Ordnance Survey Mapping Intelligence Records
Ordnance Survey Mapping Intelligence Records for rights of way
In 2007 the modern OS records relating to rights of way, kept by the Mapping Intelligence section were moved from the OS to The National Archive at Kew. Prior to this authorities seeking lost Orders or information about their Definitive Maps could consult the OS records. Now this information is at The National Archive and can be searched by the public. The OS is no longer able to answer questions about the data transferred to The National Archive; it keeps information received since 2007 in electronic form and is able to access this on request.
The OS Mapping Intelligence rights of way archive contains all information received by the OS about public rights of way in England and Wales from a number of sources. It also contains documents manufactured by the OS in order to help it manage and track rights of way data. It contains data from the 1950s to 2007. However, once the OS was in receipt of an updated Definitive Map from an authority it disposed of copy Orders and previous copies of Definitive Maps it had held from that authority.
The 1947 report of the special committee on Footpaths and Access to the Countryside (Cmd.7202), popularly known as the "Hobhouse Committee" after its chairman Sir Arthur Hobhouse, considered that rights of way that were to be shown on the Definitive Map and Statement should be shown on revised OS maps:
"We hope that the Ordnance Survey in its periodic review of all ordnance maps of a scale of 2 ½ inches or more to the mile will show the public rights of way so soon as they are legally established by the above procedure, and will distinguish them on these maps from any other paths or tracks not so established." (Paragraph 45, page 11)
This requirement led to the OS being sent copies of completed Definitive Maps and later any subsequent legal Orders that affected rights of way. The OS began to receive rights of way information from 1950, but it was not until 1960 that it showed the first "definitive" rights of way information on a revised map sheet.
The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 required surveying authorities to produce reviewed Definitive Maps every five years; but this requirement was largely ignored. The OS required up dating information more frequently than surveying authorities were producing updated and reviewed Definitive Maps, so from 1965 onwards authorities and other bodies that made legal Orders affecting public rights of way sent copies of these to the OS. OS policy was that changes would not be shown on revised OS mapping until it was notified that the legal Order was operational.
Following the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 OS began to receive Definitive Map Modification Orders, but it did not distinguish between these and Public Path Orders. There also appears to have been some confusion about Legal Event Modification Orders, the OS saw these as 'duplicating' already existing Orders; which is consistent with its practice of amending its published mapping to reflect confirmed operational Public Path Order and other legal Orders that had taken effect.
Records at the National Archive
The National Archive now holds two series of records:
- OS 75 definitive map series (1951-2009)
- OS 78 public path order series (1959 -2007)
OS 75 contains:
- Definitive maps from 78 local authorities, annotated by the OS
- OS index cards to these records
- OS index maps
OS 78 contains:
- Files related to all types of legal Orders that affect rights of way
- Related correspondence
It is important to understand that the OS categorised these records according to the way the OS used them for mapping intelligence purposes, so the terminology used is not the same as would be used by rights of way professionals. For example the OS used the term Public Path Order as an umbrella term that included not only Public Path Orders made by local authorities under the Highway Acts and Town and Country Planning Acts, but also Definitive Map Modification Orders, and Statutory Instruments made by Government Departments.
For each surveying authority OS 75 contains:
Copies of definitive maps
A copy of the latest definitive map for the authority area (as supplied by the authority). This is annotated by the OS to records the changes made on its published mapping. The annotations usually relate to documents that can be found in OS 78.
It is important to note that a copy of a definitive map may be split into a number of separate map sheets. The OS bound groups of sheets together into folios, and these were numbered sequentially. Superseded authorities are cross-referenced to more recent authority names.
Manuscript Index Cards
One for each County as compiled by the OS. These give details of copies definitive maps that were previously held by the OS and relate the authority areas to the map folio numbers. Index cards show relevant National Grid lines and give sheet numbers for the related OS 1:50,000 mapping. The cards also give details of areas not covered by the archive materials and show names of adjoining counties. The cards also contain details of the publication dates and dates of receipt by the OS of new and revised/consolidated copies of definitive maps.
For each surveying authority OS 78 contains:
Copies of legal Orders received by the OS that post date the most recently held copy of the definitive map together with any relevant correspondence. These have been annotated by the OS to give the date of receipt, the date of any action taken by the OS to amend its mapping, together with the map reference of the affected OS map sheet, and a library reference number.
Researching these records
The National Archive Catalogue online can be used to identify documents, but because of the way the information was managed by the OS it is not possible to identify individual legal Orders; a researcher will have to visit Kew to locate these. The content of the OS archives varies hugely from authority area to authority area, largely depending on how active an authority was in updating and reviewing its definitive map. The archive only contains information supplied after the date of the most recent definitive map, and obviously will only contain information that an Order Making Authority submitted in the first place.