What do River Cottage and the Royal Air Force have in common with us at Ordnance Survey? The A700 Rocket composter.
Huw and Gwen from Tidy Planet came in recently to do some training for our new industrial composter, so in the future we’ll be composting all our food waste. At our ‘tea points’ around the building there are compost bins and any food waste from our Restaurant will also be included. Before you know it, all our waste will become lovely compost to spread onto our grounds at Adanac Park.
OS MasterMap is our flagship product family, but have you ever wondered how a photo taken by a plane makes it onto a computer screen as a piece of data? Photogrammetry is the science of measuring and interpreting objects from photographs to answer questions like how high is that feature?
Remote Sensing is the process of acquiring information without coming into physical contact with the subject under investigation. We use this process, in conjunction with ground-based revision by our field surveyors, to update our large-scale databases
We have a large contract in place with external suppliers to supplement our own flying and photogrammetric production.This gives us the capacity to have to 6 planes flying on our behalf at any one time, allowing us to make best use of good weather conditions and process 60 000 to 70 000 sq km (more than a quarter) of Great Britain each year.
I’ve talked in previous posts about the new head office we’ll be moving to later this year and how excited I am about a shiny new building – but what about all that packing? If you think that there are around 1,100 of us currently living in a building intended for around 3,500–4,000, you can imagine how much space we’ve got. And if you think about what you do with any spare space in your home (come on, I bet your lofts, garages, sheds and cupboards are packed to bursting!), then you can imagine the task facing us after 40 plus years at Romsey Road.
Paul’s already updated us on the historic artifacts we’ve uncovered, but there are also thousands and thousands of old maps and map-related records. So, what do we do with them? There are actually several routes we follow. Our Historic Map Archive has been used to complete collections and libraries up and down the country for example.
We recently caught up with two of our Inverness surveyors to find out what challenges they face in their remote corner of Scotland. They mentioned mapping the changes at a hydro scheme and I thought it might be an idea to find out how we updated our OS MasterMap database to show the Glendoe Hydro Scheme, Scotland’s largest recent civil engineering project. Craig and Dave faced a technical challenge in finding the best way to map the new and changed topographical features.
The Glendoe Hydro Scheme is located in the hills above Loch Ness near Fort Augustus and although a significant part of the project is underground, many new and changed features needed to be incorporated into our OS MasterMap database. These included the dam wall, the reservoir, all of the access and service roads, changes to water courses and their associated walls and sluices, and changes to the extents of vegetation and other surface features.
The job of a surveyor is the one that we get asked about the most. People are fascinated by the people in hi-vis jackets that work their way around the country capturing the 5 000 changes made to our database everyday. Craig Methven and Dave Robertson work in our Inverness field office and told me what they get up to…
The prospect of the upcoming move to our new head office has resulted in buzz of increased activity around the building in recent months. Just like when you move house, it’s been a good time to have a bit of a clear out and take stock of what’s been hiding under the proverbial bed or in the attic.
Well, part of that process has included cataloguing the many pieces of antique surveying equipment that have been accrued by Ordnance Survey over the past 200 years. Some of the items have played an historic role in the birth of modern map making in Britain and are irreplaceable.
To understand more about some of this fascinating equipment, I caught up with Ken Lacey, a surveyor by trade who now works in our education team. Ken was kind enough to give me a tour of what is rapidly turning into an Aladdin’s cave of cartographic memorabilia, with two pieces being of particular interest.
Vanessa Lawrence, our Director General recently paid a visit to a particularly special building in Southampton. 15 Rockstone Place is near the centre of the city and is now the home of a solicitors firm, but it for many years it had a very close association with Ordnance Survey as the ‘Director General’s House’.
The house was built in 1840, and was one of the last projects of Samuel Toomer, who died in 1842 at the age of only 41. It was originally called Avenue House and for the next 25 years it served as a private residence.
I met up with Wessex Archaeology recently to find out about the previous residents at Adanac Park, the site of our new head office.
Back in 2008, as part of the planning process, Wessex Archaeology were asked to investigate the site for historical interest. They were fairly confident of finding some archaeological remains as there had been finds at sites in the local area, but were surprised to find evidence of a late Bronze Age farm, the first of its kind in this part of Hampshire.
Archaeologist Andrew Fitzpatrick told me, ‘The site proved to be late Bronze Age, around 3,000 years old, four or five houses and evidence of smaller structures, such as storage sheds and granaries. There was also an Iron Age burial ground with seven barrows and other graves. This was quite unexpected and the site is unique in Britain.’