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Ordanance Survey Maps - What Are Ordnance Survey Maps?

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Ordnance Survey maps, sometimes misspelled Ordanance Survey maps, is Great Britain’s largest national mapping agency of the United Kingdom government. The word ordnance comes from military or artillery, because Ordnance Survey was created in 1791 with a military purpose to map Britain when there was a threat of French invasion. The organization has lasted to this day, and now offers digitized mapping like other leading mapping agencies.

Although Ordnance Survey maps still works under the government, its operating costs are supported through its commercial business of selling paper maps across Britain for education and business purposes and also selling digital geographic information.

Post 1791, Ordnance Survey created maps for various other war related purposes. During the first two decades of the 19th century, the agency mapped almost a third of the country. Because of the lack of sophisticated mapping tools and GPS, this work was done manually. For a few years during the late 19th century, there were constant arguments in the administrative team since the company was mapping areas using different techniques. No clear consensus could be maintained on the mapping scales and a final decision was to use photography for this purpose.

During the First and the Second World War, Ordnance Survey was involved in creating maps for various European nations. After the wars, the director general of the agency ordered the development of easy to read maps to increase sales with civilians.

The current headquarters of Ordnance Survey are located in Maybush, Southampton. The agency produces a large number of paper maps as well as digital mapping products. The leisure maps are produced in different scales and include tour maps as well as outdoor leisure maps. The outdoor leisure maps are designed especially for people who love to take walks, they include maps for all of Great Britain with special sections that highlight areas of interest for walkers and hitchhikers in areas like the Black Mountains.

Ordnance Survey maps can also be custom-ordered depending on your requirements. You can choose the area you want the map for in 2 scales, 40 × 40 km or 20 × 20 km. The Ordnance Survey website is quite detailed and offers a lot of information about all the products they offer.

You can purchase these maps from many shops and information centers. Walkers, motorists and tourists can also download and print maps directly from their website.

The job of the 300-odd surveyors employed with Ordnance Survey is grueling to say the least, even though they are armed with all equipment to make their jobs simpler. On an average, around 5,000 daily changes are made to the maps due to frequent landscape changes.

Ordnance Survey maps offers an interesting book that has a series of historical maps from the 18th and the 19th century, it is a must buy for all avid historians. The agency is perhaps one of the oldest in any country and because of their expertise, its services have been sought by overseas nations as well.

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