With 8 early hand-coloured sheets of varying sizes making up two maps, circa 980 x 3840 mm. and 640 x 1950 mm., dissected and backed with contemporary linen, with manuscript notations, each with letterpress title to the verso. Housed in a green cloth slipcase retaining original green calf cover with gold stamped ownership of ‘W. E. Hutchinson’, in very good condition.
THE CHAIRMAN’S OWN COPY OF THE ORIGINAL SURVEY FOR THE MIDLAND COUNTIES RAILWAY and AN UNRECORDED EARLY STATE. ONLY TWO RECORDED EXAMPLES.Charles Blacker Vignoles (1793-1875) was born in County Wexford, Ireland to a Huguenot family. His parents both died of yellow fever whilst the family were in Guadeloupe in 1794. His father was a captain in the 43rd regiment of foot. Charles was brought to England by an uncle and raised by his grandfather. He was educated at the Royal Military Academy and at Sandhurst Military Academy studying engineering. He was commissioned into the Royal Scots Regiment in 1814 with the assistance of the Duke of Kent but put on half-pay in 1816 following the conclusion of the Napoleonic wars. Seeking income elsewhere he set sail for America with his new wife in 1817. He settled in Charleston, South Carolina, and became assistant to the state civil engineer. In 1821 he was city surveyor in St. Augustine, Florida and in 1823 published an extremely important map of Florida. By 1823 he was in financial difficulties and received news of his grandfather’s death shortly after which he returned to England. His prospects in the USA were limited, he had not had success with gaining employment on projects in the north, the south was blighted by a worldwide slump in demand for cotton. In England he soon became involved in surveying the first railway lines being constructed, the London and Brighton and the Liverpool and Manchester line. He spent the next 15 years living in Liverpool. ‘Vignoles also advocated a flat-bottomed rail which would bear directly on sleepers without any chair, but despite occasional trials the rail was never adopted in Britain. On the continent, it was, and in Germany and France it was named after him’ (ODNB). This is the original survey carried out for the Midland Counties Railway. It connected Nottingham, Leicester and Derby with Rugby and then via the London Birmingham Railway to London. It was born out of the demand in Leicester for coal as it was rapidly industrialising. Originally conceived in 1832 the Midland Counties Railway struggled to raise finance. Finally, Charles Vignoles was brought in to review the plans and become the engineer. The Bill for it received Royal assent in June 1836. Construction began in 1837 and opened in stages between 1839 and 1840. A total of 148 bridges and three tunnels were constructed. The map was engraved by James Gardner (fl.1822-50), Worms and Baynton-Williams believe he might be the same Gardner who worked as a surveyor under Thomas Colby on the Ordnance Survey, becoming the sole agent for it from 1823. Only two examples of the map could be traced: in the John Rylands Library, University of Manchester (R150342) and in the Rumsey Collection, Stanford University, California (10732.019). Both are later issues including the 1847 extension to Pinxton in the north and alterations to the lines at Derby and Nottingham. Railway lines are also added to the insets of Part of Sileby and Barrow. A further parallel line, branch lines into Loughborough town and Mount Sorrel, an additional line around the north of Leicester and an additional inset of the Parish of Saint Mary in Leicester. The map also includes SEVERAL MANUSCRIPT NOTATIONS, mostly noting locations of railway stations.Apart from being in a previously unknown earlier state, this example is notable for being the copy once owned by William Evans Hutchinson who served as chairman of the Midland Railway from 1864-70. A portrait of him by John Lucas (1807-74) survives in the National Railway Museum. Vignoles became a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1829, a fellow of the Royal Society in 1855 and president of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1869. Provenance: William Evans Hutchinson, Chairman of the Midland Counties Railway; private English collection.James, Leslie. (1983); Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; Vignoles, Keith H. (1982) Charles Blacker Vignoles: Romantic Engineer, pp. 15-22; Vignoles, Keith H. (1984) ‘Charles Blacker Vignoles in South Carolina and Florida, 1817-23’, in ‘The South Carolina Historical Magazine’, vol. 85, no. 2 pp. 83-107; Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011) not listing this work.