Friday, 13 January 2017

typologies of early 19th century processional routes

I'm back working on procession routes in the early 19th century. Here is a sneak peek of a typology I'm building, but I'll leave you guessing as to the towns mapped:

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Sheffield Park Hill today and 1823

Layering old maps on Google Earth with the 3D buildings option on. Here's Park Hill, Sheffield, on a 1823 map

Monday, 9 January 2017

archives and manuscripts for sale on Ebay

Ever come across archives and manuscripts for sale on Ebay or other auction sites and thought, 'that should be publicly accessible to everyone rather than being sold privately and never seen again?'

I've set up a database of interesting items for sale which might become useful for historical research. It's:


I keep an eye out for anything interesting relating to my own research, and have realised that sellers and dealers on ebay have done us researchers a service - essentially digitising a whole load of archives that are unavailable publicly. So this site will hopefully help to collate a small fraction of them for future use.

I hope it will also mitigate against that impression researchers sometimes get when they've 'finished' looking through an archive at a record office or local studies library, and think that they've seen everything relating to a particular place or topic. One look at Ebay suggests that there's a huge load of unseen material out there in private hands.

e.g. with the current interest in the home, consumption and everyday life, there are loads of inventories on ebay. Collection at:

Do let me know if you spot anything interesting and I'll add it to the database.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Newport Chartist Convention 2016

The website has published some great photos of Newport Chartist Convention, which took place on 5 November 2016. It was a lovely day, with an inspiring set of speakers and activists, and wonderful to see the John Frost School with their choir singing Chartist songs. Thanks to the Head of the school, who made us all very welcome.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

3D mapping of Oldham landowners in 1829

I'm currently trying to make a 3D model of Dunn's map of Oldham in 1829.

Here are two versions:

Dunn's map of Oldham 1829

It's easier to navigate on a touch screen. If you're on a standard PC then zoom in by pressing ctrl + shift and the up button.

Still work in progress as I haven't entered the whole of Dunn's index of landowners and occupants.

Quick summary of how to do it:
1. geo-reference the map in QGIS
2. draw the polygons of the buildings, remembering to add a column in attributes for number of floors. I've estimated this as I don't know the real heights, so for cottages I've put 2 floors, houses 3 floors and big buildings like factories and churches I've put 6 to make them stand out.
3. use the 'threejs' plugin in QGIS. This automatically converts the floor heights into the z co-ordinate - really easy. It makes it into a html file for you with associated files, which you just then upload to your webserver in one folder. Magic.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Radical protest, the North, and the spatial turn

Two updates from me:

1. Listen to The Matter of the North, an excellent series about the North of England, produced by Faith Lawrence for BBC Radio 4. I'm on the 'Radical North' programme, on Kersal Moor discussing the landscapes of Chartist meetings. Robert Poole is down the road on the site of Peterloo:

me & Melvyn Bragg on Kersal Moor, pic by BBC Radio 4

2.  Here's an exchange between Mike Sanders and me on the 'spatial turn' in his review of my book:

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Adventures in QGIS continued

I'll do some how to guides on my experiments in QGIS with historical maps soon, but here's an aide memoire of the tutorials I've used:

Creating a heat map:

Creating a contour map:

And to show that I'm just messing around and not doing this systematically, here's my failed experiment to warp geo-referenced maps onto a DEM (elevation) layer:

Apparently north Manchester has a mountain range according to this...