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1836 Liverpool

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Date: 1836 (published) London

Dimensions: 12 x 15 inches (30.5 x 38 cm)

This interesting first edition map of Liverpool was published by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, also referred to as SDUK.

The map provides a bird’s eye view of the city as it had developed by 1836. It depicts the city’s seawalls along the Irish Sea, and its many docks. All streets and roads are delineated and named, and parks and important buildings and places are denoted. Three interesting insets are above the map, including one of a perspective of the city from the sea dated 1729, and a city plan of the same date. Between them is an inset depicting the offshore lighthouse tower called the Black Rock Lighthouse. Along the bottom of the map are images of important architectural edifices which had been built over the years as the city’s wealth increased.

History of Liverpool

The city is located at the estuary of the River Mercy as it empties into the Irish Sea. It is an important commercial and industrial center for all of west England. In the modern era it is probably best known as the hometown of the Beatles.

Although the city was not of significant enough import to be mentioned in the Domesday Book, historically the area has been settled for thousands of years, dating back at least to the Iron Age, and subsequently inhabited and controlled by various tribes until approximately 70 CE when  Roman troops established a fort and settlement at nearby Chester. Following Roman withdrawal the area was farmed by native Britons, including Anglo-Saxon and Celtic kingdoms.

In 1207 the city was granted a Royal Charter by King John, who needed a port in NW England from which to send military troops to reinforce his interests in Ireland. In addition to the port, a castle was built and a market established, which drew people to the area. In the early 13th century a charter was granted allowing the creation of a merchants’ guild which would act as a governing body to be established, and by 1351 the settlement was large enough to elect its own mayor.

The next few centuries saw Liverpool develop into an important trade port, importing animal hides from Ireland and exporting iron and wool. Its population remained low, but trade kept the port city strong until the English Civil War, when it was sacked.

Due to its geographic location, Liverpool began to grow again as trade with the colonies in North America and the West Indies expanded in the 16th and 17th centuries. Stone and brick buildings began to appear, including a mercantile exchange and a town hall, and boasting locals often referred to it as a ‘Second London’.

As the infamous trade of slaves took hold, and sugar and tobacco trade increased, the city prospered and indeed, at one point was the fastest growing city in the world. By 1851 its population was 300,000 and by 1880 had surpassed 600,000.  The population now is close to one million, and Liverpool is considered the third most important port city in England.  In 2008 Liverpool was named the European Capital of Culture.

The SDUK was founded in 1828 by Henry Peter Brougham, an idealistic British nobleman. The aim of the society was to promote self-education and egalitarian sharing of knowledge by providing instruments of learning such as maps and various other publications. Despite being affiliated with London University and various major publishing houses, the Society ultimately failed to achieve its goal as the publications were too costly for the targeted middle to lower class echelons of British society. At the same time, its publications were not grand enough or fine enough to appeal to the aristocracy.

Condition: This map is in A condition with a small separation at one corner which has been repaired with archival material on the verso. Some hand colouring.

Inventory #12320     

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