O'Connorville, Chartist Utopia, 1846

This map is surrounded by pictures of farmers working in beautiful countryside. The map was created by Chartists in 1846.

Chartism was a political movement set up by working men in the 1830s. At this time, the only citizens allowed to vote in British parliamentary elections were men who owned property of a certain value. The Chartists campaigned to reform the British electoral system, believing all men over the age of 21 should have the right to vote.

In 1846 the Chartists purchased a large patch of land in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire. The plan was to turn the land into an estate for the urban poor. It would be named O’Connorville. The houses on the estate were affordable to ordinary working men. Each house included a patch of land on which the owner could rear farm animals, or set up workshops. The intention was to allow poor people from the city to become more self-sufficient. The Chartists hoped the land would help "change the whole face of society in 12 months", and would "make a paradise of England in less than five years."

This map of O’Connorville includes an idyllic-looking illustration of rural life on the estate.

But the scheme was a failure. The land allocated to each house was not enough to support a family, especially when many of the residents had little experience of farming. All the properties were eventually sold, and the area is now an expensive housing estate.

Taken from: O'Connorville, the first Estate purchased by the Chartist Co-operative Land Company
Date: 1846
Copyright: By permission of the British Library Board
Shelfmark: Maps 162.s.1