and shown with the big barn still attached to the back - it was later moved to the side of the house and used as a garage.

By 1938, more building, but still many Small Holdings marked on the map, as well as the Allotments which had been shown 30 years before. Surrey House and its neighbour Daintree House were still standing in their leafy grounds backing onto the gravel pits. However, a grid of side roads were starting to be etched in, all roads I was very familiar with though I hadn't realized they were pre-War houses. Houses began to be built on the other side of the road now - houses with wonderful 100 foot gardens where people were able to keep a few chickens and grow wonderful vegetables. I notice an Antelope Farm where none was marked on an earlier map - not a place I knew of either, but by my time it was flattened beneath Council Houses . . .

By 1952, there were villas neatly lining the Botley Road, with names such as Cholwyn, Tresco, Pine Coppice, Dudley, Doonan and Ambleside. The small holdings had disappeared beneath a sea of housing and roads. There were still bits of the old gravel works which were unsuitable for housing and they were left - areas where we played as kids and had wonderful camps. Around 1960 the brick works finally closed and housing appeared. The area marked on the map as The Birches (never knew this) became a smallholding and strawberries were grown there (this I remember as gypsy ponies were turned out there, ones we looked after and galloped up the strawberry rows to jump our home-made jumps - all this bareback and with just a rope halter for control! Palomino Shane, skewbald Storm and a hogged grey who jumped like a stag. I cannot for the life of me remember his name . . .)

There are even more houses now . . .


  1. Must definitely explore this site, it looks fascinating and a goldmine for family and local historians.

  2. I love old map, new maps and any maps! We buy them just for fun and spend ages just pouring over them....I think one day I might wallpaper the little loo in old maps!

  3. Several years ago I found an online source to purchase reproduction maps from the late 1800's. I have one of my home town and one of the upstate New York town where my Mother's family lived for literally hundreds of years.
    The names of then owners of various homes and farms are in tiny print on the maps. I have them nicely framed but can take them down and trace the backroads in my mind.

  4. I intend to go back to the area where I grew up in May of this year - I wonder what I shall find as it is fifty years since I was there, and I wonder whether it is a good idea or not. Time will tell but, like you, I do love looking at old maps.

  5. How interesting, I'll have to see if there is an American site like it.

  6. How completely fascinating! Discovering things like that gives a certain honor to those who came before us. I can hardly wait until you uncover more!

  7. What a fascinating potted history of your home village BB, and so much information found from the old maps! I have several olds maps from family left-overs or from charity shop finds. Like you, I can look at them for hours.

    Thank you for the link to the website.

  8. I used to use Oldmaps BB but then they stopped allowing you to copy them, so how do you do it?. Love the way you ramble on through your history, sometimes I feel it is sad that the old buildings and ways of life are swept aside for the next generation.

  9. What fun, I'm off to check Glastonbury's old maps now!