Over the years at PCGraphics, we have collected more than 20 of these Red Guide books produced by Ward-Lock covering various tourist resorts and areas of interest around the UK.
They all contain maps and information regarding the area and were produced by Ward-Lock between about 1900 and 1960.
These were mainly used by us as the basis for royalty or copyright free mapping in the UK. We also have a complete set of 1:50,000 (or 1 inch maps as they were called then) covering England, Scotland and Wales along with some from Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Apart from their use as a basis for current day maps, the Guide Books also give a fascinating insight into how the UK was in times gone by, not only from the text, old maps and photos, but also from some of the adverts.
We’ve scanned below a few of the pages from the Harrogate Guide Book and a selection of short transcriptions of some of the text. The Harrogate Guide is undated but, from reading the text, it would appear to have been published in the early 1940s i.e. possibly during the Second World War.
Attached to one of the first pages in the Guide is a small insert of paper stating
“The Publishers regret that owing to War-time difficulties, it is not at present possible to include the customary complete set of maps and plans in this Guide.”
Above is an extract from the George Philip and Son map which was included in the Guide. No motorways, obviously, in those days.
There are some parts of the text in the Guide which would, perhaps, be frowned upon today. Take, for instance, the extract above which states that ‘Many people are under the impression that because Harrogate is a Spa it is overrun with invalids in bath chairs or on crutches and that a general air of resignation pervades the place…’. I’m not sure that would appear in a Guide Book these days.
Some of the adverts are quite interesting too. An advert for Table Salt is possibly not what you’d expect in a Guide Book you bought today.
The advert above was for Dr. J. Collis Brownes Chlorodyne. Apparently it cured everything from influenza, asthma and bronchitis to coughs and catarrh as well as ‘Acting like a charm’ in diarrhoea, stomach, chills and other bowel complaints. Chlorodyne was also used as a cure for insomnia. On looking up Chlorodyne on Wikipedia, it appears the principal ingredients were a mixture of laudanum (a form of opium), cannabis, and chloroform. Not surprising then that it helped with sleep problems.
Harrogate was, at the time of the Guide Book, famous for its spa waters and, apparently, there were 88 wells within two miles of the town. One of the ‘benefits’ of taking the waters was that the Barium Chloride present in the water ‘has a great effect in raising the arterial blood pressure’. Funny how the perception of what’s good for you has changed over the past 70 years or so. I can’t see the local Tourism Department using ‘Come to Harrogate for higher blood pressure’ as a marketing slogan anytime in the near future.
All the Guides also ran adverts at the back of the books for Hotels etc in other areas of the country. The St. Ives Bay Hotel in Cornwall were keen to point out in their advert that they had hot and cold running water in all bedrooms. They also make a special mention of ‘Electric Lights’. As they say in the advert, an ‘Up-to date Hotel of Comfort and Charm’.
For more information on Ward-Lock Red Guides try these websites:
Ward-Lock Red Guides can occasionally be found for sale on Ebay and Amazon.
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