First Trigonometrical Station – ride report for Saturday 10th November

David went on this ride and writes:

Saturday’s leisure ride, led by Philip, took six of us (including a new rider, Bob) to a farmer’s field just outside the village Cold Ashby.  Richard was the first to spot the concrete pillar.

The plaque on the pillar read: “The Trigonometrical Station was built by Sergeant Gemullinger, Royal Engineers on 18th April 1932.  There are 11,678 such station in GB and the last of the stations was made at Thorny Gale in Westmorland on 4th June 1962.”

We then went to a pub that brewed Nobby’s Beer.  Several pints were consumed and more taken back in panniers.  It was dark by the time we left and colder. Lights were needed.

A return visit to understand the brewing process will be occurring in December led by Philip.

David’s account intrigued me and I started to follow it up.

My first port-of-call was Rachel Hewitt’s 2010 book, “Map of a Nation: a biography of the Ordnance Survey” (a Christmas present that year from my son!).  She gives 1935 as the year when the OS started its twentieth-century retriangulation.  This is repeated in the Wikipedia articles on triangulation stations and the retriangulation project.

Next, I found a short clip about the 75th Anniversary of the Cold Ashby trig point from BBC Look East broadcast in 2011 which would give 19th April 1936 as the erection of this first modern trig point.

But the puzzle is solved with the help of photos from the enthusiasts’ site Trigpointing UK.  One of the photos clearly shows the plate engraved with the date  18th April 1936 (and hence the broadcast the following day in 2011)!

Photo by “gaz_zippy” from

Photo by Ed Fielden from

And, finally, detail of the first plaque:

Photo by “gaz_zippy” from

This makes it clear that the inscription reads: “The first observations for the retriangulation of Great Britain were made at this trigonometrical station by Sergeant G E Mullinger, Royal Engineers, on 18th April 1936.  There are 11,678 such stations and the last observations were made at Thorny Gale in Westmorland on 8th June 1962.”

David has now been able to upload his photos from Saturday’s ride:

CTC Northampton at the trig point

The trig point while cycle chatting takes place!

Unusual history on Northampton’s doorstep!