Master Atlas of Greater London – Anniversary Edition

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The Master Atlas of Greater London has been our flagship London publication since the very first edition, published in 1967 (priced at 57 Shillings and Sixpence). During this time the street mapping inside has been completely redrawn, the area of coverage extended and Super Scale mapping of central London added. Available next month, this new edition has been updated for …


Paper page patch-up

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This A-Z Manchester page, from the early 1960s, was constructed using paper copies of drawing originals which were glued and patched together on a carrier sheet. With the page number, index references and continuation arrows stuck on, pages were then photographically reduced to the printing scale. What is very visible here is that the revision work for subsequent editions (up …


Road map Town development

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Over 20 years separates these two road maps of Carlisle, typically illustrating the type of changes found throughout the country. The upgrading of the A74 to motorway (the M6 towards Glasgow) and the Todhills Service Area. The A689 by-pass to the west built to ease traffic congestion in the town centre and the changes in road classifications as a result. …


Scribing sheet – stopping out

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After scribing map detail, both road junctions and pecked lines (those broken at regular intervals) needed to be formed. Referred to as ‘stopping-out’, this involved the inking out of unwanted line work and the application of ‘pecks’ – a linear pattern of stripping-film blocks, cut out and stuck down along footpath and track lines. Because it was difficult to prevent …


Beam compass

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A beam compass has the ability to draw circles with a radius far greater than those drawn using a regular compass. A precision made instrument, the length of the beam could be increased by joining sections of rod together. This particular model allows an independent pen, like a Rotring isograph or Staedtler Lumocolor, to be used. The size of circle …


A packet of Greater London Atlases from the 1950s

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Wrapped in brown paper with a gummed label, rather than packed in a box with a self-adhesive sticker, this packet of atlases is over 60 years old! It predates the introduction of the SBN (Standard Book Number) and, of course, the present day ISBN (International Standard Book Number) as well as the barcode. Quite why this packet was never opened …


Erasing machine

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This is an electric eraser from the 1960s and was used to carefully remove detail from tracing paper and mylar drawing sheets. Plug erasers were available in a variety of types suited to removing a particular medium from different materials. Our most common use would have been to remove inked map detail as part of our revision process. Erasing machine …


Proportional Divider

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These proportional dividers were useful in transferring detail from one scale of drawing to another. For example, a large scale plan at 1:2500 is four times larger than our target drawing scale of 1:10000, a 1:4 ratio requiring a setting of 400 on the proportional divider scale. Alternatively, if the national grid was marked on a plan, a map roamer …


Varityper typesetter

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In the early 1980s A-Z installed their first computer phototypesetter complete with a monochrome, or ‘green screen’, VDU. Road names and other map text was typed on a keyboard and stored on punch tape which was then run back through a reader to expose letters to film. A later AM Varityper phototypesetter used a different storage and retrieval system along …


Railway curves

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Railway lines often require long sweeping arcs and these metal draughtsman railway curves were used to draw these features on maps. A full set of curves, using both inner and outer edges, provided a significant number of options. While the later, often plastic, French curve was convenient as a single tool it did not offer the range and sweep angle …