1805 map of Colchester Town shows huge changes in 200 years

An original 1805 map of Colchester with 2016 points of interest added

I discovered a 1805 map of Colchester recently which shows the huge changes since 1805. Original drawn by J. Britton, the map shows that Colchester really was just a small town surrounded by fields in all directions and the river Colne to the North and East.

I’ve taken the map and added some modern-day landmarks to give you an idea of what modern buildings have replaced fields, graveyards and roads. I took some time to study the map and compare it a modern equivalent. It’s not accurate as the 1805 map of Colchester isn’t to scale (although it was a really good effort considering it was all done from ground level)!

Your best way to view the map would be to download the image and then open it on your computer, zooming into the areas marked. It’s amazing how much countryside there was directly around the town centre.

Feel free to reproduce this map but please credit me (Ritchie Hicks). Even better would be a link to this page. I recommend that you print it on A3 if possible as the original writing on the map is hard to decipher in places.

Teachers or historians can download a free A4 or A3 pdf file of the map and key (see attachments below) which can be printed to use in classes.


A: St John’s Green Primary School (Town site), which was just a field at the time. The now Grade II listed building was built in 1898 by Goodey and Cressall

B: A windmill was sited approximately where the ‘Wok Inn’ Chinese food restaurant is now located, but between Camp Folly North and Sergeant Street. Unsurprising given its locale to farmland and a main route into the town from Mersea Island

C: Approximate location of Southway (A134). It would be some 150 years before Southway would be built.

D: Military Road was called Hog Lane.

E: The area now referred to as New Town

F: The original location of the Army Barracks was in the Morant Road, Artillary Street, Victor Road area of Colchester between Wimpole Road and Port Lane.  It would later be relocated to Mersea Road and then moved again in 2005/6 to various areas of MoD land on the South side of the town.

G: The Hythe waterfront was just a number of small houses and outbuilding along the edge of the river. We can’t see past this point ot he East but can see from the map that the area past here was referred to the Parish of Greenstead.

H: Hythe Train Station

I: Greenstead Road (unamed on the map). This was the main route from Colchester Town to Wivenhoe and Brightlingsea

J: This area was once some type of public gardens as shown on the map. It now has the railway line for the Wivenhoe and Hythe, and Colchester Town running through it, and makes up Moorside industrial estate.

K: Rollerworld

L: St James Primary School

M: Charter Hall (with Ten Pin and Leisureworld next door)

N: The Octagon office buildings (I’m not sure if that’s what it’s still called but it’s a name I know it by)

O: St Mary’s carpark

P: The Mercury Theatre

Q: Colchester Arts Centre, formally St. Mary’s Church

R: Essex (Colchester) Police


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