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5 July, 2007

Treasure maps

In this week's 'Classics of everyday design' (the 24th, already), Jonathan Glancey celebrates Ordnance Survey maps.  As he rightly says, they have an attraction beyond the 'merely' practical, but in terms of practicality, I do think the OS's 1:25,000 and 1:50,000 series are the world's best.

I'm not sure Mr. G's employers at the Guardian would agree with his closing paragraph, though. That the OS is a state-owned body and "OS Maps are ours" is an ongoing argument, as the Survey is somewhat reluctant to share 'our' data, even within the government sector.

Incidentally, Mr. G (or the Guardian, anyway) illustrates his article with a map extract of my local area. A line on the road at the point marked '176' is precisely 10 miles from Lancaster.

That happens a lot. For years I used to buy my mother a road atlas each year, and a disproportionate number of covers depicted Lancaster or at least NW England. I even started to wonder whether publishers produced regional editions, with an atlas for sale in the North-east illustrated by a map extract of Newcastle and one sold in London showing London, but that doesn't seem likely. Maybe the configuration of NW England and the North Wales coast simply suit graphic designers' requirements.

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