This week marks 80 years since the trig pillar was first used in the retriangulation of Great Britain on 18 April 1936. We’ve been celebrating by sharing the story of the humble trig pillar, and giving you the chance to join our celebrations with The Trig Pillar Trail Challenge. But is the trig pillar is now obsolete – just how do we survey Great Britain today?
Life after the trig pillar
Yesterday marked 80 years since the trig pillar was first used in the retriangulation of Great Britain on 18 April 1936. On that day, a group of surveyors gathered around a white concrete pillar in a field in Cold Ashby and began the retriangulation of Great Britain.
We’re celebrating by sharing the story of the humble trig pillar, still much loved by walkers today, and giving you the chance to join our celebrations with The Trig Pillar Trail Challenge. But what is the background to the trig pillar?
On 18 April 1936 a group of surveyors gathered around a white concrete pillar in a field in Cold Ashby and began the retriangulation of Great Britain. That trig pillar is still standing 80 years on, along with thousands more around the country. We’re celebrating by sharing the story of the humble trig pillar, still much loved by walkers today, and giving you the chance to join our celebrations with The Trig Pillar Trail Challenge.
Cold Ashby photo by Bridgeman via Trigpointing UK, a great site for all things trig
What is a trig pillar?
Back in January we advertised our 2016 map trade-in scheme, encouraging you to return your old and out-dated maps to us and in return, our Map Shop sent out vouchers for money off any new map purchases. It was a phenomenal success – and our Customer Service team are still processing returns – but we think we’ll have received around 35,000 maps! That compares to 10,000 returned in a similar scheme in 2014.
We knew that outdoors enthusiasts could build up impressive collections of OS maps (did you see the chap on the Timeshift documentary last year with thousands of maps?), but we have been overwhelmed with the number being returned.
If the onset of Spring, or even the Easter holidays are making you want to #GetOutside more, make sure you brush up on your map reading skills first.
Map reading is an essential skill for any explorer or outdoor enthusiast, but can seem really daunting if you haven’t looked at an OS map since your Geography GCSE. To help you to get the most out of your map, and to explore the British countryside, we teamed up with Steve Backshall for a series of videos. They take you through the basics of map reading step by step to help you feel confident with your map.
Watch the full video playlist on map reading skills here:
More map reading advice
We launched the Geovation water challenge last December with support from Southern Water, United Utilities, the Environment Agency and Defra, asking developers and start-ups for sustainable ideas that improve how Britain manages its water use.
The Challenge attracted over 50 great ideas, from which 10 finalists were invited to pitch their ideas to secure support and funding through the Geovation Programme.
Hear from the Geovation water challenge winners
Refillable Cities: Natalie Fee, Olivia Drake, Thomas Bell and Gus Hoyt aim to reduce dependency on plastic bottled water with a nationwide roll out of an app that pinpoints users to free tap water refill points. The app will capture data and encourage behaviour change through rewards and points that can be exchanged for money off vouchers.
We’re still best known for our iconic paper maps, but in actual fact, over 90% of our business comes from digital data. Data that supports Britain’s economy and is used by government and business across the country and beyond. To collect, produce and deliver this digital data, we’ve built a talented team of people, from the more traditional OS roles of surveyors collecting location information and cartographers who produce our maps; to software engineers, designers, product managers, user experience architects, data managers and more. We were thrilled to see one of our teams recognised recently in the Real IT Awards Operational Efficiency Category Shortlist. We caught up with Keith Watson, Agile Delivery Manager, to find out more.
— Matthew Skelton (@matthewpskelton) 11 February 2016
It’s not every day that our surveyors have the chance to climb Ben Nevis with all of their kit and resurvey the mountain. But they did recently and found that Great Britain’s tallest mountain is taller than we thought. Our new paper and digital maps will show the height as 1,345m and not 1,344m.
The latest Ben Nevis map showing the new height of 1345
The Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA) is a collective agreement between OS and the government. Its licence lets public sector organisations in England and Wales access and share OS digital mapping. With the news this week that our Public Sector Mapping Agreement now has over 4,000 members, we went back through the archives to find out first member, Cambridgeshire County Council. Denis Payne at CCC tells us why they were so keen to be involved and how GI has benefited them over the last five years.
CCC became the first member of the PSMA, why do you think that was?
We signed up straight away in April 2011, for us it was a no-brainer. The PSMA is a collective agreement that covers all government, is free at the point of use, gives access to all of the OS data we need and has the scope to work with contractors, other Local Government members and Central Government/Public Sector departments as we need. I think most councils got involved pretty quickly.