Our journey begins at the National Library of Scotland online maps and their tile server.

I needed a new angle on the city and so was born my ambition to visit all the surrounding areas, but not the centre,  and look at their C19th housing. Not much left in the case of Byker (a pub, a church, two chapels and a school) and Hebburn (a few rows of housing, two churches, a Sunday school, a former bank and the rotting offices of Hawthorn Leslie) but we’ll come to that. More in the case of Jesmond, Heaton, and Gateshead despite the 1930s demolitions in the latter case.

Map tiling

It turns out that Google maps, Google earth and the maps of the NLS are not one large sheet that you download and scan vertically and horizontally using your mouse but rather a large number of small sections 256 pixels square containing varying amounts of information depending on the zoom level.

As you scan a map an application in your browser, decides which tiles are needed next on the edge of the screen to complete the map in the direction you wish to go. As you move around Google Earth or the maps of the NLS the application (GE) or browser is continually dropping and downloading tiles.

This is a tile of South Shields for 1862:-

I have linked the tile to the relevant map as you will discover if you click anywhere on the tile with your mouse.

The beauty of the NLS maps is that they have a number of ways to view old maps in comparison with up to date ones and so readily identify landscape changes which I used to good effect to identify areas of C19th housing. For example if you click the following link … transparency slider … by moving the slider at the top of the screen you will be able to view changes across the city and yourself identify areas that have changed and those that have remained the same.

I did this repeatedly across the Newcastle suburbs and identified areas of C19th housing to visit which were marked in the following manner using the NLS Polygon drawing tool:-

Click above for full sized image

Walking the suburbs

Having repeated this process across the areas of interest I planned my journey to Newcastle. In the following weeks and months I hope to cast a light over each of the chosen areas and having walked the streets to offer some clues as to their oldest housing, with photographs.

Click above for city wide map of Newcastle



Next time

Newcastle C19th housing – maps

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