Issue 2, Winter 2019

The Map Printer - showing the way of history

By Sue Zange  |  25 Aug 2019  | 

Meet Phillip Burrough, a dedicated map collector since his early 20’s.  His family run business, 'Old Folding Maps,' is a Devon based company specialising in bringing the mapped history of the world to life.

Capturing key moments in history such as the First World War Zeppelin raids, the battlefields of the Somme, Victorian districts of poverty and wealth, and even the rise of our industrialised society, these maps are full of historical data. 

Fascinated by the key periods of 18th and 19th Century England, Phillip wanted to resurrect and preserve the insights that these historical maps offer us. Ranging from UK county maps, to worldwide locations, Phillip's passion for the recorded history presented in these maps and drawings is clear.

The county maps and the maps of old London city are his bestsellers. Phillip has had maps feature in a movie, on television drama series, and even on a theatre presentation for stage. He also supplies maps to the Victoria and Albert Museum.  

Phillip’s own personal history is just as colourful. Having worked for the Ministry of Defence during the late 1960’s, he became dissatisfied with the slow processes and ethos of its inner workings. Prompted to make change, he found his way into the early stages of paper recycling, and in 1974, became one of the earliest small companies involved in household paper collections.

His innate curiosity and a love of history, moved him into selling prints from old books, and even reprints of old birthday cards. Eventually becoming successful enough to open his own workshop, it was inevitable that he would finally move into the area of his own passion - maps.  

Phillip’s oldest map dates back to circa.1575 and shows the land areas of the UK and Ireland. He also has a map originally drawn up in 1642 showing the land defences of London and parliament during the English Civil War. His personal favourites include maps of India, particularly ones with trading routes shown.

Some of the most fascinating insights come from Charles Booth's Descriptive Map of London Poverty, produced around 1889. Charles Booth was a social reformer working to identify and make changes to poverty and hardship. His map helped to show the degree of poverty and its locations, within the London area. Shown by colour coding, he and his team of researchers painstakingly produced detail for each row of houses, street by street. Black and blue areas indicate the poorest, through to pink as ‘comfortable’ and red being wealthy. 

At Phillip’s workshop they print, package and box all their products in-house. Phillip says "apart from how the ink gets onto the paper, the maps are made the same way as they would have been in the 19th Century".  He explains that in those days, a map was vital for any journey. These maps had a lot of use and therefore had to be made strong, durable and easy to carry. They were therefore placed onto linen or cotton cloth and folded into a paper or cardboard carry case.  

A comprehensive collection of maps are available from their website at: www.foldingmaps.co.uk and range from simple prints, to deluxe boxed large editions.