Tracks in Time has conserved, captured digitally and provided free online access to historic tithe maps that span the modern Leeds Metropolitan District and the 16 Townships that made up the Bradford Registration District of 1851, supported by both the Heritage Lottery Fund and Bradford Family History Society.
Each hand-drawn plan (together with its accompanying apportionment) provides an illustration of land ownership, land occupancy and land use within urban and rural townships of Leeds and Bradford between 1838 and 1861. Collectively, they represent the earliest systematic, large-scale cartographic record of the area and thus constitute an important and valuable archive resource.
The tithe maps were originally working documents for diocesan and parish officials in the mid-nineteenth century. Although generally in good condition, several of the plans had become fragile and suffered minor damage following many years of use. Some had accumulated a layer of coal dust due to previous poor storage conditions. Expert conservation work was therefore undertaken by West Yorkshire Archive Service to clean and repair the maps, restoring each one to its original splendour.
Preservation was further enhanced through the creation of a digital archive. High-resolution scans of the maps have been mounted online using powerful tools to encourage and enable the use of the maps in new and innovative ways. The data from the accompanying apportionments was transcribed by dedicated teams of volunteers.
For the Leeds plans, this information has been linked to the relevant tithe plots and townships. This means it is possible for a user to search for a specific landowner, for instance, and be taken to the plots on the map once held by that person. It also possible to search for specific land uses, such as orchards, woodland and other land types within a given area. The resource also houses historic and contemporary Ordnance Survey mapping data and detailed aerial photography.
For the Bradford area, zoomable plans have been married up with an edited version of the original apportionment transcribed by members of the Bradford Family History society, with the full apportionment containing much more information available as a downloadable spreadsheet from each page.
We hope that Tracks in Time will both encourage exploration and stimulate new research, helping community groups, young people, traditional and new audiences alike to connect and be inspired by our historic landscape.
Part of a community heritage group? Interested in taking the project further? Just email us via firstname.lastname@example.org