Services Block

Services Block, SE end - flammable store and garden store

Services Block was a large single-story double-height building located to the rear of Maybush site. It had no physical connection to the rest of the building (except for underground services).

Services Block originally contained garages (for maintaining the official fleet of vehicles) and various workshops and stores. It was 15 bays wide by 8 bays deep; each bay is approximately 4.75 metres square – the same as West Block. It was split into two halves by an inlet (on the north-eastern elevation) five bays deep that allowed vehicle access to the various rooms.

Unlike the other 1960s buildings at Romsey Road (which have a concrete structure), Services Block was constructed primarily of metal, with steel roof trusses and ‘northlight’ monitor lights. Externally, it was faced with brown bricks (of the same design as West Block), with metal-framed windows at high level. Some of the bays had full-height wooden folding concertina doors; some of these were often difficult to open after years of being unused and exposure to the elements.

The southern side originally contained ‘Spraying’ and ‘Graining’ areas, associated with the Print Floor and Repro sections. There were also various storerooms, the most notable being the ‘Bilby Store’. This was originally used to store Bilby Towers (a portable tower for carrying out triangulation in areas that were not hilly enough to have hilltop trig pillars). The name remained long after the Bilby Towers became obsolete by other surveying methods. More recently, the Bilby Store was used to store pallets of recyclable waste (map paper, aluminum printing plates and computers; the latter were sent for resale). In the mid 2000s, some plucky thieves stole metal printing plates from here in broad daylight; metal theft is not a new phenomenon! It was also used for the forklift truck and the X-Ray machine for checking suspicious mail.

Adjacent to the Bilby Store were a couple of other large storerooms used by Amey maintenance and the ‘Gardener’s Club’, another room that kept an old name long after the demise of the club in question. There was also a chemical store with a mezzanine store, used for products involved in Printing/Repro. Next to this was a store for mowers and other grounds maintenance equipment, which benefited from a roller shutter.

Entirely separated were the old Graining and Spraying workshops, which had an impressive ventilation plant for extracting fumes. These were converted into offices, with suspended ceilings, in the mid-late 1990s for use by the fs³ maintenance staff; there was also a mess room. Behind this area, in the southern corner of the building, was a room that was used for the popular children’s Holiday Playscheme for staff, although some Learning at Work Week activities also took place here in the late 2000s, including ballroom dancing and drumming.

In the part of the building between the two halves were a welding workshop and a ‘cyclone’ system for extracting sawdust from the nearby Carpenters’ Workshop, along with a small storeroom for surveying equipment and some ancient toilets.

The northern half of Services Block contained more workshops and stores. At the front was the Garage/Motor Fitters’ workshop, used for maintaining the fleet of official vehicles. This contained an electric hoist and there was an adjacent Washbay. While the maintenance of official vehicles was one of the first areas to be outsourced, the Washbay was still in use several times a week and had the latest jet washer machine, until the decision was taken to discontinue official vehicles in the late 2000s. Like several rooms in Services Block, there was a period ceramic sink and a large drain that had to be emptied occasionally, this was connected to an oil interceptor in case that oil got spilt.

The garage was used to store the materials used for the refurbishment of the main Central Block office spurs in the mid 1990s – this included chipboard flooring panels (for the raised floors), ceiling tiles and carpet tiles. Most of this was used, but three offices (C363, C478 and C580) were not done and some of the materials from these were still there in the mid-late 2000s. Most of the carpet tiles and ceiling tiles got reused for replacing damaged ones, and also for refurbishing rooms in West Block (such as W416) from a storeroom to an office. Much research was done into finding somebody to take away the wooden panels for reuse or recycling but unfortunately, they had to be thrown away as that was the only option. After this was cleared out then the garage was used for storing cars – it had gone full circle and back to its original purpose.

Adjacent to the garage was the Carpenters’ Shop, although in recent years a much smaller version of the original one that was there. Part of this was separated off and used as a chair store. Next to this was another workshop that was converted into showers and changing rooms for cyclists/people playing sport in the mid/ate 1990s.

The north corner of the building was originally a large ‘Engineers Workshop’ but was used as a furniture store in recent years. The western corner, adjacent to this, was a workshop/store for Instrument Repair – repairing surveying instruments – and next to that were Electricians’ workshops. The instrument repair workshop became obsolete as technology evolved and the trend towards repairing such items in-house reduced. This, along with the electricians’ areas (which presumably became obsolete for the same reason) were stripped out and refitted in the mid 1990s as a day nursery (called Little Explorers) for staff young children.

Adjacent to the nursery were several smaller storage areas containing ancient surveying equipment, which was given away/sold before Services Block closed for good.

Mechanical, and electrical

In the void above the shower and changing room area was various equipment for supplying domestic hot water to the showers etc.

Services Block was demolished in its entirety in late 2011/early 2012.