A recent episode of BBC One’s Antiques Road Trip paid a visit to the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO) in Taunton, Somerset, to find out about their history spanning over 200 years and how they use marine geospatial data today.
Airing weekdays on BBC One and BBC Two, the show sees two antiques experts buying and selling antiques across the UK in order to make a profit at auction for charity. During an episode aired on 5 January, James Braxton met with National Hydrographer RAdm Tim Lowe and Dr Adrian Webb to learn more about the organisation.
The UKHO’s archive contains thousands of historical items, including nautical charts, Royal Navy surveys, books, letters and more. During the clip, James viewed the oldest chart in the archives (thought to date back to the early 1600s) as well as the work of Captain Greenvile Collins, who conducted Britain’s first official hydrographic survey in 1681.
The clip also showcases some of the UKHO’s work from the present day, including high-resolution bathymetric data captured to support HMS Queen Elizabeth’s transit from the Rosyth and entry into Portsmouth Harbour last year, as RAdm Tim Lowe explains:
HMS Queen Elizabeth had to come down from Rosyth and those waters were not surveyed to modern standards. So, a combination of the Royal Navy survey teams and their cartographers and geodesists here [at the UKHO] helped develop the new charts and products to help her get out of Rosyth, and more importantly, into her new home in Portsmouth Harbour.
They had to do a massive amount of infrastructure change to actually allow HMS Queen Elizabeth to get into the harbour. They had to dredge quite a lot of the water approach channel to allow her room to manoeuvre. Portsmouth Harbour is a large area and the seabed can change, so we’ll have to keep going back and we’ll have to keep checking.
You can view the full clip below:
Antiques Road Trip - United Kingdom Hydrographic Office