I’m told by my colleagues in the customer service team that one of the most common questions we’re asked is ‘how often do you update your paper maps?’
It’s a very good question.
But there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ answer. The frequency depends on a combination of factors, the primary one being the amount of change that needs to be applied to the map since it was previously revised.
The popularity of the sheet is also a factor. A map covering an area popular with vistors such as the Lake District would take priority over a less-popular area, providing of course, that changes have occurred that would be important to the users – new footpaths, roads and a visitor centre for example.
When I was up in the Lake District earlier this year I came across a new map of the Wainwright Fells and thought that today I would share it with you on the Ordnance Survey blog. The map is called Tubular Fells.
The map has been inspired by Harry Beck and his famous schematic map of the London Underground that was produced initially in 1931. Peter Burgess, a London base Geography teacher, has taken the idea of this iconic map and creating a new one based on the Lakeland Fells shown in the Wainwright guides.
Having lived in London for nearly 20 years, Beck’s map was something Burgess was very familiar with. As a keen fell walker and being a Geographer by trade – he thought to himself “I could make a fells map like Beck’s” – and so he did (after about 10 years of thinking about it and a few weeks sat in front of a computer).
So what’s on the map? In addition to the Fells there are also all 17 of the lakes that give the Lake District it’s name. You’ve also got the Coast to Coast, Cumbria Way and Dales Way along with the wheelchair accessible route to the summit of Latrigg and other identifiable features that you’d come across on the route (for example the Skiddaw House bunkhouse). As in the London Underground map where there are connections with ferry services – so there are also ferry connections shown on this map. The fells are connected by a coloured line (as in the style of Beck’s London Underground map) – with each colour corresponding to the relevant colour of Wainwright’s pictorial guides.
As summer (such as it is) progresses, many of us are getting out and about to enjoy the great outdoors. Of course, there are many health and safety aspects that we should be aware of (such as preparing for adverse weather and preventing walking/running injuries etc.) but how many people think about ticks when it comes to getting out and about?
Vampire ticks: The scourge of the countryside! Are they really that dangerous? Well the press would have us believe so, with recent headlines such as, “Alert over rise in killer ticks”, and “The European Invader that’s after your blood”. Although not quite relatives of Dracula, lurking in every darkened corner, ticks are blood-sucking parasites and they can transmit a range of diseases to people, domestic animals and wildlife.
Today on the blog we have a guest blog from James Squires of Fix the Fells. Over the coming months we will be hearing more from the Fix the Fells team on the vital work that they do to repair and maintain the upland footpaths.
It has been a period of weather extremes on the fells since Easter what with having hot sunny conditions throughout a good part of April and then, in May, experiencing several prolonged spells of wind and rain. This culminated in flash flooding along the Borrowdale valley and 100mph gusts of wind on the fell tops. We even had sleet and wet snow showers there just before the Whit Bank Holiday!
Extreme conditions can play havoc with the best laid plans. Hot weather makes turfing difficult since the turfs quickly dry out and begin to resemble the legendary British Rail sandwich of old – brown with slightly turned up edges. It is also hard to make the turfs ‘stick’ when it is time to lay them. On the other hand, if you have ever cut a large piece of turf in bone dry conditions and then tried to lift it after several days’ heavy rain, you will know to find a good osteopath first: what was once a manageable piece of sward becomes just the heaviest thing imaginable, but it does batter into place! On the plus side though, severe wet weather gives us the opportunity to see that our fell drains are doing their job and determine if we need to build more.
We have finally finished the work left over from last year at Esk Hause and are now leaving the site to re-vegetate for the next few weeks. We shall monitor the progress of the new grass and periodically throw some more seed down. If you are passing, we hope you like what you see and would ask that you stick to the footpath so that the edges have the best chance to re-establish themselves. Do not be concerned either at the bright blue stuff you see at the path edges: it is just a mulch to help the seed get established on the thin upland soils, is made of wood pulp and will rot down in a year or so. What’s more, in spite of its fearsome appearance, it’s completely harmless!
On a clear, crisp spring morning in 1936, a group of men gathered around a strange, pale obelisk in the middle of an unremarkable field in Cold Ashby, Northamptonshire. Those men were there to begin the greatest undertaking Ordnance Survey had attempted since the early 19th century.
That shining white monolith would now be instantly recognised by any walker, hiker or geography pupil. It was of course a Trig Pillar, and today, 18 April, marks 75 years since the day when they were first used in anger at the beginning of the Retriangulation of Great Britain.
Trig Pillars now evoke the kind of sentimentalism of something quintessentially British (although there are equivalents in other countries), but at the time they were part of a state-of-the art network built to literally re-write the map of Britain. The Retriangulation was an enormous task and lasted up until 1962 (with a break for World War II), the impact of which we still live with today.
Triangulation is basically a mathematical process that makes accurate map making possible. It works by determining the location of a point by measuring angles to it from known points at either end of a fixed baseline and in this case, those known points were the 6,500 Trig Pillars erected across the country. In practice, a theodolite would have been secured to the top mounting plate and made level. It would then be directly over the brass bolt underneath the pillar. Angles were then measured from the pillar to other surrounding points. For the highest accuracy primary points in the Retriangulation, many rounds of angles would have been measured with the observations taking several hours.
But why was the Retriangulation needed?
Following on from last week’s article on the wide range of work our cartographers cover, we started thinking about how cartography has changed over the years. We have a number of team members who have recently moved to our new head office at Adanac Park, and have also worked at our previous two Southampton bases, at Romsey Road and London Road, spanning more than 40 years. I caught up with John to find out a bit more… if you have any memories about cartography at Ordnance Survey, let us know.
“My time at Ordnance Survey started with a training course on 25 January 1966 with me earning the princely sum of £446 per annum. After a few weeks we moved from to the training drawing sections at London Road. The building had been caught in the blitz in 1941 and was a shadow of its former self. At this point in time it still felt like a military organisation with military personnel occupying all of the top management positions.
My cartography skills started with the ruling pen. We would draw a 7/1000 inch gauge line in black ink onto enamel. We were working on enamel coated zinc plates on which an image of the surveyor’s work had been printed in a light blue aniline die, at 1:1 250 map scale. Map symbols and text were added to the enamel and the finished article was used to make the printing plate At that point the zinc plate would be stripped of the old enamel image and re-enamelled to be used again.
If you missed last week’s blog, catch up now before finding out a little more about what goes on behind the scenes in our Cartography teams…
My next stop was with Jim in Landplan. His team of 20 are responsible for the revision and update of the 1:10 000 database. This covers OS Landplan, 1:10 000 Scale Colour Raster and 1:10 000 Scale Black and White Raster, OS Street View and more recently, OS VectorMap Local.
Jim told me that the Landplan vector editing system was developed in-house during the mid 1990s. The capture programme started in September 1996 and the 10 587 tiles in the initial database were completed in 2001. It was the first production system in Ordnance Survey to use auto generalising algorithms to do Cartographic generalising for a derived product.
Mention a cartographer and people will think of someone who draws maps. Well, it’s obvious isn’t it? Having spent a few hours talking to various members of our Cartography team though, I’m actually amazed at the breadth of areas they cover. So, if you’ve already read our ‘day in the life of a surveyor’ blogs, read on to find out what happens once that surveyed data gets inside the building.
Our Cartography team, which is really lots of separate teams with different specialisms, is led by Huw, and they are responsible for deriving and maintaining cartographic databases, and providing the finished data for Ordnance Survey national series paper and data products. They do this through the manipulation and enhancement of our core databases. But as well as this ‘core’ work, they work on lots of other projects from specialist maps to innovative work on the effects of colour vision deficiency on mapping.
Sandy leads the Explorer team. Unsurprisingly, they work on the design, editing and updating of databases for our very popular 1:25 000 OS Explorer Map. The team also work on the data for our OS Select bespoke product where customers can centre a map on an area of their choice and on our digital product, 1:25 000 Scale Colour Raster.
After the fun we had compiling a list of Britain’s Spookiest Place Names back in October, I thought it was only right that with just 19 days until the big day to turned our attention to the festive season and the nation’s best Christmas themed locations…
From Cold Christmas (Hertfordshire) and Christmas Cross (Shropshire) to Holly Green (Worcestershire) and Ivy Tree (Cumbria), there are places scattered across the country where it feels like Christmas all year round – even if only in name.
As it approaches midnight on Christmas Eve, don’t forget to hang up your Stocking (Herefordshire) and leave out a Carrot (Angus) for Rudolph. You can pucker up at Mistletoe Oak in Herefordshire, dream of a white Christmas in Snow Falls (North Yorkshire), or make your way to Wiseman’s Bridge (Pembrokeshire) by the light of a Star (Somerset) – although you may like to use a good map instead.
We recently came across a blog about the Ordnance Survey map symbols for rough grassland, heath and bracken and thought it would be helpful to give you an explanation on their use. Please head to the bottom of this blog to see all the symbols.
Originally bracken, rough grassland and heath were shown as separate symbols (1. bracken, 2. rough grassland and 3. heath). In 1976 bracken and rough grassland were amalgamated so there was just one symbol to indicate land being covered by rough grassland or bracken – it was made up of elements of both the symbols so it had some rough grass in it and some bracken (4). Where space was tight a smaller symbol was also made incorporating both vegetation types (5).
The map symbols in the (6) legend are shown in the following order; top left is the new amalgamated symbol for bracken and rough grassland, top right is the old bracken symbol. Bottom left is old rough grassland symbol and bottom right the heath symbol. The heath symbol was not changed and has stayed the same. The old symbols for bracken and rough grassland remain in the legend because there are still some sheets that have the old style individual bracken and rough grassland symbols. The symbols were only updated on the mapping if there was a change in vegetation category so there are still large areas of old style vegetation shown on the mapping.