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About the map collections

The main strength of the collection is in our holdings of UK mapping, current and historical and with both topographic (general purpose) and thematic (special purpose) series taken. In particular, there is excellent coverage for the North West and Manchester.

On this page:

Ordnance Survey Maps of United Kingdom and Ireland

1:50 000 Landranger Series (pink cover). The best known national map series, arranged by the National Grid sheet number.
Many folded editions held are shelved in the Purple Ground area. Further editions are also available upon request.

1:25 000 Outdoor Leisure Series (yellow cover). These maps cover Britain's National Parks and other areas of outstanding natural beauty. Folded editions are available in the Purple Ground area, further editions are available upon request.

1:25 000 Explorer Series (orange cover). These maps cover the parts of Britain not covered by the Outdoor Leisure Series.
They show detailed information about the countryside, Rights of Way and other tourist information. The latest series combines both the Outdoor Leisure and the Explorer Series as Explorer Outdoor Activity maps.

1:50 000 Ordnance Survey Ireland, Discovery Series.  Most of the 89 sheets published are held, and give detailed information about the countryside. Miscellaneous sheets at other scales are also available.

1:50 000 Ordnance Survey, Discoverer Series (NI). 17 sheets which completely cover Northern Ireland.

Current Ordnance Survey mapping of the UK is also available via the Edina Digimap service (University of Manchester staff and students only) and Ordnance Survey Open Data products.

Thematic maps

Thematic maps covering themes such as physical geology, environment, land use, population, navigation, transport, population, emotion mapping and cartographic artworks are also available. Some of these are single sheet maps; others are whole series such as those listed below:

British Geological Survey Series. Various scales covering England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland with accompanying Geological Memoirs and Sheet Explanations.

Soil Survey of England and Wales Series. Various scales with accompanying bulletins and reports.

Groundwater Vulnerability Series. 1: 100 000 maps showing areas vulnerable to pollution

Admiralty chartsVarious scales charting  the oceans and coastlines of the UK and other parts of the world.

Land Utilisation Surveys by Dudley Stamp (1st ed.) and Alice Coleman (2nd ed.)

Old maps

The map collection offers an extensive range of historical maps ranging from a 15th century map of the world to an enviable collection of old maps and plans of Manchester. 

Many of our antiquarian maps are held at the John Rylands Library, Deansgate, along with a number of rare atlases which depict our developing knowledge of the world and which showcase the work of prolific map-makers such as Christopher Saxton, Gerardus Mercator, and the Blaeu family.

The urban development of the City of Manchester is well documented in our collection of old Ordnance maps dating from the 1800's to the present day. These are available at various scales, some so detailed that they show the interiors of public buildings, lampposts and individual trees. The collection also comprises maps and plans from private surveyors, such as William Green and Joseph Adshead, who both produced detailed plans of Manchester which show the impact of the Industrial Revolution on the city's landscape. Many of our old maps have been digitised and are available to view in our online map collection.

The Booker and Mills collection comprises over 900 maps which include English County maps made by eminent cartographers; ornamental French and Dutch mapping of Asia and the Far East; and old town plans of London and Paris.

Digital mapping and data

Edina Digimap Service (University of Manchester students and staff only).

Digimap allows registered members of the University of Manchester to view, annotate and print maps of various scales and types of geospatial data.  The University of Manchester Library subscribes to the following collections:

  • Digimap - Ordnance Survey Collections
  • Historic Digimap - historic maps from Landmark
  • Geology Digimap - geological maps and data from the British Geological Survey

Registration is required for all Digimap Collections using your central username and password. If you are using Digimap for the first time, please read their information about access.  The Digimap home page can be accessed via the following link:

Extensive help pages, presentations and videos are available online which demonstrate how to produce a quick map centred on your location to downloading data to use in ArcGIS or AutoCad.

Licence information can also be found on Digimaps help pages as well as information on the full range of products which they provide.

If you need help using Digimap and wish to book an appointment for a demonstration please contact:

Donna Sherman (Special Collections Librarian - maps):


Free online maps and data resources

Ordnance Survey OpenData: View and share an interactive map at various scales (Open Data Viewer). Free  OS Open data products are also available.

Open Street Map: Free mapping created by community mappers under an open licence.

Further resources can be found in our list of Useful map web sites