Partners for new atlas projects

Are you interested in producing a volume in the British Historic Town Atlas series for your town?

We love to hear from local groups or university departments who may be interested in working with us to prepare a new volume in the British Historic Towns Atlas (BHTA) series.

As you can see elsewhere on this website, they are publications with a high reputation and products of great beauty. If the idea of producing a volume about your town sounds interesting, do get in touch (details below). We view the creation of each volume as a partnership from the outset. We are here to help answer questions, such as those below, about what is involved. If we agree there is the potential to prepare an atlas, we will be there, alongside you, all the way through to publication and follow up.

What is the British Historic Towns Atlas?

The volumes in our atlas series form part of a Europe-wide endeavour to produce atlases that tell the story of how British historic towns developed. BHTA volumes are regarded as unrivalled in scholarly content and quality of cartography. They contain huge amounts of information about the history of the towns that they cover. As an educational and research resource they are second to none. They are invaluable in helping to understand and conserve Britain’s historic towns at a time when they face daunting pressure for change.

On this web site you can see details of the most recently published volumes in the series: for Windsor and Eton, York, Winchester and Oxford. All have been produced in a high-quality board folder containing maps, illustrations, a text explaining the history of the town or city, and a gazetteer of the places named on the maps. All maps are printed in full colour (except reproduction of maps that were originally printed only in black). A recent internal review of the atlas series — see the attachment below — has confirmed their format in general terms but introduced several important changes to help bring down costs and speed up production.

In recent years the HTT has also published separate historical sheet maps of certain towns (including Winchester, York and Oxford) as part of the larger project to produce an atlas.  A map of this kind may well be a component of future atlas projects.                   

What are HTT’s plans for the future of the series?

We plan to increase the number of volumes so that we can cover more towns and include parts of Britain that are as yet poorly represented; and to include different types of towns, for example those shaped by their industrial past or spa or resort towns.

What kind of bodies are the partners?

Our ambitious plans to extend the series will only be realised by identifying willing partners who are ready to work with us and mobilise local support. Partners — normally one per town but two or more local groups sometimes come together — may be university departments, local museums or voluntary sector bodies like a local archaeological, historical or civic amenity society. What matters is the willingness to lead the project and the local networks the partner(s) can mobilise in support.

How are volumes of the atlas prepared?

Producing a volume of the atlas is a serious and long-term commitment, with significant financial and staffing implications. The key to success is the partnership forged between the HTT and the local partner(s).

If, together, we feel confident that we have the potential to produce a publication, then we will jointly draw up a Memorandum of Understanding (see the sample MoU attached at the foot of this page) as a framework to guide the partnership at every stage through to publication – and beyond.

What do we expect our partners to do?

The most important thing is commitment to the project.  We ask partners to:

  • help raise funds to cover the costs of production. Some of these costs will be recouped through sales under a royalty agreement. The royalties from sales of separate sheet maps are also usually shared;
  • secure access to the information needed to build up the text and map content of the volume. Being familiar with the latest historical research about the town in question, and being able to access it and secure the participation of the researchers is an essential role of the local partner;
  • lead the local efforts to raise wider interest in the project, especially among schools, local history and archaeology groups, tourism centres and local authorities;
  • coordinate the local marketing of the publication, for examples by interesting local bookshops and taking advantage of suitable events;
  • appoint an Atlas Project Manager. He/she will have overall editorial responsibility for publication content and budgetary matters, and will work closely with the HTT’s Cartographic Editor and an HTT trustee nominated as the contact point for the project, in the creation of the cartography and compilation of the elements for the final atlas publication.

What will HTT do to help?

For our part, we will:

  • contribute some start-up funds to establish the project, act a ‘banker’ for funds if necessary, advise on fundraising and grant applications and lend our support to funding bids;
  • advise on editorial and cartographic issues through the work of the Cartographic Editor and nominated trustee;
  • undertake the cartography and co-ordinate the textual elements of the atlas and liaise with the book producers.  The cartography and atlas project-management are two of the biggest costs of the project and are paid for from the project funds raised by our partners.
  • publish the volume – whilst sharing copyright with the partner(s) concerned;
  • arrange the printing, distribution and marketing of the volume, working closely with the partner on local aspects of this;
  • make freely available all our experience with the BHTA series over more than 50 years.

You can read more about the way the HTT will cooperate with local partners in our recent atlas review report here, along with the details of the Memorandum of Understanding that will underpin the partnership.

If I am interested, what do I do next?
Why not send us an email at htt @ qub.ac.uk  (but please remove the spaces between the 'htt', the '@ sign', and the final part of the e-mail address; we can't put a live link in because of automatic spam-generators!).  We would be pleased to hear from you and would be delighted to explore the scope for a possible partnership along these lines.