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A 19th Century Travel Guide

Joan and Peter Shaw

Look on the back seat or in the glove compartment of any modern car and you will surely find a pile of maps or an OS motoring atlas, and a hundred years ago no seasoned traveller would have felt happy without his trusty ?Bradshaw? to hand. What about two hundred years ago? There was no Ordnance Survey Department then, and not only was there a distinct dearth of Bradshaws, there weren ?t any railways either. Of course, many had no reason to use unfamiliar roads, their journeys were comparatively few and short and along routes they knew well. But what of others? For instance, imagine a young man living in the South of England being offered the post of groom at Prestwold Hall in Leicestershire. With a bit of luck, he would be able to scrape together the fare for the mail coach - at least part of the way - in which case he would need to have some idea of when and where the coaches operated. Even if he had to cover most of the journey on foot, he would still need to know which direction to take. What he needed was to beg, borrow or steal:–

cary's New Itinerary, giving an Accurate Delineation of the Great Roads, both Direct and Cross, throughout England and Wales.

With luck he would arrive on time!

These are three pages taken from Cary's New Itinerary of about 1800, describing the route from London to Nottingham, via Cotes, Hoton and Rempstone.

Originally published in WHO Newsletter 1998

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