Behind the scenes


We’re 227 today

Today marks 227 years since Ordnance Survey was founded. On 21 June 1791, the Board of Ordnance purchased a new Ramsden theodolite, and this is seen as the foundation of our organisation. A lot has changed in those 227 years: we moved from London to Southampton; we went from mapping for the military to mapping for people, businesses and the government; from mapping Kent (our first map published in 1801) to a geospatial database of Great Britain with over 460 million features…the list goes on.

We’ve also had a few different looks over the years, as you can see in our evolution of OS brand logos below.

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Mixed reality HoloLens 3D data visualisation

Have you heard of Microsoft HoloLens? No, nor me. However, I was lucky enough to spend some time with one of our technology lab engineers Layla Gordon to find out more.

While VR (virtual reality) headsets and AR (augmented reality) apps were once pioneering, Microsoft HoloLens utilises an even more cutting-edge mixed reality technology.

VR headsets have been the latest visualisation trend and are mostly well known for their popularity in the gaming industry. As I am sure many of you know, VR headsets simulate entirely virtual worlds and require both a console and controller. The product has no association with reality and as such, creates an immersive experience for the user.

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Happy holidays from OS and The Cedar School

We have a special relationship with The Cedar School in Southampton. Earlier this year a team from OS helped renovate their forest garden. As part of our GetOutside initiative, which inspires people to get outside more often, all 79 children visited the garden and gave us muddy fingerprints for this year’s OS Christmas card.

Our workplace choir, Off the Scale, also visited the school this month to sing Christmas carols. They were treated to a reciprocal performance from some of the children, signing and signing.

We wish you all a wonderful Christmas and New Year.



Map history at OS with Antiques Road Trip

If you were watching Antiques Road Trip yesterday afternoon, you’d have seen antiques expert Paul Laidlaw visiting our Southampton head office. The modern building we’ve been in since 2009, is a far cry from our first home at the Tower of London, and even the military barracks which became our first Southampton head office. But, despite being a digital data company in a state of the art building, there are still many nods to our mappy heritage to be found.

Our CEO Nigel Clifford showed Paul our first map, and an early theodolite while filming for the programme. Here’s a bit more about them:

Paul Laidlaw (left) and Nigel Clifford (right) in from of an 1801 map of Kent and the Ramsden 18″ theodolite

Ramsden 18” theodolite Read More


Taking White Hart Lane off the map

We usually share stories about our teams adding new features to the map, such as the Queensferry Crossing or even a whale, but we also have to remove features from our database. London-based surveyor Tony Killilea was recently tasked with removing a football stadium from the map…

With over 500 million geospatial features across Great Britain and some 10,000 changes taking place in the database each day, it’s not difficult to understand how our surveying teams are kept busy. From new roads to new shopping centres, it’s easy to forget about the existing features that have to be removed for new developments to be built.

Tony at White Hart Lane

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Raising money for Solent Mind with a charity ball

We’re now in our second year of supporting Solent Mind as our corporate charity. Most people will know at least one person who has suffered from poor mental health and Solent Mind provide an extremely important service to local people, close to our head office in Southampton.

We’re all trying to raise as much as possible to make changes to the lives of those suffering with mental illness and those family and friends supporting them. As a business which is keen to encourage physical and mental health, we’ve supported our own #GetOutside messaging and many staff have taken part in football tournaments and marathons. Our OS Runners raised over £1,000 running a relay marathon from London to Cardiff earlier this year. Plus, OS participants completed the London Marathon, and we have people taking part in the Great South Run later this year.

OS Runners

This weekend, our CEO Nigel Clifford and his daughter Caitlin will be taking part in the Great North Run, helping to raise more awareness of mental health issues and fundraise for Solent Mind. You can find out more about Nigel and support his challenge on JustGiving. Read More