How long have you worked as a surveyor at OS?
I have worked for OS for 15 years. The time has flown by and it would be fair to say I’ve surveyed most of the new topographic features in places like St Albans and Watford. My area of responsibility stretches across west Hertfordshire into Buckinghamshire. This includes The Chilterns, which is always a pleasure to work within.
By surveying the countryside and the built environment, I get to survey and visit interesting places. Updating the large-scale OS map of Great Britain has taken me to places such as Vicarage Road, the home of Watford FC, Arsenal FC’s training ground and the Warner Bros Studio Tour.
When you are out surveying, what is the most common thing you get asked by the public?
From the Isle of Arran to Cornwall, our field surveyors are working hard throughout Great Britain come rain or shine. As we did back in August, we want to share a glimpse into how our 200+ surveyors feed in to the 20,000 changes we make to our database every single day. Alongside our surveyors, we have two aircraft and an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) team working to keep our database up to date.
We asked a handful of surveyors about their latest jobs, and they didn’t disappoint. We have everything from Strawberry Field in Liverpool to a new state-of-the-art events venue in Aberdeen.
Tim Glasswell surveyed Europe’s first eco-friendly mosque in Cambridge. With a near-zero carbon footprint, this purpose-built mosque is the epitome of sustainability.
Liverpool-based field surveyor Christopher Robinson found himself on the site of Strawberry Field. Previously the site of a Salvation Army children’s home and made famous by The Beatles hit Strawberry Fields Forever, in September of this year it opened to the public for the first time. Dodging some tourists, Christopher surveyed the new café, meditation rooms and community space – he even found a benchmark!
From indoor arenas…
Continuing our series to introduce you to the people within OS and share the range of work we do, meet Mark Cuthbert. As a Senior Production Manager, here he gives us a glimpse into his ever-changing role…
How long have you worked for OS?
32 years. I started as a Survey Technician when I was 17 and spent the next 12 years surveying. My surveying career progressed to Mapping and Charting Officer, Surveyor, and then Senior Surveyor.
As you can imagine, no two days are the same for an OS surveyor. From checking the extent of a dismantled railway to updating building functions for OS maps, the role of surveying Great Britain comes in all shapes and sizes.
We have a geospatial database with half a billion features across GB. We make 20,000 changes a day and have over 200 surveyors, 2 aircrafts and an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) team working to keep it up to date. Our surveyors use OS Net and Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) technology everyday to instantly position new map detail to within a few centimetres (find out more).
For this year’s intake, we had over 450 people express an interest in joining us as a surveyor. With a real cross section of people keen to join us from all over GB, the standard was very high. The first cohort of successful candidates joined us back in July, and we will have a further 8 joining us in October.
To give you an idea of the variety of changes that our surveyors cover, some of our team have shared their latest surveying tales…
Continuing our series to introduce you to the hard-working individuals within OS and showcase the wide variety of work we do, meet Dave Tucker. Dave has been with us for a long time but has always worked out in the field. Here, he gives us an insight on his role in mapping Great Britain…
How long have you worked for OS?
43 years – I started at OS in April 1975 at 19 years old! I started as a basic grade 4 surveyor after a gruelling survey course lasting 9 months. I’ve since been sponsored for qualifications including an MSc in Surveying. Currently, I am the South Region Manager in Field Operations and have been in this role for 15 years. I have also been an RICS Chartered Surveyor (MRICS) since 2006.
Can you describe your working day?
In three words, each day for me is busy, varied and rewarding. I have daily responsibilities such as liaising with my fellow field managers, regional management team and the team of 40 surveyors working remotely across London and the South East (using Skype as appropriate).
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