Reading Branch meeting 26th Sept 2019
Speaker: John Leighfield John opened his talk with an anecdote about Einstein and his chauffeur which set the pace and delivery for the evening.
He informed the gathering that the earliest maps were around 6000 BC from Turkey, then from 1400 BC Italian wall carving and then 6th century BC from a tablet found in Babylon.
Important dates from Britain were 150AD Ptolemy, (1480 print shown) and Matthew Paris 1250. Richard Gough was a notable collector and writer who left a c1360 map to the Bodleian Library which he had purchased in 1774 for half a crown.
The big changes came in the 16th century which were brought about by the revolutionary things of printing, military threat (Spanish), the development of surveying as a profession (Henry VIII and Elizabeth I).
Christopher Saxton from Leeds in Yorkshire deserves greater recognition. In 1570 he was granted a monopoly by the Elizabethan Court for 10 years on map production. By 1574 he had mapped Norfolk and Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire. He published an Atlas of Britain in 1579. This was achieved using compasses, theodolites, chains and wheels by way of triangulations.
Others notable in the field of map making were William Camden 1586 and John Speed, a merchant tailor 1611.
Map scales varied until Van Langeren/Jenner in 1644 standardised and used matrices. Early maps did not show roads and rivers. The scale set was using 1760 yards in a mile, as there was variance as to the length of the mile.
Other dates John Bull 1626 longitude and latitude was shown, Drayton 1623 indicated rivers, Cole tourist maps, French maps Cassini 1744, John Rocque 1761 showing detail such as fields.
The Ordinance Survey triangulation in 1791 started from Hounslow Heath with a scale of one inch to the mile.
John concluded by showing maps made by satellite by the Russians in 1975 with great amounts of detail on them, and he expected in the future for much greater detail from G.P.S. data.
This was a thoroughly entertaining and informative evening delivered in an excellent manner and concluded by a display of many maps laid before those attending and a comprehensive hand out of the subject covered.