Unfolding the map

As promised earlier in the week, I’ve had some interesting maps, including a reproduction A1 size copy of the 1798 William Yates map of Staffordshire, scanned professionally. I came home today clutching a USB flash drive with nearly four gigabytes of scanned historical map goodness, the Yates map alone being 736 megabytes. Obviously, I can’t post a file of that size, but I’ve had a play around and have condensed it down to two versions, which I’ve made available to download.

Now available to download in full – please see links below.

The Yates map is an important document in the history of Staffordshire, and I think that it’s desirable that it should be easily available for all who want it. I’m peripherally aware that there is possibly a 1775 version of this map too, but I’m finding information on either draft, or William Yates himself, quite hard to come by. If anyone has anything to contribute, I’d be fascinated to hear your views.

Don’t forget to check out the key in the bottom left of the image.

Reader David Evans asked about the colorization and draftsmanship; I suspect the map to have been available in limited quantities and cost a fair sum for the time – but then, the target market must have been quite small. Cobbett had a spell in prison and another three decades before the publication of his rural rides, and upper class travelogues were still scarce, so the market for such a gazetteer must have been thin. I would expect there to have been a couple of versions – plain black and white, as printed commercially, and this version based on the print, which would probably be hand-coloured. I know this was common for medical and naturalist publications at the time. Such hand colouring would have made the map hugely expensive.

This is a remarkable, fascinating document. However, as I cautioned previously, take anything it depicts at face value only. I’m not absolutely convinced of the existence of a Cats Hall, and if one looks at the route of the canal as drafted through Brownhills, it’s quite, quite wrong. Of course, details like that add to the charm of a beautifully drafted, wonderfully preserved piece of cartographic history. It’s a pleasure to share the joy of this with you readers.

The map is in .PDF format, for which you’ll need Adobe Reader or similar – but most folks have that installed already. I recommend right-clicking the links below and selecting ‘Save as…’ to save the file to your computer. Both will take a while to download on slow connections, so please be patient. The high quality one is 250 DPI resolution and should print fine up to A3 size I think. The medium one is 200 DPI, and should be good to A4.

I’d like to thank [Howmuch?], who’s a top reader of the Brownhills Blog, and does tireless, sterling work on my behalf. Without his hawk eye and patience we wouldn’t be enjoying this stuff now. I also thank my professional scanning person – you know who you are. Cheers.

There will be other maps to come in the next few days, so stay tuned…

William Yates 1798 Staffordshire map – high quality download, 17.2MB

William Yates 1798 Staffordshire map – medium quality download, 7.6MB

That ‘Cats Hall’ note is intriguing, but one wonders of the provenance of the information, as the canal route never looked like that. I would say ‘Hogley’ is clearly a local accent interpretation problem… and that bizarre kink in the Chester Road is quite puzzling.

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36 Responses to Unfolding the map

  1. Brian Ansell says:

    Wonderful work Bob!
    I believe the kink on the Chester road is a Toll Gate. I remember seeing a map showing a Toll at this point. If I can find the map I will let you know. By the way Bob you have one of the best historians of your area in your midst. The name of the felow is Mr Gould and he lives on the Erdington Road, Aldridge. If Mr Gould is still alive I would get around there as soon as is possible as he is now in his early Nineties. Mr Gould wrote the book, Men of Aldridge, I have a copy that was discovered by a friend in South Africa. My wife visited Mr Gould about four years ago.

  2. D.Evans says:

    Hi Bob

    another toll gate ,perhaps?

    CatsHall. and .Castle Hill…perhaps the same derivation ..see Julian Ward Davies’ articles.. on Stonnall…another land feature of long ago?

    Did the canal barges have to pay to use the Curly Wurly and other canals?
    There was a check..depth gauge of some sort by the wharf at the Coppy Pit in Walsall Wood…..any connection?

    best wishes
    David Evans

  3. Hi Bob

    Thanks for getting the 1795 Yates Map into the public domain. It is interesting to compare it with the 1774 Yates Map. Cats Hall should be Cats Hill, I think. As you suggested, there are several instances of mis-transcription in various maps, possibly caused by the cartographers’ inability to fully understand local accents.

    As for the kink, it has actually been exaggerated by the cartographer. There was a kink, caused by the necessity for Chester Road to avoid a house and garden at that point. The Tithe Map of 1838 shows it, but much more true to scale. Incidentally, the house was owned by Joseph Marlow and its tenant was John James in 1838 (property A115 House and Garden – Tithe Award Book).

    It doesn’t seem to have been a toll point: according to the Tithe Map, the nearest toll point on Chester Road was between Shire Oak and the centre of Brownhills (property A50, owned by SB/S Turnpike – Tithe Award Book). But if anybody can demonstrate otherwise, I would like to hear about it.

    The other nearby Chester Road toll point was at Druid’s Heath (property B11a, also owned by SB/S Turnpike – Tithe Award Book).

    I have almost instant access to data concerning every property in the historical Parish of Shenstone, which included much of Shire Oak and Brownhills. If anybody supplies me with an accurate location, I can tell you who owned it and lived in it and probably even what it was used for in 1838.

    Best wishes

    Julian Ward-Davies

  4. D.Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    many thanks to Julian Ward- Davies. I think the Anchor Bridge Tool house photo has been shown in this blog somewhere. Where exactly was the Druid’s Tollgate? where Stonnall Road joins Chester Road?
    I would welcome Julian’s e-mail address, if this possible via a blog site…please
    The map unfolds..and reveals its treasures!
    Best wishes
    David Evans

    • Have a look at The Stonnall Mysteries article. (Click on my name above this post to get an easy link to it.) There is a photo of the Druid’s Heath toll gate keeper’s house and also a photo of the board that displayed the charges for various kinds of traffic. Also, you will find my email address and a mobile phone number at the end of the article. Look forward to hearing from you.

  5. D.Evans says:

    HI Bob

    toll house, not tool house ! Soory , David Evans

  6. pedro says:

    Another thanks for putting 1795 Yates Map into the public domain!

    How did you get you enlargement to be so clear?

    All the best Pedro

  7. D.Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    found the Druids toll..Many thanks Julian. Its by the farm..Fodens..Memories of helping harvest….Rachel’s rabbit pie.. “gaseous” shire horses, and hard work with muck rake..Hercules my only bike..thanks for the info and help
    David Evans

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  9. Paul Ford says:

    Hi Bob

    Not sure if anyone has posted this, so ignore if they have. The Staffordshire Record Society (4th series, volume 12) reproduced the Yates 1775 map in 1984 and it is available at Walsall Local History Centre, the Staffordshire Record Office and the Lichfield RO that i know of at least. It is in sections rather than one big map.

    There is a booklet that accompanies it, by the respected ADM Philips, which talks a little of Yates himself and mapping in general. Yates was born in Lancashire in 1738 and Philips states that Yates was involved with surveying by the 1760s. He worked as an officer in the Liverpool Customs House from 1772, working as an amateur cartographer on the side. He became the ‘land surveyor’ (I assume of Liverpool) in 1779, having it seemed worked as an assistant in producing maps of Liverpool and on the Derbyshire survey in the 1760s. He retained this position until his retirement in 1796. He died in 1802, in Liverpool – where he had lived since 1772.

    Philips states that the 1775 map was part of a national scheme (not all by Yates). Yates needed financial backing and he achieved this by 1769 and started his survey then – so it took 6 years (there is little evidence of how it progressed). It was his first county map – Lancashire (1786) and Warwicks (1793) followed.

    The booklet then goes into more detail on how the survey was done, what the maps says about settlement, industry etc and the changes on the 1799 edition.

    I hope this was of interest – I did look at the Black Cock Bridge area, but it doesn’t show subsidence 🙂

    • Ann Adams says:

      My ancestor Thomas Yates of Stowe by Chartley certainly helped produce this map. He also did surveying in Liverpool an in my oppinion was brother of William yYates of Liverpool

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  17. Dr R C Sheppard says:

    I have a pristine facsimile copy of Yates 1775 Map of the County of Stafford published by the Stafford Record Society in 1984. It consists of six folded sheets together with a 35 page introduction by A D M Phillips, all contained in a gold lettered slip case. Available for the first realistic offer to bobsheppard27@btinternet.com

    • Hello, Doctor.

      Cheeky. eBay is that way —>
      I’ll leave it up just this once.


      • Dr R C Sheppard says:

        Thanks! No presumption intended. Just thought it would be of interest to your readers, as has been the case.

        • You might want to put a donation in for MacMillan next time you’re passing a box.

          To be fair, that was exceedingly opportunist and presumptive. But glad it worked out for you.



          • Bob Sheppard says:

            Right. I will follow both your suggestions. A contribution to MacMillans and, since there has been significant interest in the Yates 1775 map and I have no idea how to sort them out, I will list it on eBay. Should be there Sunday evening if I can get some photographs. Thank you once again for your help and tolerance, and congratulations on an excellent web site.

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  20. ivor230240 says:

    I am interested in the name “Gobbins Pit” near “Brown Hill” on the map. I did a lot of my early growing up in Coppice Side and I remember my grandmother calling it “Gobbies Pit”. At the time I am thinking about, the mid 1940s I think the pit was owned by “Potters Clay and Coal”. It certainly sent quite a bit of coal to the firm’s pottery and to Mitchells and Butlers Brewery, Cape Hill, Smethwick. Before I was school age the lorry driver sometimes took me with him to these places and even as far away as Hereford and Birkenhead, the latter place to collect sleepers, a word that had my 5 year old brain totally baffled!

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  26. Darren Bruce says:

    I found the following information regarding William Yates, written by R.Sharpe France,M.A, in the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire Journals (FOR THE YEAR 1957 \ VOLUME 109).

    ALTHOUGH Christopher Saxton published the first map of
    Lancashire in 1577, it was not until 1786 that there
    appeared the first survey on modern trigonometrical lines the
    invaluable work of William Yates. In 1769 he had begun a
    survey of Staffordshire on the same scale, an inch to a mile.
    This was published in 1775 and was followed by that of Lancashire,
    of which, though it was projected in 1778, we do not
    know the exact date of the survey. From 1787 to 1789 he and
    his sons surveyed Warwickshire and published the results in
    1795. Yates was assisted in the Lancashire survey by William
    Green, later a Lakes artist.
    Little is known of Yates, but the discovery of his will among
    the probate records in the Lancashire Record Office does make
    him a somewhat less shadowy figure than before, and it is only
    proper that information, scrappy though it be, about a man
    whose work is of such great value to the history of Lancashire,
    should be published.
    William Yates of Lowhill in the parish of Walton near
    Liverpool, gentleman, made his will on 12 August 1802. In it he
    refers to his children William Yates, M.D, who was in the
    East Indies, George Yates, Joseph Yates, Sarah Pawson,
    Hannah Foster and Patty Yates. To William he bequeathed
    “the gold medal which I received from the Society of Arts for
    my survey of Lancashire and one share in the Liverpool Water
    Works”, as well as a small piece of land, 70 yards by 20 yards, at
    Lowhill, which, together with a triangular piece adjoining, was
    purchased from Bamber Gascoyne, esq. On this William could
    build a house, provided it was at least fifty yards from the
    west end, in order “to preserve the prospect from my present
    dwelling-house”. To George and Sarah were to go his potworks
    and six acres of land at Sutton Heath; while to Hannah, Patty
    and Joseph went the house at Lowhill with the smaller house
    adjoining, together with the house in Bold Street, Liverpool,
    occupied by Mrs. Graham. Joseph was not to have his share
    “until he has paid his brother George Yates the sum of four
    hundred pounds for relinquishing his office in the Custom
    House which he agreed to do”.
    Personal articles were bequeathed as follows: to Hannah his
    silver teapot and stand and his camera obscura; to George his
    surveying instruments, maps, books and terrestrial globe; to Sarah his liquor frame with the bottles therein; to Joseph his
    ticket or share in the Lyceum and Liverpool Library; and to
    Patty his harpsichord. The residue of his property was to be
    divided equally among all his children except William.
    Finally he directed George and Joseph, his executors, “to
    erect and finish a kitchen to my lesser dwelling-house at Lowhill
    agreeably to my intentions as nearly as they can if I shall not
    have erected one in my life time and to pay the future calls to
    be made in respect of the share in the Liverpool Water Works
    so given to my said son William”.
    William Yates, described as officer in the customs, aged 64,
    was buried at St. Thomas’s, Liverpool on 30 November 1802,
    and his will was proved on 26 March 1803, when his personalty
    was valued between £300 and £600. In the Liverpool directories
    of 1774 and 1777 he appears as a landwaiter (customs officer)
    living at 21, Cleveland Square, while in those of 1794 and 1800
    he is shewn as being of Lowhill, West Derby, and described
    as “surveyor of customs” and “jerquer in the customs”
    No further trace can be found of Dr. William Yates, so
    presumably he remained in the East Indies, as his father seemed,
    from the wording of his will, to expect. Of the other children of
    the cartographer the only one of interest is George, who
    appears in the 1794 directory as a coastwaiter living in Bold
    Street, while in those of 1796, 1800 and 1803, with the same
    occupation, he was at Lowhill. George did not long outlive his
    father, for, having died intestate, administration of his estate
    was granted to his widow Mary on 5 September 1803. He left
    sons George and William Chapman, and daughters Elizabeth
    and Hannah.
    George appears in the 1823 Liverpool directory as being a
    shipbroker at 15, Coopers Row. By 1834 he lived at Woolton
    and had an office at 58, Hanover Street, Liverpool. In 1841,
    however, he had taken George Louthean as a partner in his
    shipbroking and at the same time was in partnership with his
    brother William Chapman Yates in the Sutton Heath pottery,
    which was carried on by William after George’s death on 6
    October 1843, with an office at 19, Hanover Street, Liverpool.
    A William C. Yates, surgeon, makes a single appearance, at
    57, Hanover Street, in the directory of 1827, but, in our present
    knowledge of the family, it is impossible to identify him
    certainly with William Chapman Yates.


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