Ordnance Survey Maps, One-inch engraved maps, England and Wales, 1872-1914


The original Ordnance Survey One-Inch to the mile 'Old Series' began in 1805 in the south of England. The 'New Series' was officially begun from 1863, with maps covering a regular 18 x 12 miles on each sheet, and with sheets numbered from north to south. The Revised New Series superseded these maps from 1895, and covered all of England and Wales in 346 sheets, forming a comprehensive general overview of the landscape from around a century ago. A second national revision of the one-inch to the mile map took place from 1901-1912, and the sheets published after this time are usually headed '3rd edition'. Although a third national revision of the one-inch map began in 1909, it was abandoned by 1911, and only seven sheets of the New Series 4th edition map was published, covering an area in east Kent. Many of the maps in these editions were published in variant forms, with relief shown by countour lines (Outline edition), or with relief shown by hachures (Hills edition). (View the Revised New Series Outline edition, and the Revised New Series Hills edition.

We have included on this website all our flat-sheet holdings of Ordnance Survey One-Inch to the mile engraved maps of England and Wales published from 1863, including the New Series, the Revised New Series, and the 3rd and 4th editions. We have not yet scanned our Old Series, nor various folded maps, nor maps in bound volumes (December 2022).

In this section


Detail of Wellington, Shropshire on OS One-Inch Revised New Series sheet 152
Detail of Wellington, Shropshire, from
Sheet 152 (Shrewsbury) - Hills edition, 1899

The OS one-inch series, which the OS Director General Sir Charles Wilson called "the standard map of the country" (1892), was first published in 1805 as the Old Series, covering England and Wales by 1869. It was originally published on 24 x 36 inch/mile full or double-elephant sized sheets, but from 1831, the series used quarter-sheets, north of the Preston-Hull line, laid out in regular 12 x 18 inch/mile extents ( based on a Cassini projection with Delamere as the origin ). The New Series, authorised from 1863, used these same sheet lines for the north (with different sheet numbers) as well as extending them south of the Preston-Hull line. These New Series sheet lines were used for the Revised New Series too. View a graphic index of sheet lines for the Revised New series.

By the 1890s, many of these New Series sheets were several decades old, and in 1892, two committees were appointed to examine these and related problems of Ordnance Survey: a War Office Committee, under Sir T.D. Baker, and a Board of Agriculture Committee under Sir John Dorington. The former was chiefly responsible for recommending that the one-inch should be improved for military purposes by including new information on roads, railways, landmarks such as church steeples, as well as post and telegraph facilities. The latter recommended that the one-inch should be revised every fifteen years, independently of the revisions to larger-scale maps.

Revision order

Map showing order of surveying of One-Inch New Revised Series
General order of sheet revision

Work began in earnest in 1893 with the Revised New Series, and was complete by 1898, with all sheets published between 1895 and 1899. The first priority was southern England, moving on to Scotland and then northern England and Wales.


Ordnance Survey's one-inch to the mile (1:63,360) series had military and civilian purposes behind it, and was of value too for official, administrative, scientific and recreational users. According to an OS circular of 1909, it was intended as a 'touring, cycling and small-scale manoeuvre map, [with] the primary object being that the average man should be able to find his way about unfamiliar country with ease' (quoted in Oliver (2005, p.47)). Essentially the one-inch was a general map, supplementing the main record of landscape change at the larger basic six-inch and 25-inch to the mile scales, so that minor changes may not appear even on full revision. By giving coverage of a wider area than the basic larger scales, the series is particularly useful in showing an overview of significant landscape changes such as urbanisation, the development of roads and railways, and changing patterns of woods and formal parkland. The series was used by several commercial map-makers for base mapping, including Bartholomew in their Half-Inch to the mile series.

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