UK: A set of Soviet spy maps have been made public for the first time at Old-maps.co.uk, the home of the digital Historical Map Archive for mainland Britain. During Cold War, these maps were prepared by the Soviet military and its post-Communist successors. They reveal the precise location and purpose of every structure of possible military importance in Leeds – including a tank factory labelled on a map from 1974.
For secrecy reasons, the site of the Vickers tank factory at Barnbow, Cross Gates, is listed as vacant on Ordnance Survey maps between 1890 and 1993 and although it is now marked as a “works”, no specific detail is given.
The Soviets were obviously interested in the site where the British Army’s Challenger battle tank was produced.
Other details shown on the maps, complete with place names and inscriptions in Cyrillic Russian script, include the width of the roads, the height of the bridges and even the depth of the rivers.
Leeds was among 103 major British cities and towns to be surveyed by Kremlin spymasters, who managed to map out 16,000 square kilometres of then UK. Their secret work was part of the most comprehensive global survey of all time, with the Soviet and Russian military creating accurate, highly detailed maps of almost every country in the world.
Russell Morris of Old Maps, said: “Our website allows users to search for a particular area by Ordnance Survey map coordinates or by postcode, so it’s easy to examine how a specific neighbourhood was recorded by the Russians.”
In a grim reminder of the tensions of the Cold War period, some of the maps show sensitive details such as the depth and contours of the Thames – essential knowledge for anyone planning to take a submarine into the heart of London.
The release has been made possible through a joint venture with the Ordnance Survey. Free to view online, the maps can be bought as electronic images or prints.
Source: Yorkshire Evening Post