Historic maps capturing in fine detail how Northern Ireland’s six counties looked almost 200 years ago are to go on public sale through a new online government service.
The internet shop for Ordnance Survey Northern Ireland (OSNI) will also sell the most up-to-date maps of the region.
While the modern maps are set to benefit solicitors, architects, engineers, surveyors and even orienteerers, the older versions may tempt history buffs and those with an interest in what their house or area looked like in the 19th century.
The maps covering the six counties were drawn up between 1834 and 1846 during a major ordnance survey of what was then non-partitioned Ireland. The exercise was the first large scale survey of an entire country ever undertaken.
Stormont Finance Minister Simon Hamilton took the opportunity to look up his own home in Co Down as he launched the online shop at an event in Belfast.
“There’s a lot of historical mapping information and people can see what their area looked like or their particular property or ancestral properties looked like hundreds of years ago, and I think that’s something people in Northern Ireland will be interested in,” he said.
The minister said the service would also be of great use to businesses.
“Customers anywhere in the world and at any time are able to view, purchase and download OSNI’s extensive range of digital map products to their computers and tablets within minutes,” he said.
“This is OSNI’s shop window to the world.”
He added: “I think we should be embracing technology and advances in IT to be able to deliver public services in new and innovative ways and we have rolled out lots of different services over the last number of years using online channels and this is the latest one.”
The new website, which was developed by Land and Property Services (LPS) in partnership with nidirect and BT, is now hosted within nidirect, the official government website for Northern Ireland.