The Modern Chart Collection

In addition to the historical charts in the collection, the Library also receives a large number of modern charts through legal deposit and from other sources. Most of these charts are government publications, designed for military & mercantile use; others are commercially published charts aimed at the leisure market.

Admiralty charts

The collection consists of over 10,000 charts with worldwide coverage at various scales that are received by legal deposit from the Hydrographic Office (HO).

HO charts do not employ a series of consistent scales like Ordnance Survey maps, but attach a scale appropriate to each chart that range from 1:2,500 to 1:48,000,000. New editions are published when the number of corrections is sufficient to warrant a new chart. Updated information in the constantly changing marine environment is published in Notices to Mariners.

In addition to these charts produced primarily for the Navy and merchant ships, the Library also receives HO leisure publications such as the Small Craft Editions. These are charts adapted for small craft users and usually published annually.

Recent charts published by the Hydrographic Office of the Royal New Zealand Navy and the Hydrographic Service of the Royal Australian Navy and reproduced by the HO are held in the collection.

Modern Admiralty charts in the Library’s collection are not catalogued individually, series entries exist in the Catalogue; but individual charts must be ordered separately. The HO publishes a printed catalogue of admiralty charts annually; a copy of this is available in the Reading Room. You can also view a copy of the admiralty charts catalogue online, at the Hydrographic Office Website.

The Library also has a small collection of Admiralty Fleet charts, mainly dating from the first half of the 20th Century. These charts were not made available publicly when they were produced; however copies were sent to the copyright libraries more recently. These charts are catalogued individually.

Other HO publications such as the Notices to Mariners and Pilot Books etc. are held in the Library’s printed books collection rather than in the map collection. Readers wishing to view these publications alongside the charts should speak to the desk staff in the Reading Room, who will arrange for the material to be viewed there.

Commercial charts

In addition to Admiralty publications the Library also receives charts published by commercial chart makers. These are mainly designed for leisure users.

Prominent amongst the smaller commercial publishers are Imray, Laurie, Norie and Wilson whose charts of British inland waterways, estuaries and coasts, as well as Mediterranean and Caribbean locations are intended for yachtsmen and fishermen. Again these charts are not individually catalogued.

Charts published abroad

In addition to charts published in the UK (including Australian & New Zealand charts) the Library also has a small number of charts published by foreign countries, in particular the USA, Canada, Argentina & the Philippines.