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Details about  B) Luton sheet 95 WW 2 war revision old ordnance survey map (SUNDAY)

B) Luton sheet 95 WW 2 war revision old ordnance survey map (SUNDAY) See original listing
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2nd hand

04 May, 2014 21:44:40 BST
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Cheltenham, United Kingdom


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evird salohcin ts 71
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Condition: Used : Split the cost with friends
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Documents & Maps





Country/ Organization:

Great Britain


World War II (1939-1945)

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B) WW 2 war revision ordnance survey map

This listing is for the old ordnance survey map as described in the title and shown in the photos above please study photos carefully if there are and marks wear or damage they will be shown in the photos above


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Borough of Luton
Town, Borough & Unitary authority
Luton Town Hall

Coat of arms of Luton Borough Council
Luton shown within Bedfordshire
Coordinates: 51°54′0″N 0°26′0″W
Country United Kingdom
Constituent area England
Region East of England
Ceremonial county Bedfordshire
Borough Luton
 • Type Borough
 • Governing body Luton Borough Council
 • Executive: Labour
 • Mayor Sydney Knight
 • MPs Kelvin Hopkins (L)
Gavin Shuker (L)
 • Total 16.74 sq mi (43.35 km2)
Population [2]
 • Total 203,600
 • Density 12,160/sq mi (4,696/km2)
 • ethnicity 68.0% White
18.9% S.Asian
7.3% Black
3.1% Mixed Race
2.5% E.Asian and Other
Time zone GMT
 • Summer (DST) British Summer Time (UTC)
Postcode Area LU
Area code(s) (01582)
ONS code 00KA
Demonym Lutonians

Luton (Listeni/'lu?t?n/ LOOT-?n, local /'lu???n/) is a large town, borough and unitary authority of Bedfordshire, England, 30 miles (50 km) north of London. Luton and its near neighbours, Dunstable and Houghton Regis, form the Luton/Dunstable Urban Area with a population of about 255,000.[3][4]

Luton is home to Conference Premier team Luton Town Football Club, whose history includes several spells in the top flight of the English league as well as a Football League Cup triumph in 1988. They play at Kenilworth Road stadium, which has been their home since 1905.

London Luton Airport, opened in 1938, is one of England's major airports. During the Second World War it doubled as an RAF base.

The University of Bedfordshire is based in the town.

The Luton Carnival, held on the late May bank holiday, is the largest one-day carnival in Europe.[5]

The town was for many years famous for hat-making, and was also home to a large Vauxhall Motors factory; the head office of Vauxhall Motors is still situated in the town. Car production at the plant began in 1905 and continued until 2002, but commercial vehicle production remains.


Early history

The earliest settlements in the Luton area were at Round Green and Mixes Hill, where Paleolithic encampments (about 250,000 years old) have been found.[6] Settlements re-appeared after the ice had retreated in the Mesolithic period around 8000 BC. Traces of these settlements have been found in the Leagrave area of the modern town. Remains from the Neolithic period (4500–2500 BC in this area) are much more common. A particular concentration of Neolithic burials has been found at Galley Hill.[7] The most prominent Neolithic structure is Waulud's Bank – a henge dating from around 3000 BC. From the Neolithic onwards, the area seems to have been populated, but without any single large settlement.

The first urban settlement nearby was the small Roman town of Durocobrivis at Dunstable, but Roman remains in Luton itself consist only of scattered farmsteads.[8]

The foundation of Luton is usually dated to the 6th century when a Saxon outpost was founded on the River Lea, Lea tun.[9] Luton is recorded in the Domesday Book as Loitone and also as Lintone.[10] Agriculture dominated the local economy at that time, and the town's population was around 700–800.

St Mary's Church, Luton town centre
The Wenlock chapel within St Marys

In 1121 Robert, 1st Earl of Gloucester started work on St Mary's Church in the centre of the town. The work was completed by 1137.[11] A motte-and-bailey castle which gives its name to the modern Castle Street was built in 1139. The castle was demolished in 1154[12] and the site is now home to a Matalan store. During the Middle Ages Luton is recorded as being home to six watermills. Mill Street, in the town centre, takes its name from one of them.

King John (1166–1216) had hired a mercenary soldier, Falkes de Breauté, to act on his behalf. (Breauté is a small town near Le Havre in France.) When he married, Falkes de Breauté acquired his wife's house which came to be known as "Fawkes Hall", subsequently corrupted over the years to "Foxhall", then "Vauxhall". In return for his services, King John granted Falkes the manor of Luton, where he built a castle alongside St Mary's Church. He was also granted the right to bear his own coat of arms and chose the mythical griffin as his heraldic emblem. The griffin thus became associated with both Vauxhall and Luton in the early 13th century.[13]

By 1240 the town is recorded as Leueton. The town had a market for surrounding villages in August each year, and with the growth of the town a second fair was granted each October from 1338.

In 1336, much of Luton was destroyed by a great fire; however, the town was soon rebuilt.

The agriculture base of the town changed in the 16th century with a brick making industry developing around Luton, many of the older wooden houses were rebuilt in brick.

17th century

During the English Civil War of the 17th century, in 1645, royalists entered the town and demanded money and goods. Parliamentary forces arrived and during the fighting four royalist soldiers were killed and a further twenty-two were captured. A second skirmish occurred three years later in 1648 when a royalist army passed through Luton. A number of royalists were attacked by parliamentary soldiers at an inn on the corner of the current Bridge Street. Most of the royalists escaped but nine were killed.

18th century

The hat making industry began in the 17th century and became synonymous with the town.[14] By the 18th century the industry dominated the town. Hats are still produced in the town but on a much smaller scale.

The first Luton Workhouse was constructed in the town in 1722.

Luton Hoo, a nearby large country house was built in 1767 and substantially rebuilt after a fire in 1843. It is now a luxury hotel.[15]

19th century

A map of Luton from 1888

The town grew strongly in the 19th century. In 1801 the population was 3,095.[16] By 1850 it was over 10,000 and by 1901 it was almost 39,000. Such rapid growth demanded a railway connection but the town had to wait a long time for one. The London and Birmingham Railway (L&BR) had been built through Tring in 1838, and the Great Northern Railway was built through Hitchin in 1852, both bypassing Luton, the largest town in the area. A branch line connecting with the L&BR at Leighton Buzzard was proposed, but because of objections to release of land, construction terminated at Dunstable in 1848. It was another ten years before the branch was extended to Bute Street Station, and the first train to Dunstable ran on 3 May 1858.[17] The line was later extended to Welwyn and from 1860 direct trains to King's Cross ran. The Midland Railway was extended from Bedford to St Pancras through Leagrave and Midland Road station and opened on 9 September 1867.[18]

Luton received a gas supply in 1834. Gas street lights were erected and the first town hall was opened in 1847.

Newspaper printing arrived in the town in 1854. The first public cemetery was opened in the same year. Following a cholera epidemic in 1848 Luton formed a water company and had a complete water and sewerage system by the late 1860s. The first covered market was built (the Plait Halls – now demolished) in 1869. Luton was made a borough in 1876.[19] A professional football club – the first in the South of England – was founded in 1885 following a resolution at the town hall that a 'Luton Town Club be formed'.[20]

The crest also includes a hand holding a bunch of wheat, either taken as a symbol of the straw-plaiting industry, or from the arms of John Whethamsteade, Abbott of St Albans, who rebuilt the chancel of St Mary's Church in the 15th century.

20th century

In the 20th century, the hat trade severely declined and was replaced by other industries. In 1905, Vauxhall Motors opened the largest car plant in the United Kingdom in Luton. In 1914 Hewlett & Blondeau aviation entrepreneurs built a factory in Leagrave which began aircraft production built under licence for the war effort; the site was purchased in 1920 by new proprietors Electrolux domestic appliances, and this was followed by other light engineering businesses.

In 1900, the Bailey Water Tower was built on the edge of what was to become Luton Hoo memorial park. It is now a private residence.

In 1904 councillors Asher Hucklesby and Edwin Oakley purchased the estate at Wardown Park and donated it to the people of Luton. Hucklesby went on to become Mayor of Luton. The main house in the park became Wardown Park Museum.

The town had a tram system from 1908 until 1932, and the first cinema was opened in 1909. By 1914 the population had reached 50,000.

The original town hall was destroyed in 1919 during Peace Day celebrations at the end of World War I. Local people, including many ex-servicemen, were unhappy with unemployment and had been refused the use of a local park to hold celebratory events. They stormed the town hall, setting it alight (see Luton Town Hall). A replacement building was completed in 1936. Luton Airport opened in 1938, owned and operated by the council.

The first town hall was destroyed in 1919

In World War II, the Vauxhall Factory built Churchill tanks[21] as part of the war effort. Despite heavy camouflage, the factory made Luton a target for the Luftwaffe and the town suffered a number of air raids. 107 died[22] and there was extensive damage to the town (over 1,500 homes were damaged or destroyed). Other industry in the town, such as SKF, which produced ball bearings, made a vital contribution to the war effort. Although a bomb landed at the SKF Factory,[23] no major damage was caused.

The pre-war years, even at the turn of the 1930s when a Great Depression saw unemployment reach record levels nationally, were something of an economic boom for Luton, as new industries grew and prospered. New private and council housing was built in the 1920s and 1930s, with Luton growing as a town to incorporate nearby villages Leagrave, Limbury and Stopsley between 1928 and 1933.[24]

Post-war, the slum clearance continued, and a number of substantial estates of council housing were built, notably at Farley Hill, Stopsley, Limbury, Marsh Farm and Leagrave (Hockwell Ring). The M1 motorway passed just to the west of the town, opening in 1959 and giving it a direct motorway link with London and – eventually – the Midlands and the North. In 1962 a new library (to replace the cramped Carnegie Library) was opened by the Queen in the corner of St George's Square.

In the late 1960s a large part of the town centre was cleared to build a large covered shopping centre, the Arndale Centre, which was opened in 1972.[25] It was refurbished and given a glass roof in the 1990s.

The town centre still has some of the old hat factories

In 2000, Vauxhall announced the end of car production in Luton; the plant closed in March 2002.[26] At its peak it had employed in excess of 30,000 people. Vauxhall's headquarters remain in the town, as does its van and light commercial vehicle factory.

1940-1941: A military rush-job

After the Dunkirk Evacuation at the end of May 1940, the threat of invasion was now very real. The Second World War had come to the Home Front. The military turned to their maps of Great Britain - produced by the Ordnance Survey - to find them woefully outdated and inadequate. Ordnance Survey immediately dropped work on the 1-inch New Popular Edition and began an intensive programme of updating the military’s sheets.

Before 1940, the military’s maps of England & Wales had the unmemorable series title ‘GSGS 3907’, and of Scotland ‘GSGS 3908’. These were based on the sheet lines and mapping of the 1-inch Popular Edition and 1-inch Popular Edition of Scotland, although the military and civilian series developed separately.

The ‘War Revision 1940’ used the latest civilian 1-inch sheets available in the correct size, with the addition of a military grid overprint and - if there was time - a few important revisions. Once produced, these sheets took on the ‘GSGS 3907’ or ‘GSGS 3908’ title. Eleven sheets in the south-west of England used the 1-inch Fifth Edition sheet lines and mapping, although elsewhere 1-inch Popular Edition or 1-inch Popular Edition of Scotland sheet lines and mapping were used. The first 1-inch War Revision sheets were issued in the Summer of 1940.

Ordnance Survey’s priority was England & Wales, because the threat of invasion was felt to be greater in the southern part of Great Britain. The first Scottish War Revision sheets were not issued until June 1941.

Figure 1
Figure 1
Detail from 1-inch War Revision
(GSGS 3907) Sheet 104, print 20,000/41.

Naturally, the War Revision maps were issued for military use only upon their initial production. They were issued as flat cloth-backed or paper sheets only. (Figure 1)

The reference grid printed on the maps is the War Office’s Cassini Grid, also known as the ‘WOFO’ or ‘War Office False Origin’ grid. This appears at an angle to the sheet edges because of the fact that the projection origins of the sheet lines and the grid differ by some 1½° of longitude.

The Germans carried out two nights of bombing over Southampton, on 30 November and 1 December 1940, targeting the Ordnance Survey’s headquarters. This led to the destruction of several map drawings in preparation, and also some stocks of printed maps. The printing plates for the War Revision, however, survived and were used to continue printing the maps.

Having met the immediate needs (or at least having covered most of England & Wales in 1-inch War Revision), work was begun on producing a ‘Second War Revision’, upon which could be spent more time making sure all the necessary revisions were incorporated. This also allowed more sheets - although based on 1-inch Popular Edition sheet lines - to use mapping from the 1-inch Fifth Edition where this existed. The ‘Second War Revision’ sheets were issued from early 1941 onwards.

1942-1948: Publication

Figure 2
Figure 2
Detail from 1-inch Second War Revision 1940 (GSGS 3907) Sheet 104, print 20,000/1/43 LR

In late summer 1942, with publication of the 1-inch New Popular Edition having been blocked by the War Office, and with civilian map stocks dwindling, Ordnance Survey managed to persuade the WO to allow publication of the War Revision sheets for civilian consumption. These were then issued, from early 1943, with ‘Sales Copy’ stickers - apparently to prevent military personnel from selling their free-issue maps to the general public! (Figure 2)

A lot of printing work from around 1942 onwards was farmed out to other companies, to allow faster printing of sheets for both civilian and military issue.

The 1-inch War Revisions remained in print until their replacement sheets - in either the 1-inch New Popular Edition, the 1-inch Popular Edition of Scotland (Post-war) or the military’s new 1-inch series (‘GSGS 4620’) - were published.


Ordnance Survey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Ordnance survey)
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Ordnance Survey
Welsh: Arolwg Ordnans
Non-ministerial government department overview
Formed 1791
Jurisdiction Great Britain and, to an extent, the Isle of Man
Headquarters Explorer House, Adanac Drive Southampton, SO16 0AS
50.9378°N 1.4713°WCoordinates: 50.9378°N 1.4713°W
Employees 1,244
Non-ministerial government department executive Vanessa V Lawrence CB, Director General and chief executive officer
Grid square TF, shown at a scale of 1:250,000. The map shows The Wash and the North Sea, as well as places within the counties of Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.
Part of an Ordnance Survey map at 1 inch to the mile scale from a New Popular Edition map published in 1946

Ordnance Survey, an executive agency and non-ministerial government department of the Government of the United Kingdom,[1] is the national mapping agency for Great Britain,[2] producing maps of Great Britain (and to an extent, the Isle of Man). It does not produce maps of Northern Ireland. It is one of the world's largest producers of maps.

The name reflects its creation together with the original military purpose of the organisation (see ordnance and surveying) in the first instance in mapping Scotland in the immediate aftermath of the last Jacobite Rebellion, which included the last pitched battle on British soil at the Battle of Culloden. Moreover there was not only a recent history of conflict in the region, but the tendency for wars to break out in Britain had a precedent stretching back centuries. The government's fears, and with it the justification for the importance of military mapping among other things, were vindicated later during the Napoleonic Wars when there was a threat of invasion from France, and its logo includes the War Department's broad arrow heraldic mark. Ordnance Survey mapping is usually classified as 'large scale' (i.e. showing more detail) or 'small scale'. Large-scale mapping comprises maps at six inches to the mile or more (1:10,560, superseded by 1:10,000 in the 1950s); it was available in sheet-map form until the 1980s, since when it has become digital. Small-scale mapping comprises maps at fewer than six inches to the mile and includes the "leisure maps", such as the popular one inch to the mile and its metric successors, still available in traditional sheet-map form. Ordnance Survey of Great Britain maps are in copyright for 50 years after publication date. Some of the Copyright Libraries hold complete or near-complete collections of pre-digital O.S. mapping.


The roots of Ordnance Survey go back to 1747, when Lieutenant-Colonel David Watson proposed the compilation of a map of the Scottish Highlands to facilitate the subjugation of the clans following the Jacobite rising of 1745.[3] In response, King George II commissioned a military survey of the Highlands, and Watson was placed in charge under the command of the Duke of Cumberland. Among his assistants were William Roy, Paul Sandby, and John Manson. The survey was produced at a scale of 1 inch to 1000 yards (1:36,000).[4] The labours of Watson and Roy, in particular, resulted in The Duke of Cumberland's Map, now in the British Library. Roy would go on to have an illustrious career in the Royal Engineers, and he was largely responsible for the British share of the work in determining the relative positions of the French and British royal observatories. This work was the starting point of the Principal Triangulation of Great Britain (1783–1853), and led to the creation of the Ordnance Survey itself. Roy's technical skills and leadership set the high standard for which Ordnance Survey became known. Work was begun in earnest in 1790 under Roy's supervision, when the Board of Ordnance (a predecessor of part of the modern Ministry of Defence) began a national military survey starting with the south coast of England.

By 1791, the Board received the newer Ramsden theodolite (an improved successor to the one that Roy had used in 1784), and work began on mapping southern Great Britain using 5-mile baseline on Hounslow Heath that Roy himself had previously measured and that crosses the present Heathrow Airport. A set of postage stamps, featuring maps of the Kentish village of Hamstreet, was issued in 1991 to mark the bicentenary.

In 1801, the first one-inch-to-the-mile (1:63,360 scale) map was published, detailing the county of Kent, with Essex following shortly after. The Kent map was published privately and stopped at the county border while the Essex maps were published by Ordnance Survey and ignore the county border, setting the trend for future Ordnance Survey maps.[5]

The original draftsman's drawings for the area around St. Columb Major, Cornwall, made in 1810.

During the next twenty years, roughly a third of England and Wales was mapped at the same scale (see Principal Triangulation of Great Britain) under the direction of William Mudge, as other military matters took precedence. It took until 1823 to re-establish a relationship with the French survey made by Roy in 1787. By 1810, one inch to the mile maps of most of the south of England were completed, but were withdrawn from sale between 1811 and 1816 because of security fears.[6] It was gruelling work: Major Thomas Colby, later the longest serving Director General of Ordnance Survey, walked 586 miles (943 km) in 22 days on a reconnaissance in 1819. In 1824, Colby and most of his staff moved to Ireland to work on a six-inches-to-the-mile (1:10,560) valuation survey. The survey of Ireland, county by county, was completed in 1846.[4] The suspicions and tensions it caused in rural Ireland are the subject of Brian Friel's play Translations.

Colby was not only involved in the design of specialist measuring equipment. He also established a systematic collection of place names, and reorganised the map-making process to produce clear, accurate plans. Place names were recorded in "Name Books"[7][8], a system first used in Ireland. The instructions for their use were: "The persons employed on the survey are to endeavour to obtain the correct orthography of the names of places by diligently consulting the best authorities within their reach. The name of each place is to be inserted as it is commonly spelt, in the first column of the name book and the various modes of spelling it used in books, writings &c. are to be inserted in the second column, with the authority placed I the third column opposite to each." Whilst these procedures generally produced excellent results, mistakes were made: for instance, the Pilgrims Way in the North Downs labeled the wrong route, but the name stuck. Similarly, the spelling of Scafell and Scafell Pike copied an error on an earlier map, and was retained as this was the name of a corner of one of the Principal Triangles.

Colby believed in leading from the front, travelling with his men, helping to build camps and, as each survey session drew to a close, arranging mountain-top parties with enormous plum puddings.[9]

The British Geological Survey was founded in 1835 as the Ordnance Geological Survey, under Henry De la Beche and remained a branch of the Ordnance Survey until 1965. At the same time the uneven quality of the English and Scottish maps was being improved by engravers under Benjamin Baker. By the time Colby retired in 1846, the production of six-inch maps of Ireland was complete. This had led to a demand for similar treatment in England and work was proceeding on extending the six-inch map to northern England, but only a three-inch scale for most of Scotland.

When Colby retired he recommended William Yolland as his successor, but he was considered too young and a less experienced Lewis Hall was appointed instead. When after a fire in the Tower of London, the headquarters of the survey was moved to Southampton, Yolland was put in charge, but Hall sent him off to Ireland so that he was again passed over when Hall left in 1854 in favour of Major Henry James. Hall was enthusiastic about extending the survey of the north of England to a scale of 1:2,500. In 1855, the Board of Ordnance was abolished and the Ordnance Survey was placed under the War Office together with the Topographical Survey and the Depot of Military Knowledge. Eventually in 1870 it was transferred to the Office of Works.

The primary triangulation of the United Kingdom of Roy, Mudge and Yolland was completed by 1841, but was greatly improved by Alexander Ross Clarke who completed a new survey based on Airy's spheroid in 1858, completing the Principal Triangulation.[10] The following year he completed an initial levelling of the country.

Publication of the one inch to the mile series for Great Britain was completed in 1891.

The Great Britain 'County Series'

After the first Ireland maps came out in the mid-1830s, the Tithe Commutation Act 1836 led to calls for a similar six-inch to the mile survey in England and Wales. Official procrastination followed, but the development of the railways added to pressure that resulted in the Ordnance Survey Act 1841. This granted a right to enter property for the purpose of the survey. Following a fire at its headquarters at the Tower of London in 1841[11] the Ordnance Survey relocated to a site in Southampton and was in disarray for several years, with arguments about which scales to use. Major-General Sir Henry James was by then Director General, and he saw how photography could be used to make maps of various scales cheaply and easily. He developed and exploited photozincography, not only to reduce the costs of map production but also to publish facsimiles of nationally important manuscripts. Between 1861 and 1864, a facsimile of the Domesday Book was issued, county by county, and in 1870 a facsimile of the Gough Map.

From the 1840s the Ordnance Survey concentrated on the Great Britain 'County Series', modelled on the earlier Ireland survey. A start was made on mapping the whole country, county by county, at six inches to the mile (1:10,560). From 1854, to meet requirements for greater detail, including land-parcel numbers in rural areas and accompanying information, cultivated and inhabited areas were mapped at 1:2500 (25.344 inches to the mile), at first parish by parish, with blank space beyond the parish boundary, and later continuously.[12] Early copies of the 1:2500s were available hand-coloured. Up to 1879, the 1:2500s were accompanied by Books of Reference or "area books" that gave acreages and land-use information for land-parcel numbers. After 1879, land-use information was dropped from these area books; after the mid-1880s, the books themselves were dropped and acreages were printed instead on the maps.[13] After 1854, the six-inch maps and their revisions were based on the "twenty-five inch" maps and theirs. The six-inch sheets covered an area of six by four miles on the ground; the "twenty-five inch" sheets an area of one by one and a half. One square inch on the "twenty-five inch" maps was roughly equal to an acre on the ground. In later editions the six-inch sheets were published in "quarters" (NW,NE,SW,SE), each covering an area of three by two miles on the ground. The first edition of the two scales was completed by the 1890s. A second edition (or "first revision") was begun in 1891 and completed just before the First World War. From 1907 till the early 1940s, a third edition (or "second revision") was begun but never completed: only areas with significant changes on the ground were revised, many two or three times.[13][14]

Meanwhile funding had been agreed in the 1850s for a more detailed survey of towns and cities. From 1850–53, twenty-nine towns were mapped at 1:528 (10 feet to the mile). From 1855 1:500 (10.56 feet to the mile) became the preferred scale. London and some seventy other towns (mainly in the north) were already being mapped at 1:1056 (5 feet to the mile). Just under 400 towns with a population of over 4000 were surveyed at one of these three scales, most at 1:500. Publication of the town plans was completed by 1895. The London first edition was completed and published in 326 sheets in the 1860s–70s; a second edition of 759 sheets was completed and brought out in the early 1890s; further revisions (incomplete coverage of London) followed between 1906 and 1937. Very few other towns and cities saw a second edition of the town plans.[5][13]

From 1911 onwards (mainly 1911–1913), the Ordnance Survey photo-enlarged to 1:1250 (50.688 inches to the mile) many 1:2500 sheets covering built-up areas, for Land Valuation / Inland Revenue purposes. About a quarter of these 1:1250s were marked "Partially revised 1912/13". In areas where there were no further 1:2500s, these partially revised "fifty inch" sheets represent the last large-scale revision (larger than six-inch) of the County Series. The County Series mapping was superseded by the Ordnance Survey National Grid 1:1250s, 1:2500s and 1:10,560s after the Second World War.[13]

From the late 19th century to the early 1940s, for War Office purposes, the O.S. produced many "restricted" versions of the County Series maps and other War Department sheets, in a variety of large scales, that included details of military significance, such as dockyards, naval installations, fortifications, and military camps. These areas were left blank or incomplete on standard maps – though for a brief period in the early 1930s, during the Disarmament talks, some of the blanks were filled in. The War Department 1:2500s, unlike the standard issue, were contoured. The de-classified sheets have now been deposited in some of the Copyright Libraries, helping to complete the map-picture of pre-Second World War Britain.

20th century

Front cover of New Popular Edition 1 inch to the mile from 1945
A map of Penistone (1954) from the 7th series
The former headquarters of Ordnance Survey in Maybush, Southampton, used from 1969 until 2011

During the First World War, Ordnance Survey was involved in preparing maps of France and Belgium for its own use, and many more maps were created during World War II, including:

  • 1:40000 scale map of Antwerp, Belgium
  • 1:100000 scale map of Brussels, Belgium
  • 1:5000000 scale map of South Africa
  • 1:250000 scale map of Italy
  • 1:50000 scale map of Northeast France
  • 1:30000 scale map of the Netherlands with manuscript outline of German Army occupation districts.

After the war, Colonel Charles Close, then Director General, developed a marketing strategy using covers designed by Ellis Martin to increase sales in the leisure market. In 1920 O. G. S. Crawford was appointed Archaeology Officer and played a prominent role in developing the use of aerial photography to deepen understanding of archaeology.

In 1935, the Davidson Committee was established to review Ordnance Survey's future. The new Director General, Major-General Malcolm MacLeod, started the retriangulation of Great Britain, an immense task involving erecting concrete triangulation pillars (trig points) on prominent hilltops (some being difficult to reach) throughout Great Britain. These were intended to be infallibly constant positions for the theodolites during the many angle measurements, which were each repeated no fewer than 32 times.

The Davidson Committee's final report set Ordnance Survey on course for the twentieth century. The national grid reference system was launched, with the metre as its unit of measurement. A 1:25000 scale series was introduced, experimentally at first. The one-inch maps remained for almost forty years until the 1970s before being superseded by the 1:50000 scale series, as proposed by William Roy more than two centuries earlier.

Ordnance Survey had outgrown its site in the centre of Southampton (made worse by the bomb damage of the Second World War). The bombing during the Blitz devastated Southampton in November 1940 and destroyed most of Ordnance Survey's city centre offices.[15][16] Staff were dispersed to other buildings, and to temporary accommodation at Chessington and Esher, Surrey, where they produced 1:25000 scale maps of France, Italy, Germany and most of the rest of Europe in preparation for the invasion of Europe. Ordnance Survey largely remained at its Southampton city centre HQ and temporary buildings nearby in the Southampton suburb of Maybush until 1969, when a new purpose-built headquarters was opened in Maybush adjacent to the wartime temporary buildings there. Some of the remaining buildings of the original Southampton city-centre site are now used as part of the court complex.[clarification needed]

The then-new head office building was designed by the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works (MPBW) for 4000 staff, including many new recruits that were taken on in the late 1960s and early 70s as draughtsmen and surveyors.[citation needed] The buildings originally contained factory floor space for photographic processes such as Heliozincography and printing of maps, as well as large buildings for storing flat maps. Above the industrial areas are extensive office areas. The complex is notable for its concrete mural by sculptor Keith McCarter and the concrete elliptical paraboloid[clarification needed] shell roof over the staff restaurant building.

In 1995, Ordnance Survey digitised the last of about 230,000 maps, making the United Kingdom the first country in the world to complete a programme of large-scale electronic mapping.[citation needed] In 1999 Ordnance Survey was designated a Trading Fund, required to cover its costs by charging for its products and remit a proportion of its profits to the Treasury. Officially, it is now a civilian organisation with executive agency status.[citation needed]

Side view of Ordnance Survey's new HQ

By the late 1990s, the need for vast areas for storing maps and for making printing plates by hand had been made obsolete by technological developments. Although there was a small computer section at Ordnance Survey in the 1960s, the digitising programme had replaced the need for printing large-scale maps while computer-to-plate technology in the form of a single CTP machine had also made obsolete the photographic platemaking areas. Part of the latter was converted into a new conference centre in 2000, which was used for both internal events and made available for external organisations to hire.

In summer 2010, the announcement was made[how?][citation needed] that printing and warehouse operations were to be outsourced, ending over 200 years of in-house printing. As already stated, large-scale maps had not been printed at Ordnance Survey since the common availability of geographical information systems (GIS), but until late 2010, the OS Explorer Map and OS Landranger Map leisure products were printed in Maybush.

In April 2009 construction began on a new head office located at Adanac Park on the outskirts of Southampton.[17]

As of 10 February 2011, virtually all staff had relocated to the new building 'Explorer House' and the old site was sold off and redeveloped. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh officially opened the new headquarters building on 4 October 2011.[18]

GB map range

Ordnance Survey produces a large variety of paper maps and digital mapping products.

Business mapping

Ordnance Survey produces a wide variety of different products aimed at business users, such as utility companies and local authorities. The data is supplied by Ordnance Survey on optical media or increasingly, via the Internet. Products can be downloaded via FTP or accessed 'on demand' via a web browser. Organisations using Ordnance Survey data have to purchase a licence to do so. Some of the main products are:

  • OS MasterMap – Ordnance Survey's most detailed mapping showing individual buildings and other features in a vector format. Every real-world object is assigned a unique reference number (TOID) that allows customers to add this reference to their own databases. OS MasterMap consists of several 'layers', the main one being the Topography Layer but also available are aerial imagery, transport links and postcodes.
  • OS VectorMap Local – a recently launched[when?] customisable vector product at 1:10 000 scale.
  • OS Landplan – a raster map at 1:10 000 scale
  • Meridian 2 and Strategi – mid-scale vector mapping.
  • ADDRESS-POINT and Code-Point – Datasets with address information, allowing postcode searches of maps and so on. This is a joint venture with Royal Mail.
  • Boundary-Line – Mapping showing administrative boundaries, such as counties, parishes and electoral wards.
  • 1:10 000, 1:25 000, 1:50 000 and 1:250,000 Scale Raster – raster versions of the leisure maps at those scales.
  • OS Street View – highly simplified mapping that focuses on showing streets and their names at the expense of other features.
  • Land-Form PROFILE, PROFILE Plus and Panorama – these are digital terrain models.

Leisure maps

OS's range of leisure maps are published in a variety of scales:

  • Tour (c.1:100,000 scale except Scotland) – One-sheet maps covering a generally county-sized area, showing major and most minor roads and containing tourist information and selected footpaths. Tour maps are generally produced from enlargements of 1:250,000 mapping. Several larger scale town maps are provided on each sheet for major settlement centres. The Tour maps have sky-blue covers and there are eight sheets in the series.
  • OS Landranger map (1:50,000 scale) – The "general purpose" map. They have pink covers; 204 sheets cover the whole of Great Britain and the Isle of Man. The map shows all footpaths and the format is similar to that of Explorer, albeit with less detail.
  • OS Landranger Active map (1:50,000 scale) – select OS Landranger maps are available in a plastic-laminated waterproof version, similar to the OS Explorer Active range. As of October 2009, 25 of the 204 Landranger maps were available as OS Landranger Active maps.
  • OS Explorer map and Outdoor Leisure (1:25,000 scale) – Specifically designed for walkers and cyclists. They have orange covers, and the two series together contain 403 sheets covering the whole of Great Britain (the Isle of Man is excluded from this series). These are the most detailed leisure maps that Ordnance Survey publish and cover all types of footpaths and most details of the countryside for easy navigation. The Outdoor Leisure series complement the OS Explorer Map, showing areas of greater interest in England and Wales (e.g. Lake District, Black Mountains) with an enlarged area coverage. It appears identical to the Explorer, except the numbering and a little yellow mark on the corner (relic of the old OL series). The OS Explorer maps, together with Outdoor Leisure, superseded the previous Pathfinder maps (green covers) which were numerous in their coverage of the country.
  • OS Explorer Active map (1:25,000 scale) – the OS Explorer and Outdoor Leisure maps are also available in a plastic-laminated waterproof version.

Until 2010, OS also produced the following:

  • Route (1:625,000 scale) – A double-sided map designed for long-distance road users, covering the whole of Great Britain.
  • Road (1:250,000 scale) – A series of eight sheets covering Great Britain, designed for road users.

These, along with fifteen Tour maps, were discontinued during January 2010 as part of a drive for cost-efficiency, Ordnance Survey believing these products could no longer compete with similar maps produced by other companies and satellite navigation devices.

Custom products

Ordnance Survey also offers a print-on-demand service called 'OS Custom Made'. This is printed to order from digital raster data, allowing the customer to choose exactly which area the map should cover. There is choice of two scales: 1:50,000 (area covered 40 km x 40 km) or 1:25,000 (area covered 20 km x 20 km).

Ordnance Survey also produces more detailed custom mapping at 1:10,000 (Landplan) and 1:1,250 or 1:500 (Siteplan), which is available from some of the more specialist outlets. Again, this is produced to order from Ordnance Survey large-scale digital data, and custom scales can also be produced by enlargement or reduction of existing scales.

Educational mapping

Ordnance Survey produces maps for educational use, which are faithful reproductions of old Ordnance Survey maps dating from the early 1970s to the early 1990s (estimated). These maps are widely seen in British schools and schools in former British colonies (including the Commonwealth), either as stand-alone geographic aids or sold as part of geography workbooks and/or textbooks.

From the early 2000s, Ordnance Survey offered a free OS Explorer Map to every 11-year-old in UK primary education in an attempt to increase school children's awareness of maps. By the end of 2010 when the scheme closed, over 6 million maps had been given away.[19] In place of the Free maps for 11-year-olds scheme, all schools that were eligible to receive free maps will have free access to the Digimap for Schools service provided by EDINA. This service is available to all schools, though those who are not eligible for free maps have to pay "a modest annual fee".[20]

With the trend away from paper products towards geographical information systems (GIS), Ordnance Survey has been looking into ways of ensuring schoolchildren are made aware of the benefits of GIS and has launched an interactive website aimed at children called 'MapZone' that features map-related games and learning resources. Ordnance Survey publishes a quarterly journal aimed at geography teachers called 'Mapping News'.

Derivative and licensed products

One series of historic maps (published by Cassini Publishing Ltd) is a reprint of the Ordnance Survey first series from the mid 19th century, but re-scaled to 1:50,000, re-projected to the OS Landranger map projection, and given 1 km gridlines. This means that features from over 150 years ago fit almost exactly over their modern equivalents, and modern grid references can be given to old features.

The digitisation of the data has allowed Ordnance Survey to experiment with selling maps electronically. Several companies are now licensed to produce the popular scales (1:50,000 and 1:25,000) of map on CD/DVD or to make them available online for download. The buyer typically has the right to view the maps on a PC, a laptop and a pocket PC/smartphone, and to print off any number of copies. The accompanying software is GPS-aware, and the maps are ready-calibrated. Thus, the user can quickly transfer a desired area from their PC to their laptop or smartphone, and go for a drive or walk with their position continually pinpointed on the screen. The price for an individual map is more expensive than the equivalent paper version, but the price per square km falls rapidly with the size of coverage bought.


The Ordnance Survey maps of Great Britain use the Ordnance Survey National Grid

The original maps were made by triangulation. For the second survey, in 1934, this process was used again, and resulted in the building of many triangulation pillars (trig points): short (approx. 4 feet/1.2 m high), usually square, concrete or stone pillars at prominent locations such as hill tops. Their precise locations were determined by triangulation, and the details in between were then filled in with less precise methods.

Modern Ordnance Survey maps are largely based on aerial photographs, but large numbers of the pillars remain, many of them adopted by private land owners. Ordnance Survey still has a team of surveyors across Great Britain who visit in person and survey areas that cannot be surveyed using photogrammetric methods (such as land obscured by vegetation) and there is an aim of ensuring that any major feature (such as a new motorway or large housing development) is surveyed within six months of its construction. While original survey methods were largely manual, the current surveying task is simplified by the use of GPS technology, allowing the most precise surveying standards yet[citation needed]. Ordnance Survey is responsible for a UK-wide network of GPS stations, known as OS Net. These are used for surveying but other organisations can purchase the right to utilise the network for their own uses.

Ordnance Survey still maintains a set of master geodetic reference points to tie the Ordnance Survey geographic datums to modern measurement systems including GPS. Ordnance Survey maps of Great Britain do not use latitude and longitude to indicate position but a special grid. The grid is technically known as OSGB36 (Ordnance Survey Great Britain 1936), and was introduced after the retriangulation of 1936–53.

OS MasterMap

Ordnance Survey's flagship digital product, launched in November 2001, is OS MasterMap. This is a database that records every fixed feature of Great Britain larger than a few metres in one continuous digital map. Every feature is given a unique TOID (TOpographical IDentifier), a simple identifier that includes no semantic information. Typically each TOID is associated with a polygon that represents the area on the ground that the feature covers, in National Grid coordinates.

OS MasterMap layers

OS MasterMap is offered in themed 'layers', each linked to a number of TOIDs. As of September 2010, the layers are:

  • OS MasterMap Topography Layer – the primary layer of OS MasterMap, consisting of vector data comprising large-scale representation of features in the real world, such as buildings and areas of vegetation. The features captured and the way they are depicted is listed in a specification available on the Ordnance Survey website.
  • OS MasterMap Integrated Transport Network Layer – this is a link-and-node network of transport features, such as roads and railways. This data is at the heart of many satnav systems. In an attempt to reduce the number of HGVs using unsuitable roads, a data capture programme of 'Road Routing Information' was recently undertaken and this aims to add information such as bridge height restrictions and one-way streets to the product.
  • OS MasterMap Imagery Layer – as the name suggests, this product is ortho-rectified raster format aerial photography.
  • OS MasterMap Address Layer and Address Layer 2 – this shows every address in the UK as an overlay to the other layers. Address Layer 2 adds additional information, such as addresses with multiple occupants (blocks of flats, student houses etc.) and objects with no postal address, such as fields and electricity substations.

Pricing of licenses to OS MasterMap data depends on the total area requested, the layers licensed, the number of TOIDs in the layers, and the period in years of the data usage.

OS MasterMap can be used to generate maps for a vast array of purposes, and maps can be printed from OS MasterMap data with detail equivalent to a traditional 1:1250 scale paper map.

Ordnance Survey states that OS MasterMap data is never more than six months out of date, thanks to continuous review. The scale and detail of this mapping project is unique.[citation needed] By 2009, around 440 million TOIDs had been assigned, and the database stood at 600 gigabytes in size;[21] currently (March 2011) OS claims 450 million TOIDs.[22] As of 2005, OS MasterMap was at version 6; 2010's version 8 includes provision for Urban Paths (an extension of ITN) and pre-build address layer. All these versions have a similar GML 2 schema.

Ordnance Survey is encouraging users of its old OS Land-Line data to migrate to OS MasterMap and in June 2007 announced a notice of withdrawal for this product as of 30 September 2008. Land-Line was a first-generation digital mapping product consisting of 'tiles' of map data. OS MasterMap is described as 'seamless', with no tiles, allowing customers to be more specific about their areas of interest.

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