facebook oxfordmapsfblogo montage5 - aug 31 2015

Between the 1900s and the 1960s, the Ordnance Survey published a wide range of maps of Great Britain.


Cover design changed several times with each successive edition reflecting the style and lettering preferences of the era. This page gives a brief overview of the most common OS maps of this period.

First published in the 1890s, the one-inch-to-a-mile Third Edition (1) had a plain white cover and was the standard OS map until shortly before WWI when colour appeared on the cover (2.) Then in 1919, the iconic Ellis Martin picture took centre stage of the Popular Edition (3)which remained in print until the early 1930s. Most of this Edition have a red cover but some are in beige.


Blue dominated from 1933 onwards with another Ellis Martin drawing providing the visual focus for the Fifth Edition (4)and then it was back to red for the New Popular Edition (5), the first of which were published in 1940. In the early 1950s, the cover was redesigned again (6) and the Seventh Series remained in print well into the 1960s.


In the 1920s and 30s, the Ordnance Survey also published distinctive one-inch maps of Scotland (7); Tourist Maps of popular leisure destinations (8); and District Maps (9.) These three imprints were issued in relatively low numbers and are particularly collectable.

popular edition 1932 third edition 1912 oshalfinchred osquarter

One inch = one mile

oxf newbury - os - 1959


fifth edition oxford 1930s tourist scotland os district map oxf newbury - os - 1947










The standard half-inch map had the classic green cover that barely changed in a lifetime that spanned over 20 years. The earliest maps date from before WWI and the last were printed in the early 1930s. Around the same time, the OS also published half-inch maps of London in a distinctive red cover.  

Half inch = one mile

green os

The late-1920s also saw the publication of a series of 12 quarter-inch-to-a-mile motoring maps of Great Britain.


This edition was replaced by the over-sized Fourth Edition in the late 1940s.

Quarter inch = one mile

quarter inch