May 2016 update: This 1845 paper map is now available as an overlay on the main map. Please see:
Here's a detailed, zoomable, scrollable, clickable map of Hong Kong from 1845, showing the north of the island from Shek Tong Tsui across to Tin Hau, and up through Happy Valley. The view above shows the map as drawn, and the view below shows it rotated and adjusted to line up with a modern map of Hong Kong. (If you're reading this via a subscription, please click here to view the map on the website).
(If you haven't used these maps before, you can read instructions here.)
Where's it from?
A few weeks back I was in London and made a couple of visits to the National Archive. I went looking for maps, and this was my favourite from the collection I saw.
The first impression is how big it is. You request a document via their terminals, then when it's ready you go to the desk and collect the original. Some maps were just small slips of paper, but this was a large rolled map. I'd guess it was around a metre from top to bottom, and several metres wide when rolled out.
I took photos across the map, then reassembled them on the computer when I was back in Hong Kong. (To get a feeling of the size, it's a 234-megapixel image!). The colours look more even in real life, but I've made some adjustments to make it easier to read.
Here's the National Archive's reference if you'd like to see the original, or if you need to contact them about using the map for any commercial purposes.
What was it drawn for?
The handwritten note at the top of the map reads:
Plan of Victoria, Hong Kong. Copied from the Surveyor Generals Dept. To accompany the Reports of the Respective Officers dated 12 ??? 1845.
The land rises abruptly from the North Shore in steep ridges and deep ravines terminating in a lofty ridge extending from East to West, this ridge again rising into numerous peaks.
The shaded portion shows the formation of the land in the Military Cantonment, particularly about the site proposed by the ???? Engineer for the Ordnance Establishment.
What can you see?
I haven't seen a map from this time with this level of detail before, so I'm hoping it will tell us more about the early days of Hong Kong. If you see anything that catches your eye, or answers any questions, please leave a comment below.
It's taken around a week's work to get it to this stage. I'd like to show some more, but I'd like to know they're useful first.