Make history – you map maker!

Make history

Every time you design a map, title it and commit it to print you make history. You create a story unique to that moment in time. Your idea, now tangible, becomes a catalyst for others’ understanding of that place, those circumstances and possibly even you. It’s a chance to leave your mark – you map maker!


Ordnance Survey 1930’s Fabric Maps

1930’s Ordnance Survey fabric maps

I love maps. Last Friday three 1930’s Ordnance Survey fabric maps emerged from a box of cookery books at a charity Jumble sale. I had to have them. After happy hours marvelling at the folds and the crystal clarity of these 90-year-old relics, I became awed by the endeavours that shaped the land since printing. A whole national motorway network, land reclaimed from the sea, cuttings and tunnels that marked generations of transport progress. And all those sprawls and new towns! Did the people who spent 5 shillings know they’d bought history? Watch my film…

An HS2 pilgrimage


The golden sunrise on Saturday urged me onto the trails, following a map my sister had made. The familiar 1:25k Ordnance Survey SplashMap, sarcastically titled “HS2 saves 20 minutes”, led me on a pilgrimage to a beautiful place soon to be destroyed by the latest transport progress, that of creating a high-speed rail network. In comparison with the history I’d just witnessed it seemed a little unambitious (20 minutes off a 2 hour 10-minute journey? Really?) and wholly destructive to communities, wild life, culture and a unique society.


Today’s fabric map on a gate

Mapping the roads

The excellent ‘Mapping the Roads, building modern Britain’ by Mike Parker exploits the unique value of maps in telling the story of how such re-shaping of the land pans-out. By intertwining the progress of maps with the advancement of our route network, from the Romans to today, Mike offers a layered history shaped by politics and grand plans. Repressions, follies, destruction and progress feature in equal measure as the land submits to fit man’s needs.

Sunrise, for one of the last times, through the woods in Great Missenden

Collective amnesia

The lesson is that the environment around us changes fast. And the apps on your phones, in your cars and on your GPS will all suffer collective amnesia. They’ll depict those deep scars in the land as permanent and never question their arrival. Even our own update cycles mean that today’s image will be lost within a year of ordering your freshly printed personalised SplashMap.

Hold that memory


Looking back toward Great Missenden. This view won’t be there for long thanks to HS2

But a map printed onto fabric will hold that memory for generations to come. Just like those Ordnance Survey 5 shillings 1 inch-to-the-mile maps I found, they will be constantly re-discovered and find new meaning in someone’s collection for generations to come.

Make your favourite place persist

So, make history – you map maker you! Make your favourite place persist. Get there and walk the trails. In the case of projects like HS2, it could be for the last time. Make it a personal pilgrimage for you so that your friends, family and future map lovers can sense your footprints on your treasured trail. Just make history you map maker! Start now!




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