March 24 sees the UK film release of Lost City of Z. It chronicles the South American adventures of British explorer, cartographer and archaeologist Lt Colonel Percy Fawcett. I joined a panel discussion in London last week, along with historian Dan Snow and Lost City of Z author David Grann, discussing how Percy would have explored and mapped a new land. Catch up on the podcast here.
A member of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS), Percy Fawcett first arrived in South American in 1906 to survey and map an area of jungle lying on the Brazil and Bolivian border. The border between the two countries was not fully mapped and it was agreed that an RGS survey and map would be accepted as an impartial representation of the border. Today we would complete this activity using satellite systems and sophisticated surveying technology, which obviously wasn’t available back then. So, how would Percy and his team have gone about making maps?
It’s not every day that we add a whale to our maps, but surveyor Shaun McGrath did recently…
I first became aware of the Colonsay Whale some time after a visit to the Isle of Colonsay in the Inner Hebrides last year, on a particularly fine day trip to carry out some survey work. It’s a long day as the ferry sets off around 9.30 am from Islay where I was working on detached duty and returns around 7.30 pm. I had plenty of time to get the survey work done and it left me a little spare time to explore the island’s fine sandy beaches before the return ferry. I visited Kiloran Bay in the north, as recommended by the occupants of a house I had surveyed earlier that day. They also said that there was an even finer beach further north, but it was only accessible by foot and would have added a couple of hours to my trip – and made me miss the ferry.
Our surveyors are usually local to the areas they survey and this was the case for Andy Caulfield when he was mapping the new Tadcaster Bridge. The bridge partially collapsed in the aftermath of the Boxing Day storms in 2015, impacting local residents and businesses for the next 14 months while repairs were carried out. Many, like Andy, will have seen an 11-mile detour added to their days and are welcoming the reopening of the bridge.
Over the last few months we’ve been sharing unusual surveying stories with you – from mapping chalk figures to lifeboat stations to the aftermath of a flood. All of these tasks form a part of the 10,000 changes a day taking place in our geospatial database of Great Britain. The variety of jobs faced by our 250+ surveyors is unending. Take a look at these three examples:
Escape to the countryside
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. And we’ve already blogged about the Tower of London being a former home to OS. Today we take a look at the staggering amount of change taking place in London, that our surveying team need to capture on foot and from the air.
Our surveyors and aircraft are constantly tracking the changing look of Britain and ensuring the 450 million geographic features in our database of the country are kept up to date. What do all the changes to London, its roads, its rail, its buildings look like over the last 10 years? Take a look in our video and find out:
Our surveying team were given a helping hand to capture the latest changes at Southampton General Hospital on Friday. Alan Whitehead, MP for Southampton Test, joined our surveyor Tony Vanderhoek to officially add the new hospital multi-storey car park to the geospatial database for Great Britain. During the visit the surveying duo also captured the modifications to the entrances at both the main hospital building and A&E.
Every day thousands of updates and amendments are made to Britain’s geospatial database, which contains over 500 million geographic features. We use a team of 250 surveyors, supported by aerial imagery, to survey and map the changing face of the nation. Using the latest GPS technology, our surveyors can map to centimetre accuracy, ensuring that Great Britain remains one of the most accurately mapped nations on the planet.
Have you been along to King’s Cross recently? Our surveyor Tony Killilea has been there regularly to capture the many changes taking place.
King’s Cross Station itself has been restored to its Victorian magnificence, and can claim to be one of London’s architectural treasures. And behind it, 27 hectares of former industrial land are being given a bright new future by the developer, Argent, who rely on our OS MasterMap Topography Layer for their base mapping. The development, straddling the revitalized Regent’s Canal, features ten new public squares, theatres, cinema, school, an arts college, supermarket, restaurants, restored gas holders, a skip garden, swimming pond, hundreds of offices and two thousand homes. So it is truly a mixed development.
A fitting surveying article for this time of year, as people head out to do the Christmas shopping…Bruce Ford and Paul Fozard mapped out the Victoria Gate arcade in Leeds. Find out how they went about adding such a large development to the database.
Over 18 months, the 50m high and 200m long Victoria Gate shopping precinct has risen from a 5-acre reclaimed site. Sandwiched between Leeds Bus Station and ‘The Headrow’, the new John Lewis department store, 800-bay multi-storey car park and sophisticated retail ‘street style’ arcade was constructed by Hammerson and cost £165 million. Field surveyors Bruce and Paul from our West Yorkshire team took up the inner-city prestige site task, armed with their GNSS equipment.
Over the last few weeks we’ve been sharing unusual surveying stories with you – from mapping chalk figures to lifeboat stations to the aftermath of a flood. All of these tasks form a part of the 10,000 changes a day taking place in our database of Great Britain. The variety of jobs faced by our 250+ surveyors is unending. We’ve compiled three of our recent favourites to share this week.
Surveying The Queen Mother
A new statue of The Queen Mother was unveiled as the centrepiece of Queen Mother Square, in Poundbury, Dorchester. The Poundbury development is built on land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall. It’s an urban extension to Dorchester, built on the principles of architecture and urban planning as advocated by The Prince of Wales in ‘A Vision of Britain’. The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall all visited on 27 October to unveil the new statue – already expertly mapped by OS surveyor Roger Lewis.
Putting a new Coastguard base on the map
Guest blog by surveyor Bill Cranna
As surveyors, we’re used to working in all aspects of the landscape, but a request from Registers of Scotland (RoS) was a little more unusual. Last winter saw enormous flooding along the River Dee, at Royal Deeside in Aberdeenshire. The floods resulted in devastation along the length of the river and in particular, the town of Ballater. The local caravan park was completely swamped and over 30 mobile homes and their contents washed away. RoS asked us to survey 5km of riverbank to check the effects of the flooding.