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True_British_Metal

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About True_British_Metal

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  1. UK RAF Spadeadam Airfield, Northumberland - March 2017

    When I'm in the UK I'm always on the lookout for derelict aircraft, so this is outstanding to see. Talking of which, it's been on my mind for ages. Has anyone here had a go at the aircraft at Teeside airport? Looks like there's loads there!
  2. Solo jaunt, part 3/3 of TBM's swansong. This could well be the last explore I do for a long time, lest I get up to anything in Taiwan. Apart from a fail at St Ita's asylum in Portrane the day after, I suppose one could say this is my last explore for a while. History taken from Irish UE: The Pigeon House power station is one of the iconic landmarks of Dublin. It was built on the turn of the 20th century and began operation in 1903. The coal fired power station continued to run for the next 73 years and was finally decommissioned in 1976. The power station which replaced it is now sprawled out on a vast site next to it. The old coal fired power station was built on land next to the old Pigeon House (the large grey building in the bottom right of the below satellite photo) which is how the area got it’s name. Alongside the power station there are also some small remains of the old Pigeon House Barracks which were used to defend the port in times past. The explore: This is going to be hard, I just know it is. How could it not be? It might be a Sunday, but this is in a busy dockyard next to a very live power station in the capital of Ireland. I might be alone, but I'm not bowing down from a challenge. I should have started earlier, but going out drinking and having a blast the night before put paid to any early wake up calls. So I make my way down here, and I know the way in... or so I think I do. It's a beaten walkway up to this palisade fence, so I get myself ready and vaunt myself over the fence. I thrash myself through the thick bushes, and I'm greeted with a view over the iconic power station. Bollocks. There's no way of getting round to the other side unless I go into the compound, which is covered with CCTV. There's a guard at the gate, so I can't walk in. I end up faffing around, and doing the long walk round the back of Poolbeg, the active part. I might be able to walk up the beach... nope. It's fenced off, and covered with CCTV all the way along. I have no choice; this could be a fail...Or not. Oh no... I can't do that. I'll get busted within seconds. Cautious and ever aware of the guard in the gatehouse next to me, I step beyond the gates. Will he stop me? Will he come out and get irate with me? He does nothing. Gingerly I keep going forward, seeing nobody but ever aware of the CCTV that watches the car park and hotel building. Past the cameras, I hear nobody so I just keep going. I walk in like I own the place! I'm in within a minute. An aerial view, not my photo Inside, I suppose in owing to the relatively built up and active area it finds itself in, damage is at an absolute minimum for a building that has been closed since 1976. Hard to believe isn't it? I start off looking through the nooks and crannies of the building before taking photos of the main turbine hall. It's all pretty stripped and very decayed, but nothing short of stunning. Some really interesting pieces of architecture can be found. But nothing thus far compares to this. Ladies and gentlemen, take a look at this! I suppose if Battersea Power Station was a complete derp, it would be Pigeon House wouldn't it? Ha ha ha ha! Taking photos in here was a real challenge, being dark and trying to avoid damn camera shake! But I pulled it off. Being closed for so long, it's inevitable that the building has since been stripped of its turbines. Oh how I would've loved to have seen it back then... Love as always, TBM x
  3. Solo jaunt, part 2/3 of my (temporary) swansong. Well, this was epic. The best asylum I've had the pleasure of exploring, and possibly the best asylum of the "post-classic" era when most closed. And definitely one of the most memorable explores I have ever done. If it was any one site that inspired me to finally visit the Emerald Isle, it was this. As always, I turned up at the site completely unprepared and without any idea of what to expect. As I walked round the building, I see the grounds are well maintained, and someone is there walking their dog. Is it security? What are those cars doing at the top of the site? I didn't have a clue. I wasn't feeling that nervous, so I spotted my (possible) way in and ran straight for it. Hidden from the view of the street, I searched for a way in, which didn't take long; though far from trashed, I can see where others managed to gain access and followed their path. I was inside, and was overcome with a really strange feeling; nervous, but like I was in another world (stay with me, I'm not talking about ghosts). I'm inside the building, and with the exception of the water dripping down there's a dead silence. The windows facing the outside are boarded, forcing me to use torchlight. All the rooms are empty and have been tagged with crap like "redrum" and the usual "haunted house" jibber jabber. One of the patient rooms on the ward. Small, secluded rooms were a contrast to the likes of the dorms found in places like Our Lady's in Ennis. As I make my way to the other wards of the vast complex, I randomly flick a light switch and boom! The room flickers back to life; the power is still on! Not only that, in so many rooms so much has been left behind. Unlike the likes of Fairmile and its empty, non-descript wards, this felt so much more real. So much more personal, even if it's just furniture. With no security to contend with, and hearing so little outside beyond cars going past, I was in a different world. I had stepped through the looking glass, and was lost within the walls of the institution, lost in my own thoughts. I'm alone, disconnected from the outside world. I feel no fear, but a feeling of peace and serenity as I wander the almost endless corridors. Apart from the crumbling walls and ceilings, it feels like this place is trapped in a time warp from when it closed in 2009. It is for this reason this has been one of the most memorable moments in my life exploring. Look into the mirror as two storks look down on you... it feels like a Hitchcock film. As I continue to wander the corridors, further away from where I was, there was less evidence of anyone coming here. No graffiti, no smashed glass, no footprints; things felt like they had been left as they were since closure. The ward below was only accessible from a single, long corridor. No idea what kind of patients were kept here, but there was once an identical ward at the other end; this had since been demolished, though when I don't know. There was no main hall designed into the asylum, so I went for a look through the industrial side of the hospital. This place kept on giving and giving. As the last port of call, I checked out the ground floor of the administration. The power was still on, and the check-in machine on the desk was still powered up and showing the correct date and time! I didn't turn on the telly to check if the CCTV was still live though, ha! Behind this room, there were tons of books piled up on the desks; inside were reports going back years regarding patient finances, admissions and discharges, in addition to letters written to and from patients (though not medical records). For privacy reasons no pictures were taken. I made my way back to my entry point, and made a swift exit. I was absolutely overjoyed to have seen what I saw, until I realized I made a ridiculous blunder... I forgot the bloody clocktower! D'arrrrrghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! But instead of going back inside, I followed the dog walkers and locals and decided to have a sniff round the outbuildings. The signs said there was a mortuary nearby, but before I did that I had a look at the chapels. I can't work out why, but on this site were an original chapel AND a newer built one a little bit further up. Both, however were locked. The mortuary/chapel of rest was different... This had been completely boarded up, but here the door in the hoarding was unlocked. The best way to describe this mortuary, which was a modern build and not the original would be like an an "airing shelter", free to walk into but with rooms inside. I sneak inside, and there's a gurney in the corner. The door into the chapel of rest (which was still rammed with stuff) and two other doors (probably the toilets, unlikely to be fridges) were locked. I find one of the glazed windows unlocked, so I open it only to find it covered inside with protective mesh! Double d'arrrrrrrrghhhhhhhhhhhhh! Across the way was possibly occupational therapy and the farm buildings, accessible but full from floor to ceiling with beds and paraphenalia from the hospital when it was closed, making it impossible to take photos or navigate. The additional ward at the head of the site was completely sealed, and next door to the last live building on site so no access there. Inevitably any comparison to those two iconic Surrey asylums is anathema, but if you never saw either of these then a trip to St Brigid's should be at the top of your list. This is one of the best asylums I have ever seen, so get out there and have a look whilst you still can. You will NOT be disappointed! Lots of love, TBM x
  4. Solo jaunt. Part 1/3 of TBM's (temporary) swansong. So I'd never been to the ROI or Northern Ireland before this. As I write this, tomorrow I will be gone to Taiwan to take a sabbatical from England and exploring for a while, teaching English and learning Mandarin. The past few weeks had been dull and uneventful, so on impulse I decided to go for a short jaunt to Ireland to do some exploring, and what a terrific move that was. I always wanted to go, but I never made any plans to follow through. It was Camera Shy's recent reports that really got my attention and got me thinking about getting out to the Emerald Isle. The first of three successful explores, I give you Our Lady's asylum. I had no idea what to expect, which is pretty much the TBM way nowadays. I was in a land I had never set foot upon, all alone, out to do what I do best. I was pretty nervous, considering unlike in the UK trespassing can easily slip from civil into criminal territory simply by getting someone nervous in the process. But I carried on. After a long, long train ride from Dublin and long walk in the rain, I see a grey tower: it's the asylum. I see cars parked inside, and dog walkers, but no fence. Security? Not thus far. However, there was something that got me on edge as I looked at the imposing administration from the front; the building was vandalised, but lights in the upper rooms were still on. An alarm box is visible from the front. Squatters? Alarmed? I didn't know. It took less than 5 minutes to find a way in, but this is what got me really nervous; if entry is this easy, then to me there is a far greater chance of either running into or being followed by hostile types. I'm alone, so I can't take risks. I immediately take the stairs to the top floor, get myself immersed in my surroundings and get ready to take photos. I can't relax. In the main staircase I do see some PIRs on each floor, but despite there being electricity in this area none were responsive. A relief. The building is stripped of almost anything that would indicate its former use, but is interesting because what it shows is the kind of conditions that patients were living in; very few (well, it's possible) seclusion cells/private rooms, instead cramped dormitories. The partitions have been removed in this room, so is not the best example but downstairs was different. One of very few items remaining. The date of closure is said to be 2002, but who knows if this genuinely was the same as it was in July 1995. Despite the tagging and typical "haunted building" graffiti in places, the peeling paint and decay was spectacular to see. Some wards felt untouched. The main hall in the complex, very austere and minimalist. From here I went on to look through the industrial side of the hospital, hoping for a mortuary but found nothing of interest. I returned to the darkness of the ground floor, in search of what more there was to find. The architecture was no different but there were some interesting murals based on Irish folklore and tradition. I'd seen everything I needed to see in the hospital, so I swiftly made my way out and round the back in search of anything that had eluded me before. Alas, the rear buildings were reoccupied, and those derelict well in view of those inside. There was little left to see, and nothing that caught my eye, so I made my way off to the chapel which was locked. The buildings are listed, and presently up for sale. I honestly don't know what the the future holds for the site now, but it won't take much to turn the place into a Talgarth-esque ruin. Time is running out. Stay tuned for part 2. Love as always, TBM x
  5. Visited as part of the Reading art exhibition. For a full in-depth history visit the Wiki page. I've never done a UK prison, certainly not one that's immaculate or recognisable as one. Sure, I've done Doftana in Romania, but that was a ruinous shell that was converted to a museum after its first closure in the 50s. So here we have Reading prison, a prime example of a Victorian prison (grade-II listed) designed by George Gilbert-Scott, the grandfather of Battersea Power Station architect Giles Gilbert-Scott in 1844. From 1992 until its closure in 2013, the prison was a Young Offenders Institution and local category C prison, housing offenders aged 18-21 who were guilty of a variety of offences from those such as repeat shoplifting and theft to even murderers in some cases! Since closure it is continually maintained and owned by the MoJ, used for filming (some of the unused cells are used to store lighting equipment and suchlike) and in this case an art exhibition which revolves around the accounts of prisoners such as Ai Weiwei (a letter to his daughter whilst under house arrest), poems and work of Oscar Wilde (its most famous prisoner) and more abstract displays such as those representing prison psychology. A deeply poignant display, I highly recommend anyone, explorer or not to visit this exhibition if they can. Now there were a few people milling about, but it was nevertheless a great opportunity to explore the prison and take some shots. One of the hosts used to work with the NHS providing mental health services to the inmates, and told me a lot about life inside Reading, which was absolutely fascinating but at the same time sad to think that once you're in its a life sentence in terms of life prospects. That is, once you have a criminal record regardless of the offence you're doomed to a life of low-paid work and no real career. Being a permission visit there isn't a great deal I can say otherwise, but I hope its worth posting, if only to show what there is to see inside. It's on until December, so definitely do get down there while you can! Love as always, TBM x
  6. Other Hospital H, Hungary, October 2016

    This isn't OPNI is it? We bumped into some other explorers but got caught within about 20 minutes, all the buildings were very well secured.
  7. UK Shoreham Cement Works, October 2016

    A derped out office building and a nondescript silo in the middle of a gypsy camp? No. Lol
  8. UK Leybourne Grange, October 2016

    Solo explore. "It can't be this bad. How can it be THAT bad? How can it be THAT ruined?!" were my first thoughts on this place. Fully demolished in 2010-11 with the exception of three buildings, what once was a site bigger than I could ever have expected was now mostly a leafy rural housing estate. All that remains of the original colony is the superintendent's house (well, a house behind the gardens), the clocktower and manor house. If there's one type of place or era that's been talked about in exploring more than any other, it's the golden age of the asylum.Closing in 1996, at a time similar to the asylums, Leybourne Grange colony was often incorrectly labelled as an asylum and inevitably associated with the aforementioned golden age. I remember looking at this place in my early days of exploring (online, not in person), but I never ventured there mainly a. because it was too far away and b. far too trashed to be worthy. But at the same time, I always looked at the manor house and wondered what it was like inside, being one of the golden age sites. For years boarded on every floor and alarmed, I never saw anyone properly cover the inside apart from the staircase. So alongside another golden oldie, I decided to venture out there. I got on site, and once again for no reason my nerves hit me. I was alone and had heard about the guards, but I otherwise had no reason whatsoever to be nervous. It was stupid, really stupid. Eventually I picked up the courage and went to the clocktower. The floors were among the worst I'd ever seen, and the building had lost most of its photogenic value so I only left with one photo of the clock mechanism. I did climb to the top to scope the site out, but forgot to take my camera. Silly me. The fear hits me again, having seen two cameras covering the manor house and my potential access. Again, it was a now or never moment so I chose a harder but well covered way in to the manor house and got ready. By no means did I expect the mansion to be mint, no no. But THIS BAD?! Literally, crumbling to a point where I have to watch EVERY step? Yep. I came in expecting a moderate level of decay, but this was worse than anything I've ever done. Utterly ruined. It goes to show; you can alarm a place to its rafters. You can board up every window, every door, but once dry rot or wet rot gets in it's like a cancer that just spreads relentlessly. I never thought it could be this bad, but years of fungal blooms running riot have turned this once-grand building into a fragile, ruinous shell. On the whole, contrary to my expectations there wasn't that much to see inside but nevertheless some nice little details so as not to go home feeling empty handed and TOO disappointed. The ground floor had all the interesting features, sadly. Upstairs were just more tags and bare, crumbling rooms. I had to watch every single step I made. How I didn't even put one foot wrong is a miracle. The state of this place in a nutshell. That's not even damage caused by fire! Having seen everything, I ran back out and bumped into some local teens. "Have I been busted now?" I joked. Had a nice chat with them about the guard and how angry he'd been when he caught them. That didn't stop them going in many more times though; heh, I was lucky to not catch a single sight of him. "Nah, the guards don't work on Sundays" one said. Ha! Young explorers in the making? They asked me if I believed in ghosts too, which is to be expected to be honest. I told them that "the only ghosts I believe in are the guards you think are lurking at every corner but aren't there!" On a final note, all the remaining buildings thankfully will get restored eventually. Nothing has happened with the clocktower except installing scaffold to stabilise it, same with the superintendent's house behind the gardens. As for the manor, scaffold and metal sheeting is over the top now; as far as I can tell if they're doing anything with the place it's securing the roof before anythign else. Either way, it's a herculean effort ahead. Once again, thanks for reading through the waffle. Cheers, True British Metal x
  9. UK Shoreham Cement Works, October 2016

    Solo explore. This shouldn't be here. By all stretches of logic, this should not be here. Why should it be? It should have gone years ago. Think about it; derelict since 1991, an enormous concrete monolith stands in the middle of an area of outstanding natural beauty. Situated not far from Brighton and the coast of southern England, why should this not have been long since demolished and developed like everything else? I don't know. That said it's every explorer's dream for a building to just be closed and left to its own devices for years, with virtually nothing done to it, like Millennium Mills of industry and Mansfield General of hospitals. So what prompted me to do this? Well... when I was a kid, I used to visit the Chinnor and Princes Risborough railway. I used to look up at Chinnor Cement Works in awe at what could be inside, but I was young, didn't know about urban exploration and I suppose never thought about actually entering. Closed in 2000, it was demolished a year before I truly began exploring in 2007. A damn shame, because it was GOOD inside. The only thing that I ever saw was a beehive kiln, now awaiting restoration in the middle of a new housing estate. The other place was the third explore I ever did: Shipton-on-Cherwell cement works. Closed in 1986, demolition was a long-drawn out affair between I think the late 1980s to the early-mid 1990s. But something happened, and demolition stopped. A handful of buildings were left, and from 2008 to 2010 (excluding when I got chased out by chavs as a kid in 2003-4) I made a handful of visits there, until the rest was demolished by mid-2015. I loved it then and was sad to see it go because it was where I started this all, but it was long past its prime. I don't know what's happened to Southam, so this was my first true cement works. The other thing is this, and I'm absolutely certain that if you started exploring when you were young you have the same feeling: exploring a place that closed either since before or when you were born, or closed at a distant but significant time in your life. Shoreham Cement Works is that to me; I was born in 1991, the year this closed. As Speed said, Shoreham is the last pre-28 epic left now that Battersea and Millennium Mills are going. And if I were to do this, it was now or never. The day started out frustratingly to say the least. After stupid delays, I took the train from London and got to Shoreham on the brink of a downpour. Whilst not heavy, it was relentless enough to eventually soak through my shoes and make me feel rubbish. To add insult to injury, I chose the wrong road to enter from, which meant I trapsed through wet and muddy fields, clambered through thick bushes only to be met with a SHEER drop and absolutely no chance of entry. Getting to the correct access point took AT LEAST two hours! Still I would NOT give up. Feeling groggy and grumpy, I got to the access point, and so began the final and most risky trek. It's funny how nerves play out. It was a weekend, but I'd already seen a guard in the cabin looking out at me on the road. Or the weather, I don't know. The main building was wide open, but it was clear it would be suicide to make such a blatant entry in front of so many lorries and workers going in and out. But I had an advantage... the quarry was closed for the day. No workers except at the back of the main building. I panicked; the nerves were going up, but I wouldn't give up having gotten so far. I couldn't work out a way in. Eventually I found a way in that can only be described as BANG. BANG BANG BANG. CRASH. All in full view of workers. I found out later this was completely unnecessary and overcomplicated but I was in. I made my way along the conveyer belts until I got to the second building, the crushing silos. The entry to the final belt was haphazardly fenced off and barricaded, and with it being only minutes since I got in, I saw a black Mercedes drive past... It was security. I was never spotted on the trek, but if I'd left it minutes later getting in I would've been finished. I waited a few minutes, my nerves going up even more. I was about to make things even harder, but then I realized luckily someone had made a secret access point which was only clear upon second sight... I was in. I'd made it into the main building, but I'd not taken a single photo until I heard voices, which sounded like they were in the building. I FROZE. I looked down, and all the ways into the building were wide open; one peep inside and I'd be a deer in the headlights. I couldn't let my guard down at any time. To make things worse, the walkways were littered with debris and in places even rusted and collapsed. I never did see security again, by the way. Was it worth the effort? The answer is a resounding YES, absolutely! The overwhelming size, decay and atmosphere were absolutely incredible. Though I was too busy scoping the place out and getting in to take photos, there were some brilliant pieces of graffiti too. And I'm saying that as a graffiti-phobe. Another thing that I find interesting about places is seeing whose footsteps I'm following in, whose signatures and aliases are left behind. Well known veteran explorers, newer explorers and simply the curious, whoever. I made my way into the front part of the building, where people had left their names in the dust from as far back as 2003. Shoreham is just one of those places: always been around, well known but never truly a tourist trap. Nice to get a breath of fresh air eh? I did have a look at the part on the right that you see above, but this part had since been put back into use as storage for some of the lorries on site. Alone, but never too sure whether I was alone or not, I didn't hang around. I made my way back into the main building, ready to dash across to the generator room, only to see the staircases down to the ground floor severed from high up. Had I been with someone I would've made the mad dash next door from afar given how easy it was, but I was never truly sure whether I was alone or not so I left it. I'm useless alone, aren't I? Nevertheless, it wasn't a wasted journey and hopefully this is something good to show for it. I'm glad I finally saw a pre-28 epic, something I should've seen a long time ago. But better late than never! Thanks once again for looking. Sending the love, True British Metal x
  10. Other Închisoarea Doftana, Romania September 2016

    A bribe or a bona fide fine?
  11. Solo jaunt. History Ha ha. Sorry, I used the Romanian name for this one just to get your attention. Dear reader, I present to you this once-infamous political prison, Doftana aka the Romanian bastille. Once one of the most cruel, harshest prisons in Romanian history, it's now largely forgotten about by Romanians, and quietly rots away near the Carpathian mountains just outside the village of Campina in Prahova county. Built in 1895 as a place to house nearby workers for the mine workings, it was converted in 1921 to a political prison for communists, among which the most famous prisoners were the former prime minister of Romania Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej (1952-1955) and former communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu (1968-1989). Both were imprisoned as young adults for their ideology, subjected to some of the foulest, most deranged treatment you can imagine. Doftana would eventually close in 1958, before being transformed into a museum during the communist period, in doing so becoming in effect a "communist shrine." Eventually, in addition to an earthquake in 1977 and declining visitor numbers it closed in 1990, after the anti-communist revolt in 1989. Since then it has been left to rack and ruin, its once impenetrable walls crumbling at the mercy of harsh weather, metal thieves and vandals. For a more in-depth history, I'm not going to make a pastiche of someone else's already superb write-up, so please make a visit to Darmon Richter's Bohemian Blog here. I'll add my own interpretation below. My visit This was a place I wouldn't miss at any costs, despite it not being that epic compared to the likes of H15 and such. At the same time, my nerves were sky high; if you've read the last two reports on this place, you'd think that even if the place is a ruin it would be a near-impenetrable fortress. Yes, literally. Dragging Arold to Campina with me, we got a taxi driver to take us there. A young man about my age, surprisingly he spoke English fluently and talked to us about the prison, how he used to play there with his friends when they were children. Nowadays however, he warned that security had been put in place to stop us getting in. Having spoken to Darmon about it before, with the dogs free roaming the place I thought they would be virtually unavoidable. We got to the gates, and all was dead. The cabin on the right was empty and derelict now. However, I nearly screwed things up when I walked up the (I assume) guard's driveway to their house, making the dog bark. Get back. Right, we can't approach from the front. I need to flank it from behind, just like I planned. I made my way up a road that went along the hill with Arold, until I found a gate to an empty field. Arold wasn't feeling up to it unfortunately, so I bade farewell to him before he made his way back. Down the hill, I thrash my way through bushes and trees before I spot a grey building. It was the toilets. I got to the fence, all looks quiet still. No dogs. Jumping straight over the fence, I could tell the place was well looked after, with all the grass cut regularly and open space. Danger zone! I first check out the guard towers that are dotted round the place, but all the stairs inside had long since rotted away, so they wouldn't provide me with access. I had to keep running, so I got to the entrance building and BOOM! I was in within seconds, having not seen a single soul. So far so good, but still nervous. I made my way into the courtyard, which by contrast had been completely let go and was overgrown. From here all the buildings were wide open. Time to start shooting. Having seen footprints and even a dog pawprint in the dust, I was rightfully on edge and started shooting the upstairs part first. Nevertheless, shooting Doftana was absolutely fascinating, and I sought to capture it for what it is: a cold, horrible, crumbling concrete shell. The cells above were part of one of the more open, less restricted wings for prisoners. These prisoners were allowed to socialise in the courtyard, but if caught trading cigarettes and contraband they would be sent to H, the block dedicated to the most barbaric of treatments. This block I assume was dedicated to prisoners who were to undergo hard labour. Knowing what they were subject to, I can only think the conditions were marginally better than H. As you can see, it's absolutely clear what a dire state Doftana is in. It won't be long until the entire cell block collapses in on itself, finishing Doftana off. And so we come to the solitary confinement cells, block H. Look at the lower cells relative to the windows. Absolutely no light could shine in when the doors were closed, plus the floors were flooded. During winter without heating and with inmates living on rations barely possible to survive on, many died here. It's virtually impossible to capture the emotion invoked by architecture in a photo, but dear reader, how do you think you would feel if this was your cell? You wouldn't survive, would you? I wouldn't, that's for sure. It was time to move onto the west cell blocks. Thus far I heard plenty of dogs barking, and possibly footsteps, but to be honest it was probably wind and dogs from afar. I was at leisure to roam undisturbed. Internal courtyard, now long since overgrown. I headed back to the front building. It was clear this had been converted to a museum post-closure, but anything of value had long been plundered. All that remained was a smashed up diorama. Theatre room. The projection room was bare, before you ask. It was time to make my escape. Not wanting to push my luck, I didn't stop to take externals. I dashed out the way I came in, never seeing a single guard or dog in sight. So there we have it, Doftana Prison. What does the future hold? Sadly not a great deal for the present moment. It's used for airsoft games sometimes, but that's it. It's a listed building too, but reuse would be difficult not just because of its ruinous condition, but also the history. On the final day of our tour, Arold and I visited Sighet Prison in Maramureș; this was very similar to Doftana inside, having been opened in 1897 (albeit exclusively, unlike Doftana) as a prison. In the 1950s when Doftana had already closed this was used to detain prisoners under the communist regime, and the conditions and treatments were hardly much better than what happened at Doftana. As I walked round, we were shown a map of the prisons used by the communist regime to imprison political prisoners. I wondered why Doftana wasn't listed, and now I know why; it's because this building is the the complete opposite. Sighet was a prison run by the communist regime, now preserved as a memorial to the victims of communism. Doftana was a prison museum during that time, and became a shrine to communism. Ultimately, if there's one thing I can conclude from visiting the two, it's that no matter how many crimes against humanity are committed, history seems to find a way to repeat itself. It just puts on a different guise each time. Doftana and Sighet are sides of the same dirty coin. Pessimistic, but look at the Conservative party in the UK; they want to revoke the human rights act, and too many people sit by and let it happen. If you've got this far, thank you for reading. Love and best wishes, True British Metal x
  12. Visited with Arold. History Casino Constanta is an historic monument built in Art Nouveau style between 1904 -1910, to meet the needs of the Black Sea tourists in the period known as La belle Époque: a time when well dressed gentlemen would read the newspaper early in the morning, enchanting ladies walked on the promenade, the sound of military music filled the atmosphere on sunset, inviting people to “dance” in their impeccable evening outfits. The man who conceived this challenging project, very modern at that time, was Daniel Renard, a young Romanian architect of Swiss origin. The building is exceptionally rich in decorations inspired by the vegetal and marine worlds: waves, climbing plants, beautiful flowers and fantastic shell windows, make you believe that you are in an undersea palace, where Poseidon is waiting to greet you on his throne, behind the curtain of the majestic theatre stage in the main room. The Casino is challenging your imagination step by step, with every ornament, every broken mirror, and every crack in the wall producing an emotional rollercoaster outlined by the magnificent view of the sea. What used to be the main social and cultural attraction of the city in the past is lying in despair today, completely neglected like a true old man celebrating his 100th anniversary alone. During World War II, the building was transformed into a hospital, and during the communist regime was a restaurant where, weddings, baptisms and communist events were organized. Little by little its fame started to fade. Having closed in 1990, in the 2000s the casino was taken under the care of the Municipality of Constanta. In 2007 the municipality signed a concession contract on 49 years with the Israeli company Queen Co Leisure International (QLI), in exchange of 140,000€ annually. QLI stated publicly that they would invest 15 million euros in renovation and transforming the casino into an international entertainment center, the biggest in Romania. The optimistic company forecasted that the investment was going to be recovered in 5 years, yet another 4 years passed and still nothing happened. The municipality ended the contract and started searching for a buyer. Soon enough this decision started a public scandal, where the Ministry of Regional Development and Tourism (MRDT) promises to take over the problem. The old Casino is supposedly going to be restored completely with funds from the MRDT’s budget. The new dates are placing the beginning of the renovation work in maximum one year after the Casino is officially under MRDT administration, and another 2 years to finish the work. So far the first deadline for starting the project is going to be August-September 2012. Our experience Casino Constanta. The most famous derelict building in Romania. After our trip to Moldova and Transnistria, there was no way I was going to miss this. It's the icon of Constanta; ask a Romanian what there is to see in the city apart from the impeccable Black Sea beaches, and they'll probably mention this. It even appears in the Lonely Planet guide! Up until this year according to Tripadvisor visitors were allowed inside, but recent reports suggested this stopped. I thought if worst comes to worst I'll just sneak in round the back through an open window, easy enough... but I wanted to be on the safe side and be guaranteed entry. A good job I did what I did, and contact the City Hall. I emailed them for permission, which was granted provided Arold and I signed an affidavit to say that they weren't responsible for any injuries incurred as a result of us going inside. Fantastic! Don't you just wish it could be like this in the UK? Just sign a form and the doors are flung open for you. Obviously it's under council care and a listed building, but I wasn't expecting the level of security they had at this place. When we arrived, we saw two guards outside in a cabin. They spoke no English, but somehow got the message that I was granted permission by the mayor to go inside. They called somebody up, and out comes a younger guard from inside the building, who spoke English fluently. Two guards outside and one inside, for one small building; this place is a fortress. I showed him my passport, and then Arold and I were granted free roam. The sights here are among the best of their kind. Absolutely exceptional details in every room. For a 1990 closure, particularly being so close to the abrasive salty sea air and water, it's survived exceptionally well. You can tell attempts have been made to restore the building in the past judging by workers' tools left behind; sadly nothing has happened to this day. Still, vandalism has thankfully been kept to an absolute minimum. The majority of the building had been accessible, but there were a few rooms which were nailed shut presumably to prevent break-ins and animals (although cats and pigeons inevitably found their way in). Again, a damn good job I didn't try to sneak in with the guard inside! One of my best photos ever. And to you dear reader, I present you now with Poseidon's lair. The centrepiece, the theatre! It was in this room that damage and decay was clearer after 26 years of disuse. Yet it still conveys a real sense of grandeur on an epic scale. Maybe I'm getting whipped up in hysteria, but could this be one of the best locations I've ever done? Heading backstage And now to round things off. And an external. So there we have it. On a final note I just wanted to say this. Even if it's now an EU member state and tourism is increasing, Romania is still a criminally underrated destination. Explorer or not, I simply cannot recommend the country enough. Get out there and find some more gems; there are cities like Hundeoara ram jammed with derelict industry so I hear! Not only that, you've got some of the best mountain ranges in Europe and most beautiful cities you'll ever see. Get out there! Love as always, True British Metal x
  13. Visited with Slipdrix. I never thought I'd be sat up here. Really, I thought after all the crap that went down after my last crane climb 5 years ago in April 2011 (although funnily enough, I never got hit by it all), I would never do one again. I did actually try One First Street in Manchester with Ptchaw back in ~2013 when the entire site had about 7 cranes on site, protected by CCTV and a patrolling guard, but instantly tripping an external PIR put paid to that and I never tried again. Besides, I never truly felt comfortable up a crane; firstly the sensation that being unshielded from wind left me feeling like my camera would blow off the side! The worst however is never having anywhere to hide if security spot you; in my head it's a near equivalent to getting caught naked... in public... with nowhere to run! I didn't want to do this at first, but Slipdrix insisted we get out and try it, and in hindsight it was rewarding. Very, very rewarding. Expecting it to be an absolute fortress, getting in was actually far easier than expected. Not a soul in sight, and little in our way to stop us getting around. Just get in the base, make your way up as fast as possible and don't mess around. That's exactly what I did. The photos were taken at ISO100 wherever possible, but other times there was nothing to stick the camera on so I switched to AUTO ISO which made the pictures a little grainy. So there we have it, my first crane for 5 years. Maybe I'll do some more in the future, because the photo opportunities really are rewarding. Unfortunately I dunno if I'll ever be able to shake the fear of being seen, so I don't think I'll ever actively seek out to do them in the future. But who knows? Coming down, we did actually get spotted, albeit not by the site security. Opposite is a building currently being renovated, and under scaffold. Halfway down we saw him come out to do a patrol, but afterwards he didn't actually leave. He just stood outside the cabin door, basking in the night air or having a cigarette perhaps. There was no way he couldn't see us by this point, so we heard a loud whistle. We couldn't stop then, and he was effectively powerless so our only choice really was to run away back where we came from. Somehow we got out and pulled it off without a hitch. Fantastic. Thanks for reading. Love as always, TBM x
  14. UK Durham County Hospital Mortuary, June 2016

    None taken. I'm always honest though!
  15. UK Redcar Steelworks, June 2016

    Visited with Slipdrix. Hands down, this was the most challenging explore I have ever done. Going in completely blindly, we had no idea what to expect at all. Getting in through the fence was no problem; we found a spot within minutes. In the no mans land, we run through the mist straight across into the darkness of the blast furnace. It's eerily quiet, and god almighty it's unnerving. We nose around the ground floor of the site, getting ourselves acquainted with our surroundings, looking for ways in. Yet all the stairways have been severed from high up. To quote an old report from Battersea: "If you can't find a way in, you're blind. The challenge is finding your way off the ground floor [sic]" Those words perfectly summarise access to this place. We continue walking round, finding some stairs that aren't severed. We gingerly make our way up, ever attentive and somewhat fearful of being caught (one can only assume a place like this has the toughest security imaginable), only to find a locked door. Halfway down are some horizontal pipes we could use to make our way across to the furnace, something Slipdrix thinks would be a good idea. I'm not so sure; I'd probably fall off if I hear the bellow of an angry guard or worker! We keep looking. We don't walk far, until we see the first sign of activity; a worker in green overalls and a hard hat. A guard? I didn't want to know, so we ran and hid in a little corner. Though he was some distance away, had that been a little narrower we'd have been spotted. With the nerves reaching high levels, we wait and don't move a muscle. We hear footsteps, but they vanish. We peek round the corner and he's gone. Back to where we were, and with darkness closing in, we find an access point; a flight of stairs with the handrails and steps removed. Oh god almighty, this is the most difficult climb I have ever endured, hanging onto small girders, pulling myself up and using a sloping stairframe to push myself up. I was extremely close to falling, but we make our way up. We were in, and had free roam now. I've done HF6 in 2014, but to conquer something of such size and epicness on my own home turf feels like a coming of age. So now even though I'm still unsure about security, I find myself basking in the majesty of this steel cathedral, looking around me with nothing but sheer awe and amazement. Rarely do I feel so alive as times like this. Unfortunately the downside of Redcar is that whilst it is so beautifully photogenic, it's also the most exceptionally difficult place I have shot in. So many places were plunged into complete darkness, with others being bathed in harsh, orange light, making photography a real challenge. It may well be different in the day, but we were here at night. Onwards and upwards. We completely underestimated the height of the blast furnace, making our ascent arduous and tiring. Photography was made even harder with the thick fog, getting thicker the higher we went. From time to time, we'd also see CCTV at random points; none of this was a problem however, so we continued at leisure. By the time we reached the top, we got into the conveyer belt in the hope that we'd reach the power station. A blind man leading the blind, we ended up at the bin store which unfortunately was completely pitch black apart from the control room. Despite the dangers, I suggested we only turn the torch on when in enclosed spaces for fear of being spotted by security. It's not like we could turn the lights on to an entire gigantic building easily either. We continued along the conveyer belts, running past the presumably live warehouse, where we'd seen cars go to and from. Were they security? Maybe, but if they were they didn't patrol that often. At times we stood in the conveyer belt and watched their movements whilst we rested. The grounds were lit up with floodlights, leaving us in the relative safety of darkness. Look at the picture above. The TV still left on into the night, displaying "no signal." The lockers still full of workers possessions and the fridge even with some drinks left behind, this was a poignant time capsule for the workers who've lost their jobs from here. Such was how recently the place closed, even the clock was ticking, albeit at the wrong time. By now it was around 1am, and time to leave. Walking back along the conveyer belt, we decided we wouldn't be able to get into the power station tonight sadly. Getting out, I managed to get down again despite fear of falling. Slipdrix, however didn't want to do what I did and panicked. Except I was down, so I ran away and hid to wait for him. He didn't like that, and kept calling for me to come back. I was really on edge by that point, but I daren't move. Eventually I had no choice, and had to tell him what to do to get down safely. Tensions were sky high between us then, but we got out safely in the end. Security also patched up our exit... with a crowd safety barrier, which we used as a ladder over the palisade. Ha! All in all, although some of my pictures aren't up to standard, this stands as one of the greatest explores I have ever done. Possibly my greatest achievement exploring, even if it's not groundbreaking in the grand scheme of things. I'm so glad to have pulled it off, when I honestly thought I wouldn't. Thanks for reading as always, TBM x
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