HOW PROFESSIONALS USE HISTORIC MAPPING

The Surveyor

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Andrew Coombes works for Geosight as a boundary surveyor and quality manager. The company is based in London and covers mostly London and the area of Exeter but also the rest of the country. They provide clients with precise and accurate dimension data of both the built and natural environments.

Challenges

‘With boundary surveys, I look at trying to resolve arguments between neighbours, for example where the location boundary is. Someone’s property is defined by a title plan that is registered with land registry. Title plans are created from Ordnance Survey maps. The OS only maps physical features and boundaries whereas a boundary might not be marked by a physical feature and therefore are not the legal property boundaries.’’

Solution

‘’Historical mapping from various dates would be extremely useful to me as I would be able to interpret from legal documents and title plans where a legal boundary is. The OS over the years updates the plans regularly so If I have a title plan from 1948 for example, the title survey plan created this year will probably be different due to the physical changes that take place, such as the growth of hedges or road changes. It is therefore very important to identify precisely how nature and man changed the land over time. The boundary line is drawn as a line on a map but if we look at an older map it might not show the same thing. So, what I look for is which features were intended to be the boundary originally.’’

Sample of work

The Engineer

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John Topp is the director of O Brien & Price Stroud, a company specialising in structural and civil engineering design and consultancy. They are based in Tintern, Monmouthshire and cover mostly the southern part of Wales as well as southwest England. The company works across most industry sectors, particularly residential, education, healthcare, and historic buildings.

Challenges

''My interest in historical mapping is professional as well as personal. From a professional point of view, I deal with quite a lot with older, pre-existing buildings so it is useful to look at the development of a building in terms of its size, shape, whether it has been extended or if something has been constructed next to it. Also, when dealing with more modern buildings I need to check what was previously on the land, any ditches or strings on the site as well as the redevelopment of the site, ant defects on the building, or problems on a corner of the building. For example, I need to see if previously it was a field boundary crossing the boundary line which could be the cause of a problem of a construction. I then look at the foundation and see what the cause might be and the context of a building. I also use old maps on a hobby basis because I enjoy writing the history of pubs. I try to make my analysis broader than the pub such as its local setting and locality over the years and see whether the coastline has moved over the century.’’

Solution

''Historic mapping helps me interpret the key uses of a building and establish the phasing of the development. When observing historical mapping I look at the site itself and its previous land use. OS historical mapping from 1870 onwards is ideal for me. The way I use mapping is by downloading the DWG plan of the area and use it as the basis. This way I digitise the land and then create paper copies of the map, adjust, and analyse them. An example would be the coast In Greatstone in Kent.''

Sample of work