Tour de France maps and facts

At 11 am tomorrow, the hugely anticipated British Grand Depart of the 2014 Tour de France will finally start, leaving Leeds and heading for Harrogate. The world’s most famous cycle race is holding its first three stages in Britain, ending in London on 7 July.


As soon as we heard the Tour was heading to Britain we got our maps out and started poring over them and we’ve found some great facts and figures to share with you.

  • The three British stages cover a huge 569 km – so if you’re planning on emulating the pros and following the routes on OS Ride, you’ll need to do some preparation!
  • Pub SymbolIf that all seems like a lot of hard work, our map database tells us that there are 588 pubs along the routes, so there’s plenty of opportunity to relax!
  • The highest point on the Tour is on the Leeds to Harrogate stage, reaching 525 m.
  • If you like your waterways, the Tour will cross an impressive 27 rivers and canals – and crosses the River Ure four times!

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Celebrating our French connection

William Roy plaque near Oxford CircusToday marks the anniversary of the death of Major General William Roy, a man of enormous importance in the history of Ordnance Survey. He is honoured with a Blue Plaque at his former home in Argyll Street, Soho. The building is now home to a branch of French Connection, something which raised a little smile for us as there is a French connection with William Roy.

Born in 1726, the hugely far-sighted Scottish military engineer and surveyor understood the strategic importance of maps very early on and when King George II commissioned a military survey of the Scottish highlands in 1746, in response to the Jacobite uprising a year before, Roy became involved. William Roy worked without a military commission until 1755, but was then promoted steadily in recognition of his talents. His technical drawings showing the phases of a battle were adopted as the standard across the military and saw him promoted to a Captain in the Corps of Highlanders. He later advanced to Engineer-Director of military surveys in Great Britain and eventually the Director of Royal Engineers in 1783, after achieving the rank of Major-General in 1781. Continue reading “Celebrating our French connection”

Get more addresses with AddressBase

Today’s guest blog is from Chris Chambers, our Address Portfolio Manager at Ordnance Survey.

Our AddressBase team has recently carried out detailed analysis of the 38,418,837 addresses in the AddressBase product suite to identify ‘postally addressable’ records. This work was based on our customers’ requirement to identify all properties within the AddressBase products that have the potential to receive mail, not solely the Royal Mail Postcode Address File (PAF) data contained within.


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A history of Wimbledon in maps

Wimbledon got off to a flying start on Monday, and as much as we love tennis, our minds inevitably turned to maps. We’ve been putting Wimbledon on the map for almost 100 years now. Did you know that when the All England Court was formed, back in 1868, their home was not at the current Wimbledon site? Shown below on our map from 1896, the club was based at Worple Road until 1922 and the first championships, and even the 1908 Olympics, were not played out on the existing Church Road site.

Worple Road 1896

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Happy birthday Ordnance Survey – 223 years old!

happy-birthday-iconTomorrow will mark 223 years since Ordnance Survey was founded. In the late 1700s the government ordered its defence ministry – the Board of Ordnance – to begin a survey of England’s vulnerable southern coasts, worried that the French Revolution might sweep across the English Channel. In June 1791, the Board purchased a huge new Ramsden theodolite, and this is seen as the foundation of our organisation.

We’re marking the occasion by telling you some of our favourite facts and figures about Ordnance Survey. You can find out more about our history on our website too.  Continue reading “Happy birthday Ordnance Survey – 223 years old!”

Football ground quiz for the England World Cup 2014 squad

The England team will be continuing their FIFA World Cup 2014 campaign tonight and we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed for them over in Brazil. Back in Britain, we got to thinking about the 23-strong squad and where they usually play their home games, away from Sao Paulo.

The squad play across nine British grounds – but can you identify the grounds shown on our map? We’ve shown eight of the nine grounds in OS MasterMap, with all of the street names and so on removed, to make it a little more challenging. Can you name them all – and tell us the name of the ninth ground, missing from the quiz?

Football Grounds

Please note that home grounds are correct as of the date the 23-man England squad was announced and will not reflect any changes as a result of transfers and deals since the end of the football season.

Semantic and Geometric Enrichment of 3D Building Models

Today’s guest blogger is Jon Slade. Jon’s currently working on his PhD at Cardiff University, sponsored by Ordnance Survey.

After a fruitful year spent as a GIS Specialist at Arup I chose to change direction and return to the world of academia to study a PhD full-time at Cardiff University. Whilst I found the commercial world, in which I have worked for 15 years rewarding I missed really immersing myself deeply in a topic. My UCL MSc Summer research project ‘Google Maps Journey Immersion’ gave me a taster of this. And so, with experience of civil engineering from my time at Arup, a life-long love of maps and all things Ordnance Survey plus an unashamed fondness for reality architecture shows such as Channel 4′s Grand Designs, the opportunity to study a PhD on the Semantic and Geometric Enrichment of 3D Building Models at Cardiff, sponsored by Ordnance Survey felt ideal. This shall be my main area of work for the next 3-4 years.

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Chocks away – tales from Ordnance Survey’s Flying Unit

Every so often we receive a tweet from one of our followers saying that they’ve seen an Ordnance Survey plane overhead. Or someone will tweet us a picture like the one below and ask us what we’re up to. The simple answer is that we’re capturing aerial imagery of Britain, as part of our role as the national mapping authority.


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Our OS Locate app goes worldwide

OS Locate will show you the grid reference for your position and your altitude too

OS Locate will show you the grid reference for your position and your altitude too

We’ve teamed up with world-renowned outdoor accessories brand Silva for the new version of our OS Locate app – and it’s now available for Android and iOS. We’ve had fantastic feedback from people across Britain since the iOS version launched in February – and had an amazing 10,000+ downloads so far. Our free to download app is a fast and highly accurate means of pinpointing your exact location – and now you can see your latitude, longitude and altitude as well as your grid reference –meaning you can now use OS Locate all around the world.

For our new version, available in Android for the first time, we’ve partnered with leading compass manufacture Silva to feature their iconic Silva Expedition 4 as the compass display in the app, complete with a moving bezel to take bearings. Better yet, OS Locate does not need a mobile signal to function, so the inbuilt GPS system can be relied upon, even in the most remote areas – you have no excuse for losing your place on the map now! Continue reading “Our OS Locate app goes worldwide”

New election maps website

Ahead of the local and European elections last month, and the recent Newark by election, we launched a new election maps website. It replaced our previous election maps website, which for many years provided a free service to help candidates and party workers as they prepare for elections.


The election maps website lets users overlay the official boundaries of constituencies and wards on Ordnance Survey maps at various scales.  This is particularly useful at street level, where canvassers working for local candidates need to know which side of the street to cover; or how far along the street to go. Continue reading “New election maps website”