Published by Richard Nicholls in Wakefield, Yorkshire, this fascinating map details the mining throughout the country. This rare map was followed the next year by Joseph Priestley’s classic work on English Canals entitled ‘Historical account of the navigable rivers, canals, and railways of Great Britain’, which was to accompany the map. Shirley states that this was one of the very first maps to bring together the many aspects of the Industrial Revolution, namely the booming mining industry and the canal and railway networks. It is engraved locally to a scale of six miles to one inch and ‘is a masterpiece of engraving in its own right’ (Shirley). Although on a slightly smaller scale than William Smith’s great map, it is very impressive and gives the location of mineral and rock deposits. Each mine is identified by the mineral it produces; copper, tin, lead, coal, silver, iron etc. Unlike Smith’s map, strata are not represented, but the counties are hand coloured. With dedication to the King lower centre and an inset map of Scotland top right.
John Walker is unrelated to any other Walker in the cartographic trade at the time. He was a land and mining surveyor who began in the 1820s in Wakefield, Yorkshire. Indeed, there is a fine plan of the town from 1823 by him. Richard Nichols was the local publisher, postmaster, bookseller and newspaper publisher. Shirley recounts a fascinating tale of his temper. He had attempted to gain a seat on board a late night coach passing through Wakefield from Leeds to London one night and told that there was no seat available. Pausing for a rest the passengers stepped out to stretch their legs upon which Nichols promptly boarded the coach, curled up in the corner and refused to move falling asleep. Very quietly the horses were removed and hitched to another coach so that the original passengers could continue their journey!
Joseph Priestley was the manager of the Aire and Calder Navigation Company, at that time in control of much of the waterways in eastern Yorkshire. His accompanying work details the seven-year effort of Walker in producing the map. Shirley records that in 1830, the year this map was published, the Canal system in England was near its peak of 4000 miles. Barely a further 100 miles was added in the ensuing years. It crosses the fascinating point when their use was about to wane and that of the railway was about to explode. It was only in 1825 that the first passenger railway was constructed between Stockton and Darlington. A magnificent map highlighting the industrial prowess of Britain at the time. Provenance: Bradford Public Library deaccessioned 2006; Clive A Burden Ltd.; private English collection. Shirley (1987); Tooley (1999-2004).