WildBoyz

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About WildBoyz

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  • Birthday 03/06/1990

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  1. History Today, Newsham is a small suburb of Blyth. Blyth itself, meaning ‘gentle’ or ‘merry’ in Old English, is a town and civil parish in Northumberland, England, and from the early 18th century the town rapidly expanded as a result of the Industrial Revolution, as coal mining, fishing and ship building industries quickly established a foothold in the area. Newsham quickly became part of the town as new houses were required for the growing number of workers in the area. Prior to the growth of industry, however, it is noted in John Wallace’s History of Blyth and a number of other sources that Newsham comprised only a few farms and a mansion as early as 1341, which were occupied by the prominent Ogle family. Despite the distinguished status of the Ogle family though, it is reported that the main holders of the lands and buildings at Newsham were in fact the Delaval family. They owned the lands from the 12th century right up until the 17th century. The 3rd Earl of Derwentwater, James Radclyffe, was the last successor to Newsham after the death of his father in 1705. It is unknown how the lands passed into the hands of the Radclyffe family, but they were said to have several estates in Northumberland and Newsham was one of those. James Radclyffe’s reign over the estate was short-lived, however, as he became a Jacobite – a member of a rebellious movement that sought to restore the Roman Catholic Stuart King James VII of Scotland, II of England and Ireland, and his heirs to the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland. After his following of 70 (mainly gentlemen, a small number of soldiers and servants) were defeated in a short battle he was captured in 1715 and escorted to the Tower of London. The 3rd Earl of Derwentwater pleaded guilty to the charge of treason held against him, in the hope that he might gain a royal pardon. Radclyffe lost his trial and was immediately stripped of his honours and titles and sentenced to death for treason. Although most of the other Lords and Earls were granted clemency, Radclyffe’s sentence remained to set an example for others who might try to overthrow the king. He was beheaded on 24th February 1716. Following the death of Radclyffe, the Newsham estate fell into the hands of the Ridley family. At some point during their tenure of the lands (one source suggests 1880) the mansion was dismantled and the materials were said to have been used to construct a farmhouse. Another source from 1720 suggests that the former mansion was already in a state of dilapidation, with it being described as ‘an ancient structure but something ruinous’. An additional reason for its demolition may be attributed to the fact that the mansion itself was a relatively basic structure; it was only two storeys high, the grand hall was plain and simple and it had only a small number of surrounding buildings. In other words, the building was no longer deemed important enough to warrant its ‘mansion’ status. Now in the 21st century, the farmhouse and its surrounding buildings lie derelict. It is not known why the site is abandoned, the only hint is that Wallace of Kelso Ltd., a large independent agricultural company, may have been based at the Newsham site but decided to close or relocate their premises. Their main base in Dundee still exists still, so the company did not fall into different hands or go into liquidation. As things stand, there are plans to build forty new homes on the site. The main farmhouse and its other buildings will be demolished to make spaces for the new development; however, the stone wall bordering the property will remain to give the scheme a so-called historic link. A number of local residents have opposed the plans, having raised concerns about flooding, loss of privacy and the increased pressure on nearby schools, GP surgeries and other important amenities. Some residents also suggested that the old farmhouse ‘boasts character and holds heritage value’. The council, though, disagree, and argue that the site has no heritage value whatsoever. Our Version of Events Our night beganwith high aspirations. To start off with, we tried our luck at getting ourselves inside an abandoned museum. As it turned out, the museum was much less abandoned that we’d first thought. A large number of sensors were the first indication that the site was still quite active, and then the alarms we triggered supported the fact even further. We left in a hurry, feeling fairly disappointed, and continued on well into the night trying various other explores that would all turn out badly. As a last resort we found ourselves just outside Newsham, where we decided that we’d try our luck with a farmhouse we’d recently heard about. We gathered outside the car – at least what was left of our sorry looking assemblage did. Spirits were low and the night had resulted in an abnormal number of injuries. At this point the opinion was unanimous, if we failed to get into a derelict farm we would be forced to retire from exploring and take up something else. Knitting, swinging and baking were the favoured options. After that quick discussion, we decided to stop wasting time and scale the really high three-foot wall to get inside the farmyard. From there we ran for the shadows and set about trying to find a way inside the farmhouse. Inside the house it felt as though we were suddenly in an episode of Only Fools and Horses. In fact, for the entire half an hour we spent in that building it felt exactly as though we were in Nelson Mandela House. For instance, the carpets throughout the building were… Well, they were very different by conventional standards. We might even go so far as to say they were a little spicy. What is more, though, is that even the furniture matched the Peckham vibe we had going on. We were half expecting to find Uncle Albert in the living room sitting in one of the armchairs sipping on a snifter of rum, or a blow-up sex doll tucked away in a cupboard somewhere. Needless to say, we found neither. Unfortunately, we were prompted to move on to the other buildings on the site after hearing what we thought sounded like a riot outside. In the knowledge that we didn’t have any ski gear to protect ourselves, or a Russian VCR to film it, we decided to split. As for the rest of the premises, it had its own unique bits and quirks, such as the pianos we stumbled across in small backroom, or the strange dining room setup inside one of the large barns. All in all, then, considering the place looked like an incredibly trashed farm from the outside it ended up being a decent wander. After taking a look around the entire site and seeing everything there was to see, we headed back to the car. It was just starting to snow at this point, so it was time to switch the car heater to full blast and warm up a wee bit. Explored with Meek-Kune-Do. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23:
  2. History Wheelbirks is a small rural part of Northumbria, located to the south of Hadrian’s Wall. According to several historical books, there have been farmsteads in the area since the 16th century. It was David Richardson, though, who would have the greatest influence in transforming the area. Richardson, who was a Quaker and the owner of some of the largest tanneries in the country, moved to the area in 1882. The family has a long history as tanners, tracing as far back as the mid-16th century to a site based at Great Ayton, Cleveland, so they had a considerable amount of wealth and influence. In 1902, Richardson started work on replacing the original farmhouse at Wheelbirks with a Restrained Gothic style farmhouse and several small cottages. By 1911, the area was completely transformed, having changed from a small farmstead into a fully-fledged estate. Further development was prompted a few months after completion following an outbreak of tuberculosis (TB) inside Richardson’s tanneries. During the early 1900s, for instance, the works located at Elswick were reported to have a high incidence of the disease. The sanatorium itself is a cruciform construction of steel-reinforced concrete, white engineering brick and glass. It was designed to appear as if it is standing on stilts in a hollow; three bridges attached to the main entrances of the building helped to create the illusion. The design of the structure, which is reportedly American-based, and its chosen setting is said to have comprised a fresh-air method of treatment whereby patients would be surrounded by countryside and a clean, unpolluted environment. Unfortunately, Richardson never witnessed the completion of the sanatorium because it remained unfinished at the time of his death in 1913. In the end, the building was never used to treat TB sufferers because developments in antibiotics led to important changes in how TB was treated, to the extent that the use of isolated hospitals was rendered unnecessary. Today, the sanatorium is in a dilapidated condition. The interior is badly damaged and almost completely stripped, and the outside is clearly showing its age. In addition, one of the entrance bridges appears to be missing; there is some evidence that one existed on the western side of the building. Despite its condition, there is evidence that a local farmer has commandeered the space, using it as a storage site for various pieces of farm equipment and a random collection of boats. Our Version of Events Prior to visiting the Wheelbirks TB Sanatorium, we were warned that some stealthy moves would be required as there is an active farm overlooking the premises. With this is mind, we parked several miles away and decided to have a wander through the woods, to approach the building from the rear. Taking the necessary precautions, we camo’d up, slapping on a few streaks of black paint across our cheeks that we happened to have lying around for full effect. The walk that followed was itself quite pleasurable as we navigated our way along the side of a stream that runs close by the sanatorium. If anything, with tripods in our arms it felt a bit like we were stalking a predator (the extra-terrestrial kind, not a paedophile). Thankfully we weren’t, though, because if one really had been skulking around alongside us our attempt to fend it off would have been a very shit addition to the sequels. The building appeared all of a sudden, lurking behind a thin cluster of trees just ahead. It was just as everyone has described it: American. It was certainly different, but I can’t say it struck us as the most aesthetically pleasing building in England. However, before we could stand in awe for any longer, as we were peering out from the treeline, we suddenly noticed that the pre-warnings about the farm next door and there being lots of activity were quite accurate. The farm was a veritable hive of activity, with cars coming and going and a hardened sentry equipped with a set of heavy-duty binoculars sitting on the roof. What is more, just ahead in the next field there appeared to be a shooting party. It wasn’t very clear what they were shooting at, but they all looked the business with their flat caps, tweed jackets and 4x4s. Taking care not to get shot, we crept up to the old sanatorium waving a fresh Kleenex tissue for good measure. From there, choosing a point of entry wasn’t particularly difficult as all the doors were either missing or wide open. Once inside, it was immediately apparent that local farmers and the nearby ice cream parlour are using the site as a makeshift storage facility. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be storing any ice creams in the big freezer though. That’s right, we checked. The main floor, which I would assume is the ground floor (the design of the building is a bit odd having been constructed in a hollow), is filled with bicycles, boats and farm equipment. Downstairs is being used in a similar way, although a lot of the gear down there appears to be quite dated. As for the upper floors of the building, they are absolutely fucked. With the sheer number of holes in the walls, it would appear as though the guys over in the field are in much need of some target practice. There is only really one room that might be of interest to anyone passing through, and that is the one filled with old-ish whisky bottles and newspapers. We decided to call it a day after taking a quick look around the upstairs rooms. There wasn’t much left to see, and the group of would-be mercenaries in the field opposite seemed to be packing up to leave. The first few land rovers were already leaving the field and forming a Mad Max style convoy. The last farmer who was closing the gate even seemed to have a large speaker system mounted on the back of his Toyota Hilux. We ducked beneath a window ledge for a moment as the convoy roared past us, then when everything went quiet again headed back towards the woods to face our trek back to the car. Explored with LightSaber. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21:
  3. History Runcorn, which derives its name from the Anglo-Saxon term rumcofan (meaning a wide cove or bay), is a small industrial town and cargo port in Cheshire. It is located alongside the southern bank of the River Mersey, where the estuary narrows to form the Runcorn Gap. For much of its existence, Runcorn was a small isolated village and a fort, defending the borders of the lands of the Kingdom of Mercia. However, the Industrial Revolution transformed the entire area towards the end of the 18th century. Due to its topography, a large number of manufacturers established a presence in Runcorn, to the extent that all of its open green spaces were quickly occupied. It did not take long for the original village to expand beyond its own borders either, so the town now also comprises a number of the former outlying villages. Today, as the surface space has been significantly reduced, large proportions of the small streams and brooks that flow into the River Mersey have been culverted. Even though the industry in Runcorn has been in rapid decline in recent years, new housing developments have been established in their place, so the culverts remain. Double Trouble, which derives its name from the large dual entranceway, is one of those drains. It is made up of several different sized chambers that are positioned between sections of RCP. Double Trouble also features a number of concrete stairs that are encased within brickwork; these structures allow water to follow with the natural gradient of the landscape and so prevent water from accumulating at certain junctions in the drain. Our Version of Events Double Trouble was the last 2016 explore for us. All of a sudden we’d run out of time to fit anything else in. We’d been keen to get a good old dirty drain done on our trip to Liverpool, but it seemed that all the city has to offer were small shitty RCP’s – as far as we deduced anyway. It was for this reason we had to travel all the way over to Runcorn to find what we were looking for. Once we arrived in Runcorn, we quickly realised that finding the bastard thing wasn’t as straightforward as we’d first imagined. Nonetheless, after foraging around in the trees and bushes for a while, and finding a smaller drain that smelt very strongly of sewage, we eventually stumbled across the two great entrances that denote the start of Double Trouble. The sheer size of the outfall makes this drain especially inviting, even if it is a concrete monolith, and we couldn’t wait to have a peek inside to see what it might have in store for us. We climbed up the side of the overflow weir and onto a raised platform to reach the entranceway of the left-hand side tunnel. From there we plodded on for some metres, before we reached a junction where both of the initial tunnels join together. We continued on, following a long square passage for what felt like a long time; having said that, we did stop several times to take a few photos. At the end of the long square concrete section, we came across what was perhaps one of the best parts of the whole explore: a large concrete chamber with a staircase positioned in the centre, alongside two smaller RCP’s either side of it. This room was perfect for flinging a bit of steel wool around on a whisk, so the next fifteen minutes or so were spending doing exactly that. Leaving the smell of burnt wool behind us, we climbed up the stairs and discovered that the next section was a stoopy RCP. It looked boring as fuck, but we carried on anyway. It wasn’t too bad at first, apart from the monotony and stoopiness, but it did have a few surprises in store for us along the way in the form of small brick chambers that are presumably access areas for engineers and maintenance crews. However, the best bit was yet to come. Towards the end of the insipid RCP, another staircase was gradually becoming visible. When we did in fact step out of the cylindrical pipe we found ourselves inside a brick-lined chamber with a concrete staircase straight ahead. More fire and flames ensued as we tried to make use of the aesthetically pleasing setting surrounding us. The final part of Double Trouble takes you through more RCP that eventually leads to another staircase and a second split in the system, where you can carry on towards Liverpool if you want by taking one of the two the back-breaking RCP’s that lie ahead. For us, however, this is where we decided to call it a day. As the next section was considerably smaller than what we’d just wandered through, we decided that what lay ahead was probably the same shitty concrete. Besides, it was almost New Year at this stage and we all had places we wanted to be, such as the pub. With that, we took a quick group shot and turned around to make our way back to the entrance. Why we didn’t pop a lid to get back out a little sooner is beyond me, but there you go. It seemed WildBoyz were in the mood for more walking that day. Explored with Ford Mayhem, Meek-Kune-Do, The Hurricane, Box and Husky. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17:
  4. History Victoria Tower, which is also known locally as ‘the Docker’s Clock’, is a Grade II listed Gothic Revival clock tower located alongside Sailsbury Dock in Liverpool. It was designed by Jesse Hartley, an eminent engineer who was responsible for the construction of a large number of the docks and warehouses along the River Mersey. Hartley’s design was inspired by the castle architecture of the Rhine region in Central Europe; this is why the structure was built using irregular blocks of grey granite and why it has embrasures that have been cut into the tower’s walls. The tower was built between 1847 and 1848, to commemorate the opening of Sailsbury Dock. It was also constructed to aid ships using the port. It allowed them to set the correct time as they sailed out into the Irish sea (the time ball was apparently controlled by a signal from the Liverpool Observatory) and was equipped with a bell to warn vessels of impending meteorological changes such as high tide and fog. A navigation light encased inside an ornamental structure was originally planned for the roof of the tower; however, a 9 metre flagpole was installed instead when it was agreed that the structure would not function as a lighthouse. An additional lesser known feature of the tower is that the bottom three levels of the structure served as a flat for the Pier Master. These floors were boarded and designed to be much more comfortable than the rest of the building. On account of the decline in shipping along the Mersey, the condition of Victoria Tower has deteriorated significantly, primarily due to water and wind damage. In addition to these problems, the tower has become overgrown with vegetation over the years, and is now also infested with a large number of pigeons. Although it was announced in 2010 that the clock tower, along with several other historic buildings around the area, would be repaired and fully restored as part of a £5.5 billion restoration programme, no work has yet been initiated. Our Version of Events It was getting late on in the evening and we were all keen to get back to our digs for the night to drink beer and play poker, but we also wanted to have a quick wander over to Victoria Tower. We’ve stared at it enough times from the other side of the water, so it seemed about time we paid it a visit. Plenty of fucking around certainly ensued trying to figure out which part of the dock we had to trespass on to get to it; as we were to discover, it’s situated on a piece of land that’s tricky to get to if you’re not very familiar with the area. But, in the end we figured out where we needed to be; right on the other side of a drive-thru movie night. We entered through the main gates of one of the dockyards and wandered towards a small congregation of cars. The plan had been to blend in, but having left the car behind this was very difficult. Fortunately, however, the film was a decent one: Die Hard 1. And we’d entered at the good bit – the scene on the rooftop where Alan is making a last-bid attempt to get rid of Bruce. At this stage in the film Bruce’s vest top was well and truly green. Using the film to our advantage we crept through the cars. We passed a blue Ford Fiesta first, where, much to our delight, the couple inside seemed distracted enough without the film. It looked as though the woman in the passenger seat had dropped her revels somewhere on the driver’s side and was frantically looking for them. She had her head positioned over the driver in a very unusual position. The driver seemed to be helping to force her head down a bit lower too. There must have been an orange flavoured one in his lap or something. A red Volkswagen Golf had to be passed next. The passengers in this one didn’t seem to be focused on the film either though. A rather large flabby woman in her late 50s was pressed up against the windscreen, with both enormous breasts, a cheek and two plump lips firmly plastered against the glass. To our horror she was bouncing up and down a bit, so her folds sounded a bit like window wipers in turbo mode during a heavy downpour. Slightly scarred, psychologically, we made it to the other side of the dockyard. From here to the tower the journey was much less eventful. We had to make haste, however, since the tall palisade gates at the entrance would be closing soon – as soon as the movie was finished. Nothing like a bit of time pressure to spur you on. Unfortunately, though, when we did finally reach the door to the tower we quickly discovered that it was locked up tight. A bit frustrated that we’d already used up some of our gambling and drinking time, we decided to get the ball sacks out and climb our way inside instead. A tiny barred gate wasn’t stopping us from getting into the tower! It was around the halfway mark that we decided the climbing part of the plan was a bad idea. It was a chilly night and much more difficult that we’d first imagined. Hartley didn’t think it through when he designed overhanging ledges on the tower, which are now caked in a fine layer of slippery moss and pigeons’ cloacal secretions. Nevertheless, we’d watched the classic Stallone movie Cliffhanger three nights previously, so we knew we should probably just man the fuck up and get the climb done. Each of us had more than a t-shirt on too, so I don’t know what we were complaining about. We reached the top just as Alan was hanging off the side of Nakatomi Plaza. Everyone gathered at the top of the tower and peered through the crenels as Alan was plummeting to the ground; we were glad we’d made it in time to see the best scene in the film. You know what they say after all, it’s not really Christmas until Hans Gruber falls from a building. A few minutes were spent taking shots from the roof, but it was very a windy evening so the tripods ended up taking quite a battering. In the end we had to make do with the few usable nightscape shots we’d managed to take. Some luck was on our side, though, since some thoughtful chavs, who I presume were wearing Burberry check, had smashed the lock off the hatch. This made getting inside the tower much easier. An explosion of pigeony disease-ridden gas erupted as we lifted the lid. It smelt like thousands of them were down there, slowly drowning in their own shit and piss. For some reason we decided to crack on anyway, as you do. So, we climbed down the several broken rungs we could see into the depths of the festering pit of doom. A very sketchy bendy ladder came next. It was clearly some sort of improvisation to make up for the lack of staircase. At the bottom the situation didn’t improve either, as we found ourselves literally knee deep in shit and rotting carcasses. Pigeon pie was definitely off the menu later that evening. We hastily plodded on, racing down the rusted spiral staircases, trying our best not to disturb the crusted layers of poo. After all, you can’t leave an explore until you’ve seen absolutely everything there is to see. We didn’t hang about inside the tower for long after reaching the bottom, especially since we’d recently discovered that you can catch Chlamydia psittaci from contaminated bird droppings. That’s right, you can catch ‘the clam’ while urbexing! Although, having said that, this type is definitely a lot worse than the kind you’ll get from having ‘protected’ sex with a resealable sandwich bag. Anyway, back to the story. We managed to get back out onto the street just as the credits of the film were rolling down the screen. Thank fuck too, because climbing the fence would have been shit! After that we headed back to the car and, for most of us, this signified the end of the night where the rest of the evening would be spent drinking beer and playing several games of poker and pigeon toss (it sounds like a dirty game, but we assure you it’s quite innocent). Explored with Ford Mayhem, Rizla Rider, Husky and Soul. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17:
  5. History MV Royal Daffodil, formerly known as Overchurch until 1998, was constructed in Birkenhead in 1962 by Cammell Laird (a British shipbuilding company that was founded in 1828) for Birkenhead Corporation. The 751 tonne vessel, which was constructed to be part of a fleet of ferries operating on the River Mersey, was named after one of the town’s post-war overspill housing developments. It was the first of the fleet to be of an all-welded construction and is now last of the Mersey Ferries to be built. Once in service, the ferry was popular with passengers because it was considered to be the warmest vessel of all the Birkenhead ferries; however, it is not actually known why it was warmer. The ship was also popular among its captains as it had a large, modern, navigation bridge which spanned the entire width of the ship, unlike the other more compact and cluttered bridges on Overchurch’s sister ships. In terms of her other features, Overchurch was fitted with two main outdoor deck areas, a loudaphone system and an advanced radio system. It was also equipped with two medium speed Crossley diesel engines which were capable of propelling the vessel over 12 knots. Both of the engines were controlled by engine order telegraphs (E.O.T’s) – communications devices used by a navigator to order engineers below deck to power the vessel at a desired speed. Nonetheless, despite being more advanced that her sister vessels, Overchurch could be difficult to control in stormy weather due to a design flaw in the high funnel being attached to the bridge and the flare of the bow being different. These faults meant that in a strong swell bringing the vessel alongside the dock could be troublesome, and that water had a tendency to spill over the bow onto the observation deck. In 1998, Overchurch was moved to undergo a major refit. This was completed at Lengthline Ship Repairs in Manchester. The vessel was completely modernised and refurbished over the next year and new engines and navigation equipment were fitted. The original funnel and bridge were retained, but some minor alterations were made. After being refitted, the vessel was renamed The Royal Daffodil and returned back to service. However, the ship was altered again in later years as the lower, main and forward saloons were completely gutted and rebuilt. New catering and bar facilities were fitted, along with dance floors and a new crew area. Following the refurbishment, The Royal Daffodil was used for functions, parties and special cruises along the River Mersey. Although she was converted into a cruising vessel, The Royal Daffodil’s sisters were rebuilt as multi-purpose ferries; they are now known as Royal Iris of the Mersey and Snowdrop. By December 2012, The Royal Daffodil was withdrawn from service. Reasons for this are linked to persistent engine problems. Since then she was moved to a dock alongside Duke Street in Birkenhead. There are plans to restore the vessel to its full glory, and the engines and generators are still tested periodically; however, she is beginning to show signs of dilapidation (considerable rust, peeling paint and rotten decks). Our Version of Events After a bit of a fail at a nearby brewery which seems to have some sort of vintage shop and a café in it now, we found ourselves over in Birkenhead looking out over the Mersey wondering what the fuck to do next. That was when we spotted a slightly lopsided ship sitting on the horizon. Keen to take a closer look and investigate a little further, we set off towards it to uncover whether or not it was actually abandoned. As it turned out, it looked a bit fucked and dirty, so we guessed it was somewhere on the old abandoned scale, making it nice and ripe and juicy for the picking. At first, getting into the site seemed to be a bit of a ball-ache, since there seemed to be a lot of sharpened palisade and many cameras. What is more, Merseyside Police decided to turn up… Typical that they always turn up when you don’t need them. We were forced to wait patiently as the same car passed us several times between two minute intervals. In the end, though, they fucked off, apparently satisfied that we weren’t a group of yobs armed with spray paint and white lightening. There was, however, something to be gained from the local bobbies turning up, and that was that we’d ended up sitting there long enough to figure out how we were going to get onto the site. Fifteen minutes later and we were stood on board The Royal Daffodil. In many ways it’s very similar to the Tuxedo Royale over in Middlesbrough, but it has far fewer holes in it. On that note, it was nice to go below decks and not feel as though we were taking a tour around the Titanic. It didn’t take long to work our way around the whole ship in the end mind, not least because the engine room and captain’s cabin doors were tightly locked. We were quite disappointed after making this discovery, but in hindsight they were going to be nothing compared to those we found on the North Sea Producer, so the disappointment has somewhat receded. All in all, then, the explore wasn’t the best we’ve ever done, but it wasn’t a bad way to spend twenty minutes either. After all, it’s always good to get another ship under the belt. Explored with Ford Mayhem, Meek-Kune-Do, Box, Husky and Soul. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18:
  6. UK

    Yeah, the glass is quite famous apparently.
  7. Cheers for looking everyone, thanks for the comments
  8. History Once part of Lancashire, Worsley is a small town in Greater Manchester, England. It is first mentioned in the Great Rolls of the Pipe (a collection of financial records maintained by the English Exchequer) in 1195, when it was known as Werkesleia, meaning, in the language of the Saxons, ‘the cleared place which was cultivated or settled’. Prior to the 18th century, Worsley comprised a small farm-based village and a manor created by William I; however, after the completion of the Bridgewater Canal in 1761, the village began to expand as cotton manufacturers, iron and brick works and coal mining companies were established in the area. Further expansion of the town came following the First and Second World Wars, as large residential estates were introduced, to house the increasing number of workers of nearby factories and evacuees from the south of England. A small section of Worsley Brook was culverted during the Industrial Revolution, because a canal had to be constructed above to provide a more efficient means of transporting coal from Worsley to Salford. The first part of the culvert would have been built sometime in the late 1750s. After the completion of the canal it was considered a major engineering achievement because it was accomplished in a timely fashion, built over the top of obstacles such as Worsley Brook and the River Irwell, and even allowed boats to travel underground into the coal mines themselves. By 1887, however, the mines in the area ceased production. Most of the works and several large warehouses were demolished during the early 1900s and the area was transformed so that new developments could be positioned on the land. As part of this redevelopment a larger 400 metre section of Worsley Brook was culverted, to allow for building over the top. Today, Worsley Culvert is undergoing major restoration work to address various structural problems. It was reported that the deteriorating state of the brickwork posed risks to 260 local properties because there was a risk of it collapsing and causing subsequent flooding. The plans to stabilise the structure involve lining it with thirty-six four-tonne concrete sections. According to the Environment Agency, a number of pumps have been installed to help drain and divert the brook while the work takes place. Our Version of Events After a rough night sleeping beneath a tarp, we were pretty keen to get moving and do some exploring. To avoid sleeping in two cramped cars (there were eight of us after all), which were each filled with a lot of Tesco sandwich packaging, pigeon shit, a little bit of asbestos and enough gear to get us through a nuclear war, four of us had decided to kip outside beneath the stars. We’d found a nice little spot in some sort of country park by a small duck pond, and it was only really as we were setting up that we started to noticed that the floor was turning white with frost. Still, we decided to ignore it, and cracked on with setting up our campsite for the evening. We figured that we’d just each wear three or four jackets and hoodies and light a few candles for warmth. By the morning, though, none of us could feel our arms and legs anymore. The last bit of warmth in our bodies was centred around the torso area. Getting up was the worst bit, as we left behind the little warmth there was inside our sleeping bags. Putting the boots back on felt like stepping into blocks of ice. The morning didn’t get any better as we noticed that there was a layer of ice covering the tarp, and that the pond behind us had completely frozen over. What is more, we’d left a large half-eaten cake outside, thinking it would be perfectly fine throughout the night for us to enjoy at breakfast, but it was gone! All that remained were several fox footprints (or so we guessed) in the frost. It took a wee while to thaw out a bit before we could pack everything up, so our start to the day was a little delayed. Nevertheless, once we were back inside the cars, with the heaters running at full blast, we were ready for some more exploring. First on the list was an old culvert… You can tell this was a well-planned winter trip. Having said that, there was some intelligent thinking behind this decision to don the waders in December. Prior to embarking on our trip to Liverpool, we’d stumbled across a few old reports on a fantastic looking culvert known as ‘Old Worsley’. Judging by the photographs we found, it was short but filled with all sorts of old brick and stonework. The problem, though, was that we’d read about redevelopment work being scheduled between 2016 and 2017. So, since we were passing through Manchester on our way to Liverpool, we figured it would be nice to take a quick look. We hoped, with a little bit of luck on our side, that the work crew might not have ruined it too much just yet. We arrived at the entrance of the culvert, which is situated at the side of a nice residential estate, just as everyone else seemed to be waking up. What this means is that we looked like a right bunch of space cadets as we wadered up in middle of the street. One guy who was walking his small sausage dog, which made him look ever so slightly like a camp paedophile, stared at us with an angered expression on his face. He even doubled back on himself to walk past us another couple of times, and the entire time he kept his beady little eyes on us. Thankfully, it didn’t take long to walk up to the brook, so we were soon out of sight. You know what they say, out of sight out of mind. Inside, we were instantly a bit disappointed because the redevelopment work seemed to be in full swing. The first section is now almost completely reinforced with concrete. The next part, where there is an arched entranceway and what should have been a rugged boxed off section inside, didn’t look too good either; now, a concrete shell has been erected inside it. The work looked very recent too, since some of the cement was still a bit damp, which was unfortunate indeed. Things looked a lot more promising, however, once we reached the end of this fresh Soviet-inspired culvert (someone ought to stamp a little hammer and sickle in the cement as the company logo really). We had reached a brick chamber with an arched brick tunnel leading off to the right. The first steps into the chamber were tentative. The water looked deep and cold. We weren’t wrong. As we waded a few steps forwards towards the arched tunnel, the water instantly became thigh deep (and by that we mean upper thigh). But, ignoring the ball tingling chill, we carried on; the tunnel ahead was interesting and, as far as we could see, there was much more to see further ahead. It was at this point that Ford Mayhem started to find the explore a lot less entertaining mind, as he had discovered a hole in his waders. The main thought whirling around his head at the time was something along the lines of “for fucks sake, why is it getting deeper?! Man, I’m going to have to hold my torch and snap shut the hole on my waders with my hand. Here goes… Fuck, fuck! It’s cold! Jesus, my hand is cold”. Things got even more tricky towards the middle part of the arched tunnel too, as it dips a little bit, so we were forced to lean further into the water. At this point, it was safe to say that most of us were within inches of breaching point as the water was chest deep. For poor Mayhem, the situation was even worse because the key thought swirling around his head now was, “Wait. Why am I getting wet down my right leg? I thought I was holding it shut?... Oh shit. I have a hole on the rear side as well. FUCK!”. Inside the next section the ceiling was considerably higher, so we could stand up straight again. We were still waist deep in the water though, and by this point our legs were starting to go a little numb. It was so cold in there that there was an icy mist hovering over the water. It was a bit like walking into a steamy sauna, but without the steam and heat. At least we didn’t have to worry about our balls being cold anymore mind, since they’d moved right up into our stomachs to hibernate. For reasons unknown even to ourselves, we continued on. Once again the water level started to get deeper and deeper. It was at this point, two of the Boyz bailed after having stopped for several minutes to discuss how much of a shit time they were having. They had almost reached the breaching point of their waders and couldn’t continue forward any longer as it was still getting deeper. Mayhem was left standing in waist deep water the whole time, trying to pinch shut two holes while holding his torch. What was running through his mind at this point was a slightly desperate “why won’t the others hurry the fuck along? I’m freezing my tits off here!” After a bit more debating, the rest of us made the decision to carry on and see how far we could get. Two metres later, though, and almost all of the other Boyz had decided to bail. The water was millimetres away from pouring inside the waders at this stage. So, now, there were only two happy-ish WildBoyz willing to carry on, all for the sake of producing a swish new report at the end of it. Soul led the way, followed by Mayhem. For some reason, Soul’s waders seemed to go right up to his nipples and beyond. He might as well have been wearing a dry suit, so he was pretty comfortable throughout this entire endeavour. As for Mayhem, he battled on, trying to pinch his waders with one hand while carrying a torch and now a tripod and camera in the other. The rest of the group had handed it to him as they weren’t going any further. Somehow, he was doing well for a few more metres or so, until, all of a sudden, another icy trickle could be felt down the inside of his right leg. The water was so cold he’d lost all feeling in his fingers, and they were no longer capable of gripping anymore. The bitter water, which might as well have been a murky flavoured Slush Puppy, quickly started to fill up his waders. A sequence of the foulest words known to mankind quickly filled the still silence of the tunnel, followed by the cruel laughter of five others. Cold and completely wet, Mayhem decided that he might as well continue and finish off the explore. Motivated by the knowledge that he had a dry flannel back in the car, he cracked on like a proper legend. Meanwhile, everyone else headed straight for the Barton Arms, a pub that’s not too far from the entrance of ‘Old Worsley’, for a quick shandy. By the time Soul and Mayhem got to the pub, looking a lot like two washed up submariners, the rest of the Boyz had knocked back a good few drinks and a few steak and ale pies. It has to be said that sitting in the pub, close to a roaring fire, after being permanently cold for the past 12 hours or so felt pretty damn amazing. Explored with Ford Mayhem, Meek-Kune-Do, Rizla Rider, Box and Soul. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22:
  9. Fantastic thread. Really enjoyed looking through that. Your shots are excellent.
  10. History Queensbury Tunnel is one of the longest (2501 yards/1.4 miles) and deepest railway tunnels in England. It was part of the GNR line serving the northern industrial towns of Bradford, Halifax and Keighley. A railway connecting Halifax with Keighley was proposed in 1873; however, the local topography imposed many constraints, especially in the Queensbury area. As a result, several tunnels and viaducts were required to complete the line. A well-known prolific engineer named John Fraser, who was responsible for the construction of several other lines across Yorkshire, was appointed as head engineer for the project. Work on the Queensbury Tunnel began in May 1874. To begin with, cuttings were made into the hillsides at Holmfield and Queensbury through sandstone and millstone grit, and four observatories were subsequently erected to offer views over the construction of four of the major shafts. Eight shafts were originally planned, but the design was later revised to include only seven (the spacing between each was extended). Despite a good start, the first few months proved challenging due to a large influx of water. Although there was regular pumping provision during periods of heavy rainfall work had to be abandoned because the water would often still flood shafts five and six. In an effort to drain some of the water, additional shafts were dug into the hillside. Eventually, this seemed to speed up the progress of the tunnel. As progress of the tunnel continued, and it started to look much more ‘tunnel-like’, five of the original vertical shafts were reinforced and retained for ventilation purposes. Throughout the project several types of drilling machines were tried, but in the end only one was successful: Major Beaumont’s machine that was suited to excavating harder materials. Beaumont’s drill comprised a frame on which four drills were mounted, with compressed air harnessed as the motive power. It is reported that the use of the machine increased the rate of progress significantly. In terms of disasters during the construction period of the Queensbury Tunnel, the first casualties occurred on 10th October 1874, when Richard Sutcliffe suffered a fatal compound fracture when a rope used to haul a cage up shaft number one snapped. The cage plummeted to the bottom of the pit and landed on top of Sutcliffe. Two other miners were also struck, but miraculously they both survived. The next disaster occurred on 7th December 1875 at 3.40am, when six miners returned to their working face after having retreated to fire shots. They were all under the impression that all the blasts had been successful. However, it was quickly discovered that one shot had misfired, so Henry Jones and John Gough were sent to withdraw it. After getting it position to make the withdrawal it exploded, killing them both instantly. A third miner was also injured, suffering head injuries and a broken arm, but he was sent immediately to Halifax Infirmary after being attended to by the works inspector. Several other incidents involving rock collapses also claimed a number of unfortunate miners, and this resulted in the construction project being known as ‘the slaughtering lines’ by local newspapers. The tunnel was finally completed in July 1878, and the Great Northern Railway company held a special dinner for the 300 men involved in its construction. The first train passed through the tunnel in later September as part of a preliminary inspection. Major General Hutchinson conducted the inspection and concluded that it was unfit for passenger traffic due to the incomplete nature of its works. As a result, it remained as a freight only line until December 1879, when Hutchinson revisited the line and re-inspected the tunnel. Nevertheless, soon after becoming part of a passenger line, significant defects were spotted in the sidewalls of the tunnel. This was partly due to poor workmanship, but also to the mining of coal from a seam adjacent to the tunnel. Although repairs were made, additional problems with excessive water build up intensified. A number of pumps were installed in an effort to control this problem. In the winter, though, new threats began to transpire as a result of the water problems, as large icicles would form on the ceiling of the tunnel. During the winter months the first train would be responsible for their removal. In the end, to counter this problem, engines would sometimes be left inside the tunnel overnight to generate heat and prevent the formation of ice. By 1933, the damaged caused by continuing seepage through the brickwork had resulted in the severe deterioration of parts of the structure. The Works Committee decided to employ G. A. Pillett & Son to fulfil the strengthening project. It took seven months to complete at a cost of £2,637. By May 1955, the line’s passenger service was withdrawn. Freight trains continued to use the tunnel for another year, but in 1956 they too were stopped from using the line. The tunnel remained abandoned for a number of years, until it was revisited in 1963 to remove the tracks. Soon after their removal a seismological station was established inside the tunnel by two Cambridge University scientists. During the 1970s the scientists used an array of strain meters and seismometers to compare the effect of elastic inhomogeneities on surface waves from earthquakes and tidal strains. All of the recording equipment was housed in an onsite hut which was also sometimes used by the university’s geophysics department to sleep in. Accessing the hut involved driving a van through tunnel which had to dodge the rubble that had been tipped down the overhead shafts when they were capped. By the end of the 1970s the station was moved to another site at Bingley owing to growing safety concerns over the deteriorating condition of the tunnel. For many years after the university vacated the structure, the tunnel’s northern entrance remained bricked up, with maintenance access available through steel-plated gates. The wall was removed in 2012, however, and replaced with a palisade fence. Most of the time the southernmost portal is completely flooded, with the water level reaching the roof of the portal, owing to poor drainage provision. A number of pumps have been installed, though, and they are used to drain the water when access is required for maintenance. For a while annual inspections ceased due to low levels of oxygen, concerns about ground movement, the effects of vegetation and water, and considerable bulging and missing brickwork in certain sections of the tunnel. However, the tunnel has once again been drained and there are rumours of a major works programme being undertaken over the next four years. Our Version of Events Next on our journey to Liverpool for New Years, we wanted to check out Queensbury Tunnel. Fortunately, it was only around the corner from our previous explore, so it didn’t take long to get there. Finding the actual location didn’t prove to be too difficult either. The only bit of bother we really had was the last bit of driving down a rough poorly tarmacked track in a Ferrari F12 berlinette and a Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport. The side skirts really weren’t very practical. However, we eventually made it to the bottom where we were able to park up. Certain that the cars would be perfectly safe just at the side of the track, we hopped out and began to fetch the gear from the boot. It’s amazing what you can fit inside a Ferrari if you make use of all the nooks and crannies. Bit by bit the items began to gather on the floor by the side of the car: a rope ladder, carabiners, slings, tripods, camera bags, the bevvy box, sandwiches for all eight of us, a picnic blanket, a lampshade, the emergency toaster, several boxes of Jaffa Cakes and eight cheese scones. Several minutes later and we were heading down the small footpath towards the entrance of the tunnel. It was muddy as fuck the entire way, and somehow got even more muddy right next to the entrance itself. After reaching the northern portal, though, we were halted in our tracks by a greater obstacle. The world’s best security perimeter stood in our way. A large black gate loomed over us, slick with fresh anti-climb paint. Not just a slight splodge either, this thing was greased up better than a Girl’s Gone Wild wrestling contender. A large coil of razor wire lay across the top, which has been wrapped around what looked like ordinary barbed wire. That wasn’t all either. Behind this beast of a fence, there was the original palisade fence, also thickly coated in the black stuff. However, as there was no sign to tell us to ‘fuck off’, we were unsure whether we were allowed to venture beyond this mere obstacle. As there was no signage, we guessed that it must be acceptable to proceed onwards – with caution of course. Next, then, we decided to climb to the top of the portal to find a couple of decent sized trees. After wrapping a couple of slings around them, we clipped a home-made Blue Peter inspired rope ladder onto the anchors. We carefully lowered the ladder over the side of the portal and it slotted just nicely behind the second palisade fence. Champion. One by one we proceeded to descend the ladder, taking care not to lose our footing on the rungs. One little slip up and we’d look like failed POW escapees impaled on top of a Nazi-inspired barricade. Going over the ledge was the hardest part of the whole endeavour, since one of the crucial rungs was pressed up tightly against the top of the portal. Having said that, perhaps the most difficult part was getting the egg and cress sarnies over. Once inside, the situation looked grim. Our chances of climbing back out didn’t look good. The ladder was now well and truly lubricated with mud and anti-climb paint. Our only option was to carry on into the depths of the tunnel. We were hoping that the pumps at the other end would still be working, meaning we could walk out rather than climb over the barricade. We set off, walking in the direction of the tiniest smidge of light in the distance. A couple of shots were taken here and there, but it suddenly dawned on us that we were in a former railway tunnel and there are hardly ever any remarkable changes in the features. It just kept going, and the light at the end of the tunnel never seemed to get any bigger. The one behind us definitely got smaller though, to the point that it too was the same size as the one ahead of us. How does that work? Structurally, then, the tunnel is absolutely fucked. There are many important bits missing (bricks and things), where there should be important bits, and several big collapsed sections. There’s some evidence that scaff has been erected to perhaps begin reinforcement work, but that’s not going too well by the looks of things since the tunnel is now resting on much of this scaffolding. We noticed that there’s a bit of a leakage problem too, because we had to walk under three or four cascading waterfalls. Bad crack when you’re trying to keep the scotch eggs dry. After walking for what felt like an eternity, we finally noticed that the light at the end of the tunnel was slowly getting larger. One point four miles underground certainly feels like a considerable amount of distance. Thankfully, the portal wasn’t flooded, though, and the pumps were still doing the business, so we were able to climb the two palisade fences to escape. These haven’t been greased up yet either, so the risk of losing a testicle from slipping is slightly reduced. Explored with Ford Mayhem, Rizla Rider and Soul. Queensbury Tunnel Back in the Day Queensbury Tunnel Today 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15:
  11. History The Manor Church Centre is a Grade II listed building in Egremont, Wallasey. It was designed by architects Briggs, Wolstenholme and Thornley (the same company who designed the local town hall) in the early 1900s, and was constructed by George Parkinson between 1907 and 1908 for £19,000. It was built to replace the Presbyterian’s first Neoclassical church on King Street because it was too small to accommodate a rapidly growing congregation. Once completed the building was known as the Egremont Presbyterian Church, and being the largest Presbyterian church at the time it had the capacity to accommodate 1,000 people. The church opened for worship in 1908, almost immediately after completion. The large church hall at the rear was added in 1910. For many years the church remained unchanged, until 1972 when the Presbyterian Church of England and the Congregational Church in England and Wales joined to form the United Reformed Church. As a result, the church became Egremont United Reformed Church, until 1994 when it united with Trinity Methodist Church and became the Manor Church Centre. Manor Church Centre is well-known for its architecture and interesting stained glass windows. The church is constructed out of red sandstone from quarries in Runcorn, and is based on a unique mixed English Perpendicular, Arts and Crafts and Gothic Revival style. The design of the building includes a large nave with north and south passage aisles, a north transept, a short chancel and a 60ft southwest tower. The interior of the building was designed to be spacious and to offer uninterrupted views for all members of the congregation. The Baltic Pine hammerbeam roof (a decorative open timber roof truss) with corbels that are decorated with foliage help to create such an atmosphere. As the church hall was built a few years afterwards, it adheres to a different Tudor style with four bays and mullioned and transomed windows. As mentioned above, the stained glass throughout the building is famous. Some of it dates back to the 1890s, and other pieces the early 1900s. Some of the most notable pieces include: a pane depicting the Empty Tomb by H.G. Hiller in the east window, the window in the transept depicting The Sower that was designed by W. Aikman and made by Powell’s, a window by G. Gamon depicting Faith, Hope and Charity, a window on the north side of the building by the famous stained glass artist Wilhelmina Geddes, and the west window which contains glass that was designed by Percy Bacon. Although reports are limited, it is reported that the church closed sometime after 2011. Dwindling congregation numbers have been attributed to its closure. Another report suggests that the building is undergoing a refurbishment project, but it is unclear whether the building will reopen as a church, be reused for an alternative function or be demolished to make way for a potential housing project. There are concerns among the local community that vandals have started to cause considerable damage to the building, particularly some of the stained glass where there is evidence that stones have been thrown through. Our Version of Events It was getting on for late afternoon, and we were heading back to base camp for the evening after spending a few hours looking around a derelict mansion we’d passed several times while staying in Wallasey. A large church towered above us as we wandered along the footpath. The building itself was one of those that look a bit abandoned, but you’re not too sure if it really is. Nevertheless, it merited a bit of closer investigation, so we hopped the non-existent fence and tried to have a peek through a window. Unfortunately, our efforts proved to be fruitless. A strippergram could have been jiggling her tits around on the other side, but we wouldn’t have been any the wiser. It was way too dark inside. We continued wandering around the outside a bit more, though, and much to our delight ended up discovering a possible means of entry. Several minutes later and we had successfully infiltrated the church. Of course, the stripper had been a complete figment of our imaginations, so the remaining content of this report has been given a PG rating. But, in taking our first glances around the silent navel we could see lines of pews and what appeared to be an almost immaculate looking setting. A gigantic wooden ceiling hung over us and what was left of the fading sunlight outside struggled feebly to penetrate the thick stained glass windows. The entire church looked as though it has been abandoned only yesterday. Our footsteps echoed loudly as we wandered towards the large organ and baptismal font. It was incredibly dark inside the church, especially since most of the stained glass windows have been enclosed in metal cages to protect them from the failed ejaculation specimens of Merseyside. To rectify this problem, we were forced to wave a 1000 lumen torch around (the only torch we had available). As we did this, we hoped that neighbours and people walking past outside wouldn’t notice the erratic light display that was going on inside. If one of us had taken to the organ it’s likely people would have thought Elton John was getting frisky with the keys, or that John Lennon had risen from the grave, checking all the nooks and crannies for where he left his bastard submarine keys. It grew darker and darker very quickly, so in the end it became a case of running around the church to grab as many snaps as possible of the good stuff. We left the tower until last because the vast majority of it isn’t anything particularly special; it looks as though much of the original spiral staircase has been replaced for metal ladders and gantries. At the top we arrived just in time to see the sun setting over the River Mersey and the lights turning on over in Liverpool. The views were surprisingly good considering we were in the middle of a residential area. After expending the last of the daylight, we made our way back down into the church. From this point on taking photographs inside the building became virtually impossible so we decided to head off. We guessed that the chances of getting caught by someone walking or driving past outside were considerably high now, especially since people would be leaving work around this time. Overall, though, despite the light problems Manor Church Centre proved to be a really good wander. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23: 24: 25: 26: 27:
  12. UK

    Yeah, the ceiling was really nice actually.
  13. History St. Paul’s Church is a grade II listed building that overlooks the small town of Denholme. It was designed by J. B. Chantrell and constructed in 1846, and represents an early English style of architecture which comprises a seven-bay nave and lean to aisles, a Chancel and a vaulted roof with ribs and bosses. As for the exterior, the building is built from coursed gritstone with ashlar dressings and it boasts a large western tower with a Welsh slate roof. The church closed in 1999 due to falling numbers in the parish. In the months that followed the closure of the building, the Church of England were able to remove the majority of the valuable items, such as the bells, the ground floor stained glass windows and the organ. At present, the church is said to be on the market for £170,000 and various plans have been submitted to convert the entire structure into one dwelling. Alternative plans have also been proposed to demolish the church and build residential housing on the site. Many concerns have been raised by local residents and the Bradford Diocese about the current condition of the building as it has been badly damaged by vandals and thieves. Our Version of Events It was a cold December morning when eight WildBoyz decided it would be a good idea to have a drive over to Liverpool for the New Year. On our journey towards the beer, fireworks and other celebratory shenanigans, we decided to stop off at a few locations and take some snaps. The first stop-off along the way was St. Paul’s Church, which we spotted as we bombed our way through the small town of Denholme. Keen to get out of the cars and stretch our legs, we parked up in one of the nicest residential estates any proper northern lad has ever seen in his entire life. Trying hard to blend in with the locals as we walked towards the old church, we made casual conversation about men’s country clothing, golf and skiing in the alps. Our knowledge of such topics was limited, however, so our discussion only managed to get us halfway to the church gates. From that point on, we turned back into a wild throng of yobs. Conversation quickly slipped back to our usual topics: food, boobs and torch chat. From the graveyard access into the church wasn’t too difficult, thanks to some local Reebok clad chavs. So, within minutes each of us were stood inside the main navel gazing at our ruined surroundings. For the most part, the building is absolutely fucked. Most of the furniture is either broken or stacked into chaotic piles, and many of the old wall plaques are broken and cracked. It seems that some fucking bellend thinks it’s acceptable to smash commemorative tablets… There’s evidence of a fair few holes in the floor too, but the sheer amount of pigeon shit that’s been allowed to build up over the years has covered most of these over. The blue painted ceiling is still rather nice to look at though, especially from the upstairs balcony. After spending a good few minutes inside the main part of the church, we decided to have a search for a way inside the western tower. At first, access seemed impossible because the only way up appeared to be through a massive hole in the ceiling of the tower, which was a good few metres high. With only a broken ladder at our disposal, which itself was at least three metres to short anyway, all hope of getting up there seemed lost. As it turned out, however, we’d walked past the real way up about several times: a small spiral staircase at the base of the tower near main front doors. Once up inside the tower, we quickly discovered that it was very tower-like. It was clear that it once housed bells, but today it’s merely home to thousands of fetid one-legged pigeons. As the smell of shit brought tears to our eyes we didn’t hang about for very long up there. And that about concludes our little trip to St. Paul’s Church. It’s damp, mostly trashed and fairly grotty, but it still makes for a good photo or two if you happen to be passing by. Fifteen minutes after arriving, we headed back to the cars and set off in the direction of the famous Queensbury Tunnel. As it was only around the corner, it seemed like a wasted opportunity not to visit it. Explored with Ford Mayhem, Meek-Kune-Do, Rizla Rider, The Hurricane, Box, Husky and Soul. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23:
  14. History Faverdale is a northern suburb of Darlington in County Durham, and is well known for being the site of a large industrial estate. Although the area was rural until the twentieth century, when a large wagon works was established in the 1920s, there is evidence of prehistoric, iron age and medieval activity at Faverdale. Nevertheless, as hinted above, the area owes its expansion in the interwar period to the wagon works as wooden freight wagons were in high demand for the North Eastern Railway (NER) company. The first residential housing estate, consisting of two hundred homes, was built to the west of the growing industrial estate, to house the workforce located there. As for the culvert, there is evidence from 1939 of a bridge having been constructed of stone and brick at its current location, which was part of the Darlington to Barnard Castle Railway Line (LNER). The bridge allowed passenger and goods trains to pass over West Beck, a small stream that eventually flows into the River Skerne. The same evidence also points to the fact that Faverdale Black Path, a track running adjacent to the train line, existed around the same time as the bridge. Although the Darlington to Barnard Castle Line stopped operating in 1964, as part of the Breeching cuts (a largescale restructuring of the railways in Great Britain) which saw to it that the track was lifted almost immediately afterwards, Black Path still exists today. By the time it came to the removal of the railway, much of the original surrounding industrial estate had already been demolished, as it had slowly begun to shift to its current location following newer and larger developments. The Faverdale Wagon Works was one of those casualties, as the factory closed in 1963 with 366 jobs lost; steel framed and bodied wagons became more popular and, subsequently, left little place for wooden bodied wagons. The nearby residential area, however, continued to expand. It is this expansion that called for a larger culverted section of West Beck, to allow more houses to be built over the top. The exact date of this construction is unknown, but based on its concrete box-like design it is likely to have been sometime the late 1960s/early 1970s. Modern day culverts tend to be circular to avoid becoming clogged with sediment and debris, especially during periods of heavy rainfall. Our Version of Events Recently, we’ve been working our way through a book. It’s all about experiences underground inside the ‘unknown worlds of the urban subterrane’. In that book, there are several sections (it’s essentially a collection of short stories) that talk about things such as descending into ‘dark and winding tentacles’ which ‘extend far into the subconscious’, and the allure of mystery and curiosity which has the power to encapsulate our imaginations. Others talk about the palimpsest nature of underground places, and how they allow us, if we look close enough, to peel back the layers of history. And then there’s the stuff on the dead and ghosts of the past. Apparently, the metaphoric juxtaposition between the warm surface and the dark underworld is capable of inciting powerful feelings that are steeped in questions about our mortality. It does get a bit weird in places, though, as one guy gets onto the topic of ‘infrastructural fetishism’, where he discusses being awash with satisfaction as a result of experiencing vibrational tremors of machines and brake dust. Anyway, after reading this book we found ourselves in the mood to find something underground to explore. As it would turn out, we had a nice culvert we’d been meaning to explore ready for the picking. Our aim was to go out and see if there was any truth in the book’s tales. So, excited by the prospect that we might find ourselves, or a skeleton, deep in the underworld, we wasted no time in gathering our equipment and getting to the car. Access was a little tricky to begin with, as we had to navigate our way down an overgrown beck. There were brambles and other spikey plants everywhere, so we took our time to prevent the waders from suffering several punctures. At one point we debated whether we should have brought along a machete, as a wall of barbed branches prevented us from moving any further downstream. Perhaps these were the ‘winding tentacles’ in the dark that one of the writers had been on about? It was night-time after all. Very confused about their meaning, and its effect on our subconscious, we continued on by moving the tentacles with our bare hands. The only thing going through my subconscious was panic about getting a puncture, and the pain of being prickled on every finger. Sometime later, we found ourselves stood before what we assumed was the former railway bridge, or at least what looked like it had been a part of it. We stared into the abyss ahead, preparing ourselves for the encounter that was about to ensue. We were going to step inside and look for the peeling layers of history. Apparently, the whole experience is not unlike an onion, where layer after layer reveals more and more. One by one we stepped inside the great arched structure, taking care not to disturb the dangling cobwebs too much. After taking several steps forward we all stopped and took a moment to properly take in the full sense of the underworld. I stared long and hard at the wall in front of me. But, after two and a half long minutes, nothing happened. I couldn’t quite fathom how we were supposed to see into all the so-called layers the book had described, especially when the bricks were caked in years of shit and dirt. What about the cobwebs for a start? How are you meant to see past those? Were we supposed to scrub a bit off? We didn’t have time for that, and nor did we have a bucket and sponge with us, so we were forced to abandon our search for the secret layers of history. We pressed on, a little disappointed with our lack of success. It was OK, though, because we had a few more things to try out. Next, we wanted to try and get a feel for the dark, ghostly, underworld, to see if we could be at one with mortality and all that other morbid shit. Further down the tunnel, in a section that was less stoopy than the rest of the tunnel, we decided that the best way to feel a sense of the proper underworld would be to turn our torches off. Surely, if we stood in the dark and listened for it for a wee bit, we’d sense something. So, that’s exactly what we did. One by one we turned off our torches. A moment later darkness shrouded us, and it was as if we’d entered into the arcane shadows of a nun’s knickers. Its veil closed tightly around us and an eerie silence followed. We stood motionless for a while, just listening. Listening hard for any sign of the darkness – the very void that is the underworld. Nothing. Only the dull ache of my back, as it screamed at me for being in a place too small to be comfortable. Until, suddenly, a low fffffffffffffff sound rose from the depths, almost as if someone was blowing on hot soup. One of the lads mumbled something of an apology, and told us it would probably be best if we evacuated this section of the tunnel. These were wise words indeed, for we’d stumbled across the darkest thing possible to find in the underworld. It was the incarnation of death itself: the raw, sticky, stench of cabbage. For a brief moment, as the whiff floated gently past the tips of my nostrils, I felt a true sense of what it’s like to be mortal. It hadn’t been what we were expecting, but we continued feeling as though we’d gained a real insight into our mortality. There was only one thing left to do now, and that was to develop a fetish for infrastructure. This was a tricky one. Looking around, one of the lads pointed out a small portal in the side of the wall, enclosed by a ‘hydraulic’ (or so it said on the side) metal cover. “Perhaps if two of us lift the flap, and you pop something in and have a good jiggle around, we’ll understand what all this fetishism is all about”, one of the lads suggested. We thought about it for a moment, and it seemed to make sense, in a weird sort of way. So, as two of us set about lifting the flap, the third among us set about finding a long rod which he could poke into the hole and have a jiggle. He found a stick that was protruding slightly from the water and prodding uncomfortably into his waders, and decided that it would have to do. Getting down into a bit of a crouched position in front of the portal, the third among us signalled to the others to lift. As they did, he was quick to insert his stick. A bit of back and forth pump action was required to clear much of the old stagnant debris, but once he was through he was able to have a good jiggle, as we’d discussed. And then he stopped. There was a pause, as everyone waited for something to happen. Perhaps an alluring drain aroma would overcome us, or we would suddenly feel at one with the drain having been so intimate with it. There was nothing for the next few moments, until the slightest trace of something sent prickles down my spine. The smell of egg. All of a sudden I was losing the feeling in my hands, my arms, my face, until it finally consumed my lungs. A great cloud of green gas erupted from the pipe, choking us all. “Fuck man”, someone yelled amid spluttering and coughing, “did you poke it in the right hole?” The lads holding the flap quickly dropped it. Suddenly realising that we’d got this fetishism idea all wrong, we decided to escape as quickly as possible. Unlike the guy in the book we’d read, we certainly weren’t awash with feelings of satisfaction. No, no. We were awash with the putrid smell of shitty egg! To conclude, then, and to offer our own contribution to the book. Inside this culvert beneath Darlington, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to peel back the history of the place, because there are too many cobwebs. You will get a sense of your own mortality under certain circumstances, but it will require a strong curry the night before. It’s unlikely that people with a fetish for infrastructure will get off on the architecture here, unless egg is your thing. And finally, the ‘winding tentacles’ are a load of bullshit; what they surely mean are spikey fucking brambles, and there’s nothing spectacular about those. As for the allure of mystery and all that, this explore is a culvert, so you should expect that you’ll probably reach the other, unspectacular, end at some point along the way. Unless, of course, there’s a fuck off grill at the other end – and then, the only mystery will be how long it’s going to take you to walk all the way back. Explored with Meek-Kune-Do. Faverdale back in the 1930s (Black Path is up on the top left hand side of the image, beneath the railway line) Darlington to Barnard Castle Line The Wagon Works 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17:

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