History of the Office Block
The initial work to refurbish and re-purpose the office block has revealed structural elements which allow a tentative re-interpretation of the buildings history.
In the area of the Chief Clerk’s Office, (Fig.1), the removal of floor boards revealed several courses of stonework, essentially the base of a substantial wall, at right angles to the length of the existing building, (Photo 1).
It is considered that these two structural elements are evidence of an original building / office block attached to the Goods Shed, the footprint being substantially less than that currently existing.
The existence of an original office block is further evidenced on the eastern wall, ie.the Goods shed wall, on the 1st.floor of the office block, (Photo 3).
This shows two distinct roof lines on the northern half of the goods shed wall. The lower roof line is replicated on the southern half of the goods shed wall, (Photo 4).
It is likely that this roof line represents the roof of the original single storey office block, the ceiling of which would have been what is now the 1st.floor of the current office block. The upper roof line represents that of the goods shed, the roof being lower than that of the new office block.
Neither the date of construction nor the internal layout of the original office block is known; no plans or documentary evidence has yet been unearthed. However it is likely that construction was contemporaneous with that of the goods shed, ie.the mid 1870’s.
The footprint of the original office block was more than doubled in size and a second storey was added early in the 20th.century. It is likely that this included the construction of the fireplaces and flues which still feature as structural elements within the office block. Again the precise internal office layout at this period is unknown, there having been subsequent alterations to meet operational and organisational developments. Some of these alterations are indicated on the plan to install central heating in 1947. The more obvious changes throughout this period are marked on Figure 1. They include the following :-
a infilled doorway to the Agents Office, (Photo 5);
as many as five infilled spaces, tentatively identified as fireplaces, the majority of which are on the ground floor, (Photos 5, 6 and 7); Note - that Photo 7 shows the infilled space evident on the passageway wall of the Agents Office as viewed from the Clerical Office. The position of this infill corresponds with that viewed from within the Agents Office; see Photo 5.
a infilled window / niche, (Photo 8).
From left to right: Photos 5, 6, 7, 8
Whilst there is a central flue for three fireplaces - those in the Chief Clerks Office and back to back fireplaces on the 1st.floor - there is no obvious flue for the fireplace(s), (Photo 9) which appear to have existed in the space now designated the Agents Office. These infilled spaces may have been part of the original single storey office block.
At dates unknown alterations also occurred within the goods shed. Several small offices, function unknown, were constructed within the main body of the shed, one replacing the western most loading bay. All the other loading bay entrances were widened probably reflecting developments in operational practice. However these are for subsequent investigation.
It would appear that the basic office block layout and functions indicated on the 1947 plan were largely retained during the post-war decade. Following the closure of the goods shed in 1966 after years of gradual post war decline the shed and goods yard were largely disused resulting in the slow deterioration of the physical fabric of the entire site and buildings.