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History St. Peter’s Orphanage and School was established in 1900, following completion of the purpose-built premises. The building, which could accommodate 300 boys, was funded by the Catholic Church and run by the Sisters of the Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. The orphanage was later accredited for use as a school, in August 1901. For the next thirty five years or so, the school and orphanage continued to function as normal, until the onset of the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, and the Second World War in the 1940s. As a result of war, and the rise of Fascism across Europe, St. Peter’s initially took in over 120 orphaned children from Spain; they were all from families that had been separated or completely torn apart. As conflict escalated, with the onset of WWII, all of the boys at St. Peter’s were transferred to St. Mary’s Home in Tudhoe. The Gainford site was then used, temporarily, to house evacuated inmates from St. Aiden’s Approved School in Widnes. In the year following the transfer of inmates, St. Peter’s was accredited for use as an Approved School – a school intended to reform children who were guilty of an offence punishable by a prison sentence. However, the school only accepted up to 120 Roman Catholic boys, and they had to be below the age of 13 on the date of their admission. Once incarcerated, the school provided all inmates with training in building, horticulture and carpentry. The school continued to run until 1984. It closed due to financial pressures and was subsequently sold to a local consortium for £130,000. Throughout the latter half of the 1980s, up until the late-1990s, the building was used as a nursing home for the elderly. After the home closed its doors, once again on account of financial difficulties, there was a rise in petty vandalism and arson attacks, especially inside the old gymnasium. The owners were forced to board up the premises and painted false windows on the boarding in order to create some degree of aesthetics. Since it closed, despite measures taken to preserve the structure, the Gainford building’s interior has deteriorated badly due to water ingress. Presently, two planning applications have been rejected; however, a third finally went through and is currently in progress. A housing development company intends to demolish half the site; a section that has been deemed unrepairable, and convert the rest into apartments. Our Version of Events The Gainford site is one some of us have explored before, many years ago, before we understood how a camera works and realised ‘urbex’ was a thing. Since that time, it’s been sealed pretty tight due to vandalism and several arson attacks in the gymnasium. After reading somewhere that the site will soon be gone, though, we decided to have one last visit and see what’s left. As we pulled up outside, things didn’t look great at first. Half of the building had already been demolished, and the only parts left standing were the main building and some of the gymnasium area; the rest is now a pile of rubble. As for the remaining sections, it was immediately clear that the years have not been kind to this building. Inside the condition of the building didn’t improve either; almost everything is damp, rotten and mouldy – it’s a classic derp, but still quite photogenic. Thankfully, there was still a fair bit of ‘stuff’ lying around in many of the rooms too, so there was still a bit to see. Everything continued as it normally does, until we were around halfway through the explore and we bumped into a band of curious lads who, having noticed the building while driving past, had randomly decided to pop in. After discovering them up on the second floor, hiding behind a large wooden panel, we quickly learned that they’d been convinced we were a couple of ghosties roaming around on the bottom floor. Apparently, our torch light produced an eerie aura, and, when they’d entered, they’d caught sight of two figures downstairs at the far end of the corridor. A couple of minutes were spent assuring them we were in fact real, and we explained that the real ghosts were still lurking downstairs instead. We must have been pretty convincing because they asked to join us as we explored the last few rooms upstairs – safety in numbers is the best policy when it comes to ghosts after all! Upstairs, the floor is quite dangerous, and the carpet seems to be the most structurally stable part of the whole building. We spent a few minutes having a look around, but there wasn’t much up there. As for the lads, after poking their heads into a few rooms, they’d noticed an emergency fire escape and suddenly decided they’d had enough excitement for one day. They thanked us for coming upstairs with them, bid us a hasty farewell, and then bolted down the stairs to escape. That was the last we saw of them. We didn’t stay for much longer ourselves, since there wasn’t much more to see. We did visit the gymnasium very quickly on our way out, to see if it had changed much. As expected, though, it hadn’t. It’s a little bit more burnt and vandalised than last time, but it’s still standing. Explored with LightSaber. 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: