129A. William Wood 1855


A popular local guide first published c.1855 was The Hand-Book to South Devon and Dartmoor. The author was probably William Wood, a publisher with premises in Devonport. He published a great number of local guide books including editions of the Hand-Book of Devonport, The Three Towns’ Almanack, from 1860 until 1896, Rambles and Excursions (of Plymouth) and the Handbook to Cornwall (c.1880). All these works were illustrated with maps. The first two editions of the South Devon handbook included a close copy of the Ebden/Duncan county map engraved 30 years earlier and which had recently reappeared in Henry George Collins´ The New British Atlas (95). Wood´s copy can be told apart due to the new title Devonshire From A Recent Survey With The Railways, and various other changes: these included a new arrangement of hundreds, this begins with Coleridge & Dartmouth Hardness and not with Braunton as before; with addition of railways (although incorrect lines from Newton Abbot to Buckfastleigh and from Plymouth to Tavistock probably show speculation; there is no hill-shading or symbols for parks; and the new imprint Published by W. Wood No. 52 Fore St. Devonport (CeOS).

However, when the Hand-Book was reissued as the Third Edition only a few years later this large map was replaced by one of the southern part of the county. Later copies of the almanack contained this smaller map of South Devon, possibly amended by W G Cooper, engraver and lithographer in Union Street, Stonehouse. This third edition of the south Devon guide also included a map of Exeter and a map of Plymouth.1

The First and Second Editions of Wood´s guide appeared circa 1855; the last date in the text being 12th February 1853 relating the deaths of two soldiers on Dartmoor. The Third Edition has a slightly updated text and the last date mentioned is September 1856 on the railway being built to Exmouth (which was completed in 1861). There is also reference to the Tavistock railway will shortly be opened (opened 22nd June 1859).

The original map which provided Wood with his prototype was prepared in 1825 by William Ebden. Although only associated with this one set of county maps, Ebden was active from 1811 (a map of Norfolk and Suffolk for Laurie and Whittle) until circa 1856. He engraved the plates for a county atlas over a period of several years but never published it himself. James Duncan, a publisher of Paternoster Row, London, used Ebden´s maps in his A New Atlas of England and Wales which appeared from 1833 to c.1845 (compare map 95).

Size 340 x 425 mm.                                                                                                                                               SCALE (20 = 85 mm) Miles.

Devonshire. FROM A RECENT SURVEY, WITH THE RAILWAYS. Imprint: Published by W. Wood No 52, Fore St, Devonport. (CeOS). Railways to Barnstaple (but not Bideford), to Tor Moham and Brixham, Tiverton, and incorrect line from Newton Abbot to Buckfastleigh and from Plymouth to Tavistock (probably speculation). Reference to the Hundreds table begins with Coleridge & Dartmouth Hardness with Braunton last and numbering on map to suit. Sign for Railways last entry of Reference table.

1. 1855  Hand-Book to South Devon[First Edition]  
    Devonport. William Wood. (1855).                                                                                 P.
    Hand-Book to South Devon… Second Edition  
    Devonport. William Wood. (1855).  KB.


[1] See Kit Batten; The Tourist Maps of Devon; Little Silver Press; 2012; pp. 372-381.