Happy Birthday Ordnance Survey!!

Source Ordnance Survey June 21st 2013

We’re 220 years old today

By , 21, June, 2011 9:01 am

On this day in 1791, Ordnance Survey was born. Our arrival was marked by the payment of the princely sum £373.14s to Jesse Ramsden for a three-foot theodolite. That purchase was made at the request of the Master General, the 3rd Duke of Richmond, and is now generally accepted as the founding action of the Ordnance Survey.

Surveyors from Ordnance Survey in the mid nineteenth century.

That theodolite, and others like it, were used to map the south east coast of Britain for fear of invasion by the French, and ever since then, all the way through to the modern digital age, Ordnance Survey has played a constant role charting the changing face of the nation.

Today, to mark the anniversary, dignitaries and senior military officials from the Royal Engineers, will gather to dedicate our new War Memorial which remembers the sacrifice of the 123 Ordnance Survey staff who gave their lives during the two World Wars.

The design of the memorial echoes the iconic shape of an Ordnance Survey trig pillar.

It should be quite a spectacle.

The presence of the Royal Engineers harks back to our military origins, where that fear of invasion promoted the Board of Ordnance, the Ministry of Defence of the day, to order a  survey of the south east – hence our rather unusual name.

EastEnders 1801 – an extract of the first Ordnance Survey map printed in 1801.

The art of map making subsequently played a major role in both World Wars, with Ordnance Survey staff being dispatched to map the trenches throughout The Great War, whilst during World War II some 342 million maps were printed for use by the Allied forces.

By 1944 maps were off the presses and in the hands of men at the front within 24 hours.

So it’s a day to remember our past, but given that the ceremony is in the grounds of our new head office, it will be a unique mix of old and new.

We’ll post the best of any photos later today.

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