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Woodford Green author uncovers secret Soviet maps of the world

PUBLISHED: 11:48 18 May 2018 | UPDATED: 11:48 18 May 2018

John Davies who has written a book about some hidden Soviet maps of the world he discovered when he was working in Latvia

John Davies who has written a book about some hidden Soviet maps of the world he discovered when he was working in Latvia

Archant

A Woodford Green author has received international success from his book about secret Soviet maps of the world.

John Davies who has written a book about some hidden Soviet maps of the world he discovered when he was working in LatviaJohn Davies who has written a book about some hidden Soviet maps of the world he discovered when he was working in Latvia

John Davies, 75, of Charteris Road, was working in Latvia about 15 years ago when he found Russian military maps in a local book store that he had never seen before.

Now after years of going back and forward to the former Soviet country, and speaking to other cartographers with a passion for maps he has got enough information to put together a book that has stirred interest from all over the world.

The book - The Red Atlas: How the Soviet Union Secretly Mapped the World - was released in October last year and tells the story of how during the Cold War the Soviet Union carried out a project where it secretly mapped the whole world in incredible detail.

Not only strategically vital ports and industrial centers, but cities, small towns and rural areas alike, however unimportant, were plotted and recorded.

John Davies who has written a book about some hidden Soviet maps of the world he discovered when he was working in LatviaJohn Davies who has written a book about some hidden Soviet maps of the world he discovered when he was working in Latvia

The Soviet compilers developed a set of standard conventions, symbols and colors for the maps which ensured consistency across the world and enabled a map user to instantly interpret the landscape depicted.

John said that he has had an interest in maps since he was a boy, and that he couldn’t believe it when he discovered the maps for the first time.

The book - which was published by the University of Chicago - is also extremely topical according to the cartographer from Ilford, because we still have the same feelings about Russia and the unknown and how much they know about the rest of the world.

“We know that there are even more maps out there, and what I hope might happen is that people will come forward with more stories and their memories if they have even seen these maps before,” said John.

While displaying some of the maps of Redbridge as he was giving a talk recently, he said that a few people spotted small mistakes in them which fascinated him.

He said that he would love more people to look at the maps and see if they can spot any mistakes too.

So why not have a look for yourself and maybe you can spot your house or even spot any mistakes? Please contact our reporter Liam Coleman on 0208 477 3826 or email liam.coleman@archant.co.uk with your thoughts.

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