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Ordnance Survey drawings

The original large-scale drawings made for the famous one-inch-to-the-mile maps present a detailed picture of England and Wales between the 1780s and 1840.

To find maps in this series graphically, refer to the Georeferencer interactive map or the static index

Image of Peter Barber

Peter Barber

Head of Map Collections

The British Library is very fortunate in possessing 351 of the original preliminary drawings made by the surveyors between the 1780s and 1840. They cover most of England south of a line between Liverpool and Hull. The collection includes maps drawn by Robert Dawson, perhaps the most talented of the draftsmen, whose work set the style for British military map making. His Survey drawings of North Wales show his skill at its best.

Read the full curator's introduction

Curator's choice

Peter Barber highlights personal favourite items from the collection

See all of the items in this exhibition

Lands End, Mount's Bay, Cornwall

This coastal survey shows the defence works of Mount's Bay, from Mousehole to Marazion. The area...


The individual settlements that make up this area of London are shown by red blocks, with boundar...


This drawing of Caernarfon Bay is formally titled in the top left margin. An area calculation tab...


Although this drawing was surveyed six years before the obligatory inclusion of archaeological si...

Birmingham 24

This drawing is attributed to Robert Dawson. Different shades of green are employed to distinguis...

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