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OS Quarter Inch

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Quarter Inch
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Publisher:  Ordnance Survey
Scale:  1:253,440 and 1:250,000
First Published:  1902
Final Publication:  1978
SABRE Maps layer:  Yes
See Also: SABRE Maps/Quarter Inch coverage project

The OS Quarter Inch maps series was a range of maps initially at a quarter inch to a mile scale (1:253,440) but metricised to 1:250,000 scale in 1957.

Third Edition

Third Edition shown on SABRE Maps.
Third Series cover

Partial coverage of this mapping is available on SABRE Maps

The Third Edition was introduced in 1919, with a major revision (which is denoted by a "A" after the sheet number) in 1926.

The "A" or "New" Series was was the first "standard" series of the Ordnance Survey (beyond the MoT and Ten Mile Road Maps) to include road numbers on the mapping.

Fourth Edition

Fourth Edition shown on SABRE Maps.
Pre-war cover of Fourth Series
Post-war cover of Fourth Series

Coverage of this mapping is available on SABRE Maps

The Fourth Edition of the Quarter Inch maps was introduced in 1934, and was the final Quarter Inch series to have two separate map series: one for Scotland and one for England and Wales; although Sheet 1 was common to both.

The final Fourth Edition sheets were printed in around 1960.

As they were created pre-war, they are based around the National Yard Grid rather than the more familiar metric version. This means that the post-war versions (which ironically have "National Grid" used prominently, despite being based on the Yard Grid) have very specific grid references at the corners, rather than the more usual round numbers.


The Fourth Series were a very tall sheet, with an initial cover consisting of two halves: the top half being a drawing of a flat-capped man holding a map standing in front of a car with a signpost for the A51 in the background; whilst the bottom half was a simple map of the area covered.

Post-war, the covers evolved into a simpler design: whilst the bottom half remained similar, the top half was replaced by a simple crest and large text.

There are a number of other versions of these covers, for example, red ones used for Military Editions during World War 2; and Aviation maps featuring a biplane.

Fifth Series

Fourth Edition shown on SABRE Maps.
1960s cover of Fifth Series
1970s cover of Fifth Series

Coverage of this mapping is available on SABRE Maps

Whilst titled 'Quarter Inch', the Fifth Series that was introduced in 1957 was in fact at a scale of 1:250,000, and were created using the One Inch maps as a base. Apart from the smaller scale, and the necessary restrictions that that brought, the biggest difference to the One Inch maps was that the landscape was coloured for height, from pale-green through to dark orange, with shadows added to show the slope of the hills. It was also the first Quarter Inch series to have its sheetlines based upon the familiar National Grid.

The Fifth Series was withdrawn in 1978, and the Quarter Inch series became rebranded as Routemaster.


See main article: Fifth Series Sheets


The maps were initially available sporting blue covers in a style otherwise similar to the One Inch range. However, in 1965 a more 'modern' design was produced, with the GB outline in white on a blue background, and then a series of black and white alternating boxes eminating from Caithness to show the 'area covered' map.

Finally, in 1970 a blue variant of the standard OS cover of the time was introduced.

OS Quarter Inch
Related Pictures
View gallery (19)
Qi1960s.pngQi1970s.pngB4527.pngQI 4th pre-war cover.jpgQI-4th-late revision code.PNG
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