Frequently Asked Questions


How do I search for a map?
How do I navigate around the search map?
How do I view the historic maps on-line?
How do I select alternative map editions/types?
How do I use the 'Enhanced Zoom' feature?
What is partial coverage?
How do I buy a map?
How do I enter a discount code?
What maps do we have available?
What is the subscription service?
What is the pricing structure?
What do the coloured rectangles on the search map mean?
What does a black or white space on the map mean?
What does the final product look like?
What are the framing options?
Why are maps dated differently?
What are scales?
Where do the maps come from?
Why are some towns not in the county I expect them to be in?
Can I publish an old map from the site?
What confirmation of my order will I receive?
How long will my map take to arrive?
What do the symbols on the maps mean?
What are the system requirements to view the site?
Why are the on-line maps watermarked?
How do you contact us?





How do I search for a map?

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There are 5 ways to search for a map.
  1. By browsing the search map using the pan/zoom functions.
  2. By entering address information into the search field. This field will accept Postcodes, Town Names, or Street Names and Numbers. Click 'Go' to search.
  3. By using British National Grid co-ordinates. These can be entered into the co-ordinates search field (Easting and then Northing), then clicking on 'Go'.
  4. By using the Gazetteer to search by County and then Town Name. Enter the Gazetteer by clicking on the 'Gazetteer' button and then following the on-screen instructions.
  5. You may wish to see historic maps of some famous places. To do so, select a place from the 'Places of Interest' drop down list on the site front page and the relevant historic maps will load.



You can use the search functions on the Home Page or the Maps Page. Both provide the same functionality as listed in search options 2 - 5. You can re-enter search criteria at any point when you are in the map page. If you enter easting/northing coordinates which are outside of the accepted boundaries, a warning popup message will appear.

Modern mapping layers are used for site search activities to ease the challenge of site location and improve speed and accuracy.





How do I navigate around the search map?

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You can navigate around the search map in multiple ways. Firstly, you can use the built-in pan and zoom functions to move your location view. Simply click the pan/zoom buttons to achieve your desired effect.

You can also use your mouse to pan and zoom around. To pan, hover your move over the map window then push and hold your left hand mouse button and drag the map to your desired location view. To zoom, use your mouse scroll wheel. Scroll the wheel forwards to zoom in and backwards to zoom out.

To select a location, click your mouse left hand button onto the search map at the desired location centre and the site centre icon will then appear.
The site will then commence the loading of all historical maps at this location.

To search further, repeat the above instructions until the desired site location centre is found using the navigation tools.





How do I view the historic maps on-line?

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Once you have selected your preferred site location and all historic maps for the same is loaded, the available maps will be displayed. A small thumbnail image of each map will also be displayed, along with the map date, county and scale.

To show an enlarged view of each historic map, either click on the map thumbnail or click the 'Enlarge Map' button. The selected map will be highlighted. You can also select a map by clicking on the map title text.




A larger view of each map will be loaded. To close this view, click 'Close'.







To zoom into the historic map further, click anywhere on the map. A 'zoomed in' view will be shown where you can pan around the historic map at greater detail levels.





How do I select alternative map editions/types?

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When a site centre is selected, by default 'All Available Maps' is selected on the map editions selector drop-down. This can be seen on the image to the right. This displays all historic maps available for the site location chosen.

To limit the listing of map editions on display to aid faster searching of map editions, click the maps selector drop-down button and select your map editions choice.

If you select a particular map edition type that is not available for your chosen site centre, a message will be displayed confirming such. It will also display a count of alternative map editions that are available. Click the message to display 'All Available Maps' again.





How do I use the 'Enhanced Zoom' feature?

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The 'Enhanced Zoom' feature is a Flash based advanced full-screen map viewer. Flash is required in order to utilise this advanced viewer. If you do not have Flash installed, you can get it here http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/

To access the 'Enhanced Zoom' viewer, select your desired map, then click the map image thumbnail in the map list window or click the 'Enlarge Map' button. When the historic map image is loaded, the 'Enhanced Zoom' button will appear across the map image.

Click the 'Enhanced Zoom' button. The viewer will load. Note it will take a few seconds for the image to fully appear.

The 'Enhanced Zoom' viewer consists of a image window, a image locator window (top left) and a toolbar (across the bottom). The toolbar is used to control the zoom functions. The controls are self-explanatory and consist of (left to right); zoom level bar, pan left, pan up, pan down, pan right, reset view and full-screen. To load the viewer in full-screen, click the far right icon and the viewer will load across the whole of your computer screen. To unload the full-screen view, hit 'Escape' on your keyboard or click the view reset icon. You can also use your mouse wheel to control the zoom features.

The image locator window shows your current zoomed position on the original map image. You can move this window using your mouse also.

Note: on some browser versions, the toolbar will not function until you have clicked the image to activate it.





What is partial coverage?

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If a map thumbnail shows areas of 'white' on the map, this indicates partial map coverage. Such is also indicated with a red warning message displaying 'Partial Coverage'.

This occurs if the chosen site centre split across county boundaries that have not been fully captured by the Ordnance Survey for that year/scale.

If you attempt to add a partial coverage map to your shopping cart, a warning popup message will appear requesting you confirm it is your intention to purchase the partial map.

If after selecting the partial coverage map you subsequently decide not to purchase, simply remove it from your shopping cart.





How do I buy a map?

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Once you are sure you have selected your desired area/location, scale and year, click the 'Add to Cart' button.

Your selected map will immediately load into the 'Your Cart' box ready for purchase and the selected map will be highlighted.

You can now either; (a) continue reviewing maps or (b) click the 'Proceed to Checkout' button. This will take you to the shopping cart page and display all of your selected map purchases.

You can return from the Shopping Cart page to the Maps page at any stage and select further maps of your choice and then add them to your shopping cart.

Don't forget to ensure you have reviewed all the map editions available for your selected location using the maps selector drop-down list function.


When you are ready to purchase your maps selection, proceed to the Cart page and review for purchases for delivery format.

You can choose either; (a) PDF delivered via Email, (b) Printed delivery by post, (c) Printed and Framed (Antique frame) or (d) Printed and Framed (Contemporary frame).

The price for each choice will be automatically displayed, dependent on the volume selected.

If you attempt to proceed to payment without confirming your output option, you will receive a popup warning message.

Alongside each map purchase will be a small thumbnail image displaying your chosen map, which can be used to ensure the map displays full data coverage or coverage as required before proceeding.

Once you are ready to confirm your order, enter a discount code if you have one then review and agree the Terms & Conditions by ticking the confirmation box and then click the 'Proceed to Payment' button. If you do not agree the to Terms & Conditions, a popup warning message will appear.

You will now be taken to PayPal for payment processing. Once complete you will be redirected back to www.old-maps.co.uk. PayPal are an online secure payment agency, permitting payment by PayPal or Credit Card. More can be read about them here.
We accept all major Credit and Debit Cards



How do I enter a discount code?

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If you have been provided a special discount code by Old-Maps, you can enter this on the 'shopping cart' page to receive your discount. Once you added your desired your maps to your cart, then chosen your output type and quantity, simply enter the code you have been provided in the 'Discount Code' box and click the 'Apply Discount Code' button. Your specific discount will then be applied. If you enter an incorrect discount code, a warning message will be displayed. To continue with your order, follow the 'How to Buy a Map' instructions available here.



What maps do we have available?

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www.old-maps.co.uk is the UK's most comprehensive historical map archive comprising site centred historical maps covering England, Wales and Scotland. We provide a complete step by step picture of land use changes that have taken place from the mid-19th Century onwards, from OS County Series, OS Town Plans and post-war National Grid mapping to unique Russian Maps of UK target locations from the cold-war era.

For detailed information about the map editions and scales available from our archive, please access our Map Prices.

Printed mapping is supplied on high quality parchment or silk paper printed from scanned images of the original maps, these maps were scanned at 300-500dpi. Various output mediums are available.





What is the subscription service?

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The subscription service enables users to access the enhanced zoom feature. This allows users to zoom into maps and identify more detailed features.

In addition to accessing the enhanced zoom function, subscribers also receive a 20% discount on maps they order through the website.

To register, fill in the online form on the website and you will then receive a username and password. At the top right corner of the website is a login box that enables you to access the enhanced zoom feature.

Enhanced Zoom





What is the pricing structure?

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See our Map Prices page for pricing details.





What does the coloured rectangle on the search map mean?

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The green faded rectangle overlaid on top of the search map shows the geographical area printed on a Decorative map derived selection in the 'Available Maps' box.

The shaded areas on our map scales represent specific areas on the ground. These measurements can be seen here.

You can see examples of the difference on our Map Prices page.

Please note that our Decorative Maps are extracts from the original OS historic maps and are not exactly to scale.






What does a black or white space on the map mean?

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If you come across a map partially made up of a solid black block, this indicates a missing map sheet. Unfortunately, some of the original map sheets were damaged or lost by Ordnance Survey, and therefore unavailable for viewing from this web site. However an alternative edition or scale of map of the same area may still be available.

If you are interested in buying a Decorative Map of an area containing missing data on a particular scale of mapping, it is worth looking at the thumbnail images to see if any are unaffected.

If you come across a map containing an adjacent area of white space, this indicates an area situated on a county boundary. As maps are loaded on a county by county basis, it may be necessary to select a thumbnail from an adjacent county to view the rest of the map.





What does the final product look like?

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The final product is delivered with a border and a label containing details of the map that you have ordered. As our maps are described as decorative, we believe that the border and label add to the overall feel of the map.

This is a mandatory requirement as per our Licensing Agreement with the Ordnance Survey. Also, the placement of the label on the map cannot be altered.

Please take into account the label when ordering your map, as any details near the bottom of the map may be obscured. We hope that this will not deter you from buying and enjoying your map.

Click on the above image to view a larger scaled version of the final product offering. Important Note, this is a 1:2,500 scale example. To view larger images of all of our product offerings, please access our Map Prices page.

The PDF and Print historic map products are all A3 size.





What are the framing options?

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Old-Maps offer you the option to have your decorative historic maps framed before being sent to you. You can choose between a contemporary style dark wood frame and a more traditional antique style gilt-edged frame.






Either option offers the perfect way to display your decorative historic map.

The frames are sized to fit the A3 maps perfectly and offer protection for your maps for years to come. Display images for both frame types are available above for reference only.

The Antique style frames are approximately 472mm x 351mm and the Contemporary style frames are approximately 467mm x 348mm. Both support our standard A3 size historic maps.

Note:frame sizes may be amended without prior notice!





Why are maps dated differently?

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The date on maps relates to the publication date, not the date of the survey. If a map is made up of a number of maps the date specified relates to the earliest map shown.

Please note in relation to 1:10,560 maps and larger scales that the date provided is relevant for all details on the map except for the following circumstances:

  • Boundaries were occasionally altered after field revision but before publication on 1:10,560 maps prepared between circa 1896 and 1913.
  • Before 1866, railways were sometimes added without acknowledgement to published 1:10,560 sheets.





What are scales?

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The scale of a map shows by how much it has been reduced. This is typically expressed as 1: followed by a larger number: such as 50,000. This example means that 1 unit on the map represents 50,000 of the same units on the ground; which, in this example, can be converted to 2cm = 1km.

The smaller the number after the 1: the more detailed the map is, thus the smaller the number - the more detailed the map - the larger the scale. A 1:2,500 scale map would therefore be described as being at a larger scale than a 1:10,560 scale map.

Since the late 1960s, small scale Ordnance Survey maps have been produced using metric scales (such as 1:30,000), rather than at the old Imperial scales (such as one inch to the mile).

Below is a breakdown of www.old-maps.co.uk product scales and their 'on the ground' coverage areas:

Scale Width (metres) Height (metres)
1:500 194.5 138
1:528 205.4 145.72
1:1,056 410.8 291.4
1:1,250 486.5 345
1:2,500 972.5 690
1:2,640 1,027 728.6
1:5,000 1,945 1,380
1:5,280 2,054 1,457.3
1:10,000 3,890 2,760
1:10,560 4,108 2,914.6
1:25,000 9,725 6,900





Where do the maps come from?

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The maps available for free viewing from this web site have been extracted from various sources such as the earliest available Ordnance Survey (OS) County Series mapping, post World War II OS National Grid historic mapping, OS Historic Town Plans and unique Russian Maps of the UK. The maps are exclusively licenced to www.old-maps.co.uk for the whole of mainland Great Britain. Site centred extracts can be purchased as Decorative Maps direct from this web site.

Ordnance Survey has one of the largest collections of historical mapping in Great Britain and until recently this was only held as a paper archive. As the result of a joint venture between Ordnance Survey and www.old-maps.co.uk an extensive digital archive has been created allowing historical mapping of Britain to be offered online at www.old-maps.co.uk.

When the maps were scanned from Ordnance Survey's historical map archive, every possible effort was taken to ensure that clean electronic images were generated however a number of factors affected the quality of the scanned map image. In particular dust on the maps has resulted in dark areas. Other imperfections result from folds and tears which make it impossible to scan an even image; in some extreme cases a section of the map is missing resulting in a loss of that data. It is important to note, however, that damaged maps are the exception and that most of the historical mapping is in very good condition especially considering its age.

Our exclusive Russian Maps of key UK town and cites were collated by the KGB during the Cold War period and provide a unique view of strategic war-time military and commercial targets. These maps are owned exclusively by www.old-maps.co.uk and available via www.russianmaps.co.uk.





Why are some towns not in the county I expect them to be in?

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Over the years, several county boundaries have changed. Indeed, new counties have also been created and some old counties ceased to exist. Any searches you perform based on place name, modern day address or co-ordinate will bring up a map of the area and list the county that the area was in at the time the mapping was created.

When the mapping was created, each county was surveyed with a slight overlap into the next county. If you perform a search on a place which appears close to a county boundary, it may be covered by mapping from more than one county. This is why your search results page may present the same place in two or more counties. It is worth looking at each county's coverage of the area to see which best suits your needs.

A simple way to search by county is to use the 'Gazetteer' function, by clicking on the 'Gazeteer' button.

The thumbnail images will give you an overview of the coverage available so that you can select the map that best suits your needs





Can I publish an old map from the site?

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Although the Old-Maps site is predominantly for personal use, gifts & private research we appreciate that, from time to time, map images purchased or downloaded from the site may be required for publication. If the publication is for charity or small scale, non-profit use then permission is usually granted without additional royalties payable. All that is required is the correct attribution.

Examples of non-profit use have included parish & church newsletters and local history society leaflets. However, larger scale publication, books & journals will require an additional licence.

If you are in any doubt please Contact Us and, in the majority of cases, permission can be granted without the need for additional licensing.





What confirmation of my order will I receive?

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Once you have confirmed payment via PayPal, you will receive a payment confirmation email from PayPal. Within 24 hours (likely a few minutes) you will also receive an email which either; (a) includes your purchased map(s) attached in PDF format or (b) confirms your purchased map(s) have been produced and is awaiting print or print and frame. If the latter option is selected, you will also receive a further email once your order is completed production and has been dispatched. This will typically occur within 48 hours.

Note: The email and delivery address details you currently have or do register with PayPal will be used as your www.old-maps.co.uk ordering contact method and delivery address.





How long will my map take to arrive?

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Upon Confirmation of payment your order will be placed into our production queue. We aim to deliver email orders within 24 hours of confirmation (typically a few minutes), print orders will typically be despatched within 48 hours of confirmation and framed orders within a week. All orders will be sent first class with Royal Mail.

Please note we can take no responsibility for their delivery timescale once the product has been dispatched.





What do the symbols on the maps mean?

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There are many symbols on the maps we show, and we receive many queries about what they mean. Thankfully the Ordnance Survey and www.old-maps.co.uk have produced legends to decipher these symbols, and you can view the legends below:

1:1,250 County Series Map Legend
1:1,250 County Series Map Legend
1:2,500 County Series Map Legend
1:2,500 County Series Map Legend
1:10,560 County Series Map Legend
1:10,560 County Series Map Legend
1:2,500 National Grid Series Map Legend
1:2,500 National Grid Series Map Legend
1:10,000 National Grid Series Map Legend
1:10,000 National Grid Series Map Legend
1:10,560 National Grid Series Map Legend
1:10,560 National Grid Series Map Legend
Russian Maps Legend
Russian Maps Legend

You will need adobe acrobat reader to view these pages, the software can be downloaded at the Adobe Site.
Get Adobe Acrobat Reader





What are the system requirements to view the site?

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The pages on this web site require a JavaScript enabled browser in order to operate properly. We recommend Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 (or greater), Firefox 3 (or greater) or Safari (4 or greater), Google Chrome (4 or greater) with JavaScript enabled. The site may function correctly with alternative browsers, however, cannot be guaranteed.

Old-Maps also requires that your browser is set to accept session cookies. Session cookies are small snippets of information that the site stores on your computer in order to allow it to keep track of its activity. No personal or sensitive information is stored and the server can only retrieve its own information from your computer. We do not consider session cookies to be a security threat (which is a widely-shared erroneous perception).

This site is designed for an optimum screen resolution of 1024x768. The site will work at lesser resolutions (e.g. 800x600), but will require use of scrollbars to see certain areas on the page.





Why are the on-line maps watermarked?

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Due to copyright requirements within our licencing agreement with the Ordnance Survey, we are required to watermark the images online.





How do you contact us?

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Use the 'Contact Us' link in the top menu bar. For complaints, please write to Old-Maps, 5-7 Abbey Court, Eagle Way, Sowton Industrial Estate, Exeter, Devon, EX2 7HY.

We aim to respond to email enquiries within a 48 hour period.