Dates and accuracy
Dating of maps is not always straightforward, and users should share with us any anomalies in the dates being presented. Timetable World generally relies on the date recorded by a cataloguer from the primary archive but will override them – as we have already done – where users have argued persuasively for a different date.
It is rare for a map to be wholly consistent internally. The process of gathering data and preparing (or updating) printing plates was slow, and consequently many maps were left undated. They also served multiple purposes. A “political” map would show cities, railways, shipping routes, telegraph lines and the like for context, but only one advertised as a “railway” map was likely to be up-to-date and accurate in an era of rapidly developing networks. Cartographers might try to pre-empt the data going stale by including proposed and under-construction lines – and then find that events caused delays or cancellation.
There is less ambiguity about timetable dates. But a printed timetable is a plan, not an actuality, and may have been superseded by events – think war, think Covid-19. Some timetables, such as Bradshaw’s, the Official Guide in North America, or Thomas Cook’s Continental Timetables, were derivative documents assembled from multiple primary sources, which gave scope for inaccuracies and latency to creep in.