Monday 22 November 2010

Mappy Monday - the Valuation Office Survey 'Lloyd George's Domesday'

Part of central Oxford, featuring Broad Street
We have an anazing collection of maps at The National Archives, and one of my favourites is the set that goes with the Valuation Office Survey, taken shortly before the First World War. The field books that were compiled for this survey are the most wonderful source for house histories, and to identify the right field book, you need first to use annotated versions of Ordnance Survey maps, and this is generally the trickiest part of the operation. This has been made a little easier by the Valuation Office map finder being tried out on the The National Archives Labs site.

I was doing some research on Oxford, and in particular Broad Street, one of the streets featured in my post Those Places Thursday - Oxford so I used the map finder to locate the field book that included Blackwell's Bookshop and found it in document reference IR 58/64883 It shows details of the property including the owner, in this case B H Blackwell.

The description of the property shows the type of construction, number and size of rooms, and what they are used for, as well as services like gas, water and electricity and the general state of repair. Unfortunately the person who wrote up this field book had fairly horrible handwriting, but with some perseverance you can make out that it describes it as a 'mixed lot' with some lath and plaster construction, and a number of store rooms for books - quite recognisable to anyone who visits Blackwell's in Broad Street today!

Sometimes the field book includes a small sketch map or plan of the property, but unfotunately there isn't one for Blackwell's. There is one for the Coach and Horses public house next door, on the corner of Broad Street and Parks Road. The pub no longer exists, and its site is now part of Blackwell's

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