During the Cold War the Soviet KGB produced detailed maps of most of the countries of the world. These included Great Britain: with the help of aerial photgraphs, satellite images, local knowledge and espionage, 16,000 square kilometres of the United Kingdom were mapped, including 103 major towns and cities.
The maps have now been made available by the UK’s Landmark Information Group, and although most of them are to be released on a commercial basis, some are being offered free during the month of March on the company’s website.
One expert comments:
“Realising the military, economic and political benefits of topographic information, the Soviet military set about mapping the whole world – a mammoth task which took over 50 years before, during and after the Cold War to complete. Today, very little is known about how the organisation was structured and how such incredible results were achieved. Certainly the operation was militarily driven, very well controlled, achieving spectacular results. Ultimately, futile of course, if the purpose was world domination, but for mapping professionals they provide a fascinating and invaluable insight as to the structure of our towns and use of land during this period.”