This plan shows Leeds in 1770.

Can you spot the Infirmary, near the Cloth Hall?

Which other things do you recognise – and what has changed since then?

A plan of Leeds in 1770

 

This is an 1878 version of a plan that was first published almost a century earlier in 1771. It comes from the British Library’s copy of An historical and descriptive Guide to the Borough of Leeds.

The original plan was an inset on a larger map of the whole county, produced by Thomas Jefferys (1717-1771) the royal mapmaker to George III. That map was one of the first large-scale maps of Yorkshire to be drawn using mathematical measurements. By including Leeds, Jefferys showed its importance as a centre of trade at that time. The town gained even more status, when the Leeds and Liverpool canal was built in 1816, and with the appearance of railways from the 1830s.

More maps at the British Library

The British Library cares for over 170 million items including more than four million maps, charts, atlases and globes. They range from the Klencke atlas – one of the largest books of maps in the world – to a tiny map on a coin made in the Roman Empire.

You can explore maps and prints of Leeds from King George III’s collection, and discover more about Leeds in the 18th century.

1745 engraving of the South-East prospect of Leeds

Or, delve into Charles Goad’s fire insurance maps of Leeds, printed in 1886 to help insurance companies judge the risk of fire.

Full of fascinating details about the size and use of buildings – and any ovens, kilns or other fire hazards that they contain – the maps in the gallery above give us a rich snapshot of Leeds in the Victorian era.