Our collection of twentieth-century town plans, road maps and route plans includes four AA Route Sheets that were individually made in the 1940s for the trips members wanted to take.
The little booklets contain a combination of directions, maps, town plans and points of interest. The routes outlined in our recent acquisitions are London to Bournemouth, London to Liverpool, Chiswick to Middlesbrough and Middlesbrough back to Chiswick. They contain ‘places of interest’ descriptions of parts of the route: ‘Much pleasant woodland & some high ground after leaving Winchester’ as well as a detailed account of the route, in an abbreviated form that makes sense in context: ‘under second rly.br.bear lt.into’.
By 1948 AA membership returned to the pre-war level of over 700,000 and demand for routes like these increased rapidly, particularly when petrol rationing ended in 1950. The evocative ‘places of interest’ information was dropped at this time when details of the return route were added to the reverse of the route sheets. These route guides were the Sat Nav of their day, ideal for people that wanted a handy set of instructions on how to get from A to B.
Laura Weill, Typography Collections assistant