The National Library of Scotland has made freely available the earliest editions of Ordnance Survey National Grid maps at 1:1,250 scale covering central London.

Fitzrovia in 1951 showing building numbers and pub names.

The newly digitised maps provide a detailed cartographic picture of post-war Fitzrovia revealing how it escaped a lot of bombing but has since succumbed to the ravages of urban renewal and property developers.

Originally produced between 1947 and 1964 they show nearly all permanent features of over one square metre in size, building numbers, many pub names, and descriptions of commercial buildings.

Readers of Patrick Hamilton’s 1935 trilogy Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky and Julian MacLaren Ross’s Collected Memoirs of the 1940s can get an insight into the landscape portrayed in those books which popularised Fitzrovia and Soho’s demi-monde.

1951 map.
Lost pub. The Goat and Compasses on the corner of Euston Road and Fitzroy Street.

Hamilton set his book in a fictional pub — The Midnight Bell — on the Euston Road, but it is believed the pub was based on a real public house, the Goat and Compasses on the corner with Fitzroy Street as shown on the 1951 map.

The maps can be viewed using a clickable map, as a georeferenced overlay or in a side-by-side viewer (allowing comparison to modern Google or Bing layers), and using an ordered list.

Last year the National Library of Scotland made available the 1893-1895 maps. Now the two map sets can be viewed side-by-side for comparison.

Map images at the National Library of Scotland.