|Trumpington Local History Group
|Copyright © Trumpington Local History Group, 2017. Updated 19 May 2017.
|Tim Glasswell was one of two speakers at the Local History Group
meeting on 30 March 2017, full of information and stories about working
for Ordnance Survey on the mapping of ever-changing Trumpington.
|As a surveyor for Ordnance Survey (OS), I have been keeping the
mapping for Trumpington up-to-date for the past 13 years. I grew
up in Bishops Road, so it’s an area I know very well! I went to
school at Fawcett Juniors, Sawston Village College and then Long
Road 6th Form College, and I have always had a love of maps. I
studied Geography with History at the University of Kent at
Canterbury in the mid-90s, and went on to be a cartographer for a
nautical publisher. In 2004 I saw an advert in the Cambridge
Evening News for a surveyor for Ordnance Survey in the
Cambridge area, and I have been here ever since!
A little bit of background on OS. Founded in June 1791, with the
French Revolution happening on the other side of the channel, the
Board of Ordnance set about surveying the south coast for potential
military use. Using triangulation, trigonometry and theodolites, the
first highly accurate map was produced in 1801. At 1 inch-to-the-
mile, this map of the county of Kent took 3 years to produce. It
wasn’t until the 1870s that the first series of the entire country was
|Ordnance Survey logo. Reproduced by kind
permission of Ordnance Survey.
|Back to today… I am one of 250 ‘Field Surveyors’ around the
country, and I’m responsible for the city of Cambridge, most of
South Cambridgeshire, and the area around Haverhill. We make
10,000+ changes to the National Mapping Database every single
day. This includes houses, fences, schools, roads, paths, tracks and
much, much more. The main tools of my job are a ‘Toughbook’
handheld computer and a GNSS (GPS) satellite receiver. This GPS
sits on top of a pole, and is Bluetooth-ed to my computer, providing
accuracy down to centimetres. I also use a digital laser meter, and
an old-fashioned tape measure every now and then!
Ordnance Survey is probably best known for the pink and orange
leisure maps, but this is only 10% of what we do! Most of our
products are in the form of digital datasets that can be used with a
modern GIS (Geographical Information System). The data is
separated into ‘layers’ (e.g. topographic linework, road information,
water features and addresses) that can be used for a myriad of
purposes in this modern, connected world we live in. Our data is
used by Land Registry, and underpins every property sale in the
country. Our road-routing information is in most Sat Navs in
Britain. The emergency services rely on our large scale data, which
helps them respond faster to calls.
|The local Ordnance
Survey Explorer map.
Reproduced by kind
permission of Ordnance
|You only have to look at the skyline of Cambridge to see how much building work is going on in
the city, and this keeps me busy. I have been working on building sites in Clay Farm, Glebe
Farm and Trumpington Meadows every month or so since they started. I do get the chance to
add the smaller developments to the mapping too: single houses, ‘demolitions and rebuilds’,
name changes and minor alterations to existing features. Throughout the year, I also keep an eye
out for changes and additions to the paper maps (e.g. the blue ‘tourist features’), which is
another important part of my day-to-day mapping.
|"All the jobs I can remember surveying in Cambridge since 2004". Image reproduced
from Ordnance Survey mapping by kind permission of Ordnance Survey.
|It's a very enjoyable job. I’m out and about almost every day, and I generally get to manage my
own work. I have met some interesting people along the way, and I get to see hidden places you
never knew were there! I’ve been involved in a number of large projects over the years,
including surveying 25 km of the Guided Busway. There’s more to come too, with the upgraded
A14 and housing developments at Northstowe and Waterbeach barracks.
If you see me out and about in Trumpington, please stop me and I’ll show you what I’m up to!
For more information on OS, please visit the website.