SOVIET spies visited Southampton before including it on a map of potential targets during the Cold War, it has been revealed.

The city is highlighted in Cyrillic letters on the historic map detailing the country’s major transport hubs, naval bases and other strategic sites.

Thousands of Soviet cartographers were involved in compiling the sensitive information using satellite images.

They were helped by secret agents on the ground who fed back information about the city’s major industries, surrounding terrain, urban settlements, public utilities, communication and healthcare facilities.

Other UK places recorded are London, Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester with worldwide cities listed including Amsterdam, Hamburg and Montreal.

Dr Alex Kent, head of the University of Southampton’s Cartographic Unit, acquired the historic maps during his PhD research after they were abandoned in a Latvian map depot.

Now he has made high resolution copies offering the public a chance to see for themselves the maps that would have given a major logistics advantage to any potential Soviet attack.

Dr Kent believes the Soviet mapping programme was bigger than people may have realised starting in the early 1950s and carrying on until the late 1990s.

“I must admit there is something quite chilling in seeing maps of familiar UK cities with buildings shown as potential targets and labelled using Cyrillic letters,”

he said