This is the most detailed of the early maps I have on this website. It’s a board map mounted on cloth (and you can see the seams!). Because of its early age the map shows Liverpool as a moderate-sized but tightly packed town. Dozens of familiar roads are there in the centre, and the general layout will be familiar to anyone who knows the modern city’s layout.
However, I think this captures Liverpool at a very interesting point in its history. In the early part of the 19th century it was only really beginning its huge growth. Even on this map it’s evident that the outskirts are still under construction. This map has caught some areas with only half-completed streets, or isolated churches. Only later would they evolve into the widespread and tightly-knit terraces that we know existed into the 20th century.
Other parts of the city show a different view to the one we’re familiar with today. At the Old Haymarket (where the Queensway Tunnel entrance is today) there are dozens of buildings. This is the area now at the base of St John’s Gardens, and they are marked St John’s Village.
Further to the east Lime Street is marked with ‘Intended Entrance to the Liverpool and Manchester Railway‘. This spot, and Gloucester Street, would later be covered by Lime Street Station and the North Western Hotel. The railway arrived in the very year this map was published, 1836, and the station would gradually cover more streets as it expanded over the century. (Thanks to @vrsimility on Twitter for pointing this out!)
The Adelphi hotel on this map is the first to have been built on the site, and was converted from two townhouses. On this map it is a much smaller building than it would become, with quite a few buildings behind it up to Hawke Street, which the Adelphi now backs onto.
A detailed look at pre-Victorian Liverpool history
Away from the landmarks, this map gives unrivalled detail of housing. You can see in places like Lime Street and Vauxhall tiny terraces and court housing which were to become a characteristic feature of the city. These small dwellings, especially the court houses, were small and unsanitary, and would be swept away little over 100 years later. But this map shows only a fraction had been built by 1836, and many thousands more were to come.
This is in stark contrast to the large dwellings in more fashionable (and at that time out-of-town) areas with their large villas and spacious gardens. It was a blog about Liverpool Museum’s Galkoff’s project which first drew my attention to this map. Long before the Jewish butchers’ shop was built on Pembroke Place, Gage’s map shows incredibly detailed drawings of the paths and trees in the gardens of the villas here.
It’s worth noting that this was before the famine which brought huge numbers of people from Ireland. In the grand sweep of Liverpool history, Gage’s map was published just on the cusp of the great population explosion which was to transform the town into the second city of Empire.