Public Services Building – Milton Court – Barbican Estate

“A calculatedly awkward design in plain, sheer concrete.”

“The Buildings of England”, Nikolaus Pevsner and Simon Bradley

Where there is now the metal and glass Heron Tower containing flats and the performance facilities of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, there once stood a squat concrete building – “the public services building”, as it was attractively called. This was designed by Chamberlin Powell & Bon as “a receptacle for odd and pressing needs”.

The public services building was constructed as part of Phase I of the City’s programme of building works in the Barbican. The contractor was J Jarvis and Sons Limited.

The building became the home of the fire station, the coroner’s court, a mortuary, the City’s weights and measures office, a disinfection station, and a drill yard (for fireman marching up and down). On top were 13 maisonettes intended for City of London staff.

The public services building was attached to the main Barbican complex by a bridge from the podium under Speed House. After construction, it was renamed, less forbiddingly, Milton Court.

Times change. Perhaps the need for a disinfection grew less and firemen no longer consented to marching up and down. The original buildings were knocked down and the site sold off in the mid-2000s for the construction by the Heron group of the new Guildhall School of Music and Drama facilities and flats.

I regard that as a shame; I really liked that old concrete block.