The Goad Fire Insurance Maps

These maps were made for insurance companies, not for the general public. The companies needed them when working out the correct premium for each building according to the potential hazards, not only from within the given building but from the buildings surrounding it. For example, a building next to a timber yard may be at greater risk from fire than one surrounded by water.

Charles E. Goad was born in England and in 1848 obtained a degree of Associate of Arts at Oxford. In 1969 he went to Canada and found himself in a wooden world. Few major cities in Canada had escaped massive fires. Halifax, Montreal, Quebec, had all been destroyed by fire. They were in the condition of London in 1666 where each house was a potential menace to its neighbours.

Wrought Iron Gates of Peter Keevil & Sons in
Edgware Road, between Church Street
and Broadley Street

Goad established a flourishing business providing large scale maps showing the materials, construction, heights of buildings; the positions of water mains, hydrants and fire alarm boxes, etc. The system of signs shown on page 114 is most ingenious. Quite soon Goad was surveying buildings in every major city in the British Empire. By agreement a similar firm had the monopoly of USA. Some years later Goad returned to London, setting up his office in Crouch End, London.

Every three years the different areas were resurveyed and any changes drawn to the same scale. Each atlas was withdrawn and the revised patches pasted on. Only in the 1960s did the firm decide to sell its old maps to libraries and the public and they are now a unique source of detailed information on old buildings and street layouts. It is sometimes frustrating when examining a particular Goad map, to find that it is later than date you want and, under a patch which cannot be removed, may be the very detail you seek. Oh for a portable X-ray machine!



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Updated June 28, 2011