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Thursday, 7 November, 2002, 19:08 GMT
Ancient maps chart London's growth
Folding map
The maps were designed to be used by travellers
Most people in London never go anywhere without their A - Z and a new exhibition has opened which shows the same was true 200 years ago.

A collection of more than 500 folding maps of London has opened at the Shapero Gallery in Bruton Street, central London.

The maps chart the growth of the capital from the almost pastoral city of the 1740s to the modern city of the early 20th century.

The collection once filled the house of City worker Joel Tabor, who collected the maps from the 1930s until he died in 1999.


This is one of the ancestors to our modern day A - Z map

Lucinda Boyle, exhibition organiser
Before the 18th century, maps appeared as separate sheets or were bound in large volumes as atlases.

But towards the end of the century they were mounted on linen and folded and eventually became pocket maps for travellers.

The exhibition includes the first large-scale, accurate map of London by John Roque published in 1746.

Richard Horwood published the largest map of London of the 18th century in 1792 at 25 inches to the mile.

He covered every street on foot from Islington in the north to Kennington in the south using chains and wheeled instruments to measure distances.
Folding map
A silk map can be crumpled in a pocket

Exhibition organiser Lucinda Boyle told BBC London: "This is one of the ancestors to our modern day A - Z map.

"He walked every street and marked every number, every courtyard and it took him nine years.

"He never made any money from it and in 1803, exhausted from his efforts, he died."

A map of 1827 shows the capital still "clinging" to the Thames, with no substantial buildings more than a mile or two from the river.

Tube map

There is an early braille map from 1841, with buildings in relief.

When cycling became fashionable maps advised enthusiasts which hills had to be ridden down with the brakes on and which ones required dismounting.

By the end of the 19th century the Underground railway had arrived and a small folding pocket map of 1922 was the precursor of today's Tube map.

The collection is expected to fetch up to 300,000 at auction.

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BBC London's Julie Gatenby
"Before the 1700s maps were largely decorative but 18th century mapmakers wanted to make them more practical."

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