A history of paper maps
We’ve recently launched our OS Photofit competition, giving you the chance to see your photos on the latest covers of our paper map ranges.
Our most iconic maps, the pink OS Landrangers and the orange OS Explorers, have been used by walkers, cyclists, climbers and many more for decades – but maybe not for as long as you would think.
While OS was founded back in 1791, and we published our first map in 1801, maps for the general public didn’t seriously take off until after the Second World War. Although interestingly, some of our best-remembered map covers predate this period, with their beautifully illustrated covers by Ellis Martin. After the war experimental maps at the familiar OS Explorer Map 1:25 000 scale (2½ inches on the map being equivalent to 1 mile on the ground or 4 cm to 1 km) were produced with the idea that students could use them to learn about geography and that if this was popular, it could be extended and made more widely available for outdoor enthusiasts too.
By 2003, every Pathfinder and Outdoor Leisure Map had been converted into 403 OS Explorer Maps and in 2004, areas of open access were shown on OS Explorer Maps.