Colonel Sir George Everest was a Welsh surveyor and geographer and Surveyor General of India between 1830 and 1843. Everest was largely responsible for leading the completion of the Great Trigonometric Survey of India, which ensured the accurate mapping of the subcontinent.
3 November 2017
Everest was relentless in his pursuit of accuracy, making countless adaptations to surveying equipment, methods and mathematics in order to minimize problems specific to the survey.
Accurate instruments could not always be purchased through standard government contracts, so Everest personally supervised the construction of new instruments. As a result, he and his team successfully measured the meridian arc from Southern India to Nepal; an immense distance of roughly 2,400km.
Sir George is best remembered thanks to the world’s highest mountain which came to bear his name. The mountain was measured by Andrew Scott Waugh, Everest’s successor as the Surveyor General of India in 1852, and the mountain was named after Everest in recognition of his significant surveying expertise.
When scientists revisited the data he had collected 160 years later, with the benefit of GPS and laser technology, they found that he was accurate to within 0.09%. That equates to just a couple of feet. Accurate measurement is, clearly, a valued and crucial contribution made by surveyors.
Considering the equipment available to him in the mid-19th Century – consistently used in tough weather – this was an extraordinary achievement, one that makes Everest worthy of celebration as RICS heads into its 150th year.
Sir George was dubbed a knight in 1861 and elected as the vice-president of the Royal Geographical Society the following year. In 1865 the Royal Geographical Society officially adopted Mount Everest as the name for the highest mountain in the world, despite Sir George’s humble objections.
2018 marks the 150th anniversary of RICS. To celebrate this milestone, we're launching our Pride in the Profession initiative to showcase the significant and positive impact surveyors have made to society. We've already dug into the archives to find some exceptional examples, like the one above. By promoting these incredible people and projects we want to demonstrate how varied and rewarding a surveying career can be.
To make it happen, we need you to nominate the people and projects you admire most.