Dear Shire & Old House Readers,
We think - and hope - that our reputation for integrity and rigour speaks for itself. It is something we have worked hard to attain and something that is of paramount importance to the Shire & Old House business and to the people who work here.
We are also, though, known for our enthusiasm, and it is this quality that today has left us in a position for which we can only apologise and seek your understanding. This position relates to our recent bestseller, Bradshaw's Handbook 1863.
The volume came to us from a reputable source, and we had no reason to doubt its pedigree: the Bradshaw name has long been revered in bibliographical and cartographical circles. The Handbook itself has been the basis of a very successful television programme and came with the stamp of approval of well-known politician, commentator and broadcaster Michael Portillo. When we gained access to the rare book we saw merely a golden opportunity to make available once more a classic and much sought-after piece of British social and travel history, and in our excitement did so.
The reputation of the Bradshaw name, however, has not flourished in the harsh light of the modern media. The Daily Mail newspaper, doubtful of the book's accuracy, followed its iconoclastic instincts, investigating with more meticulousness and assiduity than had we or the television companies, and has firmly established that George Bradshaw, and indeed those who after his death continued to publish under the Bradshaw banner, were in the employ of the government of France and that the books and maps are grossly inaccurate.
Documentary evidence found in the archives of MI5, as well as secret papers recently released by French intelligence, demonstrate beyond doubt that ‘George Bradshaw’ was in fact born George Baditeau around 1800 in Lyon. A low-ranking intelligence officer, he was sent to Britain in the late 1820s and by the 1830s was established here as a cartographer of note and reputation. Once Napoleon III had taken power in France and began to plot against Britain, Baditeau and his cohorts were given their instructions: to spread disinformation and anti-British propaganda.
Accordingly, as the Daily Mail has shown, all the maps and books published under the Bradshaw name are riddled with inaccuracies designed to confuse British industry and travel, and even with acrostics denouncing Britain and its way of life. There was no train-tunnel connecting Newcastle and Jersey, as is described in Part I of the Handbook, nor was there a single line connecting Hull, Southampton and the 'verdant, pastoral Elysium of Bordeaux', as is claimed in Part III. The first letters of each line of Part I, p. 65 spell: 'Britain and her territories will inevitably decline in the face of the renaissance of the great Catholic nation of France and her glorious leader, the Emperor Napoleon III!', a sentiment neither endorsed by us nor borne-out by history. And what should have been most conspicuous: for obvious reasons, Waterloo Station is entirely absent from the Handbook. These are only a few of the many outright lies to whose perpetuation we have inadvertently been party.
Again, we can only offer our profuse apologies to anyone who purchased our edition of Bradshaw’s Handbook thinking – justifiably – that it was an historic document and a genuine insight into the history of our transport networks. We should have detected these discrepancies in time to halt publication, but in our excitement over our find did not. Please be assured that we have put into place systems to ensure that oversights like this one do not occur again.
Apologies and very best wishes,
The Shire & Old House Team