Ordnance Survey Office | Penrith

  • This page:Survey activities of the Penrith Field Survey office..
  • Status : Completed [sub pages to be added in a future release.]
  • First published: 06 Jan 2015[A]

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Mostyn Hall, Friargate, Penrith 26 June 2014

Photo credit: KM

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This article covers the period from spring 1975 to late 1976.

At that time the Penrith office was a base for Ordnance Survey field survey work in the north eastern Lake District.

OS and National Context:

A summary of the operating environment for this period:

Ordnance Survey Developments

  • New ICL 1906S computer installed & running Aerial Triangulation s/w
  • Recession affects map sales
  • Budget cuts {Treasury cutbacks] - programmes slowed down
  • Satellite Doppler Positioning - OS & Univ. Nottingham
  • Period Revsion trials - mapping update in rural areas
  • Review of the Archeology Section
  • Consultants engaged in reviewing future digital mapping approaches

National & External Developments

  • Microsoft Founded
  • Saigon falls - end of Vietnam War
  • Cray-1 computer released
  • Apple computers Founded
  • U2 - the band formed
  • 1st Space Shuttle is rolled out
  • HST 125 train commences service



Penrith Office Role | Operations and People:




Region: Northern Region
Group & Office: NR O[?]
Address: Mostyn Hall, Friargate
Place: Penrith, Cumbria
Postcode: CA11 7XR

Office Type:

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


This office housed quite a lot of people by the end of 1976, it was also the Group Office. The complement grew over this period from one to two sections and the management appeared to be in a constant state of flux. In April 1975 the survey team was: Paul Frankie, myself and John Woolridge. Later in the year another team was formed: John Horton, John Harrison and Ian Spilman (the latter two straight from their basic survey course). The team managers were Denis Robinson, Arthur Wood and John W Parker, They wre joined by Aiden Hornett after Arthur Wood moved to Wales.

Spring 1975 Office Photo

This was the 1:10,000 training course photo with a few interlopers. All are Penrith unless stated otherwise:

Back row: Ron Cummings(K/C), Pete Lee(K/C), Arthur Wood(K/C), Jill McLelland(Gp Clerk), Denis Robinson, John Parker, Dave Roberts(Chief Surveyor), KM,
Front row: Paul Frankie, John Barr(I - from the Middleton in Teesdale office), George Smart(I), Ian Pearson(K), John Woolridge
K/C=Keswick/Carlisle office [incl continuous revision] & I=Instructors.


Photo credit: John Woolridge

The Chief Surveyor was Dave Roberts who was replaced in 1976 by Bob Trotter and Region Office was in Harrogate. The Group Clerk was Jill McLelland 9xxx) and Helen Murray.


Area of operation

The Penrith office working area covered approximately {no km} sq km. This included all land from Thirlmere east to the Eden Valley and from Carlisle south to Tebay.

By this time most of the 1:2500 mapping outside the Lake District National Park had been brought up to National Grid specification, published and was being updated by a separate CR Offices based in Carlisle and Kendal.

Penrith Office Survey Projects & Social:

Survey Activities

The 1:2500 basic scales revision was drawing ti a close and the majority of the maps were now on National Grid sheetlines. In Penrith we started the 1:10,000 resurvey work in 1975 and all the adjacent 1:2500. We used rectified aerial photographs to survey the changes over the previous 70-80 years

In early 1975 the section was supporting the Kendal Office in upgrading the 1:2500 NG maps to 1:1250. This was to become a frequent process as small towns grew in size and qualified for upgrading.

During late spring 1975 two survey sections [Penrith and Keswick] underwent 1:10,000 survey training at Penrith and were then employed on 1:10,000 resurvey in the summer season.


Stybarrow Crag, Ullswater

Eastern Lakes & the Eden Valley

The Lake District requires no introduction. It is quite different to Snowdonia, being more romantic and "pretty" - though it suffers more from overcrowding with the M6 motorway providing easy access from both Scotland and northern England.

The best time to visit this part of the Lakes is a sunny day November when all the trees and bracken have turned to gold and russet brown - it is a spectacular panorama of colour. You will also have the place to ourself.

The Eden valley is also worth exploring. You will find green fields, woodland alomg the river nestling below the western flanks of the Pennines.


Apart from the Christmas lunch below I cannot recall any only organised social events. Most of the two Penrith sections lived nearby and four of us occupied three cottages at Kitchenhill, Bowscar - and this led to occasional drinks and other social activities. Ron Cummings got married at Lanercost, near Brampton in July 1976 and invited the Keswick and Penrith sections.

1975 Christmas Lunch - Pooley Bridge

This was probably the best Christmas Lunch I ever experienced. It was held in The Sun Inn [TBC], Pooley Bridge at the north east tip of Ullswater.

The entire group attended this event: the Penrith, Keswick and Middleton in Teesdale sections.


Photo credit: unknown - via John Horton

Out of the Ordinary

  • Both the summers 1975 ad 1976 were good although we had thick snow in early June 1975.
  • The OS engaged helicopters for two week periods in '75 and '76 to hep reduce the non productive time getting in abd out of survey areas [see " 1:10,000 '75&'76" article below] .
  • In the hot summer of 1976 OS undertook a Bench Mark Survey. Outr task was to go out and locate all the Bench Marks in a given area - usually a 100 sq km block. This is never an easy job with vegetation and changes in the landscape but somehow one developed another sense in tracking them down.
  • There is a British Gypsum mine in the Eden valley. Around 1974 they ran an underground survey and discovered some positional errors in the OS 1:2500 maps. This was a consequence of the decision to use the "Cotswold revision method" for 1:2500 update - the resulting positional accuracy was variable. OS agreed to resurvey the area and we used a method known as Air Ground Resurvey. The surveyor was issued with mapsheets containing nothing but 4-5 pin pricks which were referenced to the accompanying aerial photograph.
  • As in North Wales sheep were everywhere and sheep get into trouble. Early on John Woolridge took me out in the evenings and we visited several places. We went up Gowbarrow Crag [TBC] where we discovered a distressed ewe. She had been giving birth but the lamb had got stuck and only its head had emerged. She had bitten its ears trying to get it out herself - the lamb was desd of course. We managed to remove it - at that time locating the farmer was largely impossible. A few weeks later I discover a lamb that had fallen down one of the grykes in the limestone paving near Tebay. He was not too steady when I got him out but hopefully he survived.

Personal perspective:

During this period my role was a member of one of the survey teams in Penrith.

The Penrith posting was a voluntary move to try and enable work for my wife, newly qualified in North Wales but not a Welsh speaker. Keith Schofield moved from Penrith to Llanrwst. Penrith wss my last assignment on the Basic Scales /1980 programme.

The link(s) below provide an illustration of life working at the Penrith office in the { time period }.


  1. Penrith [Wikipedia]| Last Accessed: April 2019

Last Updated: 23 Apr 2019
KJM v2.03

[A]: This page is an updated version previously published on http://keithjmurray.me.uk