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LSE maps to feature on BBC documentary

Aerial photograph of BritainA unique collection of maps held by the Library is to be featured in a forthcoming episode of the BBC's television series Britain from Above.

Britain from Above: The Land airs on Sunday 17 August and explores the battle for Britain's green and pleasant land. The programme uses the Library's collection of Land Utilisation Survey maps from the 1930s to explore how Britain in the 20th century underwent an intense and dramatic revolution in farming, housing and transport.

The Land Utilisation Survey was founded and directed by Sir Dudley Stamp in the early 1930s, while he was professor of geography at LSE. Described by Stamp as 'a modern Domesday Book', the Survey recorded land use information on a field-by-field basis throughout England, Wales and Scotland.

Map of AylesburySurvey volunteers, many of them children from local schools and colleges, used a simple system of land classification to log their findings about land use in their local environment. There were seven main categories to record land use, each represented by a different letter and colour: forest and woodland, meadows, arable land, heathland, gardens and orchards, wasteland and unproductive land, ponds and lakes. They were also encouraged to add in extra details for maximum information, such as the types of crops being grown or the type of field boundaries being used.

The Library has a large collection of the original survey maps compiled by Stamp's team and these form a unique and exciting resource for anyone with an interest in the history of their local area, as well as an important research source for historical geographers.

LSE archivist Sue Donnelly said: 'We are delighted to have been offered the opportunity to promote this fantastic resource on national television. It will help to raise awareness of the treasures held in the Library archives at LSE.'


Britain from Above: The Land airs on Sunday 17 August 2008 at 10pm on BBC2.

14 August 2008