Friday, September 27, 2019

No Ordnary Ordnance...Part 2

I don't do a lot of two-parters, but this one would definitely have been too long for a single, so I split it up. (Also, I still needed two posts for the month on here, so it works out in more ways than one.) So, let's continue taking a look at my favorite Victorian map of London.

You'll recall the sea level numbers that are every few yards or so on the map? They sometimes were listed with the letters B.M with them. That stands for Bench Mark (or Benchmark), and I'll let Wikipedia give you an explanation:

"The term benchmark, or bench mark, originates from the chiseled horizontal marks that surveyors made in stone structures, into which an angle-iron could be placed to form a "bench" for a leveling rod, thus ensuring that a leveling rod could be accurately repositioned in the same place in the future. These marks were usually indicated with a chiseled arrow below the horizontal line."

You'll see the symbol on the map just above and to the left of the B.M. and number. It kind of looks like an arrow. Now, I talked about these on Facebook a little over a year ago back on August 29, 2018, and their appearance in The Canon. Here's the original post:

"In 'The Gloria Scott' (GLOR) we meet a truly charming man named Jack Prendergast. Okay, not really. But we do get to see him in his prison uniform - the one covered in arrows. Well, those are actually called 'broad arrows' and were a creation of Henry VIII. It was a symbol used to signify that something belonged to the Crown.
Used as a mark of shame and a hindrance in escaping, the arrows were used until 1922. What we can't see in the illustration is that nails were often driven into a prisoner's boot soles in an arrow configuration, as well. Basically, they would point the way if a prisoner escaped. Clever, eh?"

Let's look at another section of the map with different things to examine.

This one features a very prominent B.P. That stands for Boundary Post (or Pole). This abbreviation has a counterpart in B.S. - Boundary Stone. (Not shown here.) These were both used to demarcate property or business edges. Now, on a more unpleasant note, I'm not sure why these maps didn't use just a simple 'U' for the urinals, but they didn't. Above the urinal, though, is F.W. That's for Face of Wall. Toward the bottom of this section is P.O. This is a common set of initials for a lot of people, and are for Post Office.

Other initials that you can find in different areas are S.P. This one can stand for Sewer Pipe or Signal Post. R.S. - Rain Spout. V.P. - Vent Pipe. D.B. - Dust Bin. H.W. - Hedge Row. D.P. - Dung Pit. It just goes on and on. You'll see churches, cemeteries, cabmen's shelters, depots, schools, troughs, gardens, docks...there's just so much.

Now, I could write many more of these posts about the different things found on these old ordnance maps, but I won't. Instead, I want you to look for yourself. I want you to spend some time studying this one and others like it just to see what you can discover. These things are so vast and detailed that there's always something new to find. So, please do so. After all, it's all about keeping Sherlock Holmes on the minds and lips of the next generations, right?

In the interest of fairness, I'll give you the link instead of making you look for it. The great thing is that the site has not just the one map, but a lot of others. Plenty to choose from. And you can do overlays, and side-by-side views. It's extraordinary, and will keep you busy for a long time.

Here you go...

It's been fun bringing this to you, and I hope it helps you understand part of what I do here and where I get some of my information. Please take it and run with it. I encourage it and wait patiently. I'll see you next time, and as always...thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

No Ordnary Ordnance...Part 1

I love going through photographs of London from the time of Holmes and Watson. I go through thousands of them knowing full-well I may only find a few I can research and use. It's still worth it, though, because I continue to learn about their time and the things they experienced. Whenever I find something I do my best to nail down its exact location on a map. But not just any map - one from 1895. (By the way...this one's going to be a two-parter.)

I came across this ordnance map some years ago on a Facebook post. I had heard inklings of it in the Sherlockian world, but hadn't seen it for myself. Once I had, it never left the opened tabs across the top of my laptop. Honest! I have it there all the time. (And it's always right next to the Search the Canon tab.)

I spent some time familiarising myself with all of the different symbols and initials, and found that some of them took more time than others. (I realize this may not be new information to some of you, but there are others who may not know. This is for them.) Let's take a look at a section of Baker Street that has some examples.

This one area has several things in it we can explore. First is the ventilators. These are pretty self-explanatory, and deal with the Underground running right under the area. You'll notice the letters B.O. Ordnance map sites that list what abbreviations are don't have this one. It took a bit more looking, and we'll get to what I found it in a minute.

The letters F.P. stand for Fire Plug. These were spots in the road or street where a plug in the water main below could be accessed by the fire department. There are thousands of these all over this map. They're not the same as fire hydrants, but they were the first (sort-of) version of them. Also in the picture is P.L.B. This is for Pillar Letter Box. You know the ones I mean...

See the letters C.R. on the map? That is for Center of Road. Off to the left side of the shot (that you can't see) is the phrase Div. of Parly. Boro. Bdy. (Division of Parliamentary Borough Boundary) and the C.R. notated exactly where that boundary was. These don't always run right down the middle of a street, however, and like any other boundary line it can go almost anywhere. P.H. is for Public House. England was pretty proud of these as they appear everywhere, and sometimes multiple ones existed within just yards of each other. They weren't always the nicest of places, but they still made it on the maps.

Now let's look at B.O. I have yet to find an ordnance map legend that has these initials on it. I had a suspicion it was for either Booking Office or Boarding Office. A bit more research led me to my answer:

This paragraph is from an article called 'Booking Offices at Baker Street' by a Brian Pask from 2019. (Sorry about the size.) It talks about the very ones in the section from above and thus ends the mystery of the B.O.

Here's another section that has a few others...

Sticking with the fire thing we find F.H. here. That's for Fire Hose. In a few places I saw just the letter H. According to the abbreviation lists it stands for a hydrant, and that makes sense to me. On the right you see the words Fire Alarm. There are more examples on the map, this is just one I found that doesn't use the initials F.A. for that. The letters D.F. at the top of the shot is for Drinking Fountain, and since it's in a park it might've been a bit more obvious than others. (I like to be thorough, though.)

The numbers that you see on both sections of map here are heights above sea level for mainland Great Britain. You'll notice that sometimes they accompany the letters B.M. That's where we'll pick it up next time.

Side note:
I get emails quite a bit from people who want to know what site I use for this or that, and where I get my information, and so on and so forth. I answer all of them, but I thought I would answer a couple of them with this post by saying that this is my go-to map. I will spend time just studying it, and it's still surprising to me what nuggets I can mine out of it.

Again, I know this won't be new to some of you, but I like being very open with what I do, and if someone out there can use this and continue (or add to) the research, then I'm all for it.

Anyway, the other half of this will be in the next day or so. I'll see you then, and as always...thanks for reading.