Penrith field office

The Lake District

Arrival in Penrith

Having agreed a voluntary swap with Keith Schofield in autumn 1974 from OS Llanrwst to OS Penrith I travelled to Penrith on Monday 07 April 1975. We had made a day visit to the office on 23 December the previous year to meet people and familiarise ourselves with the town; John W. Parker was there. I had met John briefly when he took over the OS Llangefni section in early 1973.

We all went to The Tudor for lunch, a local bakers-bar run by Birkitts the bakers. There was a great feel to Penrith and even the lunch venue impressed us as a rather continental European concept. When living there we used it a lot. Sadly today its just a basic Greggs - so much for progress!

OS Penrith
Mostyn Hall, Friargate, Penrith - a listed (and listing) building which was the OS office in 1975-76 (photo 18 October 1976).

Within a couple of hours of arrivng at Penrith I was travelling back down the M6 to start work on completing the last 1:1,250 resurvey plan of Kendal. Given the voluntary nature of the transfer none of the usual accommodation costs were covered but fortunately John and Anne Woolridge who were renting No 2 Kitchenhill, Bowscar were able to put me up weekdays. I am very grateful to John and Anne for accomodating me; three months later I moved in next door [3 Kitchenhill] when Paul Frankie and his wife bought their house in Penrith town. By the end of the year No 1 Kitchenhill also had two OS staff living there!

Dave Roberts arriving at Mostyn Hall, loaded with tomatoes [for sale]. He ran a small tomato business at Larkhall where he lived just south of Glasgow.

Penrith Office - people

The Penrith office was a "field survey" section but it also held the Chief Surveyor and Group Clerk for the Lake District. The staff at the time of my arrival were:

  • Dave Roberts (Chief Surveyor)
  • Jill McLelland (Group Clerk)
  • John Parker (Section Manager)
  • Denis Robinson (Section Manager)
  • Paul Frankie
  • John Woolridge

OS Penrith Staff

Ordnance Survey staff at Penrith on 02 May 1975. Photo credit: J A Woolridge

This includes the Keswick office surveyors who were at Penrith for the 1:10000 resurvey training course, names are:
Back row: Ron Cummings(K/C), Pete Lee(K/C), Arthur Wood(K/C), Jill McLelland(Gp Clerk), Denis Robinson, John Parker, Dave Roberts(Ch. Surveyor); Keith Murray
Front row: Paul Frankie, John Barr(I), George Smart(I), Ian Pearson(K), John Woolridge
K/C=Keswick/Carlisle office [incl continuous revision] & I=Instructors.
George Smart had been an instructor on the previous years 1:10,000 course in OS Llanrwst.

However the office complement changed over the next 18 months with the addition of a new section and change of Chief Surveyor. When I left in October 1976 the staff were:

  • Bob Trotter (Chief Surveyor)
  • Helen Murray (Group Clerk)
  • John Parker (Section Manager)
  • Paul Frankie
  • John Woolridge
  • John Horton
  • John Harrison
  • Ian Spilman

At Keswick Aiden Hornet replaced Arthur Wood, who transferred home to Wales between the 1975 and 1976 mountain seasons.

Work of the Penrith Office

The work area of the field office covered the north eastern Lake District and the Eden Valley. Adjacent sections were in Keswick, Torver, Kendal and Middleton in Teesdale.Some continous revision was undertaken out of a small office in the Gallipoli Block of Carlise Castle.

Town & Rural Mapping

The Mountains and helicopter work

I am very grateful to John Woolridge in providing the photos from the 1:10,000 course and most the photos for the two helicopter seasons. I took a whole film of photos in the 1976 fortnight only to discover that the film had jammed and I ended up with none at all. The only time it has ever happened. So grateful thanks John for these excellent photos.

Social Life

There was an excellent social side to the Penrith Office, while meetimgs with other OS sections, as in Snowdonia, were rare - there were regular social events. This even included a wedding, Ron Cummings, at Lanercost, near Brampton on 24 July 1976. Perhaps the best office Christmas lunch I ever experienced was held in "The Sun" in Pooley Bridge at the north eastern end of Ullswater on 16 December 1975.

OS Christmas lunch 16-Dec-1975

The Lakes staff enjoying their Christmas lunch on 16 December 1975 at "The Sun" in Pooley Bridge. Photo credit: John Horton

Updated KJM 09 September 2013


Mostyn Hall, Friargate, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 7XR


Start: 07 April 1975
End: 18 October 1976


Penrith pages: on Wikipedia

Updated KJM 06 Jan 2015