Sources and bibliography

London district coal dues map

The map shows the coal duty boundary of 20 miles from the General Post Office in St Martins le Grand, which was in force from 1845 to 1861 as described ain the section on The London District 1845-1861. The boundary and the positions of posts have been added in manuscript to a base map consisting of portions of Ordnance Survey 1":1 mile maps.

There is an Alphabetical index of the localities of boundary marks inside the front cover. The use of the term "index" rather than "list" suggests that the two do properly belong together. There are however some discrepancies between the map and the index, so that it is not clear whether they are exactly contemporaneous. For example, the map shows three posts which are not in the index; on the other hand, there are posts in the index which do not seem to be on the map. There are a lot of cross references in the index which make it less than clear how many posts there in total, especially on roads.


The base maps are the whole or parts of sheets 1NW, 1NE, 1SW, 1SE, 6, 7, 8, 46SW, 46SE, and 47 of the first series Ordnance Survey 1":1 mile maps. They vary in date and obviously predate the production of the map. Unlike the Area of coal duties maps, subsequently built railways have not been added, but some railway boundary marks are shown even where the railway is not, such as on the London, Tilbury and Southend line at Marsh House, Tilbury.


The boundary shown was laid down by the 1845 and 1851 coal duties Acts and remained in force until 1861. It is marked in red ink which is in places quite faint and there are some errors in the north and south where it is duplicated to correct a wrongly drawn line. Boundary marks on roads are shown by a solid black dot, railways by a red dot, and canals by a blue ring.


There are 25 road marks shown the map, including posts at Bulpham and Chadwell in Essex and an additional post at Gravesend which are not in the index. It is notable that there are no marks listed in the index or depicted on the map on many major roads out of London such as the Great North Road or the Bath Road.

Canals and rivers

There are four marks shown on the map and an additional two in the index (at Gravesend). Although the duty on sea-borne coal was payable outside the twenty mile radius west of Gravesend, this not depicted on the map. Bilmarry [Bill Meroy] Creek, Tilbury (Ordnance Creek on the map) and the Thames and Medway Canal are named in the index but no corresponding marks are shown the map. Neither the map nor the index has a mark at the 20 mile limit on the Thames above Staines. The mark which should be shown on the Wey Navigation at Byfleet is shown erroneously on the unnavigable course of river at Byfleet Park.


There are 14 railway marks in the index, but only about eight visible on the map. Unfortunately some of the rail boundary marks (like the boundary, drawn with the same red ink) are rather faint. This means that in some cases it is not possible to discern them on some railways which predate the map by some years. This is the case even where these railways are depicted on the base maps and the mark is listed in the Alphabetical index: for example on the Great Western main line at Langley. The rail mark at Byfleet is wrongly depicted with the canal symbol (a blue ring).


The extent of the railways shown provides a means of dating the map: I have taken opening dates from Borley's Chronology of London railways. Both the map and the index include the railway mark at Marsh House, Tilbury, so both must postdate the opening of that line on 13th April 1854. They must both have been produced before the opening of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway which crossed 1845 boundary near Longfield in Kent from 3rd December 1860, since no mark is shown on the map or listed in the index there (though the route of the line is sketched faintly in pencil on the map). The index lists a mark at Egham on the Staines and Wokingham line, opened 4th June 1856, so must postdate it. Although no mark seems to be shown there on the map this is not conclusive, given the difficulties mentioned above in discerning some of the railway marks. The index must therefore date from 1856/60 and the map from the same period or possibly 1854/56.

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