I dated a Brighton map (it’s from 1971)

At Shabitat, a place I volunteer at, I picked up a dated map from the free pile of stuff that we put out outside the entrance. I only pick up maps that are (a) especially pretty or curious, and (b) show the local area. This one is type B. It’s a map of Brighton & Hove, published by a then-London based company Geographica. But nowhere on the map could I find the date of publication. The map was dated, but not dated, you know. It had no date on it. But it was old. (And had an awesome cover, but the cover is irrelevant here).

So I googled “how to date a map”. And then I found out about the CUMBERLAND system used for dating maps. CUMBERLAND consists of 10 different letters, each of which stands for a different digit: C is 1 (one), U is 2, … N is 9, and D is 0 (zero). I wrote it out below in case your brain was lazy and cba’d to do the work:

C = 1; U = 2; M = 3; B = 4; E = 5; R = 6; L = 7; A = 8; N = 9; D = 0.

After finding out about this system, I wanted to check whether this is perhaps the code used for my map. So I scanned carefully the entire map – well, mostly the margins, because I didn’t think that it’d be alike a paper town – hard to spot, hidden somewhere in the map text. And I found it in the bottom-left corner of side B of the map (i.e. the side that doesn’t show the city centre, but rather the more marginal areas of the conurbation). The letters are L.LC and N.LC, so if I interpreted it correctly, the map dates back to September 1971 (N.LC = 9.71) or after, using data from July and September 1971 (L.LC = 7.71).

I’ve attached nine photos of different parts of the map. There are some big (in my opinion) differences between B&H then and now, which means that quite a lot of change has occurred in Brighton over the last 50 years. Which is to be expected, because we live in an era of acceleration (or at least some sort of it). I noted the significant differences in the image captions.

To find out more:

CUMBERLAND dating system: https://www.maps.thehunthouse.com/Streets/History_of_London_Street_Maps.htm (for easy finding, click Ctrl+F and type “cumberland”)

Brighton Marina: photos of Marina under construction, in 1973 (My Brighton & Hove): https://www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk/places/placesea/brighton_marina/brighton_marina

Brighton College of Technology/University of Brighton: milestones in UoB history (University of Brighton): https://www.brighton.ac.uk/about-us/your-university/milestones-in-our-history/index.aspx (I’ll write more on this soon)

Whittingehame College: brief history (University of Southampton Special Collections): https://www.southampton.ac.uk/archives/cataloguedatabases/webguidemss319.page

West Pier: photos in the final years before its closure in 1975 (The Guardian): https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-22510880

All websites were accessed on 17/2/2022.

Side note: I didn’t make the jokes I had initially planned to make because this blog is publicly accessible and at my PGCE interview I was told by the interviewer to better privatise my social media and other online ventures, and if I can’t then be watchful of what I post. So I am being watchful.

Published by kotersey

Graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a First in geography, and from the University of Brighton with a Master's in history of design and material culture. Probably drinking iced coffee and thinking about buildings.

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