Ordnance Survey Office | Llanrwst

  • This page:Survey activities of the Llanrwst Field office..
  • Status : Completed [sub pages to be added in a future release.]
  • First published: 16 March 2019

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Llanrwst Office in Aug 1985

Photo credit: KM

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This article covers the period from spring 1973 to spring 1975.

At that time the Llanrwst office was a base for Ordnance Survey field survey work in the Conwy valley and eastern Snowdonia.

OS and National Context:

A summary of the operating environment for this period:

Ordnance Survey Developments

  • OS 1:50,000 Series Introduced 1974[1}
  • Four aircraft hired for aerial photography in 1974
  • Total large scales map sheets digitised now exceeds 1,000
  • A new ICL 1906S mainframe computer ordered [replacing an ICL 1904]
  • OS tests Electronic Distance Measuring equipment [EDM]
  • OS tests Diazo equipment to provide "Supply of Unpublished Survey Information" [SUSI][2]

[1] One of the two 2nd Series Sheets covered eastern Snowdonia

[2] Providing customers with stable copies of updated survey sheets to short circuit the lengthy new edition process.

National & External Developments

  • British Leyland industrial action
  • Nixon begins talks with Brezhnev
  • Turkey invades Cyprus
  • Sydney Opera House opened
  • New Government 1974 [Harold Wilson]
  • Local Government reorganisation 1 April 1974
  • 2nd General Election in 1974 [Harold Wilson]
  • Moorgate tube crash [43 dead]



Llanrwst Office | Operations and People:



Llanrwst Office

The office occupied the first floor of the Gwydir Estate Office. We had two rooms and a kitchen. T he office had superb views of the Afon Conwy and Pont Fawr - the Inigo Jones bridge [1632].


Region: West Midland Region
Group & Office: WM O2[?]
Address: 1 Conwy Terrace
Place: Llanrwst
Postcode: [?]

Office Type:

Type: Field Survey Office
Tenure: Temporary office.
Still operational: No
Still exists: Yes

Activities of this office:


[1] these activities/visits existed but were neither frequent or regular.


Llanrwst was a newly opened OS office in 1973 consisting of one Field Survey section. This included a section manager John Kirkwood and three surveyors Alwyn Bradford, myself and Bill Williams. Frank Shepherd was a member of the T&L team.
The Group Office was based in Chester [Chief Surveyor: Iain Raitt] and Region Office was in Kidderminster.

Area of operation

The Llanrwst office working area covered approximately {no km} sq km. This included all of eastern Snowdonia from Nant Ffrancon to the Conwy Valley and from Conwy south as far as Llyn Conwy.

By this time the coastal towns and the rural areas of western Denbighshire had been brought up to National Grid specification, published and updated by a separate CR Office based in Colwyn Bay

Llanrwst Office Survey Projects & Social:

Survey Activities

Much of the rural mapping had been updated and this section had two roles a) 1:2500 update west of the Conwy Valley/south of Llanrwst and b) 1:10,000 resrurvey of eastern Snowdonia. The update of the adjacent sheets at different scales [2500 & 10,000] was usually undertaken at the same time. We had to undertake a training course for 1:10000 resurvey since there were several differences to the larger scales and we also had to ensure the contours were complete.

Carneddau & Afon Conwy

The Conwy Valley is an extensive vale, from Conwy south to Betws y Coed. The river is tidal almost as far south as Llanrwst.

The Llandudno Junction to Blaenau Ffestiniog railway threads its way along the banks of the Conwy. For the first few weeks in April/May 1973 I had to take the train to Llanrwst and the views were spectacular, especially in the early morning when you would see heron beside the river.

With Betws y Coed at the head of the valley Telford's London to Holyhead road will then take you west into the higher mountains beyond Capel Curig.

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Moel Siabod from the Gwydir Forest in Dec 1974


There was always more interest in social events by the mobile Field Survey section staff than the more settled Continuous Revision [CR] surveyors. More likely the CR guys had settled down with families. In North Wales there were two venues that we used: a pub in a remote valley near Ruthin [meeting up with another section there] and the Tyn-y-Coed Hotel in Capel Curig [meeting up with the Llangefni section]. These evening events involved quite long round trips.


Out of the Ordinary

    • Just before Easter 1974 the Director General paid us a visit. I met him in Pont y Pair car park in Betws y Coed and the first thing he said was "I last met you in Manchester". I am not sure how he managed that but I was very impressed [and told him so when we met again about 30 years later].
    • The DG also coincided with the week that the 1st 1:50,000 Second Series sheets had been published. One of these was the Caernarfon & Bangor sheet [no 116?]. The map included teh Carneddau of eastern Snowdonia and part of our patch. It had hit the front page of the press because the new District administrative boundary symbol [a long dashed line] resembled a footpath. Further a segment of the boundary leapt over a cliff north east of Carnedd Dafydd - the view was that walkers might follow it - over the cliff. OS agreed to change the symbol and put stickers on the existing map stock covers. All publicity is good isn't it?

Personal perspective:

During this period my role was a member of the survey team. For the first six weeks at Llanrwst I had no vehicle, my previous car had failed several times and I'd had it repaired,then saved some money and ordered a new Mini. I sold the previous car privately but my plan fell apart due to one many British Leyland strikes at that time and a 6 week delay in delivery.

Later that year I had a 4 month secondment to the Bala office .The link(s) below provide an illustration of life working at the Llanrwst office during this time. This was my last posting in North Wales and it was a bit of a wrench to leave.


  1. 1974 Local Government changes [Wikipedia]| Last Accessed: April 2019

Last Updated: 23 Apr 2019
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