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Map Man

Season 2 2005

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  • 2005-09-04T23:00:00Z on BBC Two
  • 30 mins
  • 4 hours, 0 mins (8 episodes)
  • United Kingdom
  • English
  • Documentary
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Nicholas Crane maps the maps, talks the talk, and walks the walks of cartographic history.

Armed with a combination of ancient drawings, modern carto-technology, and of course his trusty umbrella walking stick, Nick uses the tools of his trade to discover how mapmakers have charted mountains, shrunk oceans to measurable drops and reduced sprawling cities to navigable diagrams. Covering the whole of Britain by foot, horseback, four-wheel drive, bicycle, tube train, motorbike, canal-boat and sailing ketch, Nick circumnavigates Wales, treks Scottish peaks and Norfolk fens, tramps the Pennines, meanders through the West Country and burrows deep beneath London's City streets.

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8 episodes

2x01 Bartholomew's Cycling Map of England and Wales (1896-1903)

  • Season Premiere

    2005-09-04T23:00:00Z — 30 mins

Journeys around Britain using historic maps as a guide. Nicholas Crane starts by investigating the work of Victorian cartographer John Bartholomew, who capitalised on the popularity of cycling in the 1880s with his series of maps charting the best routes, and retraces his guide to the Lake District.

Nicholas Crane retraces the steps of 16th-century cartographer Timothy Pont, who marked out the first detailed maps of Scotland. At that time, this was a dangerous task since wild wolves roamed the countryside and rival clans didn't take kindly to outsiders on their territory.

Nicholas Crane harks back to the 1740s to follow in the footsteps of Murdoch Mackenzie, an Orkney schoolmaster who mapped the treacherous waters between the north coast of mainland Scotland and the islands. Crane uses Mackenzie's original methods for setting up baselines on land and frozen lochs.

Nicholas Crane follows the routes recorded by 17th-century cartographer John Speed. The maps are unusual in that they don't list any roads, recording instead county boundaries. The presenter uses these documents to find his way along the England-Scotland border, before heading to Berwick, a town which Speed measured exactly in 5ft paces.

2x05 John Cary's Inland Navigation (1796)

  • 2005-10-02T23:00:00Z — 30 mins

Nicholas Crane examines John Cary's 18th-century maps recording the routes of Britain's canals. These documents were noted for their remarkable geographical accuracy, but finding the waterways proves difficult, since many have been filled in or turned into railway lines.

Nicholas Crane examines the first Ordnance Survey map. The epic task of plotting out an entire nation to a scale of one inch to one mile fell to Lieutenant William Mudge, who began the project in Kent and Essex before moving on to Devon - the most likely targets for French attack during the Napoleonic era.

2x07 Mrs P's A-Z (1936)

  • 2005-10-16T23:00:00Z — 30 mins

The story of how writer and traveller Phyllis Pearsall single-handedly created the first London A-Z. Setting herself the task of walking the capital's 23,000 streets for 18 hours a day, she completed her mammoth task in 1936. Nicholas Crane tries to find his way around the city using only her map.

Nicholas Crane examines a map commissioned in 1625 to settle a property conflict in which cartographer Thomas Raven was hired to resolve the situation once and for all. Nick attempts to trace the disputed boundary, and also discovers what became of a mysterious village.

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