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OS celebrates 225th anniversary by mapping London in OS style

Ordnance Survey has produced a map of modern London in the original OS style
Ordnance Survey has produced map of modern London in the original OS style

UK: Ordnance Survey is celebrating its 225th anniversary, and thus, the agency decided to return to its roots this time and has produced a map of modern London in the original OS style. The London map has been created by cartographer, Chris Wesson, whose map of Mars earlier this year drew global praise for its simplicity and beauty.

In his attempt to bring out the best of old and new maps, Chris has kept the fonts and terminology as similar to the original 1801 map as was possible. He has also replicated the original marginalia, title and scale bar. The map also includes many up-to-date features? For example, the Emirates Air Line cable car that crosses the Thames.

To capture as much as part of London is possible in the map, Chris used the production size of OS Custom Made maps. To achieve this, the map was centred on the Houses of Parliament. Though in the map it is not labelled as Houses of Parliament, as Chris has kept the historic naming that showed the Palace of Westminster.

He has also emulated the historic method of abbreviating names. The place names on the map have all been manually added. It was a laborious, but enjoyable process for Chris that involved him printing out the map and comparing current and historic data to decide where to hand place the names. Many of the features on the London map, such as railway lines, did not exist in 1801 when OS made its original map of Kent.

So Chris has taken the earliest OS cartographic representations for each feature not represented in the original map. Therefore, the final product is a hybrid of maps from OS beginnings, as opposed to a direct copy of the 1801 Kent map.

According to Chris, the challenge was to create a mid-scale map, but the level of detail makes it more similar to a local level map. Essentially, the original 1801 map was a one inch to one mile or 1:63,360 map with a 1:10,000 data detail, as there were far less features and less urban sprawl at that time, so the product spec could at that time show more, such as field boundaries and all of the churches.

The London map will be available for purchase in the near future. Register for an alert at os.uk/225map