Tag Archives: ordnance survey

Boundary significance

3 Aug

I should have been doing some family history last night, but I got side-tracked into fiddling about with the “new” Ordnance Survey getamap website. It is not really that new and is an updated version of the old website where you can view portions of Ordnance Survey mapping.

I have been struggling to get the website to print any more than a few pixels of any map, but I think I have a work-around for that now. I was then trying to work out whether it was worth subscribing to the website (£30 per year at the moment) to get extra features, but I was then distracted into looking at the county boundary that I cross every day to and from work.

I was playing with the route creating facility, it is really quite good as not only will it show you the distance but also the elevation and tell you how long it ought to take to walk (and run or cycle) the distance, practising using the route that I sometimes walk between Horley to Gatwick Airport.

With Henry GASSON in the back of my mind I started to study the route of the Sussex/Surrey border. I am pretty certain that the border has been moved since Henry’s time, and I am positive that Henry wouldn’t have recognised the land surrounding the boundary. I am not convinced that he would have realised that there was a boundary there in the first place, let alone placed any significance on the fact that he was moving his family from one side to the other.

For my own part though the boundary seemingly holds a significance which I can’t really explain. Measuring the distance from my place of work to the boundary I worked out I could make my way back over into my native Sussex in just under 15 minutes. The closest point is just under two-thirds of a mile away, admittedly it is not a particularly appealing part of Sussex, being on the outskirts of Gatwick Airport, but it is Sussex nevertheless.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
Creative Commons Licence This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
.

Happy anniversary to the trig point

18 Apr

Regular readers of my blog will know I have a fascination with trig points, the concrete pillars that were used to map Britain (or at least one of the methods used).

Today is the 75th anniversary of first observations made using a triangulation pillar and the beginning of the Retriangulation of Great Britain. The pillar in question is located in Cold Ashby, Northamptonshire and unfortunately I was unable to join the small group of devotees who made a pilgrimage to the pillar today.

The Ordnance Survey have marked the anniversary with a special blog Happy birthday to the Trig Pillar – 75 years young today” href=”http://blog.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/2011/04/happy-birthday-to-the-trig-pillar-75-years-young-today/” target=”_blank”>post today and I understand that the pillar in question will be featured on the local BBC news bulletin.

I have long been aware of trig points, although it wasn’t until recent years that I really began to appreciate their history and function. For a long time I knew they were used in map making and were a physical reminder that I had reached the top of a hill, but now I know a lot more about their history and their part in producing the maps that I still use today.

So happy anniversary to the trig point, and because I can’t be at Cold Ashby here is one of my favourite trig points instead, at Blackcap near Lewes, East Sussex.

Whereabouts Wednesday: The Ordnance Survey Explorer Map

15 Dec

Whether it is for family history research or for finding my way around whilst out walking you will seldom find me without an Ordnance Survey Explorer map close at hand. I find these maps are so versatile and useful that for me they are a vital piece of kit.

The picture on the left is of my well used Explorer 123 – South Downs Way (Newhaven to Eastbourne) dating from 1996, with a nice picture of the Seven Sister and the coast guard cottages at Seaford Head adorning the cover.

A Brief History of the Explorer Map

On the Ordnance Survey Blog you can find two posts describing the origins of the Explorer map and the various incarnations over the years:

The history of the iconic OS Explorer Map

The history of the iconic OS Explorer Map – part 2

If you want to see some of the different map covers over the years then I would recommend taking a look here (but be warned it is only for the real map addict).

A Question of Scale

Of course their usefulness is down to their scale and the level of detail that they show. The scale of an Explorer map is 1: 25 000 which is the equivalent of 2½ inches to 1 mile (or 4cm to 1km if you prefer). All of England, Scotland and Wales is covered by the 403 maps in the series.

As with any map there has to be a compromise between the level of detail featured and the size of the map. Large scale maps (perhaps better described as plans) show an awful lot of detail but the size of the map needed to cover a few miles on the ground makes them impractical for slipping into a rucksack or opening out on a desk without several pairs of hands.

Exploring the Explorer

The level of detail on an Explorer map is just right, you can cover quite a large area on one map, but with a decent amount of detail. All those little symbols on the map are described on the Ordnance Survey website as well as on the edges of the maps themselves.

Along with showing all the important things like paths and roads, churches and schools and contour lines, some of the most important things for me are that it shows:

  1. Field boundaries and ditches.
  2. Parish and other administrative boundaries.
  3. Paths, tracks and roads (whether public rights of way or not).

Not only does it show a lot of detail but a lot of those features are named, a lot of the larger rural properties (houses and farms) are named, as are some parcels of woodland, a lot of roads are named or numbered also most hills are also identified.

I could go on but probably the best way is to take a look at the map yourself.

Where can you find them online?

Two of my favourite places to find Explorer maps online are:

Ordnance Survey Get-a-map – Zoom in to the maximum level to see the scale at 1:25 000, the only drawback is that the area of map available to view at any one time is only about 1¼ miles (2km). Click on the round purple button to launch the map viewer.

Bing Maps – To view a much larger area you can use Bing Maps, there are several different styles that you can use to view the maps including a couple of different Ordnance Survey scales, although a lot of the zoom levels are just enlargements of the same underlying data.

There are of course many places online and offline to buy copies of the paper maps, and if like me you often find the place you are interested in is split over two paper maps then check out the OS Select service, which allows you to have a map printed to your requirements, centred on the location you want (except Channel Islands and Isle of Man).

Whereabouts Wednesday: old-maps.co.uk

24 Nov

Old-maps.co.uk is one of my favourite websites and an essential tool for family historian. It provides access to digital copies of a large number of UK Ordnance Survey maps (and now some KGB created Russian ones as well). Although the site is meant to be a portal for buying copies of the maps, it has been many years since I used it as such. Instead I use it is a great way to browse old maps, comparing how locations have changed over time and locating buildings long since gone.

The website received a major makeover earlier this year, and it wasn’t just the appearance to was updated, the entire system of view to maps was updated as well. To be honest it was desperately in need of an update, so much so that I used to try to avoid using it, now that it is a much faster and much easier system to use it is hard to stay away.

Searching the maps is simple, on the middle of the left-hand side of the home page is a search box where you enter the place name you are after and after possibly having to narrow this down if there are multiple places of the same name, you are taken to a modern Ordnance Survey map of the area. Here you can scroll around the map, zoom in and out before finally moving the marker to the place you are interested in.

Over on the right-hand side of the screen you will see a range of maps that cover the selected area, for a variety of time periods and map scales. Click on the one that interests you and the main window changes to the old map, it does take a while to load up but it is worth the wait. Once loaded you can do some basic scrolling and zooming in, but to really make the most of the image you will want to click the orange ‘enhanced zoom’ button, which uses Adobe Flash to provide more options.

This is the best bit, once in enhanced zoom mode you can really zoom in close and see some great detail, you can even see the section of map full screen (for the bigger picture). Obviously the sections of map are quite small and they are watermarked to prevent copying, but you can still learn an awful lot about a place from just looking at the maps.

The website is not perfect, some of the joins in the maps are rather obvious and it would be nice to know the full reference (sheet number) of the map you are looking at. The maps are quite expensive to buy, but they are at least cheaper for a digital version than a printed version, also watch their twitter feed and facebook page for discount codes and offers.

TWG Unplugged: A Tale of Two Cities

30 Oct

The two cities in question were Brighton and Chichester, both of which I visited today name of family history. I began the day with a leisurely start and took the bus down to Brighton and then took the train along the south coast to Chichester.

First stop was the Brighton History Centre so that I could spend a couple of hours looking through local newspapers. Brighton History Centre has a great selection of local newspapers on microfilm (and a few originals) and among them is my personal favourite the Sussex Daily News. It was published between 1870 and 1956 and I could quite happily have spent all day scrolling through the pages.

I had several dates in mind, events that I wanted to check and see if they were reported, and I am pleased to say that the Sussex Daily News didn’t let me down. There was another mention of the BOXALL’s diamond wedding anniversary, with a few more bits of information that weren’t included in the one that I found last weekend. Then there were another couple of articles that relate to other family lines (GASSON and DUNFORD), one of which was particularly saddening.

Another report that I was looking for described an event that was captured on one of my latest postcard purchases, this was a bit of background research for a future blog post but quite an interesting story. A surprise find was an article about the bells at Bolney Church which I think have a connection with one of my ancestors as well. All in all a very rewarding visit.

The reason for my visit to Chichester was to visit the West Sussex Record Office. This time though it wasn’t for research, it was so I could buy some more of their bargain Ordnance Survey maps. It felt a bit odd not actually going into the search room but just spending an hour or so browsing through the piles of maps. I added another 10 maps to my collection, this time though they weren’t really ancestral places but other places of interest, many of them on the South Downs.

Another successful day, quite relaxing in many ways as I wasn’t trying to cram in too much, just taking it easy and enjoying myself in the sunshine. Next week, weather permitting, I will get back to some walking.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 119 other followers

%d bloggers like this: