Longwall Houses Refurbishment

New Accessible Rooms

The long overdue and awaited refurbishment of 18 Longwall and 21 Longwall (the Morris Garages), started in late June 2017.

18 Longwall, which is located inside the College next to the Sacher gate, masquerades as a single house whereas it was originally three eighteenth century houses – 18, 19 and 20 Longwall Street. This merging of three houses into one with one front door explains the curious internal configuration, which, if the walls were removed would look remarkably like one of M.C. Escher’s impossible constructions. The hidden staircases, surprising twists and turns and oddly numbered bedrooms give visitors the impression that they have entered a maze they may never find a way of leaving.

The Morris Garage at 21 Longwall Street was built in 1909-10 on the site of a disused livery stable, by the architects Tollitt and Lee for Merton College and the Oxford engineer William Morris. It was in this place in 1912 that Morris assembled the prototype of his first motor car, the Morris Oxford, and after car production moved to Cowley the building remained in use as company offices, including Morris's personal office. The building was threatened with demolition in the late 1970s, but a campaign to preserve it resulted in the retention of the main facade, behind which the student accommodation was built in 1981. (From www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk)

As well as improving the existing accommodation, the College has also built a suite of accommodation for students with disabilities in the courtyard of 21 Longwall with state of the art facilities.

The work, which has been going on for just over a year, means that there was a squeeze on undergraduate accommodation for 2017-18 However, the start of construction on the new Gradel Quad at Savile and Mansfield Road will add a significant number of rooms to our existing stock.

Written for The New College Record by Caroline Thomas