London National Park City map on Dennis LIght bed by Urban Good - National Park City Maps (c) Charlie Peel

National Park City Maps by Urban Good

An interview with Charlie Peel about National Park City Maps

Girl looking at London National Park City Map

We thoroughly enjoyed printing the ground-breaking London National Park City map for social enterprise Urban Good. The map illustrates the sheer amount of open space within the city - parks, woodland, playing fields, rivers, ponds etc - where you can head for some exercise and fresh air.

We’re now delighted to introduce Charlie Peel, the founder of Urban Good, to talk about the development of the project and its positive outcome.

Charlie, you established Urban Good CIC (community interest company) in 2016 - please tell us about the work you do. 

With a background in large scale urban development and national policy I realised the value in working across and joining up architecture, landscape, engineering, planning and communication. I believed there was space in the built environment sector for a social enterprise that used design to make cities better, and could offer clients better value.

At Urban Good we provide research, graphic design and advice to architects, planners, developers, local authorities and community projects. But the project with enough excitement to get the ball rolling for Urban Good was the National Park City.

The London National Park City Map was your brainchild - how did you come up with the idea? 

I remember hearing Daniel Raven-Ellison describe his vision for a National Park City quite early on in the campaign. Following the presentation I simply said that the concept needed one powerful image to sum it all up and communicate the idea in a matter of seconds: a map.

Without hesitation, Dan asked if I could make one. I said no... but I would try. It wasn’t until we had a working illustration, published in 2016, that I returned to Daniel with the challenge that ultimately led to the National Park City Map - ‘We’re gonna need a bigger piece of paper.’

Boy pointing at London National Park City Map

What challenges and breakthroughs did you experience along the way? 

As our first move we established a trusting and supportive relationship with Ordnance Survey, GiGL and the Greater London Authority. This opened up access to the accurate and powerful data that is the backbone of the London map.

The biggest challenge was to rip up the business plan once we learned that the data could only be made available to us if we offered the maps for free.

In just two years we have put 25,000 National Park City maps into the hands and homes of the public. Since initially crowdfunding the map, we rely on donations and a P&P charge that covers costs.

What mistake did you learn the most from? 

With such a large format, re-drawn, vector map we were keen to tell the story of London’s diverse open spaces with subtle variations in pattern. While the majority of the map would be green, patterns could differentiate the different land uses - parks, cemeteries, woodland, nature reserves, sports fields and so on.

Very quickly, with the hundreds of layers of data, the use of these complex patterns made the file a challenge to print. We worked with Dennis Maps and Kodak to resolve the issues, but since then our map making skills have improved, and we specialise in creating lithographic prints.

How has the map been received? 

Twitter images of London National Park City mapWe are in the early stages of obtaining some more conclusive feedback via a short google form. This will help us learn what we can do better with the next edition. Anyone who has a copy of the map is welcome to tell us what they think.

Up until now we have relied on social media to take the temperature of opinions – and it’s overwhelmingly flattering. People really get the map and everything it sets out to celebrate and communicate.

I believe other cities are going to create their own ‘green map’? 

Soon after London was a hit, we got the call from Amsterdam and published our first in a new series of Urban Nature maps. Now we are rolling out the series across UK cities with an initial aim of 10 cities mapped and released in 2020.

We have spent three years refining our craft and building our partnerships, and it’s great to be scaling up sustainably as a non-profit. Meanwhile we continue to support the National Park City Foundation, and will make a series of detailed London maps just like the Greenwich Map we published this summer.

Urban Good have published their Greenwich Map and Urban Nature Amsterdam Map this summer.

Tell us a bit about why you brought a film crew down to Dennis Maps this year?

We know people love our maps, but so few people have the chance to see what a modern, sophisticated map press looks like. They simply press cmd–P in their offices, and we wanted to show them just how hard it is to make the maps as great as they are!

For us the exciting part is how active and live the process is, with a team of people setting up, monitoring and adjusting the giant sheet-fed litho press. It was a great day filming Urban Nature Amsterdam being printed, and we’re excited to launch our film today. (See Video below)

What’s next for Urban Good and for you? 

Dare I say it, our plans will see us printing many more maps with Dennis Maps, but some of the current proposals are still under wraps. We can, however, proudly share that the first of our UK series will be Newcastle Upon Tyne in the same folded format as London, Amsterdam and Greenwich.

We are working with some amazing non-profits too, to help them communicate their work around walking and green spaces in cities. It’s fun work and now it’s about picking the projects that can have the greatest impact.

All National Park City maps are available by postal order via Urban Good. If you would like to buy any of Urban Good’s unique maps please click on the links below:

London National Park City Map

Amsterdam Urban Nature Map

Greenwich Map

If you would like to keep up to date with Urban Good's news please follow them on Twitter.

Images of Girl and Boy pointing at the map and Urban Nature Amsterdam Map © Paul Cochrane.

Urban Nature Amsterdam - Printing with Dennis Maps from Urban Good on Vimeo.

Tour de France Map 2019

UK edition of the official Tour de France Map

Detail - Tour De France Official Map 2019When you’re as passionate about maps as we are at Dennis Maps every project is fascinating, and we work hard to make sure each detail is correct and perfectly finished.

And then once in a while a job comes up that perfectly matches a personal interest of one of the team. Only last month, Christian Coates, one of our CTP Operators, featured here on the blog talking about his hobby of road cycling.

This month we can reveal that we printed the UK edition of the official road map of the Tour de France, which was for sale with the event’s official guide.

Perhaps a little faster and longer than Christian’s usual rides, the race is France’s greatest sporting event, and we were delighted to be selected to produce this colourful map.

The Tour de France Road Map

Front Cover - Tour De France Official Road MapThe front cover of the Tour de France map shows the dramatic setting of the Chateau du Haut-Koenigsbourg in the Alsace, built on top of a peak negotiated by the cyclists in Stage 5 of the Tour.

The route is shown in bright yellow. From the start - Le Grand Départ - in Brussels on Saturday 6 July, it progressed mainly through the east of France. The traditional sprint finish on the Champs-Élysées in Paris was on Sunday 28 July.

Two sections are shown in larger scale, a road map of Brussels, and the area around Pau, the most western part of the race.

Two keys can be found in the bottom left hand corner of the Tour de France map. One shows the symbols used along the route of the race to illustrate where each stage starts and finishes. Also illustrated are the types of stage along the way, and the transfers where riders are transported to begin the next stage in another location.

The other key relates to the geography of France, its roads, borders (national and départment) and inhabited areas.

The race took place over three weeks and covered 3480 kilometres (2162 miles). It included seven flat, five hilly, and seven mountain stages. Five of the mountain stages had mountain-top finishes, three more than 2000m above sea level. No wonder it was dubbed ‘the highest race in history’.

There was also one individual time-trial stage, one team time-trial...and only two rest days!

Tour de France History

The first Tour de France took place in 1903 as a way of increasing sales of sports newspaper L’Auto. The paper’s chief cycling journalist suggested organising a six-day race all around France, and it generated so much interest that circulation of the paper doubled. It has been held every year ever since, with the exception of the two World Wars.

The rider in the yellow jersey - Greg van AvermaetThe famous yellow jersey was introduced in 1919, the colour chosen because that was the shade of paper L’Auto was printed on. The yellow jersey is awarded after each stage to the overall leader of the race, and is presented to the rider with the shortest overall time at the end of the race. The colour has now become synonymous with the race and is used on its logo and throughout the promotional material.

Cycling fans consider the 2019 race as one of the most eventful and unpredictable they can remember. From hailstones, landslides, and the tearful exit of a rider to the humour of Sir Bradley Wiggins’ commentary from the back of a motorbike, it was an unforgettable three weeks.

The winner was Egan Bernal, the first Colombian to win the race, who at only 22 surely has a brilliant career ahead of him. His teammate and the defending champion, Welshman Geraint Thomas, described him as a phenomenal athlete, ‘born to go uphill fast’.

An attribute no doubt appreciated by Christian as he tackles the more modest hills of his favourite rides around Somerset and Wiltshire!

Yellow Jersey cyclist photo by Árni Svanur Daníelsson on Unsplash


Road cycling maps - group of cyclists in front of Longleat House

Road Cycling Maps

What's so good about road cycling maps?

Portland Heights - Road cycling mapsIn a previous and very popular post, Christian Coates, a CTP Operator at Dennis Maps, told us about his hobby of collecting trig points. Christian is now back to talk about another of his interests, road cycling, and how he uses road cycling maps.

What made you take up road cycling?

Simple - we couldn’t afford two cars! We lived on the outskirts of town and my wife needed the car for work, so I bought an old mountain bike for the four mile round trip to work.

Then I began arranging bike rides for the staff of what was then Butler Tanner & Dennis. The first one was in 2009 to Kilmersdon and back. Nine people went on that ride and we used old Ordnance Survey maps – before we even started printing them!

A colleague of mine had a road bike and did events called Exmoor Beast and Longleat Lionheart. I wanted to try this as well, so I changed my bike using Cyclescheme, which helps you save money and spread the cost of a new bike and accessories.

I got a Felt N85 Road Bike. It was totally different and I literally had to learn how to ride it, it was so difficult. In 2012 I did the Exmoor Beast, over the Quantock Hills and Exmoor.

What do you think the benefits are?

It’s great to be outdoors, and good for heart, lungs, body, mind and soul. It’s not just good for your physical health, it’s a form of therapy that helps you escape the stress and pressure of life and work, so it’s good for your mental health too.

What type of bike do you ride now?Salisbury Cathedral - Cannondale Liquid Gas SuperSix

I’ve had a Cannondale Liquid Gas SuperSix since 2012. I’ve used it for Ironman events and I call it my Iron Lady. I wouldn’t swap it for the world.

I also have a Fuji Norcom Time Trial bike that I plan to use next year, and a couple of others as well. My family all have bikes. We need a trailer to take them all when we go on holiday!

How do you use road cycling maps and OS maps when planning your route?

I use OS paper maps for preparation, I’m a big fan of the Explorer series. I will look at a map and choose an interesting place and then plan a route of how to get there. It’s old fashioned, but much more fun.

Some cyclists have Garmin watches and they download a map from their computer to their Garmin. But then they get absorbed in following the exact route rather then enjoying the scenery.

If I get lost, it’s not a big deal. I don’t want to keep checking a map and I’m lucky to have a good sense of direction. I do have a GPS watch, so I can cross reference if necessary.

What’s your favourite ride?

Prospect Stile - Favourite spots for cyclingI have a top three. First would be Portland Bill and Weymouth. The scenery is stunning and the cycling is great there.

Second would be what I call the Christmas Detox. It’s Frome – Radstock – Bath – Frome. It can be done as a novice ride with beginners, plus you can stop en route for some refreshments, so maybe it’s not such a detox after all!

Third would be jointly Stourhead Gardens, Longleat Estate, and Chew Valley Lake, such beautiful places. I use Sustrans Cycle maps to plot my route for some of these.

Keen cyclists always ask about your favourite hill. Mine would be King Settle Hill, leading to King Alfred’s Tower. It’s a 1 in 17 gradient, which is the hardest.

What events would you recommend to someone wanting to get involved?

There are hill climbs every month, and time trials along the Frome bypass. One of the most popular time trial routes for someone new who wanted to give it a try is around Mere and over the Deverills, 25 miles in all.

Personally, I do triathlons, which are swimming – cycling – running, and Sportives, which are road racing over a long, rolling route arrowed out in advance.

Any advice for people wanting to start road cycling?

Contrary to what you may think, it doesn’t have to cost much. Buy yourself a good new helmet, but then look on eBay for a secondhand bike. No need to spend a fortune – just enjoy it. Then when your family see you the fun you’re having, they will want to join in, and it can become a family pursuit.

Apollo 11 Landing Map

Apollo 11 Landing map

Walking on the moon - Apollo 11 Landing map

Man walking on the moon - Moon Map Apollo 11 Dennis Maps is used to printing maps of terrain both near (London National Park City) and far, such as Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Crossing of South Georgia. But recently we have excelled ourselves by launching into space and printing a map of the moon! Or to be more precise the Apollo 11 landing map.

Those of us old enough to remember the Apollo 11 manned lunar landing on 20 July 1969 can probably recall where we watched it and the astonished reactions of the older generation, who could scarcely believe the advances in technology during their lifetime.

50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Space Mission

Fifty years ago the American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to land on the moon, in the lunar module the Eagle. As he took the first-ever step onto the surface of the moon Armstrong made the remark that became instantly legendary - ‘That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.’

When Aldrin followed and set foot on the moon he described what he saw as ‘Magnificent desolation.’ The front cover of the Apollo 11 Landing map shows an iconic photograph of Aldrin taken by Armstrong, who is reflected standing next to the Eagle in the visor of Aldrin’s space helmet.

Logo for 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Space Mission

The astronauts tried out various methods of moving in the lunar gravity, including kangaroo jumps. The fine-grained lunar soil was quite slippery, and they discovered they needed to plan their movements six or seven steps in advance, but they had no problems keeping their balance.

‘We came in peace...’

The landing site in the Sea of Tranquillity (or Mare Tranquillitatis as it’s known in Latin) is marked on the map by a red cross. Close to it are three craters named after Armstrong, Aldrin, and their crewmate Michael Collins, who remained orbiting the moon in the command module Columbia, conducting experiments and taking pictures.

Collins reported that he never felt lonely during the time of his solo lunar orbit, even while he was out of radio contact as Columbia passed behind the far side of the moon. Instead he said he felt ‘awareness, anticipation, satisfaction, confidence, almost exultation.’

For three hours Armstrong and Aldrin walked around, conducting experiments and collecting moon dust and rocks. They planted a US flag and left a sign on the ladder of Eagle that read ‘Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.’ Above this inscription were drawings of the eastern and western hemispheres of Earth, and below it, the signatures of the three astronauts and President Nixon.

The return of Apollo 11

Apollo 11 Moon Landing MapOn 21 July Eagle blasted off from the moon and docked with Columbia. They jettisoned Eagle and blasted out of lunar orbit, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean on 24 July. The flight profile from launch to splashdown is illustrated on the map’s back cover, redrawn from original NASA documentation.

The mission had taken eight days and fulfilled the dream of President John F. Kennedy in 1961 ‘before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.’

The astronauts were put in quarantine for three weeks before being given a clean bill of health. After taking part in ticker-tape parades in New York and Chicago they commenced a global tour, meeting heads of state as the whole world celebrated their safe return. Columbia too went on tour, displayed in state capitals around the United States!

A documentary film, Apollo 11, has been released in honour of the 50th anniversary. It’s made entirely from archival footage, including some previously unreleased to the public, and has already received much critical acclaim.

If you want to buy the Apollo 11 Landing map you can get it from the Ordnance Survey online shop here.

Update on Apollo 11 Landing Map:

Look whose been checking out the Moon map recently!

National Parks Cairngorms - Ordnance Survey poster

National Parks Poster from Ordnance Survey

Poster of National Parks in Great Britain

National Parks Breacon - Dennis Maps Ordnance Survey posterThis year is the 70th anniversary of the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act that led to the creation of the 15 National Parks in Great Britain.

To celebrate the anniversary Ordnance Survey have created a poster featuring the stunning variety of landscapes in the National Parks in the order of their creation. Dennis Maps are proud to have printed the poster, which was inspired by old Ordnance Survey maps that used natural colours, but with the addition of a contemporary 3D appearance.

National Parks for the enjoyment of the people

The National Parks were established to protect and care for special landscapes across the country, and make them available for everyone to visit and enjoy.

The locations, from the Cairngorms in Scotland to the New Forest, were chosen to be easily accessible from main centres of population, and this is still where the vast majority of visitors come from - only 7% come from outside the UK.

The most popular activity for visitors is walking, enjoyed by 40%, followed by sightseeing by car, but many other activities are available for the more energetic, including climbing, horse riding, sailing and mountain biking.

Caring for the National ParksNational Parks Yorkshire Dales - Dennis Maps - Ordnance Survey poster

The National Parks may look like works of nature, but in fact they have been shaped by human activity over millennia, particularly by farming. Today they are carefully managed, not only to preserve this heritage but also to protect the environment and livelihoods of those who live there. It’s a delicate balance to maintain the natural environment for the future and to continue to attract visitors, whilst supporting local businesses and providing sufficient affordable housing.

Thousands of historic buildings and sites add to the attraction of the National Parks, and need maintenance by people trained in traditional skills like dry stone walling and thatching. When new building work takes place National Parks archaeologists often take the opportunity to carry out a dig to explore the area and unearth new remains that will shed light on how the area was used in the past.

Landscape, coast and ancient sites

National Parks Lake District - Dennis Maps - Ordnance Survey posterTo name just a few of these ancient sites, Hadrian’s Wall stretches through three National Parks - the North York Moors, Northumberland and the Lake District. On Dartmoor is Higher Uppacott, a medieval longhouse where people and cattle were both housed under a single roof. In the Yorkshire Dales eighteenth century mills reveal the development of the Industrial Revolution, as does a 300 year old blast furnace in Snowdonia.

The first National Park was the Peak District in Derbyshire, founded in 1951 and comprising rugged moorlands, limestone dales and grand stately homes. The most recent, established in 2010, is the South Downs, where you can find ancient woodland, white cliffs, chocolate box villages, and vineyards.

If you enjoy being by the sea, then the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park will appeal. There’s 300 km of coast path to walk along between sandy beaches and quiet coves, while keeping an eye open seaward for seals, dolphins and basking sharks.

The Broads National Park in Norfolk offers a completely different kind of watery landscape. Digging out peat for fuel in the Middle Ages created broad, shallow lakes connected by rivers, teeming with wildlife and punctuated by windmills.

Be sure to take a look at the National Parks website for more information about each of the parks, to follow the latest news on social media, and join in the celebrations by planning your own visit. The wide range of activities and events taking place in the parks provide something for every age and interest.

You can buy the AO size (841 x 1189 mm) National Parks poster from the Ordnance Survey online shop for £14.99.

Historic Map York Minster

An Historical Map of York

From Medieval Times to 1850 - an historical map of York

Historical Map York outer coverIf you’ve read any of our previous blog posts you’ll no doubt have realised that Dennis Maps prints a quite remarkable range of maps. They relate not only to present day geography, but to important events like World War I, Shackleton’s crossing of South Georgia and even to subjects like music. Another historical project has been our updated edition of the award-winning Historical Map of York from Medieval Times to 1850.

With a folding card cover - the same format as an Ordnance Survey map - all its illustrations are new, including the cover illustration of an 18th century watercolour of the Minster from the city walls.

The map depicts the city of York in 1850, and includes the locations of many medieval and later buildings, both those still standing and the ones which by then had disappeared. It’s a unique visual history of the changes in the structure of a growing city.

York is one of the most attractive and important cities in the north of England. It was founded as a fortress by the Romans in about AD71 due to its proximity to the rivers Ouse and Foss, and the protection given by its elevated position.

The native Britons’ name for the settlement was ‘Latinised’ to become Eboracum. When the Romans departed, the Anglo-Saxon invaders substituted their own word, Evorwic. Then the Vikings called it Jorvik, from which can easily be seen the evolution of the name we’re familiar with today.

Historical Map York CastleWhatever the name, the city was always a prosperous river port and centre of trade. The Minster was the largest Gothic cathedral in Europe, and even after the Reformation York retained its commercial importance, situated as it was on the Great North Road between London and Scotland.

In the 17th and 18th centuries its wealthy merchants erected many elegant buildings as a way of displaying their success, and then in the 1830s the railway arrived, and York became an important hub of the new rail network. By 1900 the railways and the manufacture of chocolate - by Rowntrees and Terry’s of York - were the city’s main industries.

To modern eyes the city of 1850 looks like a refreshingly simple, straightforward and ordered city. In comparison to today’s immense, sprawling urban areas it is compact, neatly organised, and on a human scale.

On the face of the map is a potted history of York from the early Roman days through the following centuries up until the 1800’s. The key opposite shows how different colours refer to buildings of different periods. For further ease of reading, various fonts or Styles of Lettering indicate the age of the named sites, medieval or later.

Historical Map York. Close up of backOn the reverse of the map is a gazetteer, or directory, of York’s many historic buildings and sites, both those still standing in 1850 and those that had by then been pulled down. The Pudding Holes, on the east bank of the River Ouse, was a public washing place. One wonders what standards of cleanliness were achieved, considering that the ‘innards of beasts’ were also washed here!

Modern spa lovers might be surprised to discover that York residents could enjoy a Turkish bath at The Bagnio from 1691. The delightful-sounding Festival Concert Rooms are no longer a venue, having been demolished in the 1970’s.

York’s street names are always intriguing to visitors, and have their own explanatory section on the reverse of the map. Whip-ma-whop-ma-gate is surely one of the oddest, and its origins are obscure, although it may refer to a whipping post, where wrongdoers were tied to receive their punishment.

A wonderful reference for anyone visiting York, An Historical Map of York is published by The Historic Towns Trust and is available to buy at £9.99 from bookshops and online book retailers.

Spencer Codford Fort trig point

The trig point collector

Searching for a trig point

Spencer Codford Fort trig point We have some real characters working here at Dennis Maps. We’re passionate about map printing, as you may have read in our recent interview with Keith Vranch, who’s been a printer since the 1970's. Christian Coates is a CTP Operator and has a very unusual hobby - he’s mad about trig points! We asked him to share his trig point enthusiasm.

What is a trig point?

Trig points are fixed surveying stations that were built by Ordnance Survey to map the contours of the land. They are also known as a triangulation station or pillar, a trigonometrical station or point, a trig station or beacon...or just a trig!

They are usually a concrete or stone pyramid or obelisk. On the top is a brass plate with three arms and a central depression that was used to mount and centre a theodolite, to take angular measurements to neighbouring trig points.

Trig stations are grouped together to form a network of triangulation. They were an early form of GPS and although trig points are no longer required for surveying purposes, they remain useful to hikers as navigational aids.

The use of trig points stopped in the 1960’s as the use of satellites, planes and drones rendered them obsolete. Some have been removed by farmers and land owners.

How to spot a trig point on a map

Ben Nevis In Winter trig pointTrig points are shown on OS maps as a small blue triangle, called a triangulation pillar. There are over 6500 in the UK, and only one person is known to have done them all.

I’ve done about 30 so far, so I have a long way to go to catch that person up! Working at Dennis Maps means that I am surrounded by maps all day, so when the machine is running on a long job, I can pull a map out and search for a new trig point.

All my personal maps have circles drawn on them, showing where the trig points are. When I find a few on the map, I circle them all and plot a route. They go almost unnoticed on the map as they are so small and I quite like that - it makes them a challenge to find.

I only use paper OS maps, never apps. I have very good map reading and compass skills because my dad taught me the importance of knowing how to read a map.

How did you get started on your trig point collection?

Father Hellvellyn trig pointIt was my father who got me interested in them, too. We went to Mount Helvellyn, the third highest mountain in England, and found a trig point quite by accident. After that I wanted to find more.

I always have my walking boots in the car, so I will leave work at 2pm and set off to find one or two.

They are always at high points, and typically, when I find one, I stand on it to get the best view. Some are absolutely spectacular, while others are a little disappointing as the hedges have grown over them.

Do you have a rare or ‘holy grail’ trig point that you would like to see?

My ‘holy grail’ trig points were the Three Peaks - Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England, Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland, and Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales. The next trig point I am desperate to complete is Steep Holm Island.

It’s in the Bristol Channel and lies about six miles off shore. The island is a bird sanctuary and boat trips are organised when the weather allows, so it’s definitely on my ‘to do’ list. Hopefully for this summer when the water is calm.

I mainly do trig points solo, but my children like to search for them as well. When they find one on a map, we plan a route together, so it makes it a family activity, with the bonus of getting us all outside.

Do you have any favourites so far?

Chase Cold Kitchen Hill trig pointI would say it’s probably Cold Kitchen Hill, near Warminster in Wiltshire. I completed this one with my son, Chase. It was amazing weather, there were gliders in the sky and the view from the top was perfect. We just had a great time.

It’s a niche hobby, and I can’t see it catching on too much. People are intrigued by trig points and by maps in general, but most people don’t have a reason to pick up a map these days, which is a shame as the detail in them is absolutely amazing. I see something different each time I look at a map.

In this age of computer games, it’s great just to be able to get outside with the children and go hunting for trig points that were used to map the land long before we were born.

Music Map by Marvellous Maps

The Great British Music Map

An encyclopaedic music map of Great Britain

Marvellous Music Map from Dennis MapsYou’ve probably never associated maps with music before, but one of our recent printing projects does exactly that. Printed by Dennis Maps in full colour on two sides, The Great British Music Map celebrates Britain’s world class music scene, and is part of a growing series published by Marvellous Maps with Great British themes.

You may remember that we’ve already featured The Great British Adventure Map here on the blog.

What’s on The Great British Music Map

And what a lot there is to ‘record’ about the music of Britain, which tops charts around the world! Apparently one in every eight singles and albums sold worldwide is by a British artist, which is a quite astonishing feat for such a small country.

Before diving into the detail, though, first check the key in the bottom right hand corner for the coloured symbols.

A pink noteshows a place that’s mentioned in a song title, a double note one that features in a lyric.

And there’s so much more - other symbols denote a place name in an album title, in the name of an artist or band, the location for a music video or record cover, or a place that inspired a song.

Music Map - Blowing Britain's Trumpet

Displayed on the map are over 2000 festivals, live music venues and lots more. Some areas are so loaded with musical activity that they have their own miniature maps - Liverpool, it goes without saying, Manchester, Edinburgh (the home of Bay City Rollermania, no less), and areas of London like Soho and Brixton, birthplace of David Bowie and home to the real Electric Avenue.

But also smaller places have many musical connections. Have you ever thought of the Norfolk Broads and coast as an inspiration for song writers? You’ve probably unknowingly seen its beaches in a Madness video and on a Stranglers’ album cover.

There’s plenty of music trivia here too - a ‘glorious tale or random nugget’, a recording studio or a memorial to a deceased musician. You can find out where your favourite musicians come from, the location of noted record shops, and much more besides.

Road Trips

And if you fancy a music-based road trip around Britain to tour the haunts of your favourite bands and songwriters, the reverse side of the map provides a route around Britain’s Top 50 music locations. There’s even a suggested playlist to keep you humming en route.

Great British Music Map Front page

To make sure you don’t miss any of the scenery along the way, the map includes handy references to the Ordnance Survey maps for each area, so you can get out of the car and absorb the atmosphere.

What would the theme of your road trip be?

You could do worse than try the suggested Tour of Britain’s Most Musical-Sounding Place Names, that takes in Clubworthy, Dancing Ledge, Bass Rock and Craig David (honestly).

Musical quotes

Don’t overlook the small print around the edge of both sides of the map. It features musical quotes like this gem from John Peel at the 1988 Reading Festival -

“If you don’t stop throwing bottles, I’ll play Bee Gees records.”

The fighting, allegedly, stopped instantly!

How to buy The Great British Music Map

You can buy it as a folded map to accompany your musical progress around Britain, or framed as a conversation piece for your living room or music room.

Use the map to plan your very own musical adventure, or just to astonish your friends with your new, encyclopaedic music knowledge down at the pub quiz!

World War 1 Trench Maps - The Somme

Trench Warfare Maps of World War 1

Bringing to life the chilling reality of trench warfare

World War 1 Trench Maps - The SommeThe Dennis Maps staff are used to printing contemporary maps aimed at encouraging people to #GetOutside, or showing landscapes as they are today. A more moving project we carried out last year was the reproduction for Ordnance Survey of four World War One trench warfare maps to commemorate 100 years since the end of the war.

More than 33 million British maps of the Western Front were printed during the war, most by Ordnance Survey. At first they were printed in Southampton, but later concerns about the supply ships being sunk in the Channel led to map production being moved to France.

It’s hard for us to believe today but early in the war surveyors conducted surveys of the area with theodolites and heavy measuring chains. The battle of Neuve Chapelle in 1915 was the first where aerial photography was used to update maps.

OS draughtsmen were sent to France to produce maps from the photographs, and place names were anglicised for ease of reading, Ploegsteert becoming Plug Street, for example.

46 women were among the OS staff who went to France in 1918 to set up and man a map printing factory at Wardrecques, which was close to the front line. At its peak it produced 300,000 maps a week, which were vital in the location and destruction of German artillery.

Trench warfare maps WW1Trench maps have standard mapping as a backdrop so at first glance appear completely familiar. But for those of us lucky enough to associate maps with leisure time and finding footpaths, a look at the key is immediately chilling.

The red lines that riddle the French countryside show not footpaths but the German trench system. A thick red line shows ‘any trench apparently organised for fire’, and ‘old or disused [are shown] by dotted line’.

The maps bring trench warfare to life in a way that’s shocking. We can see all the features of the war that have become so iconic, including wire entanglements, machine gun emplacements, mine craters, and listening posts.

After the Armistice was signed in November 1918 trench maps were no longer required, but the factory continued to operate, producing small-scale maps of Germany for the allies.

The four battlefield maps show The Somme (1:40 000 scale), Loivre (1:20 000 scale), Menin near Ypres (1:10 000 scale), and Merville (1:20 000 scale). They are reproduced exactly from originals in the National Library of Scotland, with their original sepia background, and include pencil notes added during use.

World War 1 - The Somme Trench MapsThe commemoration of the ending of the war has shown that 100 years later there is huge interest in the period, and in the sacrifices of the ordinary men and women involved. The trench maps bring an extra dimension to the personal diaries and official regimental records of the time, enabling us to see how the war progressed and to track the movements of regiments and individuals.

We’re sure that the many people whose grandparents and great-grandparents served in the war will welcome this graphic illustration of where they were, and the conditions they endured.

The maps are for sale on the OS site at £9.99 each or £29.97 for the whole set of four (a 25% discount). £1 per map sold will be donated to the charity Help for Heroes.

Map Printing - Keith Vranch with KBA machine

From letterpress to map printing – 40 years in the printing industry

An interview with a map printer

Keith Vranch - map printing at Dennis MapsWe have some remarkably skilled people here at Dennis Maps, some of whom have worked in the business for many years and seen dramatic changes in book and map printing.

Keith Vranch joined Butler & Tanner straight out of school in 1974, when he was 16 years old. He was the last letterpress apprentice to be taken on, and started as a minder operator.

He recalls his training and the developments in book and map printing technology:

I was fortunate to get the job as I had gone for a job in plate making but didn’t get it. I phoned a couple of months later to ask for some feedback, and they asked me to come in to interview for the letterpress role.

It was a 5 year apprenticeship and I worked 8am to 5pm. Half way through, the letterpress department was phased out and I was offered a position within the litho printing department, so my apprenticeship changed to that.

I was earning about £9 per week when I started, plus £1.50 per week for expenses. I kept my Sunday paper round as well for the first year! I spent 40 hours a week at Radstock College, and college holidays in the factory.

The second year I was on block release at Brunel College in Bristol. The course was structured as one month at Brunel, then two to three months in the factory.

When I started on the letterpress machine, we were printing books. Mainly medical and text books, always in a large format sheet size.

Keith Vranch - map printingOn the letterpress printing machine, I would spend all day ‘making ready’, adding overlays, underlays etc to get the printed image looking just right, and then print it the next day. So, it was one day to make ready and one morning to print at a speed of 1,200 sheets per hour.

In the letterpress process, even a tiny speck of dust would cause the letters to rise and make the text print unevenly. Each individual page would need to be set manually. On a 2,000 run, we were given 100 sheets of paper as overs. If we used more than the 100 sheets, we were asked why.

When I moved to offset litho, it was a big leap because the speed of the machine was now around 3,000 sheets per hour. But there definitely wasn’t as much skill involved in the offset process as there was on the letterpress.

I was only on the monochrome offset machine for 2 weeks and then I was moved to the two-colour machine. It was the first time I had printed in more than one colour outside of college.

Then in the early 90’s we moved to four-colour printing on the Roland 800 7b machine. We had four colours printing in the one go and it was a whole new world for us.

Keith Vranch - map printing on KBA printing machineIn 1996/97 I moved on to the KBA press. I spent a lot of time on KBA 4 from 2002. By the end of Butler & Tanner in 2008 there were 6 KBA’s running 24 hours five days a week.

The Heidelberg XL162 was installed at Butler, Tanner & Dennis in 2011, and was 30 metres long. The ‘make ready’ was only two or three minutes and it would print 14,000 sheets in an hour. It was used for both book and map printing, and the quality was revolutionary.

It was so automated that the skill level required was much less, but you still needed technical skills as you had to use the computer that controlled every operation of the machine.

It’s all map printing now at Dennis Maps, we don’t print any books. I am running a large format KBA press printing in 6 colours. A huge change from the old Butler & Tanner days of 40 years ago and printing books in one colour on a letterpress flat-bed machine.