The original building, designed by John Plaw and situated at the south end of the Avenue on the west side, was erected in the late 18th century at the onset of the French Revolutionary Wars as a cavalry barracks. Cessation of hostilities with France rendered the barracks redundant and the building was converted in 1816 into a branch of the Royal Military Asylum then based at Chelsea. At one time the asylum catered for three or four hundred orphan boys. It was converted in 1823 for the use of girls and closed in 1840 when the girls were moved back to Chelsea. In 1841 the Ordnance Survey Office was established on the site, after a fire at the Tower of London had destroyed their London offices.
Between 1841 and 1867 new buildings were added and some of the existing ones remodelled. The original 18th century cavalry barracks buildings were demolished in 1873. The buildings received some damage in the Blitz of 1940 and the work of the Survey was split between this site, Chessington in Surrey and the Crabwood House site at Maybush. In 1969 a new permanent site was opened alongside Romsey Road at Maybush and all operations were transferred there. The surviving buildings in London Road are from the mid-Victorian rebuilding and have been converted to office use.
History of the Ordnance Survey, by W. A. Seymour. (HS/pm)
Early Years of the Ordnance Survey, by Charles Close. (HS/pm)
Buildings of England: Hampshire and the I.O.W., by Nikolaus Pevsner and David Lloyd, p528, 568. (H/i)
Southampton’s Historic Buildings, by R. J. Coles, p22-23. (HS/k)
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