Events - Surveyor Training

Opening of Maybush

As I arrived at Maybush for the first time on 11 March 1969 the buildings had been in use for several months. Staff had moved there from the temporary Chessington offices that were adopted when the Southampon London Road site was bombed during the 1940's.

Also the local Elmsleigh training school had moved to the new OS site. However the grounds still resembled a building site much as in this photo from the programme [photo: late 1968]:

air photo maybush

The huts were removed and the land was quickly tidied up, trees planted and lawns were laid just in time for the official opening by HM The Queen on 1st May 1969.


I wish I could describe the day but I did not see very much of it. Our survey course had been requisitioned to man all the lifts on the site that day - from late morning to late afternoon. "My lift" was in the main reception area of North Block (now Compass House). I saw nothing of the event, being stationary on the upper floors for long periods, even though the commemorative stone was just 3-4m away on the ground floor.

The Queen's tour did not involve any lifts - I am still rather sceptical about the well repeated story of a uniformed individual getting their sword/sheath caught in a lift door - since no one from the course reported any excitement of that nature.

Nevertheless it was a busy day and a programme and several documents produced including a description of the concrete artwork joining North and Central Blocks.

fd cover
First day covers were also issued commemorating the first and most recent OS sites.

OS Maybush was designed to support the frontline cartographic processes of the 1960's. OS was not alone in this respect, other mapping agencies in Europe did the same. The construction created light for cartographic processes on four floors of Central Block, an extensive set of ground floor photo labs and printshop, workshopsto the rear (including a carpenters shop). It was also understood that the ground floor of two sides of North Block was isolated from the frame of the building so that any local vibrations were limited and would not disturb the precision photogrammetry instrumentation.

What the designers could not foresee was the digital revolution which started to kick off just as soon as the plans were dray. Although the buidling was refurbished in the 1990s it suffered from several serious issues from around that time and onwards: extensive sections of asbestos were discovered (and sealed), the fire alarm system had to be replaced. North Block was vacated as the number of staff empoyed reduced. A much smaller new building was constructed and opened at Adanac Park nearby in late 2010. This is simply an pffice block and all the remaining industrial processes such printing and warehousing were outsourced prior to the move.

The Maybush site was vacated in in early 2011 and all buildings except Compass House (North Block) were demolished in 2012 to make way for new housing.
There is a gallery of the demolition stages here and much more material in the references below.

OS Open Days

The Maybush building was opened to staff and their families on two hot summer days: Friday and Saturday 18-19 July 1969.


Again students were requisitioned to support the lifts of the Friday as well as manage game stalls in the reception roads between North and South block on the Saturday. The then Director General Brig Edge did his duty by touring and participating in each stall. For some reason I remember this event as much for the clearing up stage late on the Saturday afternoon, relaxed discussions with one of our instructors and warm bottled Guinness.

KJM 21 July 2013


Romsey Road, Maybush, Southampton, SO9 4DH


Start: 11 March 1969
End: 1x December 1969


Ordnance Survey Office London Road: Wikipedia article
Ordnance Survey Office Maybush: Maybush construction & development photos
Ordnance Survey Office Maybush: 3D Model of the Maybush Office by Gary Tull
Ordnance Survey Office Maybush: Staff photos