A huge collection of 50,000 maps and 1.5 million aerial photographs from around the world is destined for a number of new homes when it completes its transfer away from current custodian Ordnance Survey next month. The Southampton-based agency’s International Collection is made up of maps and survey information from more than 60 countries – some of it spanning more than 100 years. Ordnance Survey merged with the Directorate of Overseas Surveys (DOS) in 1984 and has looked after this treasure trove of maps ever since. But now it is felt it will be of greater benefit and value to the nation if it is made available through a number of specialist institutions. Not only will the move offer safekeeping for what is regarded as unique public records – it will also provide access to the information for many more people.
The collection is being made available to the public via The National Archives, The British Empire and Commonwealth Museum in Bristol, The British Film Institute’s National Film and Television Archive, The Royal Geographical Society in London, The University of Portsmouth, Cambridge University Library – including the Charles Close Society archive – and The Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at the University of Oxford. An event, marking the handover, is to be held at the Royal Geographical Society, Lowther Lodge, Kensington Gore, on Wednesday 12 October from 2.30 pm. Speakers will include Ordnance Survey Director General and Chief Executive Vanessa Lawrence and Director of the Royal Geographical Society Rita Gardner. Also there to share his knowledge and experience of the collection will be former Ordnance Survey Director Alastair MacDonald. The event is to include an exhibition – giving visitors the chance to understand how they can get access to and use the maps, photo and survey material in future.