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Urban Myths


The following Urban Myths were taken from a discussion on the UOSGrads mailing list.

1) Senate House was built the wrong way around. In that the large flight steps leading up to level 2 (now built over), were supposed to face out and impress visitors, rather than the basement door. Evidence: The "artists impression" in the Vice-Chancellors office, depicts it that way around. (Colin Edwards)

2) One of the houses in Battesea Court started to fall down at the plastering and wiring stage. It had to be demolished and built again. Evidence: I'm sure I remember seeing it in an OFU made film, about the building of the University. (Colin Edwards)

3) When Guildford Court (I think) was planned, an error was made meaning that if the buildings were built to plan they would not fit on the site. The solution was to reduce all measurements to 75% of their original length making the whole court ridiculously small. Evidence: Rooms that are too small to fit beds in, toilet doors that will not close unless you stand on the toilet,etc. (Malcolm McKee)

4) Whilst at Surrey I had a fair few Civ. Eng. friends, they told me that the whole of the University was subsiding and slipping down the hill, only by a very small amount each year. Apparently they were keeping tabs on this in the summer months with those tripod things (theodolites?), as part of their courses. (Jo Russell)

5) Guildford (3rd) Court is built in two sections and certainly in the 70's, the rumour about it sliding down the hill, was reinforced by the number of split pipes. Every so often a crack would appear in the roadway between the upper and lower block. Water, steam or somesuch would then come out. The popular explanation was that the sections were moving at different speeds. (Colin Edwards)

6) I have another urban myth regarding Guildford court. Whenever it was built, it was built to a minimum sized room specification as laid down by the NUS. However, the University built all the outside walls to this specification and not the inside walls! Hence the reason why the court is so unbelievably cramped. (Ben Davis)

7) There is a lot of truth to the rumour that the University of Surrey is slipping down the hill.
My grandfather was a pile driver back in the late 1930's and he worked on the foundations for the cathedral. When I told him where I was going to university he said to me "So the cathdral has not made it to the bottom of the hill yet.". If everybody on the cathedral building project thought that it was heading for the bottom of the hill then there can be no doubt that the university will not be far behind. (Ian Gillman Computer Aided Chemistry 94)


Wizard Japes


1) Jet Lag

For this one the victim had to live on the ground floor of Surrey or Battersea court and have a mains alarm clock.
You had to go along to their room at 1am, open the little circuit breaker box and turn off the electricity. Then with a quantity of black paper, cover the outside of his window.

Return at 6am and turn the power back on.

So at about 8am the victim awakes and the clock shows 3am, so he goes back to sleep. This continues until he finally realises that something is wrong. The effect is very similar to jet lag. (This worked much better with a quiet room at the back and the co- operation of the other inmates. It would be a he, because in those days the girls were always on the top floors)

Methinks that these days, with digital clocks linked to the Rugby time standard, this wouldn't work. Then I wondered, how difficult would it be to generate a phoney time signal?

2) Door Numbers

All of the doors in Battersea Court, Surrey Court and the original academic buildings, had the same style number plates, with a card holder.
So you could : (All of these start with "late at night") :
a) Swap somebodys room door plaque, with the head of their department.
b) Liven up 'a', by mixing in one from a toilet somewhere.
c) Do a whole series and make it a "treasure hunt".
d) Swap all of the numbers on a floor, end to end. This was great fun, if it could be done before the freshers arrived. Even people who knew better, took a while to spot that one. (We got a note telling us to stop doing that.)


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