Page last modified 13/5/2019
1989, The Ordnance Survey began using a computerised system for updating their maps.
1903, Charles Booth (born in Liverpool, 1840) completed the last of his famous socio-economic maps of London (begun 1890).
1858, The Ordnance Survey chose the scale of 1:2,500 for mapping England and Wales.
1824, The Ordnance Survey began mapping Ireland,but ran into a major problem. Persistent mists,which unlike in Britain did not clear by mid-morning. Thomas Drummond solved the problem with a ‘pea-light’, a pellet of lime (calcium oxide) which burnt with an intense light that could be seen at a long distance through fog or drizzle. This gave rise to the term ‘limelight’.
1812, The Great Trignometrical Survey of India, a project conceived in 1799, actually began. The British-produced maps were somewhat colonial in that, for example,the 1842 ‘Calcutta’ map showed banks and police stations, but not temples or mosques.
21/6/1791, The Ordnance Survey, Britain’s mapping service, was created. On this day a payment of £373, 14 shillings was made to Jesse Ramsden for the construction of a ‘great theodolite’, 3 feet in diameter and weighing 200 pounds (90 kilogrammes) for the purpose of making precise military maps of Britain. The need for this had been foreseen in 1763 by William Roy, amidst fears of invasion from France and a lack of reliable maps for the military. By 1784 UK-France relations had improved and cross-Channel efforts were being made to establish the longitude and latitude of Greenwich and Paris. In 1800 the first cartographical unit of the British Army, the Corps of Royal Military Draughtsmen, was formed, based at the Tower of London.
27/1/1773, Death of Philippe Buache, cartographer who invented contour lines on maps.
1747, Following the Jacobite Rebellions in Scotland of 1745, the British Government saw the need for an accurate map of the whole of Scotland, not just of the great castles fortresses and estates as existed then. Under the leadership of Lieutenant-Colonel David Watson, General William Roy began a survey of all Scotland. This was completed in 1755, at a scale of 1000 yards to an inch (1:36,000).
1746, Jean Etienne Guettard drew the first geological map of France.
1744, Cesar Francois Cassini (born 17/6/1714 in Thury, France) directed the first triangulation survey of France. This wasthe first map produced on modern principles.
1743, Christopher Packe produced A new philosophical chart of east Kent; the first geological map.
1733, France began a major cartographical survey of the whoile country, from which a national series of maps, 78 sheets, was produced in 1745.
1700, Edmund Halley published magnetic charts of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, showing lines of equal magnetic variation.
1675, English mapmaker John Ogilby produced Britannia, the firsr road map of Britain showing rivers, bridges and towns.
5/12/1594, Gerard Mercator, Flemish geographer and cartographer, died in Duisberg, aged 82. He projected the world map onto a flat surface using lines of longitude and latitude.
20/5/1570, Flemish cartographer Abraham Ortelius produced the first modern-style atlas, entitled ‘Theatre of the World’.
1568, Mercator invented the map projection that bears his name.
1551, The theodolite (surveying telescope) was invented by Leonard Digges. The invention was only publicised by his son, Thomas, in 1571.
1550, The first street map of London was produced.
1515, The first globe to show the Americas was constructed, by Johannes Sehoner (born 16/1/1477 in Karlstadt, Germany).
1513, Waldseemuller produced a world atlas with 200 maps.
5/3/1512, Gerardus Mercator, Flemish cartographer, was born in Flanders, as Gerhard Kremer.
1492, Martin Behaim made the first globe map of the Earth – omitting the soon-to-be-discovered Americas and Pacific Ocean.
1397, Physician and mapmaker Paolo Toscanelli was born in Florence, Italy. It was his incorrect map, showing Asia just 3,000 miles west of Europe, that persuaded Columbus to sail west from Europe.
1314, The Mappa Mundi was produced, a map of the world with Jerusalem at its centre.
1300, Rhumb lines came into use for sea charts. They are lines of constant bearing relative to North; fanning out from ports, they helped sailors find their way back to port when on open sea.
1158, The world’s earliest known printed map was produced, showing western China.
115, In China, Zhang Heng developed the use of grid references for pinpointing locations on a map.
2250 BCE, The first city map was produced. It showed Lagash in Mesopotamia.
2350 BCE, Maps were produced by Sargon of Akkad, for taxation purposes.
15,000 BCE, The earliest artefact with a map was produced. Found in Mexhirich, Russia, it appears to show the immediate area around which it was found.