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.
Anyone who reads our blog will know that we’re big fans of the trig pillar, and we love hearing from our followers on Twitter and Facebook when they share their trig pillar photos with us. We thought we knew a fair amount about the humble trig, but we bow to the amazing knowledge of Britain’s top trig-bagger, Rob Woodall. We came across Rob after he made it into the book, Dull Men of Great Britain, celebrating the fascinating people, mundane hobbies and particular passions that inspire the Dull Men’s Club. Today he shares with us his love of the trig and when he’s going to complete his 14-year quest to bag all of Britain’s trig pillars.
Next spring I’m due to bag my last British trig pillar. The OS built some 6,500 of these, excluding on-site replacements, and some 300 have since been lost to housing development, farming, coastal erosion and other causes.
Talking about the 79th anniversary of the trig pillar this month has sparked a flood of reactions. Lots of our lovely followers on social media sent us pictures of them (or their dogs) with our trig pillars around Britain. Others expressed delight that they now know what those odd concrete pillars were for. Some wanted to adopt a trig pillar if we no longer used them (sorry, not something we offer). Still more people were amazed that we no longer use the vast majority of trig pillars and asked us what we use instead. The answer to that is OS Net.
It was fitting that we had a Twitter question about trig pillars yesterday, as this month will mark 79 years since the humble trig pillar was first used for the start of the retriangulation of Great Britain. On 18 April 1936, a group of men gathered around a strange, pale obelisk in the middle of an unremarkable field in Cold Ashby, Northamptonshire. The shining white monolith would now be instantly recognised by any walker, hiker or geography pupil – and is often a welcome sign that you’ve reached the peak of your hike when you spot the trig pillar.