Today is the 83rd anniversary of the first use of an Ordnance Survey trig pillar, so the perfect time to catch up with Britain’s top trig-bagger, Rob Woodall, on his latest achievement.
I bagged my final Welsh trig pillar in 2008 – sort of. At that time, I counted 660 trig pillars still surviving in Wales, and Red Hill, S6561, east of Builth Wells was my last, on a blustery August day. We celebrated with a Balvenie single malt (somehow not a Penderyn).
But had I really finished? The OS originally built 684 pillars in Wales – what about the others? At that time, I was focused on extant pillars, trying to get around as many trigs as I could before they were lost to housing developments, road construction, farming operations and the like. I’d visited all the remaining English, Isle of Man and Scottish pillars by 2016, so it was time to think about visiting the remaining vacant trig sites. Some were simply in-situ replacements, the pillars being rebuilt on the same site, with the same flush bracket or occasionally a new one. Sites that used to have a trig pillar, aren’t inherently as interesting to the bagger as those where there’s something to look for, but the scenery is still there (if it hasn’t been built on), and in some cases, the pillars weren’t quite as dead as we thought:
While we’ve already celebrated the 25-year landmark since the last traditionally-cut benchmark was carved, we thought we’d carry on the merriment by adding them to OS Maps!
Yes, you heard right. So if you’re an avid benchmark bagger or just intrigued by geographical history, you’ll be delighted to know that, instead of downloading our benchmark archive, you can simply find them on OS Maps desktop. Not only that, but when you click on the specific benchmark, it will tell you which one it is and when it dates back to!
What is a benchmark?
While 2018 marks the 227th anniversary of Ordnance Survey, lest we forget it is also the 82nd anniversary of the first observations from our ‘hotine’ trig pillar!
If you want to find out who created our well-known trig pillars and the memorial we have for him at our head office, you’re in the right place.
Brigadier Martin Hotine CMG CBE RE was born on 17 June 1898, in Wandsworth, London. He read mathematics at Magdalene College and was then commissioned into the Royal Engineers (RE). Hotine was in the RE for many years and served in both the First and Second World Wars.
You may know about our trig pillars, but did you know that there are more nostalgic reminders of how we used to map Great Britain?
Have you ever seen one of these while you’ve been out and about? If so, it is highly likely you have spotted one of our renowned benchmarks. 2018 marks 25 years since the last traditionally-cut arrow style benchmark was carved on a milestone located outside The Fountain pub in Loughton.
The Lakes Ignite programme for 2018 features an OS-inspired work of art called Ordnance Pavilion, paying homage to the trig pillar and the work of OS surveyors in mapping Great Britain. It’s flattering to be an artist’s muse, but we wonder if it’s not the first time OS has inspired an artwork…
Created by Studio MUTT, Ordnance Pavilion is an interactive installation in the Langdale Estate in the Lake District. It forms part of Lakes Ignite 2018 which presents six contemporary artworks to celebrate the Lake District’s designation as a World Heritage site. On display between until July 2018, Ordnance Pavilion is a celebration of OS and how our maps have impacted people’s interaction with the landscape.
The Timepix historic photo site launches today and makes a unique set of photos from OS’ history available online for the first time. Over 21,000 photos catalogue the Manchester streets between the 1940s and 1960s, giving a unique insight into the city’s past captured by OS surveyors. From children and animals photobombing the surveyors, to a background of vintage adverts, Timepix showcases a fascinating collection of photos around Greater Manchester.
Why were OS surveyors photographing Manchester?
OS surveyors took revision point (RP) photos across Britain to provide a network of surveyed locations. These known spots could then be used to ‘control’ the position of detail on a large scale map. RPs were often on corners of buildings and other immovable features, and were fixed to centimetre accuracy. Finding the RPs for future map updates was an issue, and photography quickly became the best visual reference – leading to thousands of photos of men with white arrows…
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:
We’re heading to London on Friday to take part in a celebration of all things map, geo and cartographic at the British Library’s evening bash. But did you know that London used to be home to Ordnance Survey? Although we’ve spent the last 176 years with our head office based in Southampton, our early days were actually at the Tower of London.