Ordnance Survey Office | Glasgow

  • This page:Survey activities of the Glasgow CR office 1982-84.
  • Status : Completed [sub pages to be added in a future release.]
  • First published: 10 March 2019

oban photo missing
Oban Harbour - part of the Glasgow work area - 21 Nov 1984

Photo credit: KM

map missing

This article covers the period from summer 1982 to late 1984 only.

At that time the Glasgow office with 16-18 staff undertaking Ordnance Survey CR work aligned with the greater Strathclyde Region.

OS and National Context:

A summary of the operating environment for this period:

Ordnance Survey Developments

  • Former Directorate of Overseas Survey staff transfer to OS
  • Drawing office staff retrained as surveyors [1]
  • Ministerial statement on future of OS announced
  • OS becomes a wholly civilian organisation
  • Control networks NORSNET & BRITDOC
  • Kongsberg automatic flatbed plotting table installed
  • Digital Field Update investigations
  • Review of Air Survey methods
  • Orthophotography trialled in South Devon
  • 1:1,250 upgraded incl. Penrith, Knutsford, Crieff...
  • 80 sets of Electronic Distance Measuring equipemtn purchased.
  • Automated derived mapping investigated
  • Ferranti Inertial systems investigated
  • OS Undertook survey to Model Change [2]
  • First Analytical Plotter purchased [Kern DSR-1]

[1] Surplus drawing office staff post 1980 programme[46 in 1983-84 - 2 in Glasgow]
[2] Managed by Birkbeck College & David Rhind

National & External Developments

  • Seat belts become mandatory
  • One pound coin introduced in England & Wales
  • The Compact Disc [CD] goes in sale
  • General Election - no change [M Thatcher]
  • US Cruise Missiles arrive at Greenham Common
  • IRA bombs in London



Glasgow Office Role, Operations and People:




Region: Scottish Region
Group & Office: SC O7G
Address: 464 Pollockshaws Road
Place: Glasgow
Postcode: xxxxxx

Office Type:

Type: Continuous Revision Office
Type: Group Office
Tenure: Permanent office.
Still operational: Unknown
Still exists: No



This office housed three survey sections and a Group Office. The sections were split across the Glasgow city, a) West: section manager John Reid . The surveyors were [from memory] a) John Hyland, & Leslie [?], Jassel [?] & Jimmy Johnston [recently retired & reverted to surveyor], b) Central: Graham Little and surveyors Dave Higgins, Frank Robertson and Graham Neil and c) East section manager KM and surveyors Keith Owens, Alec Scott [and TBC] Though this grouping was very flexible. Three members of the Glasgow office were retrained drawing office. Marshall Fairbairn also worked here during this period and John Fraser [section manager] joined us in 1984.

1983 Office Photo

The staff of the Glasgow Office:

This may have been a group training day - the photo states "Nov 83" in the back but that may not be correct?

The event also saw the departure of Dave Higgins [2nd left front row] who was leaving OS and moving to Orkney where his wife came from. This photo includes staff from both Glasgow and Hamilton office ie the entire group.

It includes Graham Little, Dave Roberts, Marshall Fairbairn, Graham Neil and Frank Robertson - the last three would all later move to headquarters.


Photo credit: Dave Higgins

In addition Carl St John Wilson, Steve Cartwright & Colin Melrose also did some work at the office during this time.

The Chief Surveyor was Dave Roberts supported by a Group Clerk originally Pat [?] followed by [Muriel ?]. Region Office was in Edinburgh. The group included another office at Hamilton.


Area of operation

The Glasgow office working area included all of the Strathclyde Region. It reached from the Mull of Kintyre to Glen Coe in the north and from Islay and Mull in the west to Rannoch Moor and Lochearnhead in the east.

The entire are was now be published to National Grid specification and was being updated by this office.

The 1980's was a grim period and the inner cities in UK reflected that situation intensely. The office was a small modern building also housing the local social security office. Occasionally our windows would get damaged by passers-by, there had been a fight in the staff canteen just before I arrived. The car park was a bit of rough land at the end of the building, a section of wall collapsed in a gale on one occasion. It was a very bleak landscape - especially compared with Hampshire.


One of the surprises was that in the midwinter the afternoon light was lost from around 3pm which seriously shortened the day for surveying and access to properties. The summer evenings of course were very special and we had two very good summers in 1983 and 84.

Glasgow Office Survey Projects & Social:

Survey Activities

Much of the work was updating the map sheets: new housing estates, industrial redevelopment and highways - which all required instrumental control beforehand. There was also a lot of small survey tasks and repayment work for the Registers of Scotland.

Work beyond the Glasgow city boundary was often limited to blocks of work in better weather - if it could be arranged that way. The summer work was often referred to as 'stints' and are highlighted in an article below.

Glasgow & it's environs

Away from the inner city there is some wonderful scenery surrounding Glasgow. Travel 30 minutes to the north west and you will soon be in a totally different landscape altogerther.

Balloch takes you into Loch Lomond and west to the sea lochs, Argyll and the islands of Islay, Jura and Mull.

Take to the Campsie Fells and the roads north open up The Trossachs and the Highlands.

The photos is of Carrick Castle

photo missing
Carrick Castle, Loch Goil - 17 June 1983


There was not a great deal of social life in the Glasgow office apart from Christmas dinners and ad-hoc individuals events. The 'stints' did help foster a greater team cohesion with several members of staff were away together for a week or more. Though on one occasion it had the opposite effect.

Out of the Ordinary

    • I had to check something at a building for young offenders. I got chatting with the two wardens in the reception area and we moved onto people's accents. To my amazement one of them not only told me I came from Manchester but the actual location (within 5-10km) in Manchester.

Personal perspective:

During this period my role was as survey team manager (on promotion from Air Survey Branch). I took over the eastern area [Airdrie, Coatbridge & Kilsyth) from John Reid who had taken on the extensive western area from Jimmy Johnston who had just retired.


During this period I undertook the North East London Polytechnic's Surveying and Cartography HNC course. Thankfully the two week field survey exercise was in Scotland that year - creating a coordinate testbed for the Ferranti Interial system.

The link(s) below provide an illustration of life working at the Glasgow office in the mid 1980's.

Last Updated: 23 April 2019
KJM v2.01