Examples of Ordnance Survey Abbreviations

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This is a work in progress. Through the Geograph discussion forum we are collecting examples of as many abbreviations as possible used on Ordnance Survey maps at 1:25,000 (25K) and 1:50,000 (50K) scales - and we want examples of other abbreviations.

Note that maps may have changed since the article was prepared, so abbreviations mentioned may not be on current maps.

TQ8172 : Chimney of Kingsnorth Power Station by David Anstiss An example - Chy is for Chimney.

Ordnance Survey website has a list Abbreviations used on OS 25k and 50k scale mappingExternal link.

The National Library of Scotland maps websiteExternal link has a fuller list Ordnance Survey AbbreviationsExternal link. Their preamble to the list is:
"We are very grateful to Dr Richard Oliver for compiling this list and allowing us to use it. The abbreviations have been compiled from a number of sources, relating to all scales of Ordnance Survey mapping in Scotland, England and Wales. For more information on these abbreviations and their interpretation, please consult Richard Oliver's book Ordnance Survey maps: a concise guide for historians (London : Charles Close, 1993)."

There is a table of abbreviations in the book "Ordnance Survey Maps - a descriptive manual" by JB Harley, published by Ordnance Survey in 1975. This shows the map scales on which an abbreviation appears. The list below includes the abreviations and expansions which this book shows as appearing on 1:25,000 and 1:50,000 scale maps. Some of these do not appear on current maps, but most do, and examples are welcome through the discussion forum. Where there is no example yet, there is a set of double brackets [[]] - this makes it easier to insert the link to the example when it is found.

The article OS Symbols - Abbreviations on 50K key gives examples of the few abbreviations in the key on 50K maps.

For each abbreviation in the table below there is its expansion. If we have an example, it shows whether it appears on 25K or 50K maps or both in the example, and the title of a Geograph photo showing the item. Click on this to show the photo, its description, and a section of 50K map including the abbreviation. Click on that map section to display the Ordnance Survey online map at 25K. For some abbreviations there may be a grid reference of an example where we have no photograph at present.

Some abbreviations appear in a number of different combinations. For example Coll can be by itself or in "Tech Coll". Abbreviations like dis for "disused", rems for "remains" and Sta for "Station" can appear with several other words or abbreviations. In the list below each abbreviation is given once, with an example of its use.

N S E W for North South East West appear in place names, e.g. as S E Point on SD2361 : South East Point, Walney Island.

An example of use of month name abbreviations is in a seasonal ferry, Apr-Nov in SD3960 : Heysham Harbour entrance.

Some abbreviations have several possible expansions, e.g. CG for Coast Guard or Cattle Grid.
Whether a word is given in full, abbreviated, or omitted depends on the space available on the map. So in many cases whether an abbreviation appears on both just depends on space. However some items given as words on 50K maps have standard symbols on 25K maps - e.g. Recreation Centre.

Names of long distance routes appear in some places on the trail in full, and at other places along the route as initials. For example ELDR at SU995490, European Long Distance Route at TQ017541. So if there are initials, scan along the route to find the full name.
AAAutomobile Association[[]]
AcadAcademyXTQ2978 : Entrance to Pimlico Academy in St George's Square
Allot Gdns Allotment X SE4380 : Allotment Gardens, Sowerby In: Allot Gdns
AmbAmbulanceTL5480 : Ely Police StationIn: Pol & Amb Sta
AprAprilXSD3960 : Heysham Harbour entranceGiving months Apr-Nov of operation of ferry
BdyBoundaryXSZ6298 : View Towards PortsmouthIn: UA Bdy
BksBarracksXSU8752 : Barracks in Aldershot
BoroBoroughXST4577 : Mudflats with drainage channelIn: Boro Const Bdy
BPBoundary PostXTL1878 : Boundary Post Upton
BrBridgeXST3186 : Newport Transporter BridgeIn: Transporter Bridge
BSBoundary StoneXSJ9492 : Werneth Bredbury Boundary Stone
Burial GdBurial Ground[[]]
CCommunity (Wales)Xin ST5085In: C Bdy
CasCastleXSK5639 : Nottingham Castle
CathCathedralXNZ2742 : Late evening light on Durham Cathedral
CemyCemeteryXXTL4859 : Cambridge City Cemetery, Newmarket Road
CGCattle Grid XNN7268 : The "track" up Meall a' ChathaidhThe grid is on the road across the photo
CGCoast Guard XTF9145 : Coastguard LookoutIn: CG Sta
CHClub HouseXXTQ9956 : Faversham Golf Club
ChyChimneyXXTQ8172 : Chimney of Kingsnorth Power Station
CoCountyXST4577 : Mudflats with drainage channelIn: Co Const Bdy
CollCollegeXTL4561 : Cambridge Regional College
ConstConstituencyXST4577 : Mudflats with drainage channelIn: Boro Const Bdy
Conv HomeConvalescent Home[[]]
CottCottageNY9856 : Fell Cottages
CPCivil ParishXSO948365In: Kemerton CP
CremCrematoriumXXSO9190 : Gornal Wood Crematorium, near Dudley
Cse Course XSU9577 : Windsor race course In: Race Cse
Ct Court XSJ9398 : Tameside Magistrates and County Courts
disdisusedXXSY6969 : Disused quarry, near Southwell, PortlandIn: Quarries (dis)
dismtd dismantledXSP3665 : Offchurch CuttingIn: dismtd rly
DistDistrictXSK4092 : Sheffield to Keadby CanalIn: Met Dist Bdy
EEastXSD2361 : South East Point, Walney IslandIn placename: S E Point
ElElectric(ity)Examples follow
El Dist StaElectricity Distribution StationLSX2482 : Electricity sub-station near Trethinnashown on 10K map
El Gen StaElectricity Generating Station[[]]
El Sub StaElectricity Sub StationXXTG2406 : Electricity sub-station in Trowse
El Tfmr StaElectricity Transformer Station[[]]
El WksElectricity Works[[]]
ELDREuropean Long Distance RouteXSU9949 : Narrowboat in Millmead Lock, Guildford, Surrey
Emp ExEmployment Exchange[[]]
Eng WksEngineering Works[[]]
ESS Electricity sub-station LTF2411 : Utilitarian brick building at the sub-station Abbreviation on 10K map
Ex Exchange XNJ9341 : Auchnagatt Telephone Exchange In: Tel Ex
F Fire X TL1860 : Fire & Ambulance Stations, Huntingdon Street In: F Sta
FallWaterfallXSN8487 : Confluence of Hore and SevernJust upstream from this confluence
FBFootbridgeXNN9895 : Footbridge near the Corrour bothy - 2
Ferry FFerry - Foot[[]]Ferry P is used on recent maps
Ferry PFerry - PassengerXSZ6398 : Solent Express Arrives at Southsea, HampshireWording Hovercraft Ferry P at SZ6296 on 50K
Ferry VFerry - VehicularXSZ3589 : "Caedmon" docking at YarmouthWording Ferry V at SZ3591 on 50K
Fm Farm XTL5862 : Vicarage Farm, Swaffham Prior In: Vicarage Farm
Gas GovGas governorTM3779 : Gas Decompression StationOn 10K map
GdGroundXTL1122 : Crawley Green Road Recreation GroundIn: Sports Gd
Gdns Gardens X SE4380 : Allotment Gardens, Sowerby In: Allot Gdns
Gen StaGenerating Station[[]]
GovtGovernmentXXST1781 : Government offices, Llanishen, CardiffIn: Govt Offices
GPOGeneral Post Office[[]]Not on recent maps
GVCGas Valve CompoundXat SJ765058also ST1295 : Gas Valve Compound near Nelson has GVC on 1:10,000 scale map
H Hydraulic XSS5339 : Hydraulic Ram near Patsford As H Ram for Hydraulic Ram
H M Her (His) Majesty's XXSX5874 : Dartmoor Prison front doore.g. in: Her Majesty's Prison
HM Her Majesty's / His Majesty'sXSU6201 : HMS Glasgow berthed at Portsmouth Dockyard25K has HM Naval Base (no space between letters)
HMYOIHer (His) Majesty's Young Offenders InstitutionXNS9178 : Polmont Young Offenders institution
HoHouseXTL4874 : The Burystead manor house, Wilburton, CambsIn: Manor House
HosplHospitalXSP3168 : 64-slice CT scanner at the Warwickshire Nuffield Hospital, Blackdown
HPOHead Post Office[[]]
HQ Head Quarters XNH6844 : Northern Constabulary Headquarters, Inverness In: Police HQ
HWMSHigh Water Mark (Springs)[[]]
HWM High Water Mark[[]]
IIsland, Isle[[]]
Ind EstIdustrial EstateXNT0068 : Livingston Distribution Centre
InfyInfirmaryXNU1913 : Alnwick Infirmary [3]Being changed to the standard abbreviation Infmy
InfmyInfirmaryXNY3856 : Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle
InstInstituteXNS4864 : Paisley Town HallIn: Research Inst
IRB Inshore Rescue Boat XXSN5881 : Aberystwyth Lifeboat StationIn: IRB Sta
IssIssue LST1789 : Issue and sink, Rectory Road, Bedwaswater issue, shown on 10K map
Isoln HosplIsolation Hospital[[]]
LB Lifeboat XXSW3526 : Sennen Cove LifeboatIn: LB Sta
LBLondon BoroughTQ2382 : Canalside garden, Kensal GreenIn: LB Bdy
LCLevel CrossingXTL5957 : Westley Bottom level crossing
LibyLibraryXXTL4458 : Cambridge University Library
LookLookoutXSW6951 : St Agnes Head coastguard stationIn: Look Sta
LRTS Light Rail Transit System XSK5448 : Tram at Butlers Hill stop
LWMLow Water Mark[[]]
LWMSLow Water Mark (Springs)[[]]
Manor HoManor HouseXTL4874 : The Burystead manor house, Wilburton, Cambs
MemlMemorialXSN5781 : Aberystwyth War Memorial
MetMetropolitanXSK4092 : Sheffield to Keadby CanalIn: Met Dist Bdy
Met StaMeteorological StationXNY6978 : Coalburn Meteorological Station
MH & MLWMean High and Mean Low WaterXST4978 : East Pier at Royal Portbury Dock
MH & MLWSMean High and Mean Low Water (Springs) XHZ2069 : View across South Harbour, with Tirricks
MHWSMean High Water (Springs)XNM2257 : Loch Eatharna, Coll
MHWMean High WaterXST4978 : East Pier at Royal Portbury DockAlso TL3874 : River Great Ouse, Earith, Cambs in the Fens
Mkt Market XSJ9399 : Ashton Market
MLWMean Low WaterXTF6337 : Low tide
MLWSMean Low Water (Springs)XNM2356 : Eilean Eatharna, Arinagour, Coll
MonMonumentXXSU4029 : The monument at Farley Mount
MPMile PostXXNM5137 : Rustic Mile Post
MSMile StoneXXSU3468 : Mile stone
Mtl HosplMental Hospital[[]]
MusMuseumXTL4459 : Folk Museum, Northampton Street
NNorthXSD2362 : Shelly Bars and North East PointIn placename: N E Point
NoNumberX XHY4800 : Lamb Holm: view across the Churchill Barrier towards Holm
NovNovemberXSD3960 : Heysham Harbour entranceGiving months Apr-Nov of operation of ferry
NTNational Trust[[]]
NTLNormal Tidal LimitXSX7444 : Head of Bowcombe CreekAlso TL3672 : Brownshill Lock and Staunch in the Fens
NTSNational Trust for Scotland[[]]
ObsyObservatoryXSY1388 : Norman Lockyer Observatory Sidmouth Devon
PPassengerXXSX8851 : Kingswear: the passenger ferry from DartmouthIn: Ferry P
PPost OfficeXST4541 : Meare: the post office/storesPO on 25K
PCPublic ConvenienceXXSU2408 : Public toilets at Bolderwood car park, New Forest
PHPublic HouseXTR0150 : The Halfway House Pub at the Challock roundabout
PlPlaceXTQ7555 : Lockmeadow MarketIn: Mkt Pl
PlantnPlantationXSE6959 : Sleepers in Whey Carr Plantation
POPost OfficeXST4541 : Meare: the post office/storesP on 50K
Pol Police XTL1860 : Police Station, Dovehouse Close In: Pol Sta
Pp Pump XTL5799 : Pump house by the Old Bedford River In: Pp Ho
Ppg Pumping XTL4482 : Pumping station from the bank of the Old Bedford River In: Ppg Sta
R Rifle XTL0689 : Oundle School Rifle RangeIn: R Range (Red lettering)
R River XTQ5375 : River Darent In: River Darent
RACRoyal Automobile Club[[]]
RecnRecreationXSU4402 : Gang Warily Community Centre, HantsIn: Recn Centre
remsremainsXTL7280 : Remains of St Peter's Church, EriswellIn: Church (rems of)
ResrReservoirXNY4078 : Covered Reservoir
rlyrailwayXSP3665 : Offchurch CuttingIn: dismtd rly
SSouthXSD2361 : South East Point, Walney IslandIn placename: S E Point
SanatmSanatoriumXSU1868 : Marlborough - CollegeThis is a college sanatorium
SchSchool XXTQ8065 : Rainham Girls SchoolSch on 50K, plural Schs on 25K
SksSinksLST1789 : Issue and sink, Rectory Road, Bedwasstream sinks, word on 10K map
SlSluiceXTF5801 : The A G Wright SluiceNamed on 25K
Spr Spring XSP0133 : Spring rising Blue lettering
StaStationXXTF9145 : Wells Lifeboat StationHere in: Lifeboat Sta
TATerritorial ArmyNS3437 : Territorial Army DepotIn: TA Centre
TechTechnicalXXSP3278 : Development at the TechIn: Tech Coll
Tel Telephone XNJ9341 : Auchnagatt Telephone Exchange In: Tel Ex
THTown Hall XXSZ0891 : Bournemouth Town Hall
TollToll Gate or BridgeTL3910 : Toll Gate, Rye Road
TV StaTelevision StationXTQ3369 : Radio Transmitter off S Norwood Hill
Twr Tower XXTL2717 : Bull's Green Water TowerIn: Water Tower
UAUnitary AuthorityXSZ6298 : View Towards PortsmouthIn: UA Bdy
Under ConstUnder Construction[[]]
UnivUniversityXXSN5981 : Belltower and Arts Centre, University of Wales, Aberystwyth
VVehicleXSX8851 : Lower vehicle ferry across the DartIn: Ferry V
VicVicarageXSJ0075 : Bodelwyddan Church Vicarage
W Well XNY7868 : 19th century well on English side of Hadrian's wall at Housesteads Fort Blue letter
Wd PpWind Pump[[]]
Wd SockWind SockXat NZ102597For NZ1059 : Northumbria Gliding Club
Wks Works XTL5454 : Fleam Dyke Pumping Station
Wr Water XXTL2717 : Bull's Green Water Tower In: Water Tower
WT StaWireless Station (Transmitting or Receiving)TQ4658 : Radio Masts in Knockholt
YYouth Hostel[[]]

Many thanks to Geograph contributors who have suggested examples.

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