Outdoor World

The peculiar history of the Ordnance Survey

Captain Image copyright Ordnance Survey

It’s midway through October, so before the days get too short to make it worthwhile, why not grab your compass and hiking boots, shrug on your waterproof and take to the hills. Chances are, if you’re a regular walker, you will stride out safe in the knowledge that an Ordnance Survey map exuded about your person means you’ll know just where and when you got lost.

The history of the organisation knows as OS is not merely that of a group of earnest blokes with a penchant for triangulation and an ever-present soundtrack of rustling cagoules.

From its roots in military strategy to its current incarnation as producer of the rambler’s navigational aid, the government-owned corporation has been checking and rechecking all 243,241 sq km( 93,916 sq miles) of Great britain for 227 years. Here are some of the more peculiar elements in the past of the famous map-makers.

Battles and bloodshed

Dublin Image copyright Ordnance Survey Image caption Mapping trucks were to be presented to battle-torn areas in World War One

In the final years of the 18 th Century, Europe was in turmoil.

England was braced for intrusion by the French and the government’s Board of Ordnance( a torso held liable for furnishing equipment to the Army and Navy and generally protecting the realm) required accurate maps so it could position its troops effectively.

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