If you thought that surveying was just for the built environment then think again. This year we approached Severn Partnership to help survey a world record attempt. Using their 30 years’ experience in the field of measurement and mapping, a team of surveyors were asked to measure potentially the world’s largest... sock monkey.


Put a sock in it

Designer Vicky Roden started the giant sock monkey as part of New Art West Midlands 2015 event. Constructed from over 90 socks, 10 duvets, 2 horse brasses and 1 ribbon, the sock monkey stands to hold a new world record.

Funding for the gargantuan puppet started in May 2015 through a Kickstarter campaign, raising over £650. Completed in August 2015 the puppet was then displayed in famous landmarks across Birmingham.

Taking inspiration from the city’s own King Kong in the seventies, the puppet, named the Bullrider, spent fifteen minutes on the iconic bullring bull as part of an art installation. The Bullrider was then displayed at the British Museum and Art Gallery where it was draped from the balcony until its Guinness World Record attempt day  on 31 January 2016.


The Bullrider is a monkey of Brum and I hope that it is recognised for the world record as it will confirm Birmingham as the home of the largest sock monkey ever made. It will not just be a world record for me and all involved but for the people of the city too who allowed this project to happen.

How was it measured?

Severn Partnership Ltd, typically known for their expertise in land surveying and pioneering new surveying technologies, used a combination of robotic total station and tape measuring, to accurately measure the Bullrider.

After transferring datum lines of the top of the head and the bottom of the feet, two methods were used to ensure the measurement of the Bullrider was not only accurate but consistent. A trimble S6 Robotic Total Station was used to measure the distance via a reflective prism on two points of the floor.

This is a methodology that you will see used on the athletics fields at the Olympics. The instrument determines the distance between the two marker prisms and with an integrated, calibrated level bubble ensures it is plumb and exactly above the marker line.

To confirm that our technology was accurate we also employed the ‘age old’ measurement approach of using a steel calibrated tape measure. We would have liked to use one of our laser scanners to generate a 3D model of the sock monkey but unfortunately they were out on other projects – including one in Antartica.


Other Records

This is not the first time that Severn Partnership has been involved in a Guinness World Record. The company, who were part of our HQ renovations, were also part of Shaun Baker’s world record attempt a few years ago. Shaun who is an extreme kayaker asked Severn Partnership to measure his ‘Speed Altitude Descent’ world record attempt.

By surveying the waterfall’s height and length the team were able to help Shaun secure his world record; which he still holds.

Nick believes that projects like these are a great way of interacting with the public and getting them to understand the world of surveying.

Our projects show just how varied the work of a 21st century surveyor can be, using a range of equipment and skills from high tech to first principles. One day we can be mobile mapping highways in Germany to 10mm accuracy, the next setting out a research base in Antarctica with GPS.

What is measured can vary from the length of a sock monkey to the 3D geometry of a factory for BIM. What matters is that the art of measurement is understood by chartered surveyors and that the black box mentality of button pressing and the computer gives an answer does not prevail.

Read the next page in this section

Another world record attempt

An RICS member was called to measure the world’s longest loom band

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