From Stinky Bay to Crazy Mary’s Hole: Ordnance Survey’s new mapping tool assigns local NICKNAMES to coastal areas to make it easier to find people in need of help


  • Equipment for Marine and Coast Guard Agency (MCA) staff speeds up rescue efforts
  • The Public Can Now Relay Weird Place Names Like Mary Hole and Knuckle Dix
  • The MCA was called to more than 33,000 incidents around the UK coast last year

The Ordnance Survey (OS) has added thousands of bizarre local surnames to coastal areas to make it easier for people to find them in emergency situations.

Peculiar nicknames, which include Stinky Bay, Crazy Mary Hole, and Nunchal Dix, were originally adopted by locals and fishermen.

But now, UK government-backed mapping agency OS has added them to a private version of its mapping service for Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) employees.

This means members of the public across the UK can now relay funny nicknames to MCA staff during an emergency.

This will help MCA to identify their exact location more quickly and also help its rescue teams to react faster – ultimately saving more lives.

The MCA was called to more than 33,000 incidents around the UK coast last year.

Stinky Bay, Crazy Mary Hole, Knuckle Dix and Black Knob Point are just a few of the memorable names that will help emergency responders get to places faster.

weird local nicknames

1. black knob point, Salcombe Devon, TQ8 8NP

2. Crazy Mary Hole, Gisleham, Suffolk, NR33 7PF

3. smelly bay (there are two)

– Craigie Bray, Nunton, Western Isles, HS7 5QA

– Atlantic House Hotel, Atlantic, Cornwall PL27 6WG

4. knuckle dicks, Portland, Dorset, DT5 1DJ

5. Bastard Rocks, Torbe, Devon, TQ5 9AW

6. Jacob’s Ladder, The Cliffs, Upper Cavestone, Weston Super Mare, Somerset, BS23, 2ES

7. lobes pound point, Otterhampton, Somerset, TA6 4SR

8. comedy carpet, 1 Heywood Street, Blackpool, Lancashire, FY1 5JA

9. the necking, Hardhorn & Thornton, Lancashire, FY7 5JA

10. slippery bottom, Swallow Tail Boatyard, Ludham, Norfolk, NR29 5QG

1 1 Skeleton Access, Barton Turf, Norfolk, NR12 8XS

12. Arish Mel Gappy, East Lulworth, Dorset, BH20 5QE

13. black duckhandjob Dartford, Kent, DA9 9XN

Note: These are just a few examples from databases of several thousands.

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The project began with a pilot on the south coast, but has now developed into a national system.

The OS has added nicknames to its map over the years, which is not available to the public – MCA employees only.

Further nicknames may also be added to the service as they became clear – for beaches, cliffs, waterways and other coastal areas as well as inland features.

So MCA workers can now simply type in the location alias provided by the emergency caller into the equipment and be told where it is before emergency personnel are dispatched.

The OS has provided a GIF that displays the number of coastal surnames added to the database – officially called FINTAN – as and when they were uploaded.

The MCA can currently refer to approximately 500,000 coastal place names, including 7,500 local surnames and alternative names of sites along the UK coast.

These names will rarely appear on a map or navigation device, the OS claims, such as Apple Maps or Google Maps.

Chris Chambers, head of OS National Mapping Services, said: ‘We have a long history of supporting all emergency services with our mapping data on OS.

‘It’s not just coastal areas that have alternative names, people across the country refer to many other places with surnames – from buildings to parks and squares to road junctions.’

‘Our ambition now is to make the service accessible to every part of Great Britain, as part of our public duty, to support all our emergency services.’

Ideally, people calling for help in an emergency relay coordinates to emergency services to locate a location.

But these are not immediately available to viewers who do not have access to the Internet in the great outdoors.

The mapping is also officially called FINTAN and is displayed in the offices of MCA emergency workers

The mapping is also officially called FINTAN and is displayed in the offices of MCA emergency workers

how does it work?

Callers often used nicknames for beaches, cliffs, and other areas that have other names on maps or do not exist within the gazetteer.

This can make it difficult for the 999 operator to identify the location of the incident when timing is critical.

So the OS has officially added these weird place names to its service for the Maritime and Coast Guard Agency (MCA).

Members of the public can relay the nickname during an emergency call.

But when calling 999 the caller ideally needs to have local knowledge and a colloquial name of the place.

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Anyone who has seen an emergency must call 999 and ask to be connected to the Coast Guard for a coastal emergency. To rescue inland in the water, they would have to ask the fire and rescue service.

An OS spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘Finton is used by a Coast Guard operator speaking to the emergency caller, as part of coordinating the emergency response.

‘The operator refers to the map while talking to the caller to identify where the incident is taking place.

‘They can use any additional information to help – for example, smartphones will automatically pass along the cell phone mast to which the phone is connected and possibly a GPS location.

The Coastguard suggests any member of the public who is heading to the coast this summer to familiarize themselves with the local area — and take note of any strange local nicknames.

Chief Coast Guard Pete Mizen said: “We’re here to save lives and our biggest priority is to reach those who need our help as quickly as possible.”

‘We are looking forward to another busy summer on the coast this year with many families and water sport enthusiasts enjoying holidays in the UK and this database will again prove invaluable to us.’

Last year the Maritime and Coast Guard Agency (MCA) was called to more than 33,000 incidents off the UK coast.  picture, jurassic coastline, southern england

Last year the Maritime and Coast Guard Agency (MCA) was called to more than 33,000 incidents off the UK coast. picture, jurassic coastline, southern england

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