New OS map symbols make it into print

If you cast your minds back to the early summer, you may remember the map symbol competition hosted on The One Show. From thousands of fantastic entries spread across 10 categories we chose 6 winning symbols to be added to our maps. And then the hard work started. Getting the new symbols added to our maps…so it was with great excitement that I had a sneak peek at our revised OS Tour Map series and saw the first new map symbols to actually be printed on the map.

One Show map symbol competition winners

Our OS Tour Maps are all being revised to include new covers with our new brand and with the new photos entered in our OS Photofit competition for junior photographers. They won’t be hitting the shops until next February, but our Cartography team have already completed updates to four of the eight maps, including Cornwall, Devon & Somerset West, North Wales and South Wales.IMG_3289

Not all of the symbols will make it onto all of the maps, the symbols shown vary by the scale of each map. For example, did you know that a Post Office is marked as ‘PO’ on our OS Explorer maps, but as ‘P’ on our OS Landrangers, and not shown at all on OS Tour maps? The Cartography team have to work out which information is most important for the user of each map series and how to fit all of the relevant information onto each map.

In the case of the OS Tour Maps, four of the new symbols are being incorporated. The team have been busy adding the new symbols for solar farms, art galleries, kite surfing and public toilets.


The new symbols for public toilets and art gallery are on this map extract


The new symbol for solar farm is on this map

The ideal map to spot the new kite surfing symbol

The ideal map to spot the new kite surfing symbol

Some interesting facts came out of the new map editions too.

Did you know…?

  • The Devon map has the most solar farms with 26 shown, against 3 on the North Wales map.
  • The South Wales map has the most new toilet map symbols at 194 on the main map.
  • Possibly unsurprisingly, Cornwall tops the maps when it comes to official kite surfing centres, with 4 on display.

You may also be interested to know that the solar farms shown, only include those that output over 5 megawatts of power. Similarly, we don’t show all public toilets – and this is purely down to a space factor and what can clearly be seen on a map. We do have to send out surveying team out to double check that various pubs, phone boxes and toilets and so on are still in existence when we revise a map too!

Until the Tour maps come out, you can see all of the symbols on our interactive map here right now. You’ll notice that there is only one electric car-charging point…that’s because we didn’t previously collect that data – but we do now! We’re going to be kept busy getting the new symbols rolled out to the relevant maps and this will take some time, as we’ll continue with our usual rolling refresh of the paper and digital maps.

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4 Responses

  1. Julie Marshall

    Hi Gemma, I often see the ‘moat’ symbol on the ordnance survey map yet it is not discribed on the key, dose it signify an archaeological works or just an coincidental ditch with a hump in the middle.? Also what does the capital ‘T’ stand for ( it is also not discribed in the key….)
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Julie

      The word ‘Moat’ is normally italicised so yes this does refer to an archaeological man-made site. See Map Legend 1:25k page 4; https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/docs/legends/25k-raster-legend.pdf. Any italicised wording represents historical information, such as Earthworks, Castle Moat etc.

      The ‘T’ is a map abbreviation meaning ‘Top of’ so in the case of ‘Moat’ would mean top of moat, see; https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/resources/maps-and-geographic-resources/map-abbreviations.html

      Many thanks

  2. Keira

    This can be very important however, I can’t seem to find a symbol for the post office. This is very sad as many people who might be lost will need somewhere where they can send a message to their family. I know this is a example that is very rare but please tell me where I can find it.

    1. Jocelyn

      Keira, thanks for your question. We don’t use a symbol to depict a post office, we use the abbreviation PO. Hope this helps, Jocelyn

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