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Chapter 8. The Contribution of the Ordnance Survey to Britain's Motorways

Volume 1 Part 3
Brief résumé of Chapter 8:
The Contribution of the Ordnance Survey to Britain's Motorways

Paul R. T. Newby, MA, MSc, FRICS, FRGS
Editor of the Photogrammetric Record
formerly Manager of Photogrammetry and Survey Computations, Ordnance Survey

Chapter 8This Chapter presents the insights, supported by extensive research, of a highly qualified senior member of the staff of the Ordnance Survey who spent a full career in its service. That span of service coincided with profound and continuous development of the technologies of mapping, from traditional triangulation and measurement by tape through aerial photography to application of the satellite-based Global Positioning System. This stream of change was fed and accompanied by the simultaneous explosion of information technology and computing. Both these revolutions were contemporaneous with the almost explosive expansion of road transport serving a changing economy and society, with its particular manifestation in a motorway programme which has needed to use maps from the earliest stage of advocacy through the first half of the twentieth century to detailed design of works through the second half and, promptly upon completion of each component, to the continuing task of informing the public correctly of its availability. Even so, for the Ordnance Survey, motorways have been only one subject of public and private provision and contemporary development with geographical dimensions about which the public needs exact and up-to-date information.

In the course of his essay Mr Newby exposes interactions - not always easy ones - at different times between people with different inheritances of education and experience operating in different managerial frameworks with different objectives. Indeed, another element in the contemporary foreground for him has been the effort, in contrast with the apparent indifference of Government in the 1920s and 1930s, required to be devoted by the Ordnance Survey itself to maintaining its financial viability as a marketable service of fundamental importance to the nation's life and the operation of its free economy. As the OS retained its distinct identity throughout that coherence is exploited through the ensuing sections to describe what was provided by the OS for the changing requirements of that part of government activity directly concerned with roads policy, but variously named over the past 80 years, before proceeding, section by section to provide topic by topic much more detail and detail on specific examples, whether documented or recalled by individual participants.