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We can supply historical maps for commercial site investigation and environmental audits.

The 1990 Environmental Protection Act requires thorough surveys to be carried out of prospective development sites. A 'desktop study' involving the use of both small and large scale Ordnance Survey maps is usually the starting point. These maps frequently show buildings, industrial activity, land use, and field boundaries. These are the record of a former landscape. An even earlier landscape is shown on tithe maps, farm and estate maps and old town plans.

The Library’s Enquiry Service can offer a service for business and commercial users, providing for the search, retrieval and photocopying of historical maps relevant to the area of interest within Wales.

The National Library holds the most extensive collection of Ordnance Survey of Wales including:

  • the Surveyors drawings, scale 1:31,680, (1811-1833) of the engraved first edition one inch to the mile map
  • maps at scales 1:10,000 (6 inches to the mile); 1:2,500 (25 inches to the mile); 1:1,250 dating from the first edition (1870-1890), through the second edition (1895-1908) and the incomplete [third] edition started in 1913 to the modern National Grid editions
  • 1:500 town plans of ca. 1880-1890

Our collection of the tithe maps (ca.1837-1850) of Wales is complete, and this is supplemented by earlier farm and estate plans. We also have some plans of mines and quarries.

The map reading area is open to all who hold a valid reader's ticket. Prior appointments are not necessary. All the maps are available for consultation. For conservation reason only whole sheet copies (usually size AO) are supplied. Map extracts are not made. Maps are copied as per our usual reprographic fees, but we levy a 20% commercial fee on all copies provided for commercial or business purposes.

We will undertake basic searches for clients who are unable to visit the library. This search is limited to Ordnance Survey 1:2,500 mapping. Our Main Catalogue may be searched on the Library’s website.

If you are able to request specific map sheets we levy our usual photocopying charges together with postage and packing, VAT and the 20% commercial usage fee noted above. Also, if you supply a modern map extract of the site, we will supply copies of the relevant historic mapping as per our usual fees, plus postage and packing, VAT and commercial usage fee.

If detailed site searches (including tithe maps and estate map searches) are required, we may suggest that unless customers visit the Library themselves, they should employ the services of an an independent researcher.

Response and delivery times

Requests for copies of maps for business use are dealt with in order of receipt, as are all other enquiries and requests for copies. We aim to reply to 90% of all enquiries received within 10 working days

Requesting a map search

You can request a map search by contacting the Enquiry Service either by fax, telephone, email or post, with full details of what is required. Each request should be accompanied by contact details of the person making the request, noting also that it is a commercial request, and stating to whom the maps should be invoiced and sent.

Ordnance Survey Copyright

Ordnance Survey mapping that is less than 50 years is still Crown copyright. The Library’s Enquiry Service can supply businesses and companies with copies of this mapping only if they enclose a copy of their Ordnance Survey 'Superseded Library Licence’. This is available from the Ordnance Survey.

A copy of this licence must be sent with every request for photocopies. This licence is required in addition to any other Ordnance Survey licence you might have. Please note that the ‘Superseded Library Licence is a  separate licence and not an ‘OS Paper Map Copying licence’. It is the requester's responsibility to ensure compliance with all licensing requirements.

For further details, please contact the Ordnance Survey.

Charges per photocopy

The current charge for AO size photocopies is £5.50 per sheet, with cost of postage dependant on the quantity of copies sent. VAT will be added to the final invoice.

Important Information

The National Library of Wales is under no obligation to supply copies of superseded maps; this is entirely at the Library's discretion. If the Library undertakes such work it will be in accordance with the Library's terms and conditions and will in no way be liable for any errors or omissions.

The Enquiry Service staff will not make any interpretation of, or comment on any site or the information provided by maps.

Our holdings of Ordnance Survey mapping for other parts of the British Isles is less complete, so we will not process enquiries for sites outside Wales. (The mapping will be available for personal visitors to consult).

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