Our press team have been working with the BBC to put together a short film and radio broadcast about the role which Ordnance Survey carried out during World War 1. It’s supporting some activity, launched this week, on the BBC website and in quite a few of their programmes. We are also expecting the film to be featured on BBC South tomorrow evening as part of a series of features about the impact of the war on local people.
Ordnance Survey was formed in 1791; set up initially to map the south coast of Kent, when the British government was worried about a French invasion. However, in 1914, Ordnance Survey helped with the war effort, mapping the battlefields of France and printing some 33 million maps for use in the trenches in the four years of war.
226 years ago Great Britain was accurately geodetically linked to France for the first time. William Roy, whose vision of a national map of Great Britain led to the founding of the Ordnance Survey, was put in charge of surveying a triangulation scheme originating from a measured five mile base line across Hounslow Heath and running down to the Channel Coast. Angles to common points were observed from both ends of the base line enabling the distances of the two other sides of the triangle to be calculated using trigonometry. From the new measured base lines a network of triangles was observed across South East England with positions eventually fixed at Dover and Hastings. Angles were then measured across to points on the French coast enabling the geodetic relationship between our countries to be calculated. The French had suggested the survey to link the position of the observatories in Greenwich and Paris and had triangulated points from Paris to observe back across to Britain.
We were delighted to have been invited along to participate in BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking Festival last weekend at Sage Gateshead.
Sage Gateshead is an iconic building, which opened in 2004, on the south bank of the River Tyne and hosts a range of musical education workshops, performances and conferences. It was a fitting venue to some of the country’s leading thinkers over a weekend which promised provocative debate, new ideas, music and performance.
Our Director General Vanessa Lawrence was invited to be on the panel for a session entitled ‘Why are maps still so powerful?’ along with author and academic Jerry Brotton – author of ‘A History of the World in 12 Maps’. Presented by BBC’s Rana Mitter, the radio interview was recorded in front of a live audience of around 200 map users.
Discussions are recorded for BBC Radio 3 and broadcast over the next three weeks or available to download.
A camera crew together with well-known TV presenter Helen Skelton recently visited Ordnance Survey to film a piece about the importance of maps for Blue Peter.
The team spent two days filming various areas which included the Flying Unit at East Midlands Airport, our Remote Sensing and Cartography departments, and a ground survey. Everything will be pieced together by Blue Peter to tell the story of how we capture the geographic information through to how it gets onto the map.
Matthew Carlisle, from Remote Sensing at Ordnance Survey, said: “Having been brought up watching Blue Peter I was really happy to take part in the filming. It’s a well-respected TV programme, and it’s great that we got the opportunity to promote our work to a younger audience and show that there’s more to us than paper maps.