Virtual St Mary's Institute for Historical Research

Where St. Mary's Staff and Historians live virtually.

Virtual St Mary's Institute for Historical Research

Where St. Mary's Staff and Historians live virtually.

The VSM Maintenance Department does what it can to maintain the buildings of St. Mary's: Plumbing, Heating, Brick Work, Plastering, Woodworking and Electrical. Over 30 years of experience at fixing things, building things and generally performing miracles (like keeping the Society for the Preservation of Historic Buildings happy for instance). Biggest bugbear = dealing with glitter. Nigel Bindoff has a VERY small team (see roster) who perform miracles on a daily basis and whose dedication to the job is second to none.

Mechanical Roster:

Department Head - NIGEL BINDOFF
Juliette Grossman
Primrose Meforyou

What has the Mechanical Department been up to during quarantine you ask?

Looks like some other departments got in on the fun as well!

Our Mechanical Department at VSM really does have one of the toughest and most under appreciated responsibilities: Keeping those pesky folks at the Society for the Preservation of Historic Buildings happy (an impossible job really).

So think of them the next time you do something destructive on campus (I'm looking at you R&D).

Also if you ever want a bit of light reading feel free to ask for the packets SPHB sends over... they are a real laugh. 

Grand Opening:
Taylor Winfrey Halls of Residence
-December 2018-

Welcome to Taylor Winfrey Halls of Residence! The ground floor mostly consists of a large dining area which can be converted into a conference suite . Kitchen and a cafeteria area where sandwiches, drinks etc can be picked up by those on the go . Due to members being from different time zones this may well operate 24/7. Some office space for smaller meetings and admin use. Also on the ground floor are a limited number of living quarters for members who have mobility problems . These can be accessed via the ramp. Security have a reception desk and as you enter the building passes must be shown. Floors 1 to 4 (and this has caused a lot of confusion let me tell you) are residential for new and new(ish) members . We have had people living in a tent village whilst the new build took place so if you find yourself allocated a room (see admin) then consider yourselves lucky . I said at the start this is just a brief outline and more details will emerge as we go. Thank you.
    ~ Nigel Bindoff, Head of Mechanical

Did you know that JODI TAYLOR herself came to our grand opening of Taylor Winfrey Halls of Residence?!? IT was able to hijack this missive she sent to Hazel after attending... I wonder why she hasn't been back since then?

Dear Hazel,

Well, you were right – I should never have done it but I thought it would just be a very quick ribbon-cutting ceremony and in the words of someone not a million miles away – what could possibly go wrong?

Well, for a start – they’re all bonkers. Stark staring bonkers. Lovely people, obviously, but deeply, deeply weird.

They made me very welcome. There was tea to begin with, which, for some reason, had been dusted with a thin layer of glitter. As was everything else in the vicinity. Including me after two minutes. I’m not quite sure who Jenny Blackmore is, but apparently, wherever she goes, glitter is bound to follow.

Their new building, the Taylor-Winfrey Hall of Residence is lovely. Quite small and neat from the outside but somehow managing to defy the laws of physics on the inside – think Tardis but with more bedrooms, libraries and café areas than should legally be crammed together in one space. I think, somehow, they’ve managed to bend spacetime, a revolutionary concept of which, being St Mary’s, they are completely unaware.

Incidentally, I managed to stick my head into the kitchens and either they’re geared up for industrial-strength meal production or manufacturing a black hole. Could be either. Or both. Simultaneously.

Returning to the glitter-strewn tea, I should also say there was considerable debate over whether milk goes first or last which I’m happy to say I was able to resolve by declining the devil’s juice completely and sticking with slice of lemon – as any sensible person should do anyway.

From there, I shot into the shop for a quick nose around and it’s lovely. AND, displaying an intelligence far in advance of major supermarket chains, the chocolate is next to the tampons. One stop shopping!

Sadly, I didn’t get a chance to check out R&D or Security – both firmly locked and bolted – and then the ceremony began. Marietta was there, looking extremely elegant and un-ghostlike. Between us we managed to cut the ribbon without losing a finger or blinding an innocent bystander. In fact, the whole ceremony went without a hitch. Well – hardly a hitch – you can’t count the goat eating the ribbon – who keeps a goat indoors? Don’t answer that question – or the glitter bombs detonating in the wrong time and place. The food – obviously – was fantastic. Barb Ruddle and her team must have been working flat out for weeks.

Security was tight and it’s worth mentioning the dogs, Ghengis and Attila, who were much better behaved than their handlers. So much so that I felt quite confident showing them my pass rather than Wayne Sefton and Julie Jennifer, despite their impressively cold, wet noses and perky expressions, and frankly, Hazel, I have to say Wayne’s trick of sniffing people’s bottoms takes a little getting used to.

The grounds were lovely and I would have liked to explore further, especially the sunken rock garden with the man-eating koi ponds. I mean the koi are man-eating, not the ponds, but now I come to think of it ...

Anyway, it was everyone off to The Blue Swan afterwards. Deb Danielson served margaritas galore. Things are a bit blurry after that but I definitely remember the Technical Section’s impromptu Cossack dancing demonstration and the Health and Safety People filling out reams of paperwork afterwards. No idea what that was about. It all looked quite normal to me.

The library was disappointingly swan-free – a united Maintenance/Stables/Library/Safety & Risk Management/Housekeeping/Groundskeeping and Small Animals initiative, I believe. Several people were wearing the expressions of those recently on the receiving end of a good beaking.

Jeanette Boyce from Sick Bay was on standby – although I’m not sure how much bandaging you can do with a margarita in each hand.

Obviously, the whole place had donned Fancy Dress – well, they do, don’t they? At the drop of a hat, usually. IT’s Lorraine Dixon had set up a virtual Court of Henry VIII and there were some sumptuous costumes being paraded. Not least from Rachel Garstang Penman who, as head of the History Department, not unnaturally felt hers should be the best. A point of view vigorously challenged by Jenny Gurton and Tess Titcombe. They were all very polite, however, and in true St Mary’s fashion, waited until the guest had left the building before going for each other with bodkins and crochet hooks at dawn. Peering into Markham’s crystal ball, I foresee a severe bollocking for all from Housekeeping’s Jill Wadsley and Liz Bisson for getting blood up the walls. Again.

I thanked Sandra Hale and Teresa Mason-Tierney for organising my trip and accommodation and was enthusiastically escorted to the door. I don’t think it was enthusiasm to see the back of me – they’re just a very enthusiastic bunch in general. An enthusiastic, glitter-covered, swan-shit encrusted, margarita-drenched bunch of St Mary’s fans who appear to be giving even the real St Mary’s a run for their money.

I have issued an open invite to our Afternoon Tea in York next year, because, Hazel, I think you got off too lightly this time round and it’s time you met them too.

And, of course, last but not least – A Huge Happy Birthday to Marietta – Ghost of Time and founder member.

Very best wishes to you for the coming year.

And that’s it, Hazel. I survived. You’re coming too next year. They say there’s safety in numbers so perhaps we could hire the SAS to accompany us.

Take care,


Taylor Winfrey Halls of Residence

As you can see work is coming along nicely and ahead of schedule despite interference with mechanical equipment, goats eating a set of plans and workers being adorned with glitter! Speaking of which it seems that now hard hats , workbooks and hi-vis safety vests are now only considered if decorated with the shiny stuff ! Who knew ! Anyway all "tented" members will be pleased to know they should be housed before the really cold weather arrives, providing of course NO further intervention from St. Mary's staff (you know who you are) . Wouldn't want to have a cold angry mob knocking on my door because there accommodation isn't finished!