Mapping the Hamlets Exhibition Now Open at Bancroft Road Archives

The new Mapping the Hamlets exhibition is now open at Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives in Bancroft Road. The exhibition runs from 15th April to 23rd June.

The archive is one of the many jewels of our borough and holds a collection of over 4000 historic maps amongst a wealth of other treasures.

The Mapping the Hamlets exhibition features more than 30 of these maps, most of which have never before been displayed.

Many are unique to the collection and others will only be found in a select number of libraries.

Maps represent a vital source for answering a wide variety of enquiries: for local and family history or for legal research or land redevelopment.

The map collection is a working library collection, not a museum collection, put to continual use by scholars and researchers and stored for decades in vertical suspension chests which has taken its toll on many items.

The archivists have chosen to display only original maps in this exhibition – not digitised copies – so you get to experience the real thing. The selection of maps is organised into four categories:

  1. Estate maps – these are unique and often manuscript, depicting land and buildings owned by a particular person, family or company
  2. Maps showing areas as administered by (usually now defunct) local authorities which preceded the formation of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in 1965
  3. Maps plotted for a specific theme, eg sociological research, public transport, civil defence Printed maps – taking the example of Spitalfields to show cartographic and geographical development from 1676 to 1996
  4. In addition to the maps from our collection on display, the exhibition also features a very large, work-in-progress scale model of London in 1840. The 1st Framework website includes more details about this project, led by Andrew Byrne.

Wapping Map Intrigue

There is a special cartographic treat for Wapping residents as LW has been informed there is a particularly interesting map of 1890’s Wapping which is ‘annotated in an intriguing manner’ Oooh! Map secrets!

Part of the 1st Framework model

Mapping the Hamlets Events programme

All events listed below take place at the Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives, 277 Bancroft Road, London E1 4DQ unless otherwise stated.

Launch event Thursday 27 April, 6.00-7.30pm

Join us for the exhibition launch party, featuring an introductory talk by its curator Malcolm Barr-Hamilton, the Borough Archivist. Refreshments kindly sponsored by East End Homes. All welcome, free, no booking required.

Guided walk: Mile End New Town Tuesday 30 May, 6.00-8.00pm Meeting point: Aldgate East tube (Whitechapel High St/north side)

Exhibition curator and Borough Archivist Malcolm leads a guided walk around the former Hamlet of Mile End New Town, an obscure administrative area adjacent to Spitalfields which ceased to exist in 1901. The walk will be illustrated using copies of historic materials from our collection. Free, advance booking required.

Talk: Charles Booth’s Poverty Map Thursday 1 June, 6.00-7.30pm

We’re delighted to host historian Sarah Wise to give a talk on Charles Booth’s Poverty Map of 1898-99. An early example of social cartography, each street is coloured to indicate the income and social class of its inhabitants. Free, no booking required.

Family activity: Map-making Friday 2 June, 10.00-1.00pm

Come along to this half-term workshop where you’ll get the chance to create your own map of the local area, inspired by photographs and maps from the archives. Led by artist Virginia Hawke, this workshop is for children between the ages of 5 and 10 years accompanied by a parent or carer, although younger and older siblings are welcome. Free, advance booking required.

Going digital: mapping family histories in Whitechapel with the Survey of London Saturday 3 June, 1.00-4.00pm

The Survey of London host an informal discussion about recording family histories in Whitechapel, followed by a workshop about how to add yours to their interactive online map. Free, no booking required.

Guided walk: St George In The East Tuesday 13 June, 6.00-8.00pm Meeting point: Shadwell Overground station

A guided walk exploring the Parish of St. George-in-the-East, led by Borough Archivist Malcolm Barr-Hamilton, using historic maps and other resources from our collections. Free, advance booking required.

Talks: 18th and 19th century London, by map and model Thursday 22 June, 6.15-7.30pm

Borough Archivist Malcolm Barr-Hamilton discusses Gascoyne’s 1703 map of Stepney, the most significant map ever produced in terms of Tower Hamlets’ history; Andrew Byrne talks about his work-in-progress model of 1840 London also displayed in our exhibition. Free, no booking required.

More events may be added. Please book a place for those events which require it by emailing or call 020 7364 1290 during working hours. Let the archive know if you have any access needs.

For more information

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