WildBoyz

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About WildBoyz

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  1. History The foundation stone for Oamaru’s former hospital (known locally as ‘the hospital on the hill’) was laid by Deborah Shrimski (the wife of Samuel Shrimski, who was himself a reputable businessman) on 2nd April 1872. All of the shops in the town were closed for the entire day to commemorate the event. After that, the hospital was constructed remarkably quickly and it opened at the end of the same year; although, the first patient, twelve-year-old James Riddell, had been admitted the previous month. The new public facility had four small wards (each equipped with two beds each), a day room, a surgery and two rooms for the warder and his wife. An additional attached wooden building housed a kitchen and wash house. In its first year, sixty-three patients were admitted to the hospital. Although a fee was expected where possible (£1 weekly), the committee in charge of such affairs never pressed for payment. Unfortunately, though, this lenient and humane attitude toward health led to some patients, who were more than capable of paying, avoiding to do so. Over the years, as New Zealand’s population grew, so did its facilities to cope with the increasing number of people. Oamaru Hospital was one of those services that was extended and improved, and by the 1980s the site was completely transformed. Nevertheless, the beginning of the 1990s brought new Government health reforms and with them uncertainty as Area Health Boards were abolished and replaced with bureaucracies whose aim it was to ‘rationalise’ health costs and delivery. Subsequently, new hospital charges were introduced and many hospitals, including Oamaru’s, had to be downgraded. Despite largescale protests which saw half of Waitaki’s population attend a citizen’s march, hospital services were ‘rationalsied’. By 1997, all surgical operations requiring anaesthetic had ceased at Oamaru, and the Maternity Annexe was closed. This resulted in many jobs loses. Things changed for the better, however, in 1998 when the Government announced that a $5 million loan would be provided towards the construction of a new Oamaru Hospital. Essentially, the funding was attained thanks to a community of lobbyists who had spent years trying to secure the continuation of services for the Waitaki population. A new hospital was constructed in 2000 and all services and staff were moved to the new site. Thereafter, the old hospital on the hill was closed. The original plan had been to redevelop the old buildings into a residential area; yet, the only development that took place between 2000 and 2016 was the conversion of the former maternity annexe into the Eden Gardens motel. As for the rest of the site, it rapidly deteriorated due to vandalism. Today, most of the site has been demolished, to make way for a proposed residential housing estate, but work on the project has stalled as parts of the hospital have had to be used as landfill for stabilisation purposes. Our Version of Events The old Oamaru Hospital site is one we’ve visited several times, usually on our way up to Christchurch as it’s an ideal stopping-off place. Each time we’ve visited, though, we’ve normally just loitered by the car while the Urbex Central boys have gone off to take photos of some ‘amazing boiler house’. I can’t say we’d ever been in an interesting boiler house before, so we were of the opinion that it was a bit of a desperate explore. However, what we didn’t realise when was that it contained an enormous boiler system and several additional rooms. For some reason, this part of the hospital survives and remains relatively intact. This is probably due to its relatively concealed location. Anyway, on this occasion, we thought we’d bite the bullet and go take a look at this ‘epic’ forgotten place. And, I can say now that I’m glad we did go do some investigating. Props to Urbex Central for actually finding it too, since there’s nothing immediately obvious about the place at all. God knows what possessed them to wander down there in the first place. Once you find it, then, the first thing you enter is a kind of locker room and toilet block. If you pass through this you find yourself at the top of a staircase that takes you down into the boiler house itself. At the bottom, there are three doors to choose from. The one to the immediate right takes you into the boiler room, the one to the left into two smaller rooms that house some heavily decayed machinery and the one behind takes you into a room that eventually joins the large boiler house. We started with the main part of the building and were instantly awestruck at what we found. The entire room, which was pitch black, was filled with plenty of archaic machinery, mostly from Northern Ireland. The smell of damp and decay was quite powerful, but that was to be expected I guess and the place doesn’t really get aired out very often. All in all, we spent around thirty minutes inside the building. It doesn’t take very much time to wander around it all, but there is plenty to take snaps of. Explored with Nillskill and Bane. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20:
  2. History Even though the small town of Milton was connected with the goldrush years in the 1860s, it was actually founded as a milling town at the beginning of the 1850s. It is rumoured that this is how the town received its name – Milltown is said to have been shortened to Milton. The Bruce Woollen Mill, which was primarily a vertical woollen and worsted manufacturing mill that made blankets, rugs, carpet and apparel fabric, was one of the later additions to the industry as it was not established until 1897. A considerable amount of money was invested in the mill as much of the company’s machinery was specialist equipment imported from Britain. If anything, then, this indicates how prosperous the industry was at the time. Although there are no records of the prices of the machines, a government website reveals that the estimated cost to run the mill initially was £6,000 ($998,000 in today’s NZ currency). However, despite the huge investment, the doors at Bruce Mill did not stay open for long as a devastating fire destroyed the building four years later. Although no one was killed, only the brick walls were left standing after the incident. The mill was rebuilt in 1902, though, thanks to the high demand for woollen products at the time. Thereafter, no further disasters occurred, and by 1923 the company had, apparently, produced the first Swanndri shirts (hard-wearing wool bush shirts). In the same year renovations had to be made to increase the size of the building to meet increasing consumer demands for their growing range of products. The main classical styled office building was the last building to be constructed as part of the expansion plans. Yet, by 1962 Bruce Woollen Mill was taken over by Alliance Textiles. The mill was run smoothly thereafter, without further incident – up until 1992 at least, when forty-nine workers were locked out for refusing to sign new contract agreements. This would result in a group of thirteen protesters assembling outside the gates for the next six years. This was the longest industrial action in New Zealand trade union history. Unfortunately, the protests did not amount to much as Alliance Textiles closed the mill in 1999, with the loss of fifty-four jobs. It was reported that it was no longer economically viable to run the mill due to cheaper products being imported from China and India. Despite the closure at the end of the 1900s, Bruce Woollen Mill Ltd. was re-established for a few years by a consortium of Wool Equities Ltd. and a group of manufacturers and wholesalers in 2012. The mill reopened as a manufacturer of woollen, merino possum, worsted and hand knitting yarns Nevertheless, the Bruce Woollen Mill went into receivership in January 2016. As a result, it is said to have had a considerable impact on the local community in terms of the job losses incurred. Our Version of Events We’d spotted Bruce Woollen Mill while we were checking out the old bacon factory in Milton, but decided we’d come back the following day to have a crack at it during the day. It’s easier to get photos during the day after all. The only problem, though, was that we weren’t quite sure if the place was abandoned or not. Therefore, we spent a little while researching the location, and eventually came across a few articles that indicated it was indeed partially closed. Well, that was good enough for us. It was time to find a way inside! Getting in wasn’t particularly easy, especially since workers from the live section of the factory kept coming outside to satisfy their nicotine addictions. However, we persevered and crept around the site checking out all the nooks and crannies, hoping one of them would reveal a way inside. In the end, our searching turned up nothing, except access to an old workshop – a part of the site that looked a lot more fucked than the other buildings. At this stage, though, we were out of options, so we decided to have a poke around inside anyway. Industrial porn is industrial porn at the end of the day, and sometimes you just have to take what you can get. As it turned out, the workshop we’d managed to access wasn’t too bad at all. The entire place was alive with the rich smells of oil and used metal. The wooden benches and floor boards were littered with hundreds of screws and heavily stained with years of grease. The sheer amount of old-school equipment in there was great to see too, and it even had the classic stash of VHS porn tapes lying around. It’s likely that we would have spent longer in this room, testing out a few of the machines to see if they worked, but this didn’t happen because we happened to find a door hidden among the shadows at the very back of the room. It goes without saying, our curiosity got the better of us and we couldn’t help but take a peek to see what was on the other side. Sure enough, it led into another room. It was a good start. This one was much different, however. Suddenly we found ourselves inside a small warehouse that was filled with cardboard boxes and metal carts. At this point we started to get a little excited, wondering if we’d perhaps found a way into the actual woollen mill as this section appeared to be an old storage area for products ready to be transported. So, with this in mind we cracked on and made our way to the other side of the building, where we found a set of industrial rubber curtains. Little did we know at the time, but this was our last obstacle – the last thing between us and the juicy machinery on the other side. One by one we passed through the curtain and, on the other side, we found ourselves standing before rows upon rows of pure industrial goodness. We’d managed to wander into the closed part of the old woollen factory, and it was fucking amazing. There were cogs, switches, levers and buttons everywhere we looked. For the next ten minutes or so, then, we were all happy snappers. If anything, mind, there was too much to take photos of! However, in our excitement we inadvertently ended up wandering into the live part of the site, where the production line was still up and running. So, from this point on we turned from being excited schoolboys into epic ninjas with unrivalled stealth skills and, somehow, managed to work our way around the workers and active machinery. It was great, being among whining machines and the whirring of drilling that coming from somewhere on the far side of the factory floor. Somehow, though we’re not quite sure exactly how, we managed to remain undetected the entire time we were inside the old woollen mill. At one point all of the machines even stopped, meaning our footsteps and camera taking noises suddenly seemed unbelievably loud. But, the guys working inside seemed oblivious to our presence. Nonetheless, after a further half an hour or so we decided that we’d pushed our luck far enough and that it was probably time to call it a day. We still had a bit of daylight left and more explores lined up, so it made sense to leave while we were still ahead. The battle to resist the urge to take more photos was intense on our way out, but eventually we managed to get back to the bus without incident. It was time to get back on the road and get a few more explored under our belts. Explored with Nillskill and Bane. Equipment being assembled in 1897 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: 28: 29: 30: 31: 32: 33: 34: 35: 36: 37:
  3. History Audio is a former three-storey brick nightclub that was built sometime in the 1970s. It is close to the centre of Darlington and was once a popular circuit bar and night time venue that brought big name DJs to the town. However, like most nightclubs in Darlington, the venue attracted a ‘troublesome’ crowd which ultimately affected its reputation. Over the years the nightclub has been known as ‘Mr Bojangles Nightclub’, then ‘The Lounge’ and ‘Cactus Jack’s’, and finally ‘Audio’ and ‘Buffalo Joes’. There are two main trading floors inside the building, both of which were completely independent of one another and traded as two separate businesses. The ground floor was accessed via an entrance lobby that is located at the front of the premises. Some of the key features on this floor include: a cash desk, cloak room, DJ booth, raised seating zones and small stage areas for performers. The first floor’s features include: its own lobby, open plan trading areas and dance floor, a DJ booth, seating around the edges of the room and an additional VIP area. The second floor has never been used for trading; it comprises office space and staff changing areas. It is not known when the club closed, although it is likely to have been after 2010 when the venue reopened after being revamped. An estimated £200,000 alone was spent on the first-floor transformation, which included the installation of a new state-of-the-art sound system. Prior to this, it had been earmarked for demolition as part of a £500,000 Oval shopping complex initiative. This project, however, never took off, so the nightclub remained. Our Version of Events It's a little bit of an overdue report this one. We explored it all the way back in February, but never got around to doing the report as we still needed a few external shots - which we forgot to take at the time because we were too focused on the after-exploring drinking session we were due to head to... With a couple of hours to kill before we were due to have a WildBoyz gathering, we decided to have a quick drive over to Darlington to check out a site we’ve been keeping an eye on. Unfortunately, that place was still sealed up tight so it’s still on our to-do list. However, as a result of that failure we did discover that an old nightclub that seems to have been abandoned for as long as any of us can remember was accessible. We weren’t expecting to get inside either, since from the street outside it gives the impression that it’s impregnable. Despite all appearances, though, we did in fact manage to get inside. As far as derelict nightclubs go, this one wasn’t bad. There was still a fair bit of stuff left over, and the building wasn’t completely trashed either. Clearly the local chavs think this one is sealed too. Anyway, we found ourselves on the first floor of the building to begin with, inside a weird room that feels as though the designer managed to get a massive discount on purple furniture at IKEA one afternoon. From there, we made our way downstairs and, rather bizarrely, found ourselves in a kind of saloon. This part of the explore was perhaps the highlight as some of the taps still worked behind the bar. Needless to say, we had a bit of fun testing those out and seeing how rancid alcohol becomes when left alone for too long. There is a second floor to the building as well, and this basically comprises office space, a small open-air roof area and staff only rooms. However, we couldn’t really be arsed to take many photos up there. What is more, since there are no boards on the windows in that part of the building lighting up the place with our torches would have been a bad idea as there is a very active car park right outside. You’re not missing much, though, as there’s nothing of interest up there. After that, then, we decided we’d seen everything there was to see and that it was about time we met the others for some beer and a few games of poker. Explored with MKD. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16:
  4. History Clinton, which was originally named Popotunoa (after the nearby bush-clad hills), is a very small town in New Zealand. It was named after the 5th Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne, Henry Pelham-Clinton, the former British Secretary of State for the Colonies. It is located along State Highway 1, approximately halfway between Balclutha and Gore, and has a population of 285. There are 129 occupied dwellings and 15 remain unoccupied. Government statistics indicate that the town is showing signs of a decrease in the number of people who work and reside there. As far as its history goes, the only interesting thing to happen in the town throughout its entire history was that it was ‘dry’ between 1894 and 1956. In other words, no alcohol was consumed anywhere within the town’s established borders. The townspeople were among those who voted in favour of the Temperance movement (a social movement against the consumption of alcohol and subsequent intoxication) across New Zealand in the early 1900s. However, it is important to point out that having never lived in the town ourselves, our view of Clinton’s uninteresting history is more than likely quite bias; we have never lived there, so perhaps do not appreciate the general goings-on that have occurred there over the years. The fact that there is a book titled, Clinton: Our History, is enough evidence to suggest that something more must have gone on since the mid-1800s. Unfortunately, we were not able to get a copy of the book to inform our reader’s because Mrs. Barnett was not home when we passed through town. But, if anyone desperately wants to learn any more about this town’s history, but more especially the stories and photographs gathered by local families, they can purchase the three-hundred-and-twenty-page book from Mrs. Barnett by giving her a ring on (03) 415 7723. Our Version of Events There was no actual plan to visit Clinton, it just sort of happened. After a massive fail in Invercargill, we happened to be driving through and randomly decided to stop off to stretch our legs a bit. We didn’t know it at the time, but true to its description the place was a veritable ghost town. Even the classic rock tunes blasting in the mini bus didn’t stir any life in the place. It took all of two and a half minutes to drive around the entire town and in that time we located a nice abandoned-looking row of houses. They looked a bit shit, but we figured they’d do just nicely while we took a break from driving. Finding the front door of the first house was a bit of a challenge, because it didn’t seem to have one. We thought that was a bit odd, but in hindsight, why waste money on a front door when you have a well-functioning back door. Seems perfectly logical when you think about it. Anyway, once we were inside we quickly discovered that the place was a right shit-hole. It would have been great the previous night when we’d had to kip in the mini bus (which was a lot more uncomfortable than it sounds) since it had several beds inside, a bathtub and a tin of chunky soup that we could have shared, but as far as explores go it was pretty desperate. There was a can of deodorant in there, too, which seemed to amuse our fellow Kiwi friends far more than it should have done… Five minutes later and we were heading towards the second house. This looked as though it had a lot more potential. We wandered down the main garden path and peered through the front window to make sure the place was actually abandoned. You have to be careful in New Zealand; you might be convinced a house is abandoned, but quite often it turns out someone is still living there. With this in mind, we wanted to be doubly sure that we weren’t about to walk in on someone eating their morning Shreddies. Still unsure whether anyone was living there, we wandered around the back to try the back door. The same trick worked, it opened without so much as a push. We entered the kitchen very cautiously, preparing ourselves to hit legs at any moment. Our shoes suddenly seemed to squeak rather loudly as we edged forward across the kitchen floor, and that classic sneeze that hadn’t been there all day now wanted to be released. Isn’t that always the way. Despite the epic nose explosion, we managed to make it across the kitchen and into the main corridor. This was the sketchiest bit, though, since all of the doors leading off the corridor were closed. In other words, we had no idea whether anyone was lurking inside any of the rooms. By now they’d be arming themselves with the nearest baseball bat, ornamental vase or double barrelled shotgun. Courageously, or stupidly, take your pick, we opened each of the doors one by one. Fortunately, it turned out the house was empty, but it had been an exciting five minutes finding that out. More importantly, though, this house was far more interesting than the previous one had been. This one had plenty of stuff leftover, which is what we all like. Oddly, it looked as if someone had started trying to pack things up at one time, but it seems they never managed to finish for some reason. After spending a bit of time in there, it became quite clear that no one had been around in a long while. There was mould growing in semi-drunk beer bottles on the dining room table, and dust on most of the belongings in each of the rooms. Judging by the photographs and ornamental objects in the cabinets, we’re guessing the place was owned by an elderly person and, sadly, they most likely passed away a few years ago. After around twenty minutes, we were out of things to take photographs of, so we decided to call it a day in Clinton and head off in the general direction of Milton. As we were walking back to the bus we did notice a third abandoned house just over the road, but it looked pretty fucked from the outside. Also, we figured two houses is more than enough for one report, so it’s there and ready for the picking if anyone happens to find themselves passing through the sleepy town of Clinton. Explored with Nillskill and Bane. 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: 28: 29:
  5. History Believe it or not, bacon has been an important part of human history since at least the twelfth century, when it was offered as a reward to married men who could go a year and a day without arguing with their wives. The term originally derived from the Middle English word ‘bacoun’, which was used to refer to all forms of pork. Across the United Kingdom, any man that brought home the bacon became well respected in his community. It is no surprise, therefore, that bacon remained a popular food among colonialist settlers in New Zealand. They brought the tradition with them and this resulted in the establishment of the Kiwi Bacon Factory in Milton. Milton very quickly became an important farming and industrial town in New Zealand. It was originally a small settlement in the 1850s, but it grew rapidly due to its geographic location that placed it on the route to several thriving goldfields. However, following the First World War the town struggled to survive. First, the significant loss of manpower had a detrimental impact on the productivity capabilities of the townspeople, and, second, the goldrush years came to an abrupt end. Eventually, only a large woollen mill (Bruce Woollen Mills) and the bacon factory (Kiwi Bacon Co. Ltd.) kept the town going through the 1900s. Both factories were the town’s main employers. Throughout the 1900s Kiwi Bacon went on to become one of New Zealand’s most prominent industries, with factories based in Auckland, Palmerston North, Christchurch and Milton. On its website, Kiwi Bacon Co. Ltd. suggests that the brand has been serving New Zealanders since 1932 but that the Milton factory existed long before this. It was William Henry Hitchon (1872-1957) who started the bacon factory in Milton, which later became known as Hitchon Brothers Bacon Ltd. It is reported that at least two generations of their family worked there before it was purchased by Kiwi Bacon Ltd. However, although Kiwi Bacon is now a nationwide brand, the Milton site was closed in the early 1980s due to its isolated location and the diminishing scale of the town. Despite the closure of the factory, the bacon tradition in Milton was, in a way, temporarily revived in 2008 when a local collector named Rex Spence decided to open the Milton Butchery Museum. While it lasted, the museum was New Zealand’s largest collection of antique cleavers, chopping blocks, photos and many other meat-related things. Apparently, it also featured the country’s most famous sausage maker. For a while, the museum was a popular tourist destination, especially among elderly ladies who had been the ones who used to visit the local butcher, and it became a place of nostalgic reminiscence. Some of the women recalled many of the classic jokes the butchers would have for them, and one women in her 80s retold her story of one butcher asking her if she wanted to hop inside the chiller. She said, “I thought he wanted to have sex with me, but as soon as I got in there he shut me in and stayed in the shop!” Nonetheless, despite its initial success it seems that interest in Milton’s Butchery Museum dwindled, to the extent that it was no long viable to keep open. As things stand today, then, Milton’s famous bacon and butchery past has been cleaved. Our Version of Events With the turn of a new month, we decided it was time for a new exploring trip. This time, though, we wanted to hit New Zealand’s South Island and see what treats it had in store for us. So, after a very late departure from Dunedin, we set off in the direction of Milton. There’s nothing much in Milton these days, as the history above hinted, but two things on the internet did capture our attention: an old bacon factory. Having never been inside a dedicated bacon factory before, it seemed like a potentially interesting explore. Besides, aside from Vegans, Veggies, Pesco-vegetarians, Pollo-Vegetarians, Flexitarians, Cannibal-vegetarians, Lacto-ovo vegetarians, Fruitarians, Raw/Living Foodists, Muslims, some Hindus and Jewish folk, who doesn’t like a bit of bacon? We rolled into Milton in the dead of night, in a very large and conspicuous minibus. We had requested something smaller, like a pigup truck, but they didn’t have any left apparently. The bus was a bit excessive for the three of us, but the upside was that it was roomy and ours for free for a few days. Fortunately, given the size of the vehicle, Milton was exactly like a ghost town, with no cars on the roads or pedestrians on the footpaths, so our bus didn’t attract too much attention. The only life in the small town seemed to be two guys outside the wool mill having a smoke, and a barking dog somewhere in a garden behind us. We spent a good fifteen minutes or so sneaking around in the bushes around the back, trying to find a way inside the factory, but our efforts were in vain… Until, we eventually found an unlikely way of getting inside. Several minutes later, after a bit of breathing in and dodging an old bees nest filled with decaying bee corpses, we were in! Our first glances inside the building revealed that it clearly hadn’t been visited in quite a while. There was a lot of mould covering the floors and furniture, and water had managed to get in through the roof as there were many photogenic green stains on the walls. From the first damp room, we proceeded to tiptoe our way around the building, trying hard to not alert the smokers outside to our presence. This is where torches with high lumen outputs aren’t such an advantage anymore. Of course, as with anyone trying to be stealthy without an adequate light source (we chose not to turn the torches on for a while), we managed to walk over everything that made a significant amount of sound: glass, metal, plastic bags. How the guys outside didn’t hear us we’ll never know. Or maybe they did and just didn’t give a shit? In terms of the explore itself, then, we found that even though it was filled with a large amount of utter shite, it still resembled how we imagined a bacon factory would look. There were large storage areas, chillers and strange tiled rooms. In particular, one room that caught our interest had a large tiled L-shaped bath inside it. It reminded us of something you’d find in a horror film styled abattoir. Even now, since all of us are a bit rusty when it comes to knowledge about butchery equipment, we can’t tell you what it was used for. Aside from the bath, the other interesting things we stumbled across were the old records books, a sizable ‘bacon cauldron’ (our interpretation) and a chat up line: ‘Do you like bacon? Wanna strip?’… Classic. After the bacon banter, it was time to leave. We’d run out of things to look at. The largest room in the building was crammed full of old equipment and most of it wasn’t even butchery-related. Getting out was a lot easier than getting in, and by the time we were back on the street the guys who had been smoking and the sound of the barking dog were long gone. Milton was back to being a ghost town. With that in mind, we decided to take advantage of the silent night and have a quick wander over to the old wool mill nearby to do a bit of investigating and find out whether or not part of it was abandoned. The answer to that question, however, will have to wait. In the meantime, we leave you with some more bacon banter: What do aerobics instructors and people who process bacon have in common? They both tear hams into shreds. Explored with Nillskill and Bane. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19:
  6. History The Miramar Peninsula, which is located on the south-eastern side of Wellington, has a rich and especially fascinating underground history. The area is perforated with many coves and caves, and even more interestingly old military bunkers that date back to the late 1800s. However, information about these subterranean worlds is quite often fragmented or simply non-existent. What is known, though, is that for many years the peninsula was occupied almost entirely by the military, until 1907 at least when the northern section of the peninsula was linked to the rest of the city by tram. The peninsula has always been an important component in the defence of Wellington; its very name, Miramar, means ‘sea view’ in Spanish. The strategic position of the land was thought to be ideal for the construction of observation posts, coastal guns and emplacements. These were installed to prevent the approach of Russian enemy warships and subsequent attacks. Further additions to Wellington’s defence were made between 1933 and 1960, when Palmer Head was selected as the site for a new battery. Guns were installed in 1936 and by the outbreak of World War II it was operational, although not at full efficiency because some facilities had not yet been constructed. One of the fundamental problems was accommodation; however, this was eventually resolved with the erection of temporary huts. These were later replaced with more substantial buildings. A radar station was the next facility to be added to the installation in 1941 and remnants of this can still be found today. Later in that same year, following the completion of the radar station, it was decided that the site would be expanded once again. This time secret underground military plotting and wireless rooms were to be constructed. The development included the construction of an access road, an access tunnel, two plotting rooms, an engine room and two wireless rooms. Only two entrances for the secret facility were built, one to the north and the other to the west. Palmer Head was decommissioned in 1957, along with every other battery in New Zealand. The advent of air warfare and the threat of a nuclear apocalypse rendered these outdated forts redundant. Nevertheless, the guns were not removed and scrapped until 1961. Thereafter a widespread demolition exercise was put into effect. The original idea for Palmer Head was that it would become a new housing estate, and preliminary plans were drafted. In the end, though, the land was never actually set aside for this development. It was decided that the project could not go ahead due to the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) facilities in the area. Despite the rejection of the development project, the demolition plans for Palmer Head still went ahead and it was dealt with in two phases. By the end of 1970 most of the Palmer Head site had been reduced to rubble. As for the old plotting rooms and wireless rooms, though, they were never destroyed because they lay inside a fenced-off compound owned by the CAA. It is reported that for many years the old ventilation ducts to the rooms were left exposed and they were not buried until the 1990s, when several alterations were made to the compound. The Moa Point Radar station at the top of the hill also survived as it was being used by the CAA in the 1970s. Today, the forgotten secret rooms are once again accessible; although, finding the hole in the hillside is no easy task. Our Version of Events It was almost time to leave Wellington and head off in search of more abandoned places elsewhere in New Zealand, but as we had a little bit of time left on the last evening we set out to get one final explore done. Thanks to a young wizard who goes by the name Zort, we’d received word of some old plotting rooms deep inside a hillside somewhere on the Miramar Peninsula and they sounded particularly interesting. A good old historic underground explore would be a perfect way to end the trip. We drove as close to the site as was possible, but had to ditch the car and walk the rest of the way. So, armed with our cameras and torches, we entered the bush. For the most part, we were walking blindly, not quite sure exactly where the tunnel entrance would be. But it was good fun and we spotted a fair few wētā along the way. In the end, we actually came across the way into the underground rooms a lot quicker than we’d expected. For once there was a minimal amount of fannying around, so everything went smoothly much like a well-oiled machine. Getting into the rooms was, as we’d expected, a tight affair. Basically, if you have any Christmas padding around the midriff, or aspire to be a Hercules lookalike, you’re not getting into this site. With that in mind, we crawled flat on our fronts for a fair few metres until the tunnel gradually widened enough to kneel. From there we had to scramble down a pile of rubble and drop into a long concrete corridor. At this point we could stand up straight and see, quite clearly, that the only way we could go was forwards. So, we followed the tunnel and passed a few empty rooms to the left and right of us. One of these looked like it might have housed the engine at one time. As for the others, it was impossible to tell what their original purpose was. At the end of the corridor we found two larger rooms that were connected by a small window and a left-hand turn. We explored each of the rooms which have a few bits and pieces metal lying in them, and then made our way back to the corridor which turned out to be flooded in the next section. It wasn’t too deep to begin with, but the further we went the higher it got. It wasn’t exactly a pleasant pool of water either; it was slightly green and stale looking. Eventually, we reached the limit of our gumboots (wellies) and couldn’t quite reach the end of the tunnel where there was a large metal gate and more rubble. This forced us to turn back the way we came. After that we faffed around for a while trying to do a bit of light painting, before we finally decided it was beer O’clock and time for some food. To get back out we returned to the pile of rubble and, once again, suffered the tight squeeze back through sand, rubble and concrete. Explored with Bane. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16:
  7. Cheers. Hahaha. I was thinking, what red steps. I can't remember any red steps...
  8. Thanks guys. As always, we appreciate the feedback on the shots.
  9. Damn. Desperate thieves.
  10. History Following the Second World War, sixty huts were moved from a United States Marine camp at Paekakariki to the small town of Otaki. This was part of an initiative that was started by the Wellington City Mission. The buildings were moved to establish a haven/holiday lodge for widows and children of those unfortunate servicemen who perished while in service. Today, none of the existing wartime buildings survive. The only relic from that era is an outdoor church altar. Over the years the number of people visiting the site steadily declined, until the mission eventually decided to sell the land and buildings. A couple named Maureen and Howard Lange purchased Bridge Lodge in 1998, and they transformed the site into what was described as a ‘popular function centre’. Once it was open to the public, the Lange’s advertised Bridge Lodge as being a ‘backpackers type accommodation’, with single and double separate rooms rather than dormitories. The site also catered for motorhomes and caravans, and was willing to accommodate seasonal workers for the local orchards, special events and wedding parties. The site was especially popular because it was within walking distance of the town of Otaki, where visitors could, apparently, find an array of cafes and shops. However, the dreams of owning a holiday venue and building up a retirement fund were short lived. In 2010 the Government announced their plan to build a four-lane expressway between Peka Peka and Otaki. The project was expected to cost $355 million and affect more than one hundred properties. Despite gathering a number of petitions and requests to alter the course of the road, Maureen and Howard, along with ninety-nine other property owners, were handed compensation (limited to the estimated value of their property) and ordered to pack up and leave immediately. Construction was expected to start in 2013. In 2017 it is still ongoing. Our Version of Events Having had a bit of a mooch around New Plymouth, we decided to head back down to Wellington. The journey north had resulted the near-destruction of the car’s CV joint, meaning every single corner we turned caused a heavy clunking sound. So, driving extra carefully, and only forwards (as much as this was possible), we had to limp our way back down the highway with our fingers crossed, hoping the joint wouldn’t snap and leave us stranded in the middle of Middle Earth. After all, there are all those orks, uruk-hai and Nazgul lurking in the bushes. And yet, even with such dangers surrounding us, travelling anywhere without regular exploring breaks is, as we all know, incredibly boring. Therefore, we decided to make a quick stop at an old holiday camp which can only be likened to a 1950s version of Butlin’s. Accessing the site wasn’t particularly difficult, given that most of the neighbouring houses and buildings are also abandoned because of the highway development that is now very close to reaching these properties. If anything, with the exception of us of course, the whole area seemed completely devoid of people. Instead, it was one of those places where nature has been left to take control. Those areas of bush and grass land that were once nicely trimmed and tamed are now wild and teeming with life. Getting inside the buildings wasn’t too challenging either as most of the doors around the old holiday camp were open. What struck us as odd, though, was seeing how intact most of the site is. For a place that’s been shut since around 2010, it’s in remarkably good condition. In fact, it could probably reopen next week if someone brought along a hedge trimmer and a tin of paint. In terms of the explore itself, the holiday camp is fairly basic. It mainly consists of a number of communal buildings which house such things as the kitchen, dining hall and events spaces. It also has many identical rooms, several toilet blocks and a main reception house. We explored most of the site and, in the end, determined that there’s nothing exceptional about it. If anything, walking around the site made us consider how miserable a holiday at Bridge Lodge might have been. In our minds, it looked a lot like a spruced-up concentration camp, albeit without the barbed wire and armed guards. Having said that, we did find some old spotlights that were left behind. What was really good about the explore, though, was the was the abundance of fruit we came across. It seems that the nearby orchards have pollenated the grounds of the old camp over the years, leaving a diverse range of tasty snacks available to unsuspecting passers-by. Some of the ones we came across while wandering around included banana passionfruit, grapefruit, feijoa, blackberries and lemons. After making this a discovery, the exploring went completely out of the window for a while. You can’t turn your nose up at free lunch, especially when there was an incredible amount of it. Several feijoas and passionfruit later and it was time to get back to the broken car. The aim was to get back to Wellington where we planned on getting a bit more exploring done. With that, we made our way towards the main road. In the end, though, we didn’t leave for another forty-five minutes because we stumbled across those derelict houses I mentioned earlier, and more feijoa trees that looked like they were worth checking out. There were some fine looking properties hidden between the trees, but unfortunately it seems they’re all destined to be demolished along with the old holiday camp to make way for the extended highway. Explored with Nillskill and Bane. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23: 24: 25:
  11. Haha. Easy thing to miss I guess.
  12. History Barrett Street Nurses’ Home, which is a two-storey roughcast building, was designed in 1918 by the firm Messenger and Griffths. At the cost of £16,089, it was constructed between 1921 and 1922. It was officially opened on 14th March 1922 by the Minister of Health at the time, Mr. C. J. Parr.Further additions were added by Frank Messenger in 1928, 1936 and 1945. One final part of the building was also modified in 1950, five years after Messengers death. The nurses’ home was one of the many buildings at Barrett Street Hospital that the Messenger and Griffths firm designed; the others include, a doctor’s residence, storage buildings, a children’s ward, the ambulance garage, a laundry block and the Board offices. As indicated in our report of Barrett Street Hospital, in August 2012 the legal and illegal tenants of the Barrett Street site were forced to vacate the buildings with immediate effect due to assessments that had revealed their poor structural integrity. In other words, the entire site was deemed earthquake prone. What is more, the assessment also revealed that there were extremely high levels of asbestos throughout most of the old buildings; therefore, the entire site has been marked as posing a health risk to the general public. As things stand in 2017, demolitions plans are said to be imminent, starting with the removal of asbestos. However, it has been reported that the old nurses’ home, which is now a Category A heritage building, will not be demolished. Having said that, though, no decisions have been made concerning what will actually happen to it. Our Version of Events As indicated in our last report, we’d already spent much time trying to get inside the old nurses’ home and, as far as we could tell, it seemed pretty inaccessible. Nevertheless, after having something of a group ‘lightbulb moment’, we decided to have one last crack and check out a part of the building we’d previously neglected to thoroughly examine. It’s a good job we did have a look there too, because that ended up being our way inside this incredibly historic building. Once inside, it was quickly very obvious that the place was almost completely stripped. Admittedly, this was a little disappointing, but, as we would soon discover, the building had much more to offer in the way of aesthetic features. It didn’t take us long, then, to realise that this building was much different to the rest of the hospital we’d already wandered around. Rather than adhering to a traditional medical-style design, this place was heavily cladded in dark brown wood. The floors, too, weren’t your average concrete base, or plywood; there were solid hard wood boards covering them. The place was fantastic, especially with the lingering smell of the wood in the air, which was a bit like the mouth-watering aroma you get when you bake a joint of ham. Are we all hungry now? Ignoring the sudden craving for ham, we cracked on and made our way through a long corridor towards a sizable wooden staircase. From here building only got better and better. Down on the ground floor we came across several large rooms that reminded us of being inside a traditional English pub, or a fancy teaching college. Take your pick. Then came a large grand hall, the old laundry room and a traditional-looking kitchen. In hindsight, the place could easily become a small museum, not unlike some of the buildings you can find in Beamish. The final interesting feature we uncovered in the building was a strange metal contraption that looked a little bit like an incinerator. In fact, there was one in every single bathroom we’d wandered into. However, we couldn’t be sure they were incinerators, all we know is that we’ve never come across anything like them before. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time left to investigate them too thoroughly as we didn’t have a spanner on hand, and we were rapidly losing daylight. It had taken us that much time to explore the whole hospital, and all of its buildings, that it was almost time to find a pub somewhere in New Plymouth. You can probably guess what we did next, then. With that thought firmly planted in our minds, it was time to pack up the camera equipment and get back to the car. Explored with Nillskill and Bane. 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:
  13. History The year is 1918 and the cold, motionless, body of Michael Dravitzki is being moved into the New Plymouth hospital morgue. His small frame is covered with a white sheet. It is believed the young boy has fallen victim to a very potent strain of the Spanish influenza virus. The medical staff at the hospital are overwhelmed with the increasing number of patients who are suffering from headaches, sore throats, breathing problems and high fevers. Many fear for their own lives as, day after day, patients and staff begin to dribble red froth from their lips and fall into a state of unconsciousness. Once this happens it is not long before each of their faces gradually darken purple, and then brown before they finally die. Many of the patients had been in good health and going about their everyday business only hours few hours ago, but now they are gravely ill; no one has ever seen anything like it before. To help contain the deadly virus and free up beds for those who desperately need them, the dead are swiftly removed from the hospital, to join the young boy, Michael. There is mass panic spreading throughout the facility and New Plymouth as people fear today could be their last; in many ways, the fear is just as potent as the virus itself. Despite the odds, however, Michael lived (up until he was 89 in fact), along with many other New Zealanders. An elderly lady whose job was to assess the bodies in the morgue later discovered that he was still breathing. All in all, though, 8,600 died from the virus (of those 2,160 were Maori). It is thought that the severe form of influenza arrived on the Royal Mail liner Niagara on the 12th October 1918. According to witnesses, even though there were several cases of the influenza on board, two key figures, Prime Minister William Massey and his deputy, Sir Joseph Ward, refused to be quarantined. Therefore, the ship is said to have docked in Auckland and this led to the subsequent release of the virus. However, alternative sources suggest that the case of influenza on board the ship was assessed by health authorities as being ‘ordinary’ and the same as that which already existed in the city, and that Massey and Ward took no part in making quarantine decisions. They argued, instead, that it was the war that caused the deadly pandemic. Yet, regardless of the conflicting stories and the uncertainty about the true cause, one thing is certain and that is that the pandemic that hit New Zealand was very real. Barrett Street hospital in New Plymouth – the major city of the Taranaki Region – played a major role in trying to treat the unfortunate victims of the outbreak. In point of fact, Barrett Street Hospital had originally been built in the 1860s to tackle increasing cases of typhus fever, scarlet fever and diphtheria in New Plymouth. It is for this reason the facility became one of the largest in New Zealand; it had more, equipment, suitable medical supplies, beds and staff to take care of patients. In the end, the hospital treated thousands of people and managed to save a large proportion of them. Of the 81,000 people in the area, only 635 died between October and December 1918. The number of fatalities could have been considerably higher without the hospital and its dedicated staff. After the flu pandemic, Barrett Street Hospital continued to grow and serve the general public. The first major addition to the site was a home for the nurses. This was constructed in 1905; however, another storey had to be added a year later because it was not large enough to accommodate the expanding staff. By 1916, though, the standards in the nurses’ home were deemed wholly inadequate and substandard. This resulted in a new accommodation block being constructed in 1918. The history on the nurses’ home, which still stands today, can be found in a supplementary report. Following the successful construction of the new onsite accommodation, the hospital expanded further as new offices, an out-patients block, a dedicated children’s ward and a tuberculosis ward were added to the site. Nonetheless, the ‘glory days’ at Barrett Street Hospital were numbered. In 1950 the Hospital Board revealed plans for a new, larger, hospital that would be located in Westown, as the existing site could no longer be extended due to the detection of unstable foundations. The hospital very gradually wound things down for the next forty-six years, and, in the end, the original hospital did not actually close until 1996; only by the end of the twentieth century was it completely empty of medical supplies and equipment and sold to the Government for $1 million. It was reported that many people, including staff and nearby residents, were sad to see the eventual closure of their historic centre of medicine. But, many of those people did also admit that the old hospital was getting too old and worn, and that the corridors and wards were too large which meant finding your way across the premises entailed a considerable amount of walking. Surprisingly, though, despite these unpopular features, new life was injected into the hospital as a number of legal (New Plymouth School of Gymnastics and Carrington Funeral Services) and illegal (squatters) tenants moved in. The year is 2012 and several heavy knocks coming from the front door have woken a group of squatters. Bleary eyed and slightly hungover from last night’s cans of Tui, several squalid-looking individuals take a minute for their surroundings to come into focus. Most of the windows have been shattered and the glass is strewn over the floor. A mixture of psychedelic colours sting their eyes as they struggle hard to open them. It’s the graffiti, which mostly consists of scruffily written names in red and green spray paint that is scrawled over all the walls in the room. One of the group coughs, retching as the taste of beer and vomit suddenly rises and stings the back of her throat. The glass on the floor crunches loudly as she struggles to stand up right. Three more heavy knocks ring out loudly throughout the room, followed by a loud, authoritative, voice. “Come on, open up. We know you’re in there. We’re Ministry officials, open the door!” The door opens and the Ministry officials enter the foul-smelling room. The hospital is to be evacuated. According to recent surveys, the entire site has been deemed earthquake prone. In addition, a large amount of asbestos has been discovered throughout the premises, making it extremely dangerous to enter any of the buildings. One by one the illegal tenants are rounded up and kicked out of the hospital, along with the gymnastic school and funeral company who had been using the old morgue to store their bodies. They are warned not to return, otherwise the police will be called. Just as the officials are about to leave, everyone present is informed that the fate of Barrett Street Hospital is imminent demolition. Our Version of Events Our journey from Midhurst continued up to New Plymouth, where we decided to check out the historic Barrett Street Hospital.It took hours to get there, but bangin’ tunes and beer kept us going. When we finally arrived, the sun was shining and the temperature was twenty degrees, so things were looking good. It was time to get the pasty guns out and set up some tripods and cameras! Looking at the building from the outside, it looked as though it was going to be a right doddle getting inside. We were feeling confident. Several hours later, however, and we were still trying to find a way inside. If anything, we can say we were persistent… In the time we’d been there, we’d already bumped into a group of New Zealand’s equivalent of inbred chavs, two ladies (former nurses) who wanted to gain access to the old nurse’s home and a random guy who was checking out the local attractions as he’d just moved to the area. Perhaps we were a little too confident when we boldly told them, “we’ll find a way inside”, despite the metal sheeting that was covering every possible way of getting into the hospital. In the end, though, we did in fact manage to gain access to the main hospital, after failing miserably to get into the nurse’s site. Access was incredibly innovative and a wee bit ballsy to say the least. But desperate times call for desperate measures. Once inside the good old smell of rot and damp filled our nostrils. No doubt there was a bit of asbestos in there too, spicing the whole experience up that little bit more. Nice and content we’d finally managed to worm our way inside we began the usual activity of walking around aimlessly. When you think about it, it’s a bit weird really, waking around an entirebuilding for no other purpose than to see its rooms and take photographs. Nevertheless, this is exactly what we did, and this led us to discover the largest corridor any of us have ever seen. This thing was fucking massive, and it can be blamed for wasting many of our valuable minutes. At one point, we did think about giving up trying to find the end, but after thinking about it we decided that we might as well reach the other side to tell everyone about what it was like walking down the longest corridor EVER. As you might imagine, it was much like every other corridor. It had lots of adjoining doors, lightbulbs and terrible wallpaper. After walking around a good proportion of the hospital, we came to the conclusion that each of the wards were identical so we decided we weren’t going to get any shots that differed from the ones we’d already taken. In other words, it was all becoming a little samey. With that, we headed for our innovative entrance/exit. On the way, though, we chatted to one another once again about the old nurse’s home, and how it would be a shame to miss out on seeing it. It seemed like it was worth another shot at getting inside, especially since it’s the most historic building on the site and its future is uncertain. As we recalled, although there are talks to try and save it, based on its heritage value, there is no firm plan in place to guarantee its survival. Explored with Nillskill and Bane. 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: 28: 29:
  14. History St. Peter’s Hospital is an NHS general district hospital in Chertsey, England. It is located on the Metropolitan Green Belt, between Woking and Chertsey. Originally, the hospital was built to serve casualties of the Second World War. Since that time, however, the facility has been rebuilt, developed and extended several times to include additional services such as a maternity ward, a new theatre complex and a clinic area. What is more, the main part of the hospital itself now has over 400 beds and a wide range of acute care services. As for the mortuary, it was constructed in the 1940s on the very edge of the site. It was in service up until April 2009, when it was decided that the building was too small to cope with the increase in cadavers. A new, larger, morgue was built closer to the central hospital. Our Version of Events It was three minutes before midnight, and we were racing down a brightly lit corridor. At the end there was a large, heavy, blast door, and we were trying to reach it. A volley of red laser beams followed us, ricocheting off the walls as we legged it. “Halt, stay where you are”, someone yelled. Not likely I thought, as I risked taking a quick glance behind me to discover that it had come from a security guard dressed entirely in white armour. There were at least eleven of them in total, all firing their blasters in our general direction. Luckily for us, though, the force was with us, or they were incredibly bad shots; either way, all of them missed us. We’d been trying to find the Millennium Falcon in Pinewood Studeos, but secca had discovered us. So now the chase was on. At the blast door, DRZ_Explorer whipped out his 1250 lumen Olight SR95S UT Intimidator which, at the push of a button, produced a long white vertical laser beam – a bit like a sword. The door was locked, so DRZ_Explorer decided to improvise. He thrust his torch into the door and set about tearing a hole in it. The rest of us watched, ducking occasionally as flashes of red erupted above us. Amazingly, even though we were motionless now, the guys in the white armour continued to miss us. It was a bloody good job too, because I’m almost certain they were breaking one or two health and safety rules. Imagine if they’d actually hit us with one of those laser beams! After hacking away at the door for a few minutes, DRZ_Explorer eventually made enough of a hole for us all to squeeze through. One by one we clambered into the other side of the corridor. All safely on the other side, we yelled for DRZ_Explorer to join us. We peered back through the hole to see what the fuck he was up to. As it turned out, he was rather preoccupied, trying to fend off security. “ Using his UT Intimidator, he managed to deflect several blasts, but one caught him on his left arm. He grimaced, but continued to waved his torch around wildly, repelling all further shots. He was doing well, until a large black figure emerged among the guards. It was the site manager. He was wearing a long black cape and wielding his own 1250 lumen Olight SR95S UT Intimidator. His was red, though, and looked a lot cooler than DRZ_Explorer’s. The site manager strode forward with his free hand raised in front of him, and then, as he continued walking forward, he clenched his fist tightly. DRZ_Explorer suddenly dropped to the floor. Gasping for breath, he grasped his throat with both hands. He was being strangled by some sort of mind control trick. “Run!”, he coughed, “Run! You must get to the Millennium Falcon!” He didn’t have to tell us twice, we didn’t want to risk getting caught, so we legged it. The last thing we heard was the site manager shout, in Intergalactic lingo, was, “Summon the droids! That will flush them out”, which in hindsight probably meant, in Planet Earth English, “turn on the fucking CCTV, that’ll put a stop to these bastard trespassers!” An hour or so later, however, and we were all in St. Peter’s Morgue. It wasn’t a great end to the night, given that this place is a right shithole, but it was better than some alternatives – such as a crematorium, or Sunderland. Unsure how long we were going to be here, or what else the evening might have in store for us, we made do with wandering around heavily graffitied rooms that were filled with heaps of shit for a while. Thankfully, though, our cameras had survived our ordeal, so we were able to take a few snaps along the way. And there we have it, that’s how we’ve all ended up with another report of St. Peter’s Morgue rather than a victorious tale with the Rebel Alliance. Explored with Ford Mayhem and DRZ_Explorer. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11:
  15. Cheers. Yeah, we couldn't believe it either. Mind you, the ones in Durham Palladium worked until the bitter end, even though the place was extremely damp. Seeing how they'd managed to convert the one room into three separate ones was pretty cool.

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