Following the map – those abbreviations in full

Lichfield 1966

Central Lichfield, 1966 – busy socially and cartographically. Click for a larger version.

One of the good things about Christmas is having time to catch up with the posts I’ve been meaning to compile for ages. This one is a specific one that’s been needed since I started the blog really, and is a key to very large scale maps I use here on the blog.

I was reminded of this the other day by reader and top bloke David Evans, who emailed to ask me what some abbreviations on the recently featured Moss Pits map meant. This afternoon, I went through my maps and scanned the best key examples from three different sheets. These will also be useful to those studying yesterdays map of Clayhanger, and the previous one of Brownhills.

I will link to this article from every future mapping post, so it’s available for reference.

Do read through; the abbreviation keys are from the 1960s (but are good for maps from the 1880s onwards) and show a rather diverse selection of landmarks the cartographers thought worthy of recording…

DEST2887 4

People often wonder what the numbers within fields are about. Here you go. Click for a larger version.


The Ordnance Survey National Grid applies to all of their maps. It’s an institution, and even my GPS gives locations in this format. Click for a larger version.

DEST2887 2

Abbreviations are thorny; from series to series, draftsman to draftsman there can be some idiosyncrasies, but this is the best list I’ve seen. The xFt RH is a baffler, it just means to the centreline (root) of a hedge. Click for a larger version.

DEST2887 3

I love that mapmakers felt the need to identify drinking fountains, fire alarm pillars and sundials. TCB puzzles a lot of folk, Telephone Call Box. Yeas, I know… Click for a larger version.

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3 Responses to Following the map – those abbreviations in full

  1. Andy Dennis says:

    Thanks, Bob. Very helpful.
    I get the impression that where there were hedge and ditch boundaries, the ditch was the boundary. When the ditch is filled in, or culverted, the boundary remains on the same line, so (most often) 4ftRH, though I have seen 2ft and other distances.

    The one that intrigued me was the symbol for “Change of boundary mereing” ( a bit like o—o). Mere or meer stones were upright blocks of stone marking, typically, manorial boundaries, sometimes quite ancient. Think meerkat encased in a block of concrete (no animals were injured …); see for example The only row of these that I know existed locally, was along the manorial boundary between Hammerwich and Norton Canes and there are two similar symbols on the 1884 mapping, one just south of the outfall basin at Chasewater and the other where the boundary crossed the railway a little north of Brownhills Bridge. The line follows (today) the Black Path past the school, then between Howdles Lane and Knaves Castle Avenue (diverging up to 8ftRH) and then the centre line of Howdles Lane up to Whitehorse Road and straight on to the middle of Chasewater. The last survivor was destroyed by the builders of Knaves Castle Avenue, when the ditch was diverted into a new culvert on the west side of the hedge.

    Of course PCB is abbreviated Latin for Tardis!

    Compliments of the season to all.


  2. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    Thanks for the guide. And compliments of the season….love the thought of a FBM

  3. Pingback: Stuck in the Middleton with you | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

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