'A modern Domesday book': this is how Sir Dudley Stamp described his 1930s Land Utilisation Survey of Britain, and his project was indeed carried out on a similarly grand and comprehensive scale. Founded and directed by Stamp in the early 1930s, while he was Ernest Cassel Reader in Economic Geography at LSE, the Survey recorded land use information on a field-by-field basis throughout England, Wales and Scotland.
Survey volunteers, many of them children from local schools and colleges, used a simple system of land classification to log their findings about land use in their local environment. There were seven main categories to record land use, each represented by a different letter and colour: forest and woodland, meadows, arable land, heathland, gardens and orchards, wasteland and unproductive land, ponds and lakes. They were also encouraged to add in extra details for maximum information, such as the types of crops being grown or the type of field boundaries being used.
Above: Detail from map showing Aylesbury and the surrounding area. Each letter indicates a different land use: forest and woodland (F), meadows (M), arable land (A), heathland (H), gardens and orchards (G), wasteland and unproductive land (W), ponds and lakes (P)
The one-inch-to-the-mile maps published by the Survey have been available for some time on the 'Vision of Britain' website, but these are only a summary of the information collected by the Survey. Stamp's team of volunteers originally recorded land use in their areas on more detailed six-inch-to-the-mile maps, and LSE Archives holds a large collection of these original larger-scale maps. Some of the maps are hand-coloured and attractive objects in their own right, others only exist as black and white copies of original sheets.
LSE Archives also holds copies of the monthly bulletins Stamp sent out to survey workers, and a small amount of administrative correspondence relating to the survey (Ref: LSE/CENTRAL FILING REGISTRY/313). Copies of the published reports relating to the survey are held in the main Library.
For further information contact LSE Archives: Contact details