Walk of the week: Go! Rhinos Southampton city trail

Length of route:
Approx 2.5-3 miles.
Starting point:
SU418016, Town Quay car park is closest, this is a pay car park.
Suitable for:

OS OpenSpace interactive map of the Go! Rhinos trail

Go! Rhinos trail map

Download our OS MapFinder app and record the route

Use OS getamap to plot the route yourself

For a great walk for all the family this summer, with the added bonus of spotting 32 rhinos, why not try this stroll around Southampton city centre? It’s no more than 3 miles depending on the route you follow and there are numerous places to stop and explore along the way, so it could last anywhere from 40 minutes to several hours.

The Go! Rhino trail is in Southampton between 13 July and 22 September 2013 and we’ve sponsored one of the rhinos. If you spot our Rhinoseros while you’re on the trail, tweet us a photo and we’ll enter you into a draw for a pair of Marwell Wildlife tickets.

If you follow the rhinos in their order on the map, you’ll be starting from Town Quay, a lovely spot to watch the ferries and cruise liners coming in and out of Southampton Water. The route then takes you into the old town of Southampton where you can walk along the historic walls and visit the Wool House and Tudor House museums too.

When you make it to rhino number 8, you’ll be outside the lovely ruins of Holy Rood Church. One of the original five churches serving the old walled town of Southampton the church was destroyed by bombing during the blitz in November 1940. As you head along the High Street to numbers 9 and 10, you’ll come to the Bargate, still standing amongst the modern town centre buildings.

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Take the rhino trail in Southampton this summer – and win Marwell Wildlife tickets

Our RhinOSeros – now on display in Southampton

In celebration of its 40th anniversary this year, Hampshire’s Marwell Wildlife has brought a world-class mass public art event to Southampton.

A herd of sponsored rhino sculptures have been placed at various locations across the city centre to form a rhino trail. The Go! Rhinos trail launched on Saturday in the city and is available over a 10-week period this summer.

The rhinos were decorated by local professional artists, providing a unique design on each piece – we’re extremely proud of our RhinOSeros by Artsim, now standing at the corner of Havelock and City Centre Roads. As a sponsor, we also have a small rhino, also decorated by Artsim, which has pride of place at our head office.

As well as providing the opportunity to showcase local artistic talent, the event encourages outdoors exploration, whilst raising significant funds for local charities; Marwell Wildlife, The Rose Road Association and Wessex Heartbeat’s High 5 Appeal.We’ve been involved in a variety of ways. As well as sponsoring one of the rhinos we produced the official Southampton trail map and we’ve plotted the locations of the rhinos online using OS OpenSpace data.

OS OpenSpace map showing the Go! Rhinos locations

Take a look at the rhinos on our map and if you’re in the city, why not visit the rhinos? If you tweet us a picture of you with our rhino by Friday 2 August to @OrdnanceSurvey, we’ll enter you into a prize draw for a pair of Marwell Wildlife tickets, which must be used before 15 October 2013.

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Go! Rhinos

In celebration of its 40th anniversary this year, Hampshire’s Marwell Wildlife is bringing a world-class mass public art event to Southampton.

The Go! Rhinos event, will take place in the city over a 10-week period this summer. Southampton will be the home to a herd of sponsored rhino sculptures, which will be placed at various locations across the city centre to form a rhino trail.

Various organisations will be sponsoring the rhino sculptures, and the rhinos will be decorated by local professional artists, providing a unique design on each piece – part of the fun will be following the trail and choosing your favourite rhino!

Reggie the rhino and some friends

As well as providing the opportunity to showcase local artistic talent, the event encourages outdoors exploration, whilst raising significant funds for local charities; Marwell Wildlife, The Rose Road Association and Wessex Heartbeat’s High 5 Appeal.

Ordnance Survey will be involved in a variety of ways. We are sponsoring one of the rhinos, which will be forming part of the rhino trail, and will be producing the official Southampton trail map. We’ll also be plotting the route of the rhinos online using OS OpenSpace data.

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The Solent Way to Hamble

A guest post by Ordnance Survey’s Richard Cully

I tend to go with the widely held thought that everywhere ‘else’ is interesting to visit.

Across the globe, residents of majestic mountain sides and daily viewers of palm fringed beaches all spend hours planning and then travelling somewhere ‘different’ for leisure and pleasure.

The landscape within walking distance of my home in Southampton is not normally renowned for its majesty and elegance, but on a chilly day with a slightly too-bright sun in my late morning eyes I set off from Woolston and walked the Solent Way to Hamble. Using the OS Explorer Map – OL22  which is more normally used for its New Forest coverage, I set off.

Once the home of the Vosper Thornycroft  shipyard, a large waterside swathe of Woolston is now named Centenary Quay and is being refurbished with smart housing, retail and community improvements which when finished is promised to lift the area and show a shiny new face to the long established Ocean Village across the River Itchen.

Five minutes walk from home and the waterfront is heralded by the familiar mast clanging chimes of the sailing club and my equally familiar question to myself – how do the people in the nearby houses put up with the racket?  The path here is wide and welcoming and follows the original plan of the road to Netley which had been re-routed many decades before to allow the building of a now vanished naval supply depot. Cyclists, dog walkers and kite flyers love the breezy open space and helpful sign boards inform about the wild birds viewable on Southampton Water.  The beach of shingle widens significantly into bird-attracting mud at low tide and further along the walk at the end of Weston Shore I watched fascinated as gulls stood silently eyeing an entire murder of crows in a slightly unsettling tableaux at the shingled fringes of ancient Westwood.

Weston Shore, always popular for viewing ships is backed with a long promenade, some lovingly refurbished (and lovingly re-vandalised) Art Deco shelters and several residential towers which rise through trees to gain what must be fantastic and distant views of the New Forest. Having re-joined the main road, it seems the shore is an always popular place to park and watch the water.  Even on the coldest day there is an appetite for ice cream at the seaside and the man in the van had a queue at what seemed like minus 2….

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Mapping experts set to arrive in Southampton

Senior representatives and leaders from mapping organisations from across the world are about to descend on Southampton next week.

They’re here for the The Cambridge Conference – so named because of its historic ties to the city – which this year is taking place at our new head office in Southampton. It is a unique occasion, giving top international experts the chance to discuss developments in mapping, changes in technology and issues of global importance.

Professor Nigel Shadbolt will be chairing a session on open data

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Opening the new nursery at Adanac Park

We have had a nursery at Ordnance Survey for many years, providing care for the children of our staff. It’s a fantastic resource which makes coming back to work much easier for many parents and it’s always been on site which means the children aren’t too far away.

When we started making plans for our new building, the nursery provision was also included and last night our Director of HR, Jan Hutchinson, formally opened the new facility.

Fun at the nursery

Fun at the nursery

Catering for 45 children aged from 3 months to school age, the new nursery is outstanding, with an open plan feel and outside play area with its own treehouse. The nursery staff have made it an inviting, friendly and happy environment in which the children are flourishing.

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Mapping the Southampton Blitz 70 years on

Damage to Ordnance Survey's London Road building

Damage to Ordnance Survey’s London Road building

This year is the 70th anniversary of the Blitz, and whilst for some people the word might be almost synonymous with the bombing of London, many other towns and cities across the country also suffered terribly from Luftwaffe attacks.

One of those was Southampton. As an important dockyard on the south coast of England, home of the Supermarine factory and birthplace of the Spitfire, it was a prime target.

During the nights of 30 November and 1 December 1940, the Southampton Blitz reached its climax as the city came under sustained attack. Hundreds of tonnes of bombs were dropped during the two nights, whilst on 30 November alone some 634 individual properties were left ablaze – including our then head office on London Road.

A report by the Ministry of Food describes how the resulting destruction “equalled anything so far in aerial attack on this country” but even so, it is very hard to now comprehend the scale of the damage, let alone the impact it had on the people who lived through it.

So with the help of The National Archives and Southampton City Council, we’ve built a map using OS OpenSpace that pinpoints where 712 of the bombs fell based on records from the time. We hope that by seeing the bomb sites overlaid on modern mapping, it will help people better relate to the scale of the damage and the courage and suffering of those who lived through it.

You can clearly see the heavy concentration of direct hits around the docks and industrial areas in Woolston and Itchen, as well as the city centre itself.

We’ve also included images of some of the original documents from 1940 that recount the raids and damage that was done. Within them you can read about how our offices were destroyed; the fear for patients in South Hants Hospital; the affect the raids had on food supplies; and a report by a man working for Southern Railway who travelled from Salisbury to Southampton during the raid.

To read them, simply click on the green markers shown on the map, whilst the red markers indicate each bomb impact site. We hope you find it interesting – I certainly found the research fascinating.

In terms of the damage to the Ordnance Survey offices, thankfully no one was killed, but many valuable documents were destroyed including height survey records; drawings for the New Popular One Inch map series and almost all Object Name Books, which recorded the place and feature names published on the maps of England and Wales.

Perhaps the most precious object lost was the 3 foot Theodolite of 1787 made by Jesse Ramsden and used in the scientific triangulation survey from the Greenwich Observatory to the Kent Coast in 1787-88 by Major General William Roy – the precursor to the founding of Ordnance Survey in 1791.

Tonight, Ordnance Survey staff will be at the commemorative service at St Mary’s Church, Southampton, a place which was gutted by fire during the Blitz, to remember the events of 1940 and those who gave their lives for our freedom.

UPDATE: Quite a few people have asked me to make a version of the map available for download, so here it is. It should be high enough resolution to be enlarged to around A2 size.


Celebrating a little corner of the great outdoors

Yesterday I had the pleasure of stretching my legs away from the office for a short time to celebrate a local community success story.

Every member of staff at Ordnance Survey has the option to take a day a year to volunteer for a worthy cause and back in 2005 a group chose to help clear a disused footpath near our Southampton offices.

Clearing the Greenway, December 2005

Clearing the Greenway, December 2005

This was part of the Lordsdale Greenway project, part of a wider scheme to create attractive green spaces for local people near where they live.

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Visiting the Director General’s House

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’.

Vanessa at the Director General's House

Vanessa at 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.

There were several tenants until in 1865 the house was acquired from the Toomer family for the purpose of accommodating the Director General of Ordnance Survey.

Major Henry James (who later became Lt General, Sir Henry James), Director General 1854-75, was the first occupier, and the house was used by all his successors until Sir Duncan A Johnston, Director General from 1899 to 1905. It was during Sir Duncan’s tenure that the decision was taken to stop using the house as the official residence.


By 1900, faced with the need for extra space for an increasing amount of colour printing, and not wishing to find temporary accommodation, the decision was taken to convert the house into offices, which is as it stayed until we moved to our current home on Romsey Road in 1969.

The building remained empty until the mid 1980s and been home to a range of different businesses ever since.

Simon Rhodes, Managing Partner at Trethowans Solicitors which now occupy the building, shows Vanessa a painting of the building.

Simon Rhodes, Managing Partner at Trethowans Solicitors which now occupies the building, shows Vanessa a painting of the building.

With our new head office due to be complete in just a few months it could be easy to lose touch with the past, which is why we’re keen to ensure our long heritage is remembered.