Special Emergency Edition

Special Emergency Edition 1938 (Not on general sale to the public)

Download provisional listing

Until about 1935 it was usual for revised OS 1:2500 mapping to be followed by revised versions of the relevant 1:10,560 sheets, but because of the slow progress of 1:2500 revision after 1914 comparatively few fully revised 1:10,560 sheets were published in the 1930s. However, in 1938-9 a ‘Special Emergency Edition’ was produced, for Air Raid Precaution (ARP) planning. According to a later record, 3058 sheets were produced (TNA PRO OS 11/41, folio.2A). The sheets were headed ‘Special Emergency Edition’ (SEE), but are sometimes referred to as ‘the ARP edition’, though there is no reference to ARP on the maps. Most of the revision was of new buildings and roads, and was obtained variously from one-inch revision material, recent 1:2500 revision, and special ad hoc surveys. As the official title implies, it was a ‘rush job’; thus, for example, rows of semi-detached houses are indicated as continuous terraces without infill. Details such as field boundaries, which were not included on the one-inch and were not of immediate relevance, were left unrevised, and thus many sheets juxtapose a basic revision of c.1900-10 with building development that was very recent in 1939. The Special Emergency Edition seems to have been produced for all places in Britain with a population in excess of approximately 2000. It is thus of considerable value as a record of the approximate state of urban expansion on the eve of World War II. Unfortunately for the student, it was produced for limited circulation, and was not on sale to the public; no copies were sent to the legal deposit libraries. The only two substantial collections so far located, in the Royal Geographical Society and the National Library of Wales, but on the evidence of a contemporary OS list (in TNA PRO IR 65/29) both sets are incomplete, and a few sheets stated to have been produced have not yet been found. However, the SEE was used as a basis for the wartime 1:25,000, GSGS 3906, which was produced by direct photo-reduction from the latest available 1:10,560, and the mapping is much more likely to be encountered in this surrogate form than in the original. In 1943 the publication of a 1:10,560 ‘Provisional Edition’ began; it was initially based on the ‘SEE’ revision, but from about 1946 further revision from post-war RAF photography was also incorporated.

The following is a provisional list of all known sheets in the Special Emergency Edition. It covers the holdings of the National Library of Wales which they acquired from the Ministry of Defence, and other collections to be found in libraries in the universities of Cambridge, Manchester and Southampton. It also includes the record of the holdings of the Royal Geographical Society as set out by George Bilcliffe in his hand written catalogue of the Society’s entire six-inch collection. Confirmation of this record by inspection of the sheets themselves remains an important but very time-consuming task, and the Charles Close Society would welcome an approach from anyone prepared to take on all or part of this challenge.

One of the permanent problems with any list of County Series sheets is how and where to list those sheets which cover more than one county. The solution adopted here has been to list those on the same meridian in the sequence of each relevant county, with an asterisk to a single preferred county, for counting purposes. Thus any entry in this list which has an asterisk should for counting purposes be ignored. The challenge is indeed to reach and if possible confirm the total figure of 3058.

The sheets of the “unified” Scottish counties, Argyll with Bute, Fife with Kinross, Perth with Clackmannan, Ross & Cromarty, which share not only a common county meridian but also a common sheet numbering system, are listed together under the heading of the first named in each case.

The Charles Close Society is thus presenting this provisional list of the Special Emergency Edition for wider consultation. The aim is to develop it into an accurate union list of all surviving copies. Much remains to be done to determine its accuracy, and the correction of errors, confirmation of the existence of unrecorded sheets and news of additional copies from anyone interested would be most welcome.

The document TNA PRO IR 65/29 provides us with the following chronological information:

Counties ready for printing by 1 February 1939:
Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cumberland, Dorset, Durham, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Somerset, Suffolk, Westmorland, Yorkshire East Riding, Argyllshire & Buteshire, Dumfriesshire, Fifeshire & Kinross-shire.

Counties ready for printing by 1 March 1939:
Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Norfolk, Wiltshire, Ayrshire (the last two brought forward from February).

Counties to be printed in May 1939:
Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Derbyshire, Huntingdonshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Monmouthshire, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, Yorkshire North Riding, Brecknockshire, Glamorganshire, Pembrokeshire, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Banffshire, Berwickshire, Clackmannanshire, Caithness, East Lothian, Inverness-shire, Kincardineshire, Kirkcudbrightshire, Morayshire, Nairnshire, Perthshire, Peeblesshire, Ross & Cromarty, Roxburghshire, Selkirkshire, Sutherland, Wigtownshire.

Counties proposed to be printed in July 1939:
Cornwall, Devonshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Northumberland, Sussex, Warwickshire, Yorkshire West Riding, Cardiganshire, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Montgomeryshire, Radnorshire, Dunbartonshire, Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, Stirlingshire.

Counties due to be printed in September 1939:
Cheshire, Kent, Lancashire, London, Middlesex, Nottinghamshire, Surrey, Anglesey, Carnarvonshire, Merionethshire, Carmarthenshire, Midlothian, West Lothian.

Principal collections:
CUL: Map Department, Cambridge University Library
MUG: Geography Department Library, Manchester University, now transferred to University of Manchester Library
NLW: National Library of Wales
PC: Private collection
RGS: Royal Geographical Society
SUL: Hartley Library, University of Southampton

Download provisional listing