Tourism and pocket maps

Roads to travel & tourism

An 18th-century travel writer, William Hutton, remarked that before roads were maintained to a standard which made travelling around the country possible, people lived in more distinct, separate communities. Strangers were viewed with suspicion. He described Yorkshiremen conversing ‘when a person unknown to them appeared’:

“Dost knaw ’im?”


“Is’t a straunger?”

“Ay, for sewer.”

“Then pause ’im; ’eave a stone at

                                ’un; fettle ’im.”

Significant improvements in roads in the 18th and 19th centuries made many parts of the country accessible. The expanding road network, alongside the growth of rail networks and increased leisure time, enabled the growth of travel and tourism in Britain.

While train journeys and organised excursions were very popular, there was a growing movement in the middle classes towards independent travel and exploration. Visitors wished to explore rural areas at their own pace, rather than being dependent on timetables. This self-led tourism became available to more people than ever before and as a result, new types of convenient pocket-sized maps and guides were produced.

Bacon’s Pocket map, Northallerton Guide & Whitby Guide [CRONT 272]

A craze for cycling in the early 1900s resulted in several companies publishing handy pocket maps, tailored specifically for cyclists. Bacon & Co. of London, Bartholomew’s of Edinburgh and Philips, all produced pocket maps marketed at tourists and in particular cyclists, and W H Smith & Sons produced a reduced Ordnance map, to be sold at railway stations. These pocket maps can include useful details such as gradients and stopping points. They also sometimes feature advertisements for approved hotels, services and attractions, whose business benefitted from the growing tourism industry. As the century progressed, similar maps were re-branded as cycling and motoring maps as more people became car owners.

As tourism increased, more guides to North Yorkshire towns, villages and attractions were published, providing visitors with useful information and local businesses with advertising opportunities. Today these guides and their advertisements can be an interesting source of information on those businesses.

In the 21st century, tourism is a key part of the economy of North Yorkshire. It is estimated that domestic visitors spend around £620 million per year in the county and around 14% of employment is supported by tourism. (source: Visit Britain 2019).

Advertisements from 1936 Guide to Whitby (Z.1227) & 1950 Guide to Northallerton [Z.1666]