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Found 90 results

  1. 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:
  2. History The Odeon Cinema in Harlow, designed by T. P. Bennett & Son, was constructed in 1959. It opened on 1st February 1960 and in doing so became the first cinema to be built for the Rank Organisation (a British entertainment conglomerate) after the Second World War. The cinema originally had 1,244 seats and featured a stepped raised section at the rear, rather than the traditional overhanging balcony; a design style that had initially been common throughout the UK in both theatres and cinema houses. The projection suite was positioned above the raised section of seating and had an almost level throw to the large screen in front. The cinema closed in 1987 for refurbishment and expansion plans to be carried out. The venue was converted so that it could feature three screens and increase its overall capacity. The raised section at the back was converted into two separate smaller cinema rooms, while the ground floor, which retained the original box and screen, was kept as a larger screen room. No further work was carried out on the cinema until 2001, when the venue was rebranded to follow the new Odeon style. Only minor stylistic changes were made throughout the building. Despite growing competition in and around the local area, as larger modern multiplex screens were opened, the Odeon in Harlow managed to survive until August 2005. Nevertheless, owing to the rapidly declining number of visitors the venue was forced to close as it was no longer economically viable to run. Although it was purchased almost immediately after closure, the premises has remained abandoned since the year it closed. Our Version of Events After hearing that the old Harlow Odeon was once again doable, we decided to head over that way while we happened to be south of the border.As rumour had it, the main cinema rooms were said to still be largely intact in terms of how vandalised they were. When we first arrived, though, we thought we’d made a terrible mistake. The building looked tiny from the outside, and incredibly plain. What made things worse was that we’d managed to time getting out of the car with a freak torrential downpour, so we got fucking soaked. We made the classic mistake, unlike those quintessential British individuals out there, in that we forgot to bring a brolly with us. With there being no obvious way of getting inside initially, we were forced to take shelter for a while beneath a grotty bus stop that was obviously a popular chav haunt. There were that many empty bottles of White Lightening around us, and green gozzies on the pavement, it should have been done out in Burberry Tartan. But, the upside to seeking shelter was that we had time to think about how we might get inside the cinema. So, after a bit of creative thinking we came up with an elaborate-ish plan to access the premises. All we can say is that it’s a good job it was still raining because we were pretty damn visible getting in the way we did. Once inside we quickly discovered that the rumours seemed to be true. All around us there was a distinct lack of graffiti and still plenty of ‘stuff’ lying around to satisfy our bizarre fascination for dusty things. We quickly dried ourselves off as best as possible and then proceeded to get the cameras out. The only disappointing thing about the place at this point was the noticeable number of dead pigeons scattered around the room. It looked as though there has been an epic pigeon battle with very few survivors. There were enough skeletons to rival the Catacombs of Paris, albeit these take up much less room. Some were still fairly squishy too, as I discovered when one of my tripod legs accidently went through one of the poor bastards. Getting it off again was another issue, but we won’t go there. Anyway, despite the pigeon problem we cracked on and it wasn’t long before we found ourselves among three large-ish screen rooms. Each of them are in various states of decay, but if anything this makes them all the more photogenic – if you manage to light the fuckers up that is! That certainly wasn’t an easy task. What made it even more difficult were the surviving kamikaze pigeons that seemed determined to challenge our presence in the cinema. These must have been the victorious ones from the carnage we found earlier. Nevertheless, despite the pigeons there was still a powerful feeling as we stood amongst hundreds of empty seats. The room was silent, except for the odd flap of wings. All those empty eyes were looking ahead, all facing the same direction, mindless in their long wait for the show to begin. Perhaps it was the previous evenings beer and whiskies still talking, but this got us thinking. We were creating new images of a place – one that used to display images to wide audiences who each had their own discrete image (apparently) – whose own image was built entirely around images. Out of all those images, then, was there anything real about any of the images this building has accommodated? Or are they all just for the point of satisfying those empty eyes and minds? Absolutely fucking baffled with our own bullshit, we promptly decided to drop the topic and go check if the lights still worked. If anything, they would offer us some sort of clarity… We concluded our wander around the Odeon with a quick look at the main entrance area which was by far the most fucked part of the building. Our search for the light switches had brought us here. Despite our initial disappointment at the state of this part of the building, we did in fact find the light switch room where we discovered that the power was still turned on. Obviously, an occasion like this called for us to turn all the switches on and run around the building to see which lights were working. It was like Durham Palladium all over again! Without the risk of falling through the floorboards of course. This kept us occupied for a good fifteen minutes or so. After that, though, we decided to switch everything off and make our escape to continue with our day of intrepid exploring… Or not. As it turned out, we didn’t end up getting into anything else, so by the evening we found ourselves back in the company of a fine single malt. Explored with Ford Mayhem. 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:
  3. History Lombard Street is reputed to be one of London’s streets that is steeped in seven hundred years of banking history. It began life in the Roman times of Londinium as a wealthy city road. It later became a notable banking street on account of several Jewish goldsmith occupants sometime during the Norman conquest. However, the street did not acquire its name until Italian goldsmiths, the Longobards from Lombardy, were granted the land during the reign of Edward I. The badge of the Medici family, the three golden pills, was first displayed here, and since then it has remained as a traditional sign of the pawnbroker. It is reported that most of the large present day UK banks share history with Lombard Street. For instance, Lloyd’s of London, an insurance market now located in London’s primary financial district, began as Lloyds coffee House in 1691. From around this time, most banks established their headquarters on Lombard Street. Many remained there right up until the 1980s; the decade that signalled the end of ‘runners’ donning top hats to deliver bills of exchange to the Bank of England. Number 60., which is the rooftop this report is based on, was occupied by T.S.B for many years and it was the last bank to move its headquarters out of the street. T.S.B have assured people that their legacy will continue to be an important part of the street and that their colourful sign hanging from the front façade will be a tribute to this. On the topic of signage, Lombard Street is said to be famous for being one of the few places in London where 17th and 18th century-styled shop signs still survive, jutting from buildings on wrought-iron brackets. However, it is said that some lateral thinking is required to decipher what the old signs signify: Adam and Eve meant fruiterer; a bugle’s horn, a post office; a unicorn, an apothecary’s; a spotted cat, a perfumer’s. Many of those that remain today were the emblems of rich families and Edwardian reconstructions of early goldsmiths’ signs. It is well-known that many early 20th century banks, such as Barclays with their eagle and Lloyds with their horse, re-appropriated some of these signs as company logos. It is important to note, though, that they all chose to adopt lifeless signs as their logos, as opposed to ‘breathing signs’ (cats in baskets, rats and parrots in cages, vultures tethered to wine shacks etc.), which were very fashionable at one time. Finally, another interesting fact about Lombard Street, but one that is completely unrelated to banking, is that it is where the first love of Charles Dickens lived. The girl’s name was Maria Beadnell, and she was the daughter of a bank manager. It is said that Dickens would often walk down Lombard Street in the early hours of the morning to gaze upon the place where she slept. By today’s standard that certainly would not be considered a romantic gesture – Dickens may well have landed himself in a spot of bother if he tried peeping through girl’s windows in this day and age. Our Version of Events Despite havinghigh aspirations for the night,all of them failed. So, we were heading back to the car to call it a night when we noticed some scaffolding thatlooked ‘a bit bait’ as the locals might put it. It involved a bit of a climbing and there was no way of avoiding any onlookers from seeing us. But, since we were very desperate for a rooftop at this point, we decided to have a crack at it anyway. In the end, and contrary to all appearances, getting onto the roof of 60 Lombard Street was easy, and it wasn’t long before we were ascending the last bit of scaff to get up to the highest point on the roof. One by one we gathered in a small sheltered space, waiting for everyone to catch up before we climbed the last ladder that took us up to the highest point. But, it was at that moment we noticed that there were suddenly a lot more people around than what we’d first started out with. As it turned out, another couple of lads had decided to have a crack at the bank rooftop too. It seemed that they were just as surprised to discover us lurking about up there. At first we had thought it might some over-zealous security guards on the verge of losing their jobs if they didn’t catch us, but thankfully we were wrong. Fortunately, there was enough space up top for all of us to congregate. Since it was pretty chilly, though, we wasted no time setting up the cameras to grab a few shots. As always, the views of London were spectacular. Sadly, however, all the buildings we had wanted to get on top of were the ones surrounding us, taunting us from every direction – and they looked even more enticing from where we were standing. Explored with Ford Mayhem, Slayaaaa and Stewie. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7:
  4. History HM Prison Bullwood Hall in Hockley, Essex, was a Category C (for individuals who are unlikely to attempt escape but cannot be trusted in open conditions) women’s prison and Young Offenders Institution run by the Her Majesty’s Prison Service. It was built in the 1960s to service as a female borstal – a type of youth detention centre sometimes known as a ‘borstal school’ – on the grounds of Bullwood Hall and its 48.2 acre estate which was purchased by the Prison Commissioners in 1955. In later years, the facility was extended to hold adult female prisoners. This amalgamation, however, was the cause of much controversy as many critics argued that it is unlawful and unethical to hold young girls in the same institution as adult female offenders, especially since they cannot be treated in the same way. All in all, the prison had a maximum capacity of two hundred and thirty-four. These cells were split between seven different wings designated A-G. A Wing had thirty cells over two landings; B Wing had thirty-two cells over two landings; C Wing had thirty-three cells over two landings; D Wing had eighteen single cells and eight doubles; E Wing had six single and six double cells; F Wing had six single cells; and G Wing was an induction area with forty double cells over two landings. As with most prisons across the UK, Bullwood also featured a sports hall, outdoor Astroturf field and gymnasium, communal and general recreation areas and other services that were housed in adjoining buildings to the prison. In 2002 Bullwood Hall prison was featured in a television series of six thirty minute documentaries titled ‘The Real Bad Girls’. Although the facility was portrayed in a positive light, a report by the Chief Inspector of Prisons emerged in 2005 criticising the establishment for still using the practice of ‘slopping out’ (the manual emptying of human waste when prison cells do not feature a flushing toilet). In 2006 the prison was also singled out for its high levels of attempted suicide and self-harm amongst its inmates. By the end of 2006 a decision was made to move all female prisoners to alternative sites and change the facility into a prison targeted specifically at housing foreign national prisoners. On the whole, the institution was rated as being successful, safe and purposeful; although, a number of concerns were still highlighted. While the general environment was rated as being good, there were still concerns about sanitation arrangements, which were viewed as degrading, and the rehabilitation programme that was meant to reduce the risk of reoffending and support resettlement back into the community. The reoffending criticism was highlighted as the principal concern because there was no offending behaviour programme in place. Instead, prisoner’s immigration statuses were reported as taking precedence over behaviour management. Despite efforts to improve the standards of the facility, the government announced that the institution would be one of seven British prisons to close in 2013. The announcement was made on 10th January 2013 and the site closed on 28th March 2013. Bullwood Hall has remained abandoned since this time. Our Version of Events Although we’d heard that Bullwood Hall prison was sealed up tight we decided to try our luck and pay the place a quick visit.After all, there’s something particularly enticing about breaking into a prison. So, after a spot of breakfast on our journey over to Hockley, we arrived at the site in good time to have a proper search around for a possible way in. The first twenty minutes of wandering and examining every potential way of getting inside proved fruitless though, and we were rapidly losing all hope that we’d get inside. However, after squeezing our way though some very prickly brambles and other spikey shit around the back of the site, we stumbled across a gaping hole in the fence. The only problem was that someone had cut it fairly high up, to avoid a solid metal plate fixed behind the lower levels of the wire mesh. Somehow, we managed to scale the fence and squeeze our way through the makeshift gap. But, in the process we pretty much destroyed the clothes we were wearing by puncturing them with holes as the cutters of the opening had done a very crude job. It was certainly a very painful experience; although, getting in and out this way was still way more preferable than clambering over the razor wire at the top of the fence. Once on the other side we hobbled on and headed straight for the cell blocks ahead of us. Unfortunately, we quickly discovered that the main cell block was sealed up tight, so we had to make do with touring around some of the smaller wings. However, this quickly turned out to be a lot more interesting than we’d first anticipated because we ended up convincing ourselves that we’d tripped some sort of alarm. After spending a little over five minutes in one of the cell blocks, we suddenly heard the all-too-familiar sound of bleeping. But we were unsure where the alarm was actually coming from, or where the live sensors were, and after a fairly thorough search we still failed to uncover the cause of the sound. From that point on we were almost certain that security would be on their way – because we’d heard they’re pretty ‘on it’ at this site – so we made haste to cover as much of the facility as possible before we ended up as temporary residents of Bullwood Hall. Half an hour later, though, and with much of the site covered, it was pretty obvious that no one was coming for us. So, feeling less like fleeing convicts, we slowed down the pace and took a bit more time taking our photographs. All in all, then, the prison was fairly photogenic, but the fuck load of graffiti scrawled over the place spoiled it a wee bit. It kind of reminded us of an Aussie explore – which tend to be absolutely caked in shit graff. Nevertheless, it’s always cool to have free roam of a prison for a couple of hours. After that, having satisfied our desire to be governors of the institution for a while, we called it a day and made our exit through the same painful entranceway we’d used previously to get in. From there we made our way back to the car and quickly discovered that we’d left the driver’s side door wide open the entire time we’d been in the prison. Fortunately, everything was still in place inside the car, including our phones, and the vehicle itself was still there. Our luck must be down to the fact that we were parked outside a former prison. Had we done the same thing outside George Barnsleys or the Falcon Works, I can’t say there would still have been a car there upon our return. Explored with Ford Mayhem. 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:
  5. History RAF Spadeadam is an active Royal Air Force station in Cumbria, close to the border of Northumbria. Covering 9,000 acres, it is the largest RAF base in the United Kingdom. It is currently used as an Electronic Warfare Tactics Range, to train the Royal Air Force and NATO allies. It is also the only mainland UK location where aircrews can drop practice bombs. Spadeadam has always been a remote and uninhabited part of England, until 1955 when the Intermediate Ballistic Missile Test Centre was constructed for the Blue Streak missile project – a project that was launched to develop a nuclear deterrent missile. The RAF took over the base in 1976 and under their control it became the Electronic Warfare Tactics Range in 1977. The range itself contains ground-based electronic equipment, including some that was manufactured in the Soviet Union, that create simulated threats to train aircrews. Across the site there are different real and dummy targets which include an airfield, a village, portable buildings, tanks, aircraft, anti-aircraft guns and vehicle convoys. The site was originally used in secret as part of Britain’s Cold War nuclear weapons programme. This information was only made public in 2004 when tree-felling work uncovered the remains of abandoned excavations for a missile silo. Since then, the RAF and English Heritage have attempted to survey the site and record what was so secret about the place, because there are no official records or plans for the base still in existence from the Cold War period. What is known, however, is that Spadeadam was chosen as a launch site because of its isolation, access to road connections and the surrounding environment which supported it with plenty of water. It is thought that Spadeadam was meant to be one of sixty launch sites across the UK, but most of these were never built. This report is based on the practice airfield area of RAF Spadeadam. It is hidden away in a small forest and completely surrounded by a peat bog. The airfield itself comprises a triangular shaped runway which features a number of aircraft (mostly MIG fighter jets), military vehicles and anti-aircraft guns. Our Version of Events It was a decent sunnyafternoon and we were a little tired of being indoors, so we decided to follow up a lead we had on an abandoned airfield somewhere in Northumbria. The journey was great, all the way up to the borders of Northumbria at least. But, from that point on the heavens opened and what had previously been a glorious day was now a very shit one. Nevertheless, rather than turn back we figured we’d just get wet and have a look for abandoned aeroplanes anyway. We arrived, in the middle of absolutely fucking nowhere and were getting slightly concerned about how long it had taken us to get there. It took a moment to get our bearings, since there is no signal out in the sticks, but we had a vague idea which way we had to walk. So, ready to rock and roll we ditched the car at the side of the road and headed off into the vast bog in front of us. Fortunately, at this point the rain had stopped, but unfortunately we instantly got soaked as we plodded across land that deceived us into thinking it was solid. This epic struggle continued the entire way. If anyone has ever seen the Vicar of Dibley sketch, where she jumps into the puddle and completely disappears, this was exactly like that. After much scrambling around in the bog, and wandering through dense patches of forest, we were well and truly lost. No signal, no map, no food, but plenty of water… It was bad craic. For some reason, though, we decided to have one last wander through some pine trees. We were feeling pretty deflated at this point, so I’m not sure what was driving us on, but in the end we were glad we did carry on. After another ten minutes of aimless wandering, we caught a glimpse of something that looked conspicuously like the tail of a fighter jet. I’ve never heard of mirages in a peat bog before, so I instantly decided that what we were seeing must have been real. Instantly forgetting about how miserable we’d been feeling, we waded on, working our way towards a great big silver MIG that was glistening in the fading sunlight. Once we reached the runway, we were surprised to discover that it wasn’t tarmac. It was some shitty gravel substance that was just as waterlogged as the damn bog. But, right in front of us were two shiny MIG fighter jets, and they looked fucking awesome after all the walking. So, conscious that daylight was rapidly turning into night, we whipped out the old cameras and began our invasion of the airfield. We began with the first two jets and then made our way towards what appeared to be an abandoned fuel truck further in the distance. It took a few minutes to get there, but it was well worth it since we could suddenly see six or seven more aircraft and several guns a little further ahead. Our assault had been successful, and we soon found ourselves surrounded by more guns and bombs than even Rambo could handle. We also found a few unused smoke grenades which is something we’ve never encountered on an explore before. We hung around the airfield until darkness was nearly upon us, then decided to call it a day because we suddenly remembered we had to walk back through a forest and a bog to get back to the car. So, still having been undetected by the RAF, we made our way back to the treeline. A little more worried about stepping on a mine now after discovering the grenades, or some sort of unexploded bomb, we headed off back into the bog. The same shit journey we’d endured an hour or so previously began all over again. Splish, splash, splosh… Those three sounds were back again, and they all sounded just as shit as before. Explored with Rizla Rider. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22:
  6. History “Here in Sheffield we have a proud sporting heritage and it is important that we build upon that to create the right environment in which the sportsmen and women of the future can train, develop and thrive… But it isn’t just about the elite, it is about every man, woman and child in our city being fitter, healthier and enjoying physical activity” (Isobel Bowler, cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure at Sheffield council). Chapeltown Baths opened sometime at the beginning of the 1960s. Locally, the facility was very popular, especially among children, and many people have indicated that the place has played a big part in their lives. The baths also held regular swimming galas which always attracted large audiences as parents and guardians would flock to the stands to observe. However, despite the fondness for the centre, it was often regarded as being too small and outdated. One for the clubs that used the pool on a regular basis, for instance, had to establish a waiting list for the people wanting to join. New plans to redevelop the site into a larger, more modern, venue were launched by Sheffield Council sometime between 2010 and 2015. Plans for the new facility revealed that a two-storey extension would be added to the front of the existing building, to house a gymnasium, flexible activity/exhibition space and a community café. The aim was to create a welcoming and revitalised health and fitness centre for the local area. The main entrance was to be moved to the back of the current site where a large glazed atrium would be constructed, and, as for the pool itself, it was to be modernised and larger changing areas for both males and females were to be installed. Nevertheless, in the end the plans were scrapped as it was decided that the site was simply too small to revamp and in the long run would not offer value for money. After the original plans were abandoned, a plan to build a brand-new leisure centre was proposed. The new £7 million project was quickly accepted and construction of the facility began in 2015, up the road from the old site in High Green. The erection of the new leisure centre was said to have been one of the first leisure developments in Sheffield in over a decade. The Thorncliffe Recreation Centre is now open and most of the staff from Chapeltown Baths were said to have been moved over. Various reports suggest that the new pool is larger and has an extra lane, and that a new community has been established there. Although the new site does not have the same character, local residents generally seem happy with the new facility. As for the former Chapeltown Baths site, it has remained abandoned since the beginning of 2016. No plans have been set in stone yet; however, it is rumoured that the building will be demolished to make way for affordable housing. In the meantime, like most abandoned sites, the building has experienced increasing incidents of vandalism in recent months as local goons have managed to get their hands on a few brushes, several tins of Wilko One Coat and a box of safety matches. Smoke at the site was reported in March 2017, coming from the basement, and this resulted in the fire service being called to attend the scene. It is reported that they and had to cut their way into the building to extinguish a small fire. Fortunately, in this instance there was very little damage. As things stand presently, SCAFF Security Alarms Ltd. claim they have sealed the premises and installed various security systems to prevent any further vandalism. Our Version of Events With a couple of hours to kill before we hit some of Sheffield’s legendary pubs later that evening, we decided to pop across to Chapeltown and take a look at the old public swimming pool that had recently been brought to our attention. None of us have ever been to Chapeltown before and I can’t say we were expecting to discover anything amazing there, but one thing we did notice is that the townspeople aren’t doing themselves any favours in terms of attracting tourists to the area. For instance, there’s a large sign in the centre of the town that reads, ‘Fast trains to Sheffield and Barnsley’, implying that you should probably get going as soon as possible. However, we chose to ignore the advice and hang around for a little while instead. Finding the old swimming pool wasn’t particularly difficult. We sort of stumbled across it before needing to consult Google Maps for guidance. After that, we lingered around the bus stop that’s positioned right outside for a while, trying to work out why the metal shutter that should have been covering the main entrance looked like someone had had a go at it with a tin opener. At first, we were convinced that some incredibly ambitious explorer had decided to break in that way, rather than simply peel off a board. But, as we discovered later on, it turns out it was the firefighters who’d hacked a hole in the shutter. Even so, there was no evidence that they’d managed to get into the building that way – unless they had the keys to the building – because the front door behind it was still locked up tight. Fortunately, though, the shutter wasn’t the only opening the fire service had created. It is thanks to those guys, then, and their arsenal of cutting tools that we managed to get inside. Once inside the building, we didn’t have to worry about being spotted from the outside since all the windows at ground level had been boarded over. This made capturing images a bit easier because we could wave the torches around a bit. However, the downside to our visit was that we were a bit late getting to this one as the local goons have been inside and clearly they got a little bit overexcited. Hence why there’s a mountain of shit in the pool and broken glass everywhere. On the positive side, however, the fire damage was minimal, limited to a very small section of the basement area. In that sense, the rest of the building remains unscathed. All in all, it took us around forty minutes to cover the building from the basement to the loft. Afterwards, we left feeling satisfied that something new in Sheffield had turned up, but even more delighted that we were heading straight for The Fat Cat for no fewer than eight pints of Kelham Island’s finest and a plate of homemade curry. Many hours later, after an innumerable number of pints, two curries and several packets of peanuts, we staggered back out onto the streets of Sheffield. We were tempted to have a quick look at Minitron while we were so close, but since the lampposts on the other side of the street were swaying in a very unusual manner, we decided to call it a day and head back into town for one final pint before bed. Explored with Soul. 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:
  7. History The building this report is based on is the old art deco Filter House. The building housed all of the equipment and tanks that were needed to complete the chemical filtration process. It also contained a laboratory which was used to handle chemicals and conduct tests, to ensure the water was fit for human consumption before being sent to the nearby reservoir. The site on which the old chemical filter building at Sandford Mill sits began life as a corn mill. The timber mill was constructed sometime in the early 19th century, directly over a stream that would run underneath the centre of the building. The stream drove a large water wheel, which provided power to the corn mill. By the end of the century, a steam engine was installed to generate additional power. It is noted that coal used to run the engine was supplied from Newcastle-under-Lyme, which was transported along canals via horse drawn barges. In 1923 Chelmsford Corporation purchased the site for the construction of a new Borough Waterworks. Construction of the new facility began in 1926, around the time milling in the area ceased. The old corn mill was subsequently demolished, save for two cottages which were built in 1905. They are the only surviving remnants of the original mill. The waterworks started operating in March 1929, despite the fact that it was not fully completed until July 1930. The preliminary site consisted of a large red brick building which became known as the ‘Engine House’. Water from the River Chelmer, and from a 650ft deep borehole was both treated and pumped inside this building using electrically-driven pumps. These were powered by diesel driven alternators during the day and the mains electricity supply by night. The capacity of the waterworks was improved in 1956, following the construction of a new building that was known as the ‘Filter House’. The entire water treatment process was transferred over to the new building, and additional pumps were installed in the Engine House. Three further pump houses were also erected across the site, to move the water around the site through the various stages of the treatment process. The largest pump house, positioned over by the weir, became known as the River Pump House. After being treated the water was transported via the Engine House over to Galleywood Reservoir, approximately four miles away, for use in Chelmsford. Although local rumour has it that the building was designed and constructed by the same Scottish architects, Dunn and Watson, who are responsible for the construction of the Marconi factory in Chelmsford, this is in fact not true. Dunn and Watson’s practice closed in 1912, forty-four years before the chemical building was completed. While the Filter House follows a very similar late art deco design, whoever constructed it remains unknown. During the mid-70s, the water industry was nationalised and the site was acquired by the Essex Water Company. To avoid the operating two duplicated sites in close proximity of one another, the water company decided to transfer all operations to a site further down the River Chelmer, at Langford. By 1984, all water pumping at the Sandford Mill site ceased and the facility was made completely redundant. Most of the equipment was removed that same year, and the land was returned to the Borough Council. Our Version of Events At the end of areasonably successfulday of exploring over in Colchester, where we’d ended up finding ourselves in a semi-abandoned hospital, we decided to meet up with Xploring and DRZ_Explorer. For the rest of the evening we fucked around trying to get into a cinema, then in the clock tower of the Britvic site and finally, rather randomly, a cemetery. After that, we arranged to meet up the next night because there was some sort of chemical filter building nearby that sounded like it was a good wander. From what we were being told, the place sounded like it was something a bit different and unique. The following evening came, and we all met up down a small country lane by the side of a canal. Getting onto the site wasn’t particularly difficult; although, finding a way inside the building itself presented its own set of challenges. However, it wasn’t long before we were all inside the building, gathered at the bottom of the main staircase that leads into the main tank room. It was at this point we realised visiting during the night perhaps wasn’t the greatest idea ever conceived. Once we climbed the stairs and entered the large hall housing the chemical tanks it suddenly dawned on us that the room is has windows on every side, and overlooking the building are the former mill cottages and the museum – where there were lights switched on. We did our best to take photos throughout the building, but not being able to light-paint too well meant that most of the shots came out a bit shit. In the end, we gave up and decided we’d pop back the following day, during daylight hours. We returned the next day, and were disappointed to find a white van parked outside. So, for the next hour or so we had to play the waiting game and a couple of rounds of dominos, until the van and its occupants finally fucked off. Thankfully, they did eventually leave, so we made our way back to the entrance we’d found the previous night. Fortunately, it was still open. Once inside, visibility was incredible. Plenty of natural light was pouring through the windows, making our job of snapping up some photos much easier. What is more, now we could properly take in our surroundings. The lads from the previous night had been right, the place looked amazing. With all of the tiles around, it was kind of like standing in an ancient swimming baths, crossed with an old-school batman-styled chemical factory – the type where bad-guys and scientists have a high risk of falling into a vat of unspecified chemical waste. Much to our disappointment, neither batman nor the joker turned up. The only weird thing we stumbled across were a few skeletons of rabbits and squirrels. As others have said before, it looked like a small-scale massacre had taken place. Our theory, then, is that the animals had somehow managed to get inside the building, because, as with all explores, it has been broken into a few times. This means at some point the doors and windows may have been open to the little critters. Since all the skeletons look fairly intact, it looked more like the animals died due to poisoning – they are inside a former chemical filtering building after all, where there is an abundance of chemical residue. How they all managed to end up in the same room, however, is a harder phenomenon to explain. Our guess is that Poison Ivy may have inhabited the building at some point, and she moved all the corpses into that room where she was able to have a bit of a barbeque. We found her cans of special brew; evidence that she definitely cooked something up in that room. Anyway, we’re certain that this theory surpasses all others in terms of its validity and reliability. Explored with Ford Mayhem, Slayaaaa, Stewie and Xploring. 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:
  8. History The first written record of a workhouse in Hexham, which was more of a prison by contemporaneous standards, dates back to 1777. It was a relatively large establishment for its time as it was capable of housing up to fifty-five inmates. In the report it is noted that the governess was named Mrs. Hutchinson, and that she supported every pauper at the weekly rate of two shillings and six pennies (approximately twelve and a half pence in today’s currency) per head. However, following the founding of the Hexham Poor Law Union in 1836, a new Hexham Union workhouse consisting of three parallel two-storey buildings was constructed in 1839, by J. H. Morton, on the south side of Dean Street. Like most other workhouses, the daily regime was brutal and the establishment was feared by those outside of its walls (this was to deter able-bodied people from applying). Everyone, regardless of age or sex, was required to work, doing jobs that would often lead to exhaustion and ill health. What is more, the food, uniform, medical care and education tended to be inadequate, and once incarcerated inside the workhouse families were often split up and punished if they attempted to communicate with one another. The Hexham Union workhouse underwent major alterations and refurbishment in 1863, when detached schools were built. Conditions for children gradually began to improve from this point on, with an 1866 report noting that ‘the boys dig and plant the garden; the girls sew and knit’. Further development between 1880 and 1883, at a cost of £8,000, saw the construction of an administration block, a Master’s house, a dining room (the room with the murals from 1885 which may be attributed to E. Swinburne) and sick wards on the eastern end of the site. Standards within the accommodation blocks were improved, although people were still separated and divided into various classes of ‘inmate’, and the capacity was increased to accommodate 300. The finely carved stonework of the Master’s house, which is positioned just above the entranceway, still exists today. After 1930, the workhouse became Hexham Public Assistance Institution, following the abolishment of the workhouse system. As with a large number of workhouses at the time, Hexham workhouse became more of a refuge for the elderly, sick and infirm, rather than the able-bodied poor. In other words, it became a kind of municipal hospital. Nevertheless, during the Second World War part of the site was appropriated for military administrative use. After the war, though, in 1948, the site became part of Hexham General Hospital, and was used as a hospital up until 2004, when new modernised buildings were opened nearby. The hospital continued to use part of the site to store equipment and paperwork, but the rest was sold to Helen McArdle Care Ltd. and later leased to The Therapy Centre in 2013. Today, however, all of the buildings across the site have been abandoned. Since they were rendered derelict at different stages, some parts of the site have deteriorated badly on account of vandals, metal thieves and water damage. As things stand, local residents have launched complaints surrounding the poor condition of the site. Some have called for the former workhouse to be demolished as it is said to pose a risk to the general public. So far two serious plans have been proposed: one by Lidl who are interested in demolishing the site to provide space for a large supermarket, and a second by a housing company that promises to build affordable homes and private residential units for elderly people. It is rumoured, however, that the council are open to further ideas, particularly ones that look to salvage some, if not all, of the former workhouse site. Our Version of Events After hearing about a potential explore over in Hexham, we decided to go take a look. Assuming it was going to be an average sized site and that we’d be able to cover it in a few hours, we headed over late one evening after a bit of tea (not the drink). As it turned out, though, the explore was a former workhouse, so it was fucking huge. It was also a bit like a maze trying to work our way through the buildings because we had to content with locked doors, boarded windows and lots of discarded shit lying all over the place. This meant we didn’t have time to wander round the entire thing on our first visit, so we finished it off on a second trip a couple of days later. At first, despite being satisfied with the age of the building, the old workhouse proved to be a bit of a shit wander. The first few rooms we poked around in were beyond stripped. For example, even the floorboards in the corridors seemed to have been knicked! But, things started to improve once we stumbled into the middle section of the building which, as records suggest, was part of the new 1883 development. From here on in there was plenty of stuff to take photos of. We entered the dining room first and quickly discovered the old murals on the wall to our right. As for the rest of the room, it had been transformed into a medical records room, according to the sign on the door. From the dining room, we found we had to traverse across part of the roof, which was a bit of a sketchy experience as the whole thing was covered in ice. This was the only way to reach the third part of the site though. The other route was blocked by a room brimming with old zimmer-frames, mattresses, chairs and other bits of medical equipment. It’s no wonder the NHS have shortages – half of Britain’s medical apparatus is in that room. Anyway, back to the explore. We skated our way across the roof to reach a smashed opening on the other side. It led into a stairwell, and since we were quite high up from the steps we had to lower ourselves inside and drop in. The building we’d entered was noticeably different from the rest of the site, in the sense that it was fairly modern and had clearly been refurbished in recent years. But, before we could take in the surroundings any further, the pair of us heard something. It was the subtle sound of a ‘beep’. Then, two seconds later, it suddenly went ballistic, even though we’d not moved from where we were stood and couldn’t see any motion sensors. A little confused, we proceeded down the stairs to find out what the fuck was going on. As it turned out, the alarm must have been triggered by the last visitors – the fuckers who appeared to have walked around smashing the place to bits – and it seemed that no one had turned up to sort it out. The alarm continued to go off sporadically the entire time we were there anyway; it would randomly stop, then start again regardless of whether we walked past a sensor or not. What we did find amusing in all of this, though, was that the previous visitors to the site had tried to cover up some of the sensors with pieces of paper and leaflets, presumably to stop them from being detected… We spent less time in the alarmed section that we would have liked, but we did manage to get around the entire thing without anyone turning up. So we felt pretty successful in that respect. After that, however, we made a hasty exit, just to be on the safe side. We exited the same way we managed to get in, and to finish off decided to get a couple of external shots. And just in time too, or so we thought, since the police decided to rock up. Nevertheless, as it turned out they didn’t seem to be after us. Later, after having a chat with a local, we learnt that police presence has been increased in the area because of vandal and thieves and subsequent complaints from residents. So, rather than attending to the alarm, they were probably just doing the routine rounds to keep the local populace happy. Explored with Meek-Kune-Do. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23: 24: 25: 26: 27: 28: 29:
  9. History Today, Newsham is a small suburb of Blyth. Blyth itself, meaning ‘gentle’ or ‘merry’ in Old English, is a town and civil parish in Northumberland, England, and from the early 18th century the town rapidly expanded as a result of the Industrial Revolution, as coal mining, fishing and ship building industries quickly established a foothold in the area. Newsham quickly became part of the town as new houses were required for the growing number of workers in the area. Prior to the growth of industry, however, it is noted in John Wallace’s History of Blyth and a number of other sources that Newsham comprised only a few farms and a mansion as early as 1341, which were occupied by the prominent Ogle family. Despite the distinguished status of the Ogle family though, it is reported that the main holders of the lands and buildings at Newsham were in fact the Delaval family. They owned the lands from the 12th century right up until the 17th century. The 3rd Earl of Derwentwater, James Radclyffe, was the last successor to Newsham after the death of his father in 1705. It is unknown how the lands passed into the hands of the Radclyffe family, but they were said to have several estates in Northumberland and Newsham was one of those. James Radclyffe’s reign over the estate was short-lived, however, as he became a Jacobite – a member of a rebellious movement that sought to restore the Roman Catholic Stuart King James VII of Scotland, II of England and Ireland, and his heirs to the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland. After his following of 70 (mainly gentlemen, a small number of soldiers and servants) were defeated in a short battle he was captured in 1715 and escorted to the Tower of London. The 3rd Earl of Derwentwater pleaded guilty to the charge of treason held against him, in the hope that he might gain a royal pardon. Radclyffe lost his trial and was immediately stripped of his honours and titles and sentenced to death for treason. Although most of the other Lords and Earls were granted clemency, Radclyffe’s sentence remained to set an example for others who might try to overthrow the king. He was beheaded on 24th February 1716. Following the death of Radclyffe, the Newsham estate fell into the hands of the Ridley family. At some point during their tenure of the lands (one source suggests 1880) the mansion was dismantled and the materials were said to have been used to construct a farmhouse. Another source from 1720 suggests that the former mansion was already in a state of dilapidation, with it being described as ‘an ancient structure but something ruinous’. An additional reason for its demolition may be attributed to the fact that the mansion itself was a relatively basic structure; it was only two storeys high, the grand hall was plain and simple and it had only a small number of surrounding buildings. In other words, the building was no longer deemed important enough to warrant its ‘mansion’ status. Now in the 21st century, the farmhouse and its surrounding buildings lie derelict. It is not known why the site is abandoned, the only hint is that Wallace of Kelso Ltd., a large independent agricultural company, may have been based at the Newsham site but decided to close or relocate their premises. Their main base in Dundee still exists still, so the company did not fall into different hands or go into liquidation. As things stand, there are plans to build forty new homes on the site. The main farmhouse and its other buildings will be demolished to make spaces for the new development; however, the stone wall bordering the property will remain to give the scheme a so-called historic link. A number of local residents have opposed the plans, having raised concerns about flooding, loss of privacy and the increased pressure on nearby schools, GP surgeries and other important amenities. Some residents also suggested that the old farmhouse ‘boasts character and holds heritage value’. The council, though, disagree, and argue that the site has no heritage value whatsoever. Our Version of Events Our night beganwith high aspirations. To start off with, we tried our luck at getting ourselves inside an abandoned museum. As it turned out, the museum was much less abandoned that we’d first thought. A large number of sensors were the first indication that the site was still quite active, and then the alarms we triggered supported the fact even further. We left in a hurry, feeling fairly disappointed, and continued on well into the night trying various other explores that would all turn out badly. As a last resort we found ourselves just outside Newsham, where we decided that we’d try our luck with a farmhouse we’d recently heard about. We gathered outside the car – at least what was left of our sorry looking assemblage did. Spirits were low and the night had resulted in an abnormal number of injuries. At this point the opinion was unanimous, if we failed to get into a derelict farm we would be forced to retire from exploring and take up something else. Knitting, swinging and baking were the favoured options. After that quick discussion, we decided to stop wasting time and scale the really high three-foot wall to get inside the farmyard. From there we ran for the shadows and set about trying to find a way inside the farmhouse. Inside the house it felt as though we were suddenly in an episode of Only Fools and Horses. In fact, for the entire half an hour we spent in that building it felt exactly as though we were in Nelson Mandela House. For instance, the carpets throughout the building were… Well, they were very different by conventional standards. We might even go so far as to say they were a little spicy. What is more, though, is that even the furniture matched the Peckham vibe we had going on. We were half expecting to find Uncle Albert in the living room sitting in one of the armchairs sipping on a snifter of rum, or a blow-up sex doll tucked away in a cupboard somewhere. Needless to say, we found neither. Unfortunately, we were prompted to move on to the other buildings on the site after hearing what we thought sounded like a riot outside. In the knowledge that we didn’t have any ski gear to protect ourselves, or a Russian VCR to film it, we decided to split. As for the rest of the premises, it had its own unique bits and quirks, such as the pianos we stumbled across in small backroom, or the strange dining room setup inside one of the large barns. All in all, then, considering the place looked like an incredibly trashed farm from the outside it ended up being a decent wander. After taking a look around the entire site and seeing everything there was to see, we headed back to the car. It was just starting to snow at this point, so it was time to switch the car heater to full blast and warm up a wee bit. Explored with Meek-Kune-Do. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23:
  10. History Runcorn, which derives its name from the Anglo-Saxon term rumcofan (meaning a wide cove or bay), is a small industrial town and cargo port in Cheshire. It is located alongside the southern bank of the River Mersey, where the estuary narrows to form the Runcorn Gap. For much of its existence, Runcorn was a small isolated village and a fort, defending the borders of the lands of the Kingdom of Mercia. However, the Industrial Revolution transformed the entire area towards the end of the 18th century. Due to its topography, a large number of manufacturers established a presence in Runcorn, to the extent that all of its open green spaces were quickly occupied. It did not take long for the original village to expand beyond its own borders either, so the town now also comprises a number of the former outlying villages. Today, as the surface space has been significantly reduced, large proportions of the small streams and brooks that flow into the River Mersey have been culverted. Even though the industry in Runcorn has been in rapid decline in recent years, new housing developments have been established in their place, so the culverts remain. Double Trouble, which derives its name from the large dual entranceway, is one of those drains. It is made up of several different sized chambers that are positioned between sections of RCP. Double Trouble also features a number of concrete stairs that are encased within brickwork; these structures allow water to follow with the natural gradient of the landscape and so prevent water from accumulating at certain junctions in the drain. Our Version of Events Double Trouble was the last 2016 explore for us. All of a sudden we’d run out of time to fit anything else in. We’d been keen to get a good old dirty drain done on our trip to Liverpool, but it seemed that all the city has to offer were small shitty RCP’s – as far as we deduced anyway. It was for this reason we had to travel all the way over to Runcorn to find what we were looking for. Once we arrived in Runcorn, we quickly realised that finding the bastard thing wasn’t as straightforward as we’d first imagined. Nonetheless, after foraging around in the trees and bushes for a while, and finding a smaller drain that smelt very strongly of sewage, we eventually stumbled across the two great entrances that denote the start of Double Trouble. The sheer size of the outfall makes this drain especially inviting, even if it is a concrete monolith, and we couldn’t wait to have a peek inside to see what it might have in store for us. We climbed up the side of the overflow weir and onto a raised platform to reach the entranceway of the left-hand side tunnel. From there we plodded on for some metres, before we reached a junction where both of the initial tunnels join together. We continued on, following a long square passage for what felt like a long time; having said that, we did stop several times to take a few photos. At the end of the long square concrete section, we came across what was perhaps one of the best parts of the whole explore: a large concrete chamber with a staircase positioned in the centre, alongside two smaller RCP’s either side of it. This room was perfect for flinging a bit of steel wool around on a whisk, so the next fifteen minutes or so were spending doing exactly that. Leaving the smell of burnt wool behind us, we climbed up the stairs and discovered that the next section was a stoopy RCP. It looked boring as fuck, but we carried on anyway. It wasn’t too bad at first, apart from the monotony and stoopiness, but it did have a few surprises in store for us along the way in the form of small brick chambers that are presumably access areas for engineers and maintenance crews. However, the best bit was yet to come. Towards the end of the insipid RCP, another staircase was gradually becoming visible. When we did in fact step out of the cylindrical pipe we found ourselves inside a brick-lined chamber with a concrete staircase straight ahead. More fire and flames ensued as we tried to make use of the aesthetically pleasing setting surrounding us. The final part of Double Trouble takes you through more RCP that eventually leads to another staircase and a second split in the system, where you can carry on towards Liverpool if you want by taking one of the two the back-breaking RCP’s that lie ahead. For us, however, this is where we decided to call it a day. As the next section was considerably smaller than what we’d just wandered through, we decided that what lay ahead was probably the same shitty concrete. Besides, it was almost New Year at this stage and we all had places we wanted to be, such as the pub. With that, we took a quick group shot and turned around to make our way back to the entrance. Why we didn’t pop a lid to get back out a little sooner is beyond me, but there you go. It seemed WildBoyz were in the mood for more walking that day. Explored with Ford Mayhem, Meek-Kune-Do, The Hurricane, Box and Husky. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17:
  11. History Victoria Tower, which is also known locally as ‘the Docker’s Clock’, is a Grade II listed Gothic Revival clock tower located alongside Sailsbury Dock in Liverpool. It was designed by Jesse Hartley, an eminent engineer who was responsible for the construction of a large number of the docks and warehouses along the River Mersey. Hartley’s design was inspired by the castle architecture of the Rhine region in Central Europe; this is why the structure was built using irregular blocks of grey granite and why it has embrasures that have been cut into the tower’s walls. The tower was built between 1847 and 1848, to commemorate the opening of Sailsbury Dock. It was also constructed to aid ships using the port. It allowed them to set the correct time as they sailed out into the Irish sea (the time ball was apparently controlled by a signal from the Liverpool Observatory) and was equipped with a bell to warn vessels of impending meteorological changes such as high tide and fog. A navigation light encased inside an ornamental structure was originally planned for the roof of the tower; however, a 9 metre flagpole was installed instead when it was agreed that the structure would not function as a lighthouse. An additional lesser known feature of the tower is that the bottom three levels of the structure served as a flat for the Pier Master. These floors were boarded and designed to be much more comfortable than the rest of the building. On account of the decline in shipping along the Mersey, the condition of Victoria Tower has deteriorated significantly, primarily due to water and wind damage. In addition to these problems, the tower has become overgrown with vegetation over the years, and is now also infested with a large number of pigeons. Although it was announced in 2010 that the clock tower, along with several other historic buildings around the area, would be repaired and fully restored as part of a £5.5 billion restoration programme, no work has yet been initiated. Our Version of Events It was getting late on in the evening and we were all keen to get back to our digs for the night to drink beer and play poker, but we also wanted to have a quick wander over to Victoria Tower. We’ve stared at it enough times from the other side of the water, so it seemed about time we paid it a visit. Plenty of fucking around certainly ensued trying to figure out which part of the dock we had to trespass on to get to it; as we were to discover, it’s situated on a piece of land that’s tricky to get to if you’re not very familiar with the area. But, in the end we figured out where we needed to be; right on the other side of a drive-thru movie night. We entered through the main gates of one of the dockyards and wandered towards a small congregation of cars. The plan had been to blend in, but having left the car behind this was very difficult. Fortunately, however, the film was a decent one: Die Hard 1. And we’d entered at the good bit – the scene on the rooftop where Alan is making a last-bid attempt to get rid of Bruce. At this stage in the film Bruce’s vest top was well and truly green. Using the film to our advantage we crept through the cars. We passed a blue Ford Fiesta first, where, much to our delight, the couple inside seemed distracted enough without the film. It looked as though the woman in the passenger seat had dropped her revels somewhere on the driver’s side and was frantically looking for them. She had her head positioned over the driver in a very unusual position. The driver seemed to be helping to force her head down a bit lower too. There must have been an orange flavoured one in his lap or something. A red Volkswagen Golf had to be passed next. The passengers in this one didn’t seem to be focused on the film either though. A rather large flabby woman in her late 50s was pressed up against the windscreen, with both enormous breasts, a cheek and two plump lips firmly plastered against the glass. To our horror she was bouncing up and down a bit, so her folds sounded a bit like window wipers in turbo mode during a heavy downpour. Slightly scarred, psychologically, we made it to the other side of the dockyard. From here to the tower the journey was much less eventful. We had to make haste, however, since the tall palisade gates at the entrance would be closing soon – as soon as the movie was finished. Nothing like a bit of time pressure to spur you on. Unfortunately, though, when we did finally reach the door to the tower we quickly discovered that it was locked up tight. A bit frustrated that we’d already used up some of our gambling and drinking time, we decided to get the ball sacks out and climb our way inside instead. A tiny barred gate wasn’t stopping us from getting into the tower! It was around the halfway mark that we decided the climbing part of the plan was a bad idea. It was a chilly night and much more difficult that we’d first imagined. Hartley didn’t think it through when he designed overhanging ledges on the tower, which are now caked in a fine layer of slippery moss and pigeons’ cloacal secretions. Nevertheless, we’d watched the classic Stallone movie Cliffhanger three nights previously, so we knew we should probably just man the fuck up and get the climb done. Each of us had more than a t-shirt on too, so I don’t know what we were complaining about. We reached the top just as Alan was hanging off the side of Nakatomi Plaza. Everyone gathered at the top of the tower and peered through the crenels as Alan was plummeting to the ground; we were glad we’d made it in time to see the best scene in the film. You know what they say after all, it’s not really Christmas until Hans Gruber falls from a building. A few minutes were spent taking shots from the roof, but it was very a windy evening so the tripods ended up taking quite a battering. In the end we had to make do with the few usable nightscape shots we’d managed to take. Some luck was on our side, though, since some thoughtful chavs, who I presume were wearing Burberry check, had smashed the lock off the hatch. This made getting inside the tower much easier. An explosion of pigeony disease-ridden gas erupted as we lifted the lid. It smelt like thousands of them were down there, slowly drowning in their own shit and piss. For some reason we decided to crack on anyway, as you do. So, we climbed down the several broken rungs we could see into the depths of the festering pit of doom. A very sketchy bendy ladder came next. It was clearly some sort of improvisation to make up for the lack of staircase. At the bottom the situation didn’t improve either, as we found ourselves literally knee deep in shit and rotting carcasses. Pigeon pie was definitely off the menu later that evening. We hastily plodded on, racing down the rusted spiral staircases, trying our best not to disturb the crusted layers of poo. After all, you can’t leave an explore until you’ve seen absolutely everything there is to see. We didn’t hang about inside the tower for long after reaching the bottom, especially since we’d recently discovered that you can catch Chlamydia psittaci from contaminated bird droppings. That’s right, you can catch ‘the clam’ while urbexing! Although, having said that, this type is definitely a lot worse than the kind you’ll get from having ‘protected’ sex with a resealable sandwich bag. Anyway, back to the story. We managed to get back out onto the street just as the credits of the film were rolling down the screen. Thank fuck too, because climbing the fence would have been shit! After that we headed back to the car and, for most of us, this signified the end of the night where the rest of the evening would be spent drinking beer and playing several games of poker and pigeon toss (it sounds like a dirty game, but we assure you it’s quite innocent). Explored with Ford Mayhem, Rizla Rider, Husky and Soul. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17:
  12. History Wheelbirks is a small rural part of Northumbria, located to the south of Hadrian’s Wall. According to several historical books, there have been farmsteads in the area since the 16th century. It was David Richardson, though, who would have the greatest influence in transforming the area. Richardson, who was a Quaker and the owner of some of the largest tanneries in the country, moved to the area in 1882. The family has a long history as tanners, tracing as far back as the mid-16th century to a site based at Great Ayton, Cleveland, so they had a considerable amount of wealth and influence. In 1902, Richardson started work on replacing the original farmhouse at Wheelbirks with a Restrained Gothic style farmhouse and several small cottages. By 1911, the area was completely transformed, having changed from a small farmstead into a fully-fledged estate. Further development was prompted a few months after completion following an outbreak of tuberculosis (TB) inside Richardson’s tanneries. During the early 1900s, for instance, the works located at Elswick were reported to have a high incidence of the disease. The sanatorium itself is a cruciform construction of steel-reinforced concrete, white engineering brick and glass. It was designed to appear as if it is standing on stilts in a hollow; three bridges attached to the main entrances of the building helped to create the illusion. The design of the structure, which is reportedly American-based, and its chosen setting is said to have comprised a fresh-air method of treatment whereby patients would be surrounded by countryside and a clean, unpolluted environment. Unfortunately, Richardson never witnessed the completion of the sanatorium because it remained unfinished at the time of his death in 1913. In the end, the building was never used to treat TB sufferers because developments in antibiotics led to important changes in how TB was treated, to the extent that the use of isolated hospitals was rendered unnecessary. Today, the sanatorium is in a dilapidated condition. The interior is badly damaged and almost completely stripped, and the outside is clearly showing its age. In addition, one of the entrance bridges appears to be missing; there is some evidence that one existed on the western side of the building. Despite its condition, there is evidence that a local farmer has commandeered the space, using it as a storage site for various pieces of farm equipment and a random collection of boats. Our Version of Events Prior to visiting the Wheelbirks TB Sanatorium, we were warned that some stealthy moves would be required as there is an active farm overlooking the premises. With this is mind, we parked several miles away and decided to have a wander through the woods, to approach the building from the rear. Taking the necessary precautions, we camo’d up, slapping on a few streaks of black paint across our cheeks that we happened to have lying around for full effect. The walk that followed was itself quite pleasurable as we navigated our way along the side of a stream that runs close by the sanatorium. If anything, with tripods in our arms it felt a bit like we were stalking a predator (the extra-terrestrial kind, not a paedophile). Thankfully we weren’t, though, because if one really had been skulking around alongside us our attempt to fend it off would have been a very shit addition to the sequels. The building appeared all of a sudden, lurking behind a thin cluster of trees just ahead. It was just as everyone has described it: American. It was certainly different, but I can’t say it struck us as the most aesthetically pleasing building in England. However, before we could stand in awe for any longer, as we were peering out from the treeline, we suddenly noticed that the pre-warnings about the farm next door and there being lots of activity were quite accurate. The farm was a veritable hive of activity, with cars coming and going and a hardened sentry equipped with a set of heavy-duty binoculars sitting on the roof. What is more, just ahead in the next field there appeared to be a shooting party. It wasn’t very clear what they were shooting at, but they all looked the business with their flat caps, tweed jackets and 4x4s. Taking care not to get shot, we crept up to the old sanatorium waving a fresh Kleenex tissue for good measure. From there, choosing a point of entry wasn’t particularly difficult as all the doors were either missing or wide open. Once inside, it was immediately apparent that local farmers and the nearby ice cream parlour are using the site as a makeshift storage facility. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be storing any ice creams in the big freezer though. That’s right, we checked. The main floor, which I would assume is the ground floor (the design of the building is a bit odd having been constructed in a hollow), is filled with bicycles, boats and farm equipment. Downstairs is being used in a similar way, although a lot of the gear down there appears to be quite dated. As for the upper floors of the building, they are absolutely fucked. With the sheer number of holes in the walls, it would appear as though the guys over in the field are in much need of some target practice. There is only really one room that might be of interest to anyone passing through, and that is the one filled with old-ish whisky bottles and newspapers. We decided to call it a day after taking a quick look around the upstairs rooms. There wasn’t much left to see, and the group of would-be mercenaries in the field opposite seemed to be packing up to leave. The first few land rovers were already leaving the field and forming a Mad Max style convoy. The last farmer who was closing the gate even seemed to have a large speaker system mounted on the back of his Toyota Hilux. We ducked beneath a window ledge for a moment as the convoy roared past us, then when everything went quiet again headed back towards the woods to face our trek back to the car. Explored with LightSaber. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21:
  13. History St. Paul’s Church is a grade II listed building that overlooks the small town of Denholme. It was designed by J. B. Chantrell and constructed in 1846, and represents an early English style of architecture which comprises a seven-bay nave and lean to aisles, a Chancel and a vaulted roof with ribs and bosses. As for the exterior, the building is built from coursed gritstone with ashlar dressings and it boasts a large western tower with a Welsh slate roof. The church closed in 1999 due to falling numbers in the parish. In the months that followed the closure of the building, the Church of England were able to remove the majority of the valuable items, such as the bells, the ground floor stained glass windows and the organ. At present, the church is said to be on the market for £170,000 and various plans have been submitted to convert the entire structure into one dwelling. Alternative plans have also been proposed to demolish the church and build residential housing on the site. Many concerns have been raised by local residents and the Bradford Diocese about the current condition of the building as it has been badly damaged by vandals and thieves. Our Version of Events It was a cold December morning when eight WildBoyz decided it would be a good idea to have a drive over to Liverpool for the New Year. On our journey towards the beer, fireworks and other celebratory shenanigans, we decided to stop off at a few locations and take some snaps. The first stop-off along the way was St. Paul’s Church, which we spotted as we bombed our way through the small town of Denholme. Keen to get out of the cars and stretch our legs, we parked up in one of the nicest residential estates any proper northern lad has ever seen in his entire life. Trying hard to blend in with the locals as we walked towards the old church, we made casual conversation about men’s country clothing, golf and skiing in the alps. Our knowledge of such topics was limited, however, so our discussion only managed to get us halfway to the church gates. From that point on, we turned back into a wild throng of yobs. Conversation quickly slipped back to our usual topics: food, boobs and torch chat. From the graveyard access into the church wasn’t too difficult, thanks to some local Reebok clad chavs. So, within minutes each of us were stood inside the main navel gazing at our ruined surroundings. For the most part, the building is absolutely fucked. Most of the furniture is either broken or stacked into chaotic piles, and many of the old wall plaques are broken and cracked. It seems that some fucking bellend thinks it’s acceptable to smash commemorative tablets… There’s evidence of a fair few holes in the floor too, but the sheer amount of pigeon shit that’s been allowed to build up over the years has covered most of these over. The blue painted ceiling is still rather nice to look at though, especially from the upstairs balcony. After spending a good few minutes inside the main part of the church, we decided to have a search for a way inside the western tower. At first, access seemed impossible because the only way up appeared to be through a massive hole in the ceiling of the tower, which was a good few metres high. With only a broken ladder at our disposal, which itself was at least three metres to short anyway, all hope of getting up there seemed lost. As it turned out, however, we’d walked past the real way up about several times: a small spiral staircase at the base of the tower near main front doors. Once up inside the tower, we quickly discovered that it was very tower-like. It was clear that it once housed bells, but today it’s merely home to thousands of fetid one-legged pigeons. As the smell of shit brought tears to our eyes we didn’t hang about for very long up there. And that about concludes our little trip to St. Paul’s Church. It’s damp, mostly trashed and fairly grotty, but it still makes for a good photo or two if you happen to be passing by. Fifteen minutes after arriving, we headed back to the cars and set off in the direction of the famous Queensbury Tunnel. As it was only around the corner, it seemed like a wasted opportunity not to visit it. Explored with Ford Mayhem, Meek-Kune-Do, Rizla Rider, The Hurricane, Box, Husky and Soul. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23:
  14. History MV Royal Daffodil, formerly known as Overchurch until 1998, was constructed in Birkenhead in 1962 by Cammell Laird (a British shipbuilding company that was founded in 1828) for Birkenhead Corporation. The 751 tonne vessel, which was constructed to be part of a fleet of ferries operating on the River Mersey, was named after one of the town’s post-war overspill housing developments. It was the first of the fleet to be of an all-welded construction and is now last of the Mersey Ferries to be built. Once in service, the ferry was popular with passengers because it was considered to be the warmest vessel of all the Birkenhead ferries; however, it is not actually known why it was warmer. The ship was also popular among its captains as it had a large, modern, navigation bridge which spanned the entire width of the ship, unlike the other more compact and cluttered bridges on Overchurch’s sister ships. In terms of her other features, Overchurch was fitted with two main outdoor deck areas, a loudaphone system and an advanced radio system. It was also equipped with two medium speed Crossley diesel engines which were capable of propelling the vessel over 12 knots. Both of the engines were controlled by engine order telegraphs (E.O.T’s) – communications devices used by a navigator to order engineers below deck to power the vessel at a desired speed. Nonetheless, despite being more advanced that her sister vessels, Overchurch could be difficult to control in stormy weather due to a design flaw in the high funnel being attached to the bridge and the flare of the bow being different. These faults meant that in a strong swell bringing the vessel alongside the dock could be troublesome, and that water had a tendency to spill over the bow onto the observation deck. In 1998, Overchurch was moved to undergo a major refit. This was completed at Lengthline Ship Repairs in Manchester. The vessel was completely modernised and refurbished over the next year and new engines and navigation equipment were fitted. The original funnel and bridge were retained, but some minor alterations were made. After being refitted, the vessel was renamed The Royal Daffodil and returned back to service. However, the ship was altered again in later years as the lower, main and forward saloons were completely gutted and rebuilt. New catering and bar facilities were fitted, along with dance floors and a new crew area. Following the refurbishment, The Royal Daffodil was used for functions, parties and special cruises along the River Mersey. Although she was converted into a cruising vessel, The Royal Daffodil’s sisters were rebuilt as multi-purpose ferries; they are now known as Royal Iris of the Mersey and Snowdrop. By December 2012, The Royal Daffodil was withdrawn from service. Reasons for this are linked to persistent engine problems. Since then she was moved to a dock alongside Duke Street in Birkenhead. There are plans to restore the vessel to its full glory, and the engines and generators are still tested periodically; however, she is beginning to show signs of dilapidation (considerable rust, peeling paint and rotten decks). Our Version of Events After a bit of a fail at a nearby brewery which seems to have some sort of vintage shop and a café in it now, we found ourselves over in Birkenhead looking out over the Mersey wondering what the fuck to do next. That was when we spotted a slightly lopsided ship sitting on the horizon. Keen to take a closer look and investigate a little further, we set off towards it to uncover whether or not it was actually abandoned. As it turned out, it looked a bit fucked and dirty, so we guessed it was somewhere on the old abandoned scale, making it nice and ripe and juicy for the picking. At first, getting into the site seemed to be a bit of a ball-ache, since there seemed to be a lot of sharpened palisade and many cameras. What is more, Merseyside Police decided to turn up… Typical that they always turn up when you don’t need them. We were forced to wait patiently as the same car passed us several times between two minute intervals. In the end, though, they fucked off, apparently satisfied that we weren’t a group of yobs armed with spray paint and white lightening. There was, however, something to be gained from the local bobbies turning up, and that was that we’d ended up sitting there long enough to figure out how we were going to get onto the site. Fifteen minutes later and we were stood on board The Royal Daffodil. In many ways it’s very similar to the Tuxedo Royale over in Middlesbrough, but it has far fewer holes in it. On that note, it was nice to go below decks and not feel as though we were taking a tour around the Titanic. It didn’t take long to work our way around the whole ship in the end mind, not least because the engine room and captain’s cabin doors were tightly locked. We were quite disappointed after making this discovery, but in hindsight they were going to be nothing compared to those we found on the North Sea Producer, so the disappointment has somewhat receded. All in all, then, the explore wasn’t the best we’ve ever done, but it wasn’t a bad way to spend twenty minutes either. After all, it’s always good to get another ship under the belt. Explored with Ford Mayhem, Meek-Kune-Do, Box, Husky and Soul. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18:
  15. History “This is a historic day for Greenwich Peninsula and without doubt, this is one of the most exciting developments in London – of great significance to the capital as a whole, as well as to our borough. This scheme will bring the long-term regeneration of Greenwich Peninsula to fruition, cementing what is a whole new district for London providing housing and jobs for tens of thousands of people and landmark new facilities and buildings” (Councillor Denise Hyland). Greenwich Peninsula, which is surrounded on three sides by the river Thames, is in the east area of London. One of London’s famous landmarks, formerly known as ‘The Millennium Dome’, can be found on the tip of the peninsula. The area was first drained in the 16th century, so that the land could be cultivated. During this era, individuals accused of piracy were frequently hung in cages at Blackwell Point, precisely where the Dome is situated, to deter any other would-be pirates. As London grew, the peninsula quickly became increasingly industrialised, and by the 19th century there were many sites producing chemicals, steel, iron, cement, animal feed, asbestos, bronze and heavy guns. A large power station and gasworks took up the largest proportion of the peninsula, and at one point the gasworks was known as the largest producer of its kind in Europe. However, unfortunately the good times did not last, and the peninsula was hit by the widespread deindustrialisation of England in the late 1900s; many companies fell into financial crisis, and others moved overseas where production costs were cheaper. No longer producers, England was rapidly coming a consumer-based society. At the turn of the 21st century, most of the remaining industry was concentrated on the western side of the peninsula. As for the rest of the land, a large proportion of it was purchased by the Homes and Communities Agency (previously known as the National Regeneration Agency). The agency invested approximately £225 million into the area, helping to create homes, commercial spaces and new transport links. The construction of the Millennium Dome came next, alongside the Greenwich Millennium Village, which brought further residential development to the area: more homes, a school, a medical centre and a Holiday Inn. Currently, Greenwich Peninsula is undergoing more development as 15,000 new homes, two schools, a new transport hub (including London’s first cruise terminal), a 60,000 square metre business space and a 40,000 square metre film studio are being constructed. The Royal Borough of Greenwich Planning Board approved the planning application in 2015. It is estimated that 4,000 of the new homes will be affordable, and that the development will bring at least 12,000 new jobs to the area. Despite the optimism, there has been much criticism concerning long periods of inactivity, where little seems to be achieved. There are also disputes among developers and councillors over turning London into a high-rise capital, similar to Hong Kong or Manhattan. Many argue that London is not suited to being carpeted over with such towers, especially when families will have very little chance of ever living in them. Having said that, it is obvious that some development is underway and the area is gradually being transformed. Our Version of Events We were sat inside McDonalds and it was getting late. Despite the fact that we were in the heart of the capital which is celebrated for its fine quality food, diversity and choice, we ended up choosing this fine establishment to fuel up before we went out exploring. As you might expect, it smelt strongly of grease, tomato sauce and cheap cleaning product; the floors were so caked in all those substances customers could slide their way right up to the counter; it was a bit like curling without the stones. For a while we each stared hard at our burgers, searching for some evidence of something natural as we munched on what were effectively bags of salt with a few crispy fries hidden inside. Suddenly, my eyes caught a glimpse of something. A long scraggly hair poking out from under the gherkin. I pulled at it, hoping to tug it out in one swift yank, but it kept coming. It grew longer and longer with every tug. Yummy! After an intense struggle, the beasty hair, coated in goo and white bits (which I was hoping was mayonnaise), was eventually successfully removed. Cleared of all debris (hair, fingernails and all that sort of shit), I began to prepare myself for the taste sensation that was about to ensue. Death in a bun, with a bit of brown lettuce squeezed in-between for aesthetics. Precisely fourteen minutes and eight seconds later, we left McDonalds relatively unscathed. Now, fully fuelled on absolute shit, we thought it would be a good idea to check out a massive development on the peninsula that we’d spotted earlier in the day. It didn’t take long to make our way over there, and once we arrived we decided to have a little wander around the premises first of all, to check out the camera situation. Initially, it didn’t look good. There were cameras of all shapes and sizes dotted around (big ones, tall ones, small ones and rotating ones), hundreds of the fuckers, along with PIRs and several high-powered lights. At the time we were thinking that we’d never seen so many security devices in one location before, but, in hindsight, we always end up thinking this… What made things worse was the heavy traffic. Anyone would think the city never sleeps. After deciding where we would enter, we waited. We waited some more. Then, we did a little bit more waiting, just for the crack. And, POOF! After smashing a bottle of instant fog against the ground, all of a sudden we magically appeared inside the construction site. I’d like to say that we popped along to the Leaky Cauldron earlier in the day, and that we’d managed to lay our hands on some of that magic dust they all rave about, but it turns out it doesn’t really exist. We had to make do with bottled fog from the North York Moors. It was a right bastard to collect with empty Sprite bottles and fishing nets from Aldi, but we managed it. Inside, we raced to the nearest crane. It was very difficult to access, so we whipped out a grappling hook and harpoon launcher. This made things a lot easier. Like ninjas in the night we ascended the rope and managed to get onto the crane itself. Once inside the main tower where the ladder is located we began to climb, right up to the hatch. Disappointingly, it was locked, so we decided we’d try another one and started to descend. At the bottom of the crane though, we discovered that there was access to a basement, so we popped inside in search of water. By now the McDonalds had vaporised all the water content in our bodies, so we were parched. Thankfully, we found some, and what a refreshing experience it was! At that moment I would have been willing to drink the Thames, I was so thirsty. After drinking our body-wright in water, we continued on to the next crane. We raced to the next crane, and the many litres of water we’d consumed sloshed about inside us noisily. At least it felt that way. At the base of the next crane, Mayhem volunteered to go first. Having used up the grapple hook, he was forced to use suction cups this time round. His ascent was painstakingly slow, but eventually he made it to the hatch. Unfortunately, this one too was locked. Feeling even more disappointed and disheartened, we decided to take the stairs to the top of the nearby building instead (which was about fifteen storeys high). We figured the night wouldn’t be an entire waste if we got some shots from up there. It was only when we reached the top of the building that we noticed yet another third crane. Deciding that we’d try our luck one last time, we decided to scramble up and see if access was possible. Fortunately, this hatch was unlocked! Moments later we emerged on the top of the crane, surrounded by fantastic views of the peninsula. Several other cranes were visible from our position, and they too looked quite spectacular from where we were stood, with their range of lights and colours. Wasting no time, we whipped out the camera gear and started taking photographs. After that, we did the usual thing of hanging around for a wee bit, taking the time to take in the view with our own eyes. In the end, we felt satisfied with how the night turned out. Explored with Ford Mayhem, Slayaaaa and two other anonymous individuals. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11:
  16. History Once part of Lancashire, Worsley is a small town in Greater Manchester, England. It is first mentioned in the Great Rolls of the Pipe (a collection of financial records maintained by the English Exchequer) in 1195, when it was known as Werkesleia, meaning, in the language of the Saxons, ‘the cleared place which was cultivated or settled’. Prior to the 18th century, Worsley comprised a small farm-based village and a manor created by William I; however, after the completion of the Bridgewater Canal in 1761, the village began to expand as cotton manufacturers, iron and brick works and coal mining companies were established in the area. Further expansion of the town came following the First and Second World Wars, as large residential estates were introduced, to house the increasing number of workers of nearby factories and evacuees from the south of England. A small section of Worsley Brook was culverted during the Industrial Revolution, because a canal had to be constructed above to provide a more efficient means of transporting coal from Worsley to Salford. The first part of the culvert would have been built sometime in the late 1750s. After the completion of the canal it was considered a major engineering achievement because it was accomplished in a timely fashion, built over the top of obstacles such as Worsley Brook and the River Irwell, and even allowed boats to travel underground into the coal mines themselves. By 1887, however, the mines in the area ceased production. Most of the works and several large warehouses were demolished during the early 1900s and the area was transformed so that new developments could be positioned on the land. As part of this redevelopment a larger 400 metre section of Worsley Brook was culverted, to allow for building over the top. Today, Worsley Culvert is undergoing major restoration work to address various structural problems. It was reported that the deteriorating state of the brickwork posed risks to 260 local properties because there was a risk of it collapsing and causing subsequent flooding. The plans to stabilise the structure involve lining it with thirty-six four-tonne concrete sections. According to the Environment Agency, a number of pumps have been installed to help drain and divert the brook while the work takes place. Our Version of Events After a rough night sleeping beneath a tarp, we were pretty keen to get moving and do some exploring. To avoid sleeping in two cramped cars (there were eight of us after all), which were each filled with a lot of Tesco sandwich packaging, pigeon shit, a little bit of asbestos and enough gear to get us through a nuclear war, four of us had decided to kip outside beneath the stars. We’d found a nice little spot in some sort of country park by a small duck pond, and it was only really as we were setting up that we started to noticed that the floor was turning white with frost. Still, we decided to ignore it, and cracked on with setting up our campsite for the evening. We figured that we’d just each wear three or four jackets and hoodies and light a few candles for warmth. By the morning, though, none of us could feel our arms and legs anymore. The last bit of warmth in our bodies was centred around the torso area. Getting up was the worst bit, as we left behind the little warmth there was inside our sleeping bags. Putting the boots back on felt like stepping into blocks of ice. The morning didn’t get any better as we noticed that there was a layer of ice covering the tarp, and that the pond behind us had completely frozen over. What is more, we’d left a large half-eaten cake outside, thinking it would be perfectly fine throughout the night for us to enjoy at breakfast, but it was gone! All that remained were several fox footprints (or so we guessed) in the frost. It took a wee while to thaw out a bit before we could pack everything up, so our start to the day was a little delayed. Nevertheless, once we were back inside the cars, with the heaters running at full blast, we were ready for some more exploring. First on the list was an old culvert… You can tell this was a well-planned winter trip. Having said that, there was some intelligent thinking behind this decision to don the waders in December. Prior to embarking on our trip to Liverpool, we’d stumbled across a few old reports on a fantastic looking culvert known as ‘Old Worsley’. Judging by the photographs we found, it was short but filled with all sorts of old brick and stonework. The problem, though, was that we’d read about redevelopment work being scheduled between 2016 and 2017. So, since we were passing through Manchester on our way to Liverpool, we figured it would be nice to take a quick look. We hoped, with a little bit of luck on our side, that the work crew might not have ruined it too much just yet. We arrived at the entrance of the culvert, which is situated at the side of a nice residential estate, just as everyone else seemed to be waking up. What this means is that we looked like a right bunch of space cadets as we wadered up in middle of the street. One guy who was walking his small sausage dog, which made him look ever so slightly like a camp paedophile, stared at us with an angered expression on his face. He even doubled back on himself to walk past us another couple of times, and the entire time he kept his beady little eyes on us. Thankfully, it didn’t take long to walk up to the brook, so we were soon out of sight. You know what they say, out of sight out of mind. Inside, we were instantly a bit disappointed because the redevelopment work seemed to be in full swing. The first section is now almost completely reinforced with concrete. The next part, where there is an arched entranceway and what should have been a rugged boxed off section inside, didn’t look too good either; now, a concrete shell has been erected inside it. The work looked very recent too, since some of the cement was still a bit damp, which was unfortunate indeed. Things looked a lot more promising, however, once we reached the end of this fresh Soviet-inspired culvert (someone ought to stamp a little hammer and sickle in the cement as the company logo really). We had reached a brick chamber with an arched brick tunnel leading off to the right. The first steps into the chamber were tentative. The water looked deep and cold. We weren’t wrong. As we waded a few steps forwards towards the arched tunnel, the water instantly became thigh deep (and by that we mean upper thigh). But, ignoring the ball tingling chill, we carried on; the tunnel ahead was interesting and, as far as we could see, there was much more to see further ahead. It was at this point that Ford Mayhem started to find the explore a lot less entertaining mind, as he had discovered a hole in his waders. The main thought whirling around his head at the time was something along the lines of “for fucks sake, why is it getting deeper?! Man, I’m going to have to hold my torch and snap shut the hole on my waders with my hand. Here goes… Fuck, fuck! It’s cold! Jesus, my hand is cold”. Things got even more tricky towards the middle part of the arched tunnel too, as it dips a little bit, so we were forced to lean further into the water. At this point, it was safe to say that most of us were within inches of breaching point as the water was chest deep. For poor Mayhem, the situation was even worse because the key thought swirling around his head now was, “Wait. Why am I getting wet down my right leg? I thought I was holding it shut?... Oh shit. I have a hole on the rear side as well. FUCK!”. Inside the next section the ceiling was considerably higher, so we could stand up straight again. We were still waist deep in the water though, and by this point our legs were starting to go a little numb. It was so cold in there that there was an icy mist hovering over the water. It was a bit like walking into a steamy sauna, but without the steam and heat. At least we didn’t have to worry about our balls being cold anymore mind, since they’d moved right up into our stomachs to hibernate. For reasons unknown even to ourselves, we continued on. Once again the water level started to get deeper and deeper. It was at this point, two of the Boyz bailed after having stopped for several minutes to discuss how much of a shit time they were having. They had almost reached the breaching point of their waders and couldn’t continue forward any longer as it was still getting deeper. Mayhem was left standing in waist deep water the whole time, trying to pinch shut two holes while holding his torch. What was running through his mind at this point was a slightly desperate “why won’t the others hurry the fuck along? I’m freezing my tits off here!” After a bit more debating, the rest of us made the decision to carry on and see how far we could get. Two metres later, though, and almost all of the other Boyz had decided to bail. The water was millimetres away from pouring inside the waders at this stage. So, now, there were only two happy-ish WildBoyz willing to carry on, all for the sake of producing a swish new report at the end of it. Soul led the way, followed by Mayhem. For some reason, Soul’s waders seemed to go right up to his nipples and beyond. He might as well have been wearing a dry suit, so he was pretty comfortable throughout this entire endeavour. As for Mayhem, he battled on, trying to pinch his waders with one hand while carrying a torch and now a tripod and camera in the other. The rest of the group had handed it to him as they weren’t going any further. Somehow, he was doing well for a few more metres or so, until, all of a sudden, another icy trickle could be felt down the inside of his right leg. The water was so cold he’d lost all feeling in his fingers, and they were no longer capable of gripping anymore. The bitter water, which might as well have been a murky flavoured Slush Puppy, quickly started to fill up his waders. A sequence of the foulest words known to mankind quickly filled the still silence of the tunnel, followed by the cruel laughter of five others. Cold and completely wet, Mayhem decided that he might as well continue and finish off the explore. Motivated by the knowledge that he had a dry flannel back in the car, he cracked on like a proper legend. Meanwhile, everyone else headed straight for the Barton Arms, a pub that’s not too far from the entrance of ‘Old Worsley’, for a quick shandy. By the time Soul and Mayhem got to the pub, looking a lot like two washed up submariners, the rest of the Boyz had knocked back a good few drinks and a few steak and ale pies. It has to be said that sitting in the pub, close to a roaring fire, after being permanently cold for the past 12 hours or so felt pretty damn amazing. Explored with Ford Mayhem, Meek-Kune-Do, Rizla Rider, Box and Soul. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22:
  17. History The Manor Church Centre is a Grade II listed building in Egremont, Wallasey. It was designed by architects Briggs, Wolstenholme and Thornley (the same company who designed the local town hall) in the early 1900s, and was constructed by George Parkinson between 1907 and 1908 for £19,000. It was built to replace the Presbyterian’s first Neoclassical church on King Street because it was too small to accommodate a rapidly growing congregation. Once completed the building was known as the Egremont Presbyterian Church, and being the largest Presbyterian church at the time it had the capacity to accommodate 1,000 people. The church opened for worship in 1908, almost immediately after completion. The large church hall at the rear was added in 1910. For many years the church remained unchanged, until 1972 when the Presbyterian Church of England and the Congregational Church in England and Wales joined to form the United Reformed Church. As a result, the church became Egremont United Reformed Church, until 1994 when it united with Trinity Methodist Church and became the Manor Church Centre. Manor Church Centre is well-known for its architecture and interesting stained glass windows. The church is constructed out of red sandstone from quarries in Runcorn, and is based on a unique mixed English Perpendicular, Arts and Crafts and Gothic Revival style. The design of the building includes a large nave with north and south passage aisles, a north transept, a short chancel and a 60ft southwest tower. The interior of the building was designed to be spacious and to offer uninterrupted views for all members of the congregation. The Baltic Pine hammerbeam roof (a decorative open timber roof truss) with corbels that are decorated with foliage help to create such an atmosphere. As the church hall was built a few years afterwards, it adheres to a different Tudor style with four bays and mullioned and transomed windows. As mentioned above, the stained glass throughout the building is famous. Some of it dates back to the 1890s, and other pieces the early 1900s. Some of the most notable pieces include: a pane depicting the Empty Tomb by H.G. Hiller in the east window, the window in the transept depicting The Sower that was designed by W. Aikman and made by Powell’s, a window by G. Gamon depicting Faith, Hope and Charity, a window on the north side of the building by the famous stained glass artist Wilhelmina Geddes, and the west window which contains glass that was designed by Percy Bacon. Although reports are limited, it is reported that the church closed sometime after 2011. Dwindling congregation numbers have been attributed to its closure. Another report suggests that the building is undergoing a refurbishment project, but it is unclear whether the building will reopen as a church, be reused for an alternative function or be demolished to make way for a potential housing project. There are concerns among the local community that vandals have started to cause considerable damage to the building, particularly some of the stained glass where there is evidence that stones have been thrown through. Our Version of Events It was getting on for late afternoon, and we were heading back to base camp for the evening after spending a few hours looking around a derelict mansion we’d passed several times while staying in Wallasey. A large church towered above us as we wandered along the footpath. The building itself was one of those that look a bit abandoned, but you’re not too sure if it really is. Nevertheless, it merited a bit of closer investigation, so we hopped the non-existent fence and tried to have a peek through a window. Unfortunately, our efforts proved to be fruitless. A strippergram could have been jiggling her tits around on the other side, but we wouldn’t have been any the wiser. It was way too dark inside. We continued wandering around the outside a bit more, though, and much to our delight ended up discovering a possible means of entry. Several minutes later and we had successfully infiltrated the church. Of course, the stripper had been a complete figment of our imaginations, so the remaining content of this report has been given a PG rating. But, in taking our first glances around the silent navel we could see lines of pews and what appeared to be an almost immaculate looking setting. A gigantic wooden ceiling hung over us and what was left of the fading sunlight outside struggled feebly to penetrate the thick stained glass windows. The entire church looked as though it has been abandoned only yesterday. Our footsteps echoed loudly as we wandered towards the large organ and baptismal font. It was incredibly dark inside the church, especially since most of the stained glass windows have been enclosed in metal cages to protect them from the failed ejaculation specimens of Merseyside. To rectify this problem, we were forced to wave a 1000 lumen torch around (the only torch we had available). As we did this, we hoped that neighbours and people walking past outside wouldn’t notice the erratic light display that was going on inside. If one of us had taken to the organ it’s likely people would have thought Elton John was getting frisky with the keys, or that John Lennon had risen from the grave, checking all the nooks and crannies for where he left his bastard submarine keys. It grew darker and darker very quickly, so in the end it became a case of running around the church to grab as many snaps as possible of the good stuff. We left the tower until last because the vast majority of it isn’t anything particularly special; it looks as though much of the original spiral staircase has been replaced for metal ladders and gantries. At the top we arrived just in time to see the sun setting over the River Mersey and the lights turning on over in Liverpool. The views were surprisingly good considering we were in the middle of a residential area. After expending the last of the daylight, we made our way back down into the church. From this point on taking photographs inside the building became virtually impossible so we decided to head off. We guessed that the chances of getting caught by someone walking or driving past outside were considerably high now, especially since people would be leaving work around this time. Overall, though, despite the light problems Manor Church Centre proved to be a really good wander. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23: 24: 25: 26: 27:
  18. History Queensbury Tunnel is one of the longest (2501 yards/1.4 miles) and deepest railway tunnels in England. It was part of the GNR line serving the northern industrial towns of Bradford, Halifax and Keighley. A railway connecting Halifax with Keighley was proposed in 1873; however, the local topography imposed many constraints, especially in the Queensbury area. As a result, several tunnels and viaducts were required to complete the line. A well-known prolific engineer named John Fraser, who was responsible for the construction of several other lines across Yorkshire, was appointed as head engineer for the project. Work on the Queensbury Tunnel began in May 1874. To begin with, cuttings were made into the hillsides at Holmfield and Queensbury through sandstone and millstone grit, and four observatories were subsequently erected to offer views over the construction of four of the major shafts. Eight shafts were originally planned, but the design was later revised to include only seven (the spacing between each was extended). Despite a good start, the first few months proved challenging due to a large influx of water. Although there was regular pumping provision during periods of heavy rainfall work had to be abandoned because the water would often still flood shafts five and six. In an effort to drain some of the water, additional shafts were dug into the hillside. Eventually, this seemed to speed up the progress of the tunnel. As progress of the tunnel continued, and it started to look much more ‘tunnel-like’, five of the original vertical shafts were reinforced and retained for ventilation purposes. Throughout the project several types of drilling machines were tried, but in the end only one was successful: Major Beaumont’s machine that was suited to excavating harder materials. Beaumont’s drill comprised a frame on which four drills were mounted, with compressed air harnessed as the motive power. It is reported that the use of the machine increased the rate of progress significantly. In terms of disasters during the construction period of the Queensbury Tunnel, the first casualties occurred on 10th October 1874, when Richard Sutcliffe suffered a fatal compound fracture when a rope used to haul a cage up shaft number one snapped. The cage plummeted to the bottom of the pit and landed on top of Sutcliffe. Two other miners were also struck, but miraculously they both survived. The next disaster occurred on 7th December 1875 at 3.40am, when six miners returned to their working face after having retreated to fire shots. They were all under the impression that all the blasts had been successful. However, it was quickly discovered that one shot had misfired, so Henry Jones and John Gough were sent to withdraw it. After getting it position to make the withdrawal it exploded, killing them both instantly. A third miner was also injured, suffering head injuries and a broken arm, but he was sent immediately to Halifax Infirmary after being attended to by the works inspector. Several other incidents involving rock collapses also claimed a number of unfortunate miners, and this resulted in the construction project being known as ‘the slaughtering lines’ by local newspapers. The tunnel was finally completed in July 1878, and the Great Northern Railway company held a special dinner for the 300 men involved in its construction. The first train passed through the tunnel in later September as part of a preliminary inspection. Major General Hutchinson conducted the inspection and concluded that it was unfit for passenger traffic due to the incomplete nature of its works. As a result, it remained as a freight only line until December 1879, when Hutchinson revisited the line and re-inspected the tunnel. Nevertheless, soon after becoming part of a passenger line, significant defects were spotted in the sidewalls of the tunnel. This was partly due to poor workmanship, but also to the mining of coal from a seam adjacent to the tunnel. Although repairs were made, additional problems with excessive water build up intensified. A number of pumps were installed in an effort to control this problem. In the winter, though, new threats began to transpire as a result of the water problems, as large icicles would form on the ceiling of the tunnel. During the winter months the first train would be responsible for their removal. In the end, to counter this problem, engines would sometimes be left inside the tunnel overnight to generate heat and prevent the formation of ice. By 1933, the damaged caused by continuing seepage through the brickwork had resulted in the severe deterioration of parts of the structure. The Works Committee decided to employ G. A. Pillett & Son to fulfil the strengthening project. It took seven months to complete at a cost of £2,637. By May 1955, the line’s passenger service was withdrawn. Freight trains continued to use the tunnel for another year, but in 1956 they too were stopped from using the line. The tunnel remained abandoned for a number of years, until it was revisited in 1963 to remove the tracks. Soon after their removal a seismological station was established inside the tunnel by two Cambridge University scientists. During the 1970s the scientists used an array of strain meters and seismometers to compare the effect of elastic inhomogeneities on surface waves from earthquakes and tidal strains. All of the recording equipment was housed in an onsite hut which was also sometimes used by the university’s geophysics department to sleep in. Accessing the hut involved driving a van through tunnel which had to dodge the rubble that had been tipped down the overhead shafts when they were capped. By the end of the 1970s the station was moved to another site at Bingley owing to growing safety concerns over the deteriorating condition of the tunnel. For many years after the university vacated the structure, the tunnel’s northern entrance remained bricked up, with maintenance access available through steel-plated gates. The wall was removed in 2012, however, and replaced with a palisade fence. Most of the time the southernmost portal is completely flooded, with the water level reaching the roof of the portal, owing to poor drainage provision. A number of pumps have been installed, though, and they are used to drain the water when access is required for maintenance. For a while annual inspections ceased due to low levels of oxygen, concerns about ground movement, the effects of vegetation and water, and considerable bulging and missing brickwork in certain sections of the tunnel. However, the tunnel has once again been drained and there are rumours of a major works programme being undertaken over the next four years. Our Version of Events Next on our journey to Liverpool for New Years, we wanted to check out Queensbury Tunnel. Fortunately, it was only around the corner from our previous explore, so it didn’t take long to get there. Finding the actual location didn’t prove to be too difficult either. The only bit of bother we really had was the last bit of driving down a rough poorly tarmacked track in a Ferrari F12 berlinette and a Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport. The side skirts really weren’t very practical. However, we eventually made it to the bottom where we were able to park up. Certain that the cars would be perfectly safe just at the side of the track, we hopped out and began to fetch the gear from the boot. It’s amazing what you can fit inside a Ferrari if you make use of all the nooks and crannies. Bit by bit the items began to gather on the floor by the side of the car: a rope ladder, carabiners, slings, tripods, camera bags, the bevvy box, sandwiches for all eight of us, a picnic blanket, a lampshade, the emergency toaster, several boxes of Jaffa Cakes and eight cheese scones. Several minutes later and we were heading down the small footpath towards the entrance of the tunnel. It was muddy as fuck the entire way, and somehow got even more muddy right next to the entrance itself. After reaching the northern portal, though, we were halted in our tracks by a greater obstacle. The world’s best security perimeter stood in our way. A large black gate loomed over us, slick with fresh anti-climb paint. Not just a slight splodge either, this thing was greased up better than a Girl’s Gone Wild wrestling contender. A large coil of razor wire lay across the top, which has been wrapped around what looked like ordinary barbed wire. That wasn’t all either. Behind this beast of a fence, there was the original palisade fence, also thickly coated in the black stuff. However, as there was no sign to tell us to ‘fuck off’, we were unsure whether we were allowed to venture beyond this mere obstacle. As there was no signage, we guessed that it must be acceptable to proceed onwards – with caution of course. Next, then, we decided to climb to the top of the portal to find a couple of decent sized trees. After wrapping a couple of slings around them, we clipped a home-made Blue Peter inspired rope ladder onto the anchors. We carefully lowered the ladder over the side of the portal and it slotted just nicely behind the second palisade fence. Champion. One by one we proceeded to descend the ladder, taking care not to lose our footing on the rungs. One little slip up and we’d look like failed POW escapees impaled on top of a Nazi-inspired barricade. Going over the ledge was the hardest part of the whole endeavour, since one of the crucial rungs was pressed up tightly against the top of the portal. Having said that, perhaps the most difficult part was getting the egg and cress sarnies over. Once inside, the situation looked grim. Our chances of climbing back out didn’t look good. The ladder was now well and truly lubricated with mud and anti-climb paint. Our only option was to carry on into the depths of the tunnel. We were hoping that the pumps at the other end would still be working, meaning we could walk out rather than climb over the barricade. We set off, walking in the direction of the tiniest smidge of light in the distance. A couple of shots were taken here and there, but it suddenly dawned on us that we were in a former railway tunnel and there are hardly ever any remarkable changes in the features. It just kept going, and the light at the end of the tunnel never seemed to get any bigger. The one behind us definitely got smaller though, to the point that it too was the same size as the one ahead of us. How does that work? Structurally, then, the tunnel is absolutely fucked. There are many important bits missing (bricks and things), where there should be important bits, and several big collapsed sections. There’s some evidence that scaff has been erected to perhaps begin reinforcement work, but that’s not going too well by the looks of things since the tunnel is now resting on much of this scaffolding. We noticed that there’s a bit of a leakage problem too, because we had to walk under three or four cascading waterfalls. Bad crack when you’re trying to keep the scotch eggs dry. After walking for what felt like an eternity, we finally noticed that the light at the end of the tunnel was slowly getting larger. One point four miles underground certainly feels like a considerable amount of distance. Thankfully, the portal wasn’t flooded, though, and the pumps were still doing the business, so we were able to climb the two palisade fences to escape. These haven’t been greased up yet either, so the risk of losing a testicle from slipping is slightly reduced. Explored with Ford Mayhem, Rizla Rider and Soul. Queensbury Tunnel Back in the Day Queensbury Tunnel Today 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15:
  19. History Faverdale is a northern suburb of Darlington in County Durham, and is well known for being the site of a large industrial estate. Although the area was rural until the twentieth century, when a large wagon works was established in the 1920s, there is evidence of prehistoric, iron age and medieval activity at Faverdale. Nevertheless, as hinted above, the area owes its expansion in the interwar period to the wagon works as wooden freight wagons were in high demand for the North Eastern Railway (NER) company. The first residential housing estate, consisting of two hundred homes, was built to the west of the growing industrial estate, to house the workforce located there. As for the culvert, there is evidence from 1939 of a bridge having been constructed of stone and brick at its current location, which was part of the Darlington to Barnard Castle Railway Line (LNER). The bridge allowed passenger and goods trains to pass over West Beck, a small stream that eventually flows into the River Skerne. The same evidence also points to the fact that Faverdale Black Path, a track running adjacent to the train line, existed around the same time as the bridge. Although the Darlington to Barnard Castle Line stopped operating in 1964, as part of the Breeching cuts (a largescale restructuring of the railways in Great Britain) which saw to it that the track was lifted almost immediately afterwards, Black Path still exists today. By the time it came to the removal of the railway, much of the original surrounding industrial estate had already been demolished, as it had slowly begun to shift to its current location following newer and larger developments. The Faverdale Wagon Works was one of those casualties, as the factory closed in 1963 with 366 jobs lost; steel framed and bodied wagons became more popular and, subsequently, left little place for wooden bodied wagons. The nearby residential area, however, continued to expand. It is this expansion that called for a larger culverted section of West Beck, to allow more houses to be built over the top. The exact date of this construction is unknown, but based on its concrete box-like design it is likely to have been sometime the late 1960s/early 1970s. Modern day culverts tend to be circular to avoid becoming clogged with sediment and debris, especially during periods of heavy rainfall. Our Version of Events Recently, we’ve been working our way through a book. It’s all about experiences underground inside the ‘unknown worlds of the urban subterrane’. In that book, there are several sections (it’s essentially a collection of short stories) that talk about things such as descending into ‘dark and winding tentacles’ which ‘extend far into the subconscious’, and the allure of mystery and curiosity which has the power to encapsulate our imaginations. Others talk about the palimpsest nature of underground places, and how they allow us, if we look close enough, to peel back the layers of history. And then there’s the stuff on the dead and ghosts of the past. Apparently, the metaphoric juxtaposition between the warm surface and the dark underworld is capable of inciting powerful feelings that are steeped in questions about our mortality. It does get a bit weird in places, though, as one guy gets onto the topic of ‘infrastructural fetishism’, where he discusses being awash with satisfaction as a result of experiencing vibrational tremors of machines and brake dust. Anyway, after reading this book we found ourselves in the mood to find something underground to explore. As it would turn out, we had a nice culvert we’d been meaning to explore ready for the picking. Our aim was to go out and see if there was any truth in the book’s tales. So, excited by the prospect that we might find ourselves, or a skeleton, deep in the underworld, we wasted no time in gathering our equipment and getting to the car. Access was a little tricky to begin with, as we had to navigate our way down an overgrown beck. There were brambles and other spikey plants everywhere, so we took our time to prevent the waders from suffering several punctures. At one point we debated whether we should have brought along a machete, as a wall of barbed branches prevented us from moving any further downstream. Perhaps these were the ‘winding tentacles’ in the dark that one of the writers had been on about? It was night-time after all. Very confused about their meaning, and its effect on our subconscious, we continued on by moving the tentacles with our bare hands. The only thing going through my subconscious was panic about getting a puncture, and the pain of being prickled on every finger. Sometime later, we found ourselves stood before what we assumed was the former railway bridge, or at least what looked like it had been a part of it. We stared into the abyss ahead, preparing ourselves for the encounter that was about to ensue. We were going to step inside and look for the peeling layers of history. Apparently, the whole experience is not unlike an onion, where layer after layer reveals more and more. One by one we stepped inside the great arched structure, taking care not to disturb the dangling cobwebs too much. After taking several steps forward we all stopped and took a moment to properly take in the full sense of the underworld. I stared long and hard at the wall in front of me. But, after two and a half long minutes, nothing happened. I couldn’t quite fathom how we were supposed to see into all the so-called layers the book had described, especially when the bricks were caked in years of shit and dirt. What about the cobwebs for a start? How are you meant to see past those? Were we supposed to scrub a bit off? We didn’t have time for that, and nor did we have a bucket and sponge with us, so we were forced to abandon our search for the secret layers of history. We pressed on, a little disappointed with our lack of success. It was OK, though, because we had a few more things to try out. Next, we wanted to try and get a feel for the dark, ghostly, underworld, to see if we could be at one with mortality and all that other morbid shit. Further down the tunnel, in a section that was less stoopy than the rest of the tunnel, we decided that the best way to feel a sense of the proper underworld would be to turn our torches off. Surely, if we stood in the dark and listened for it for a wee bit, we’d sense something. So, that’s exactly what we did. One by one we turned off our torches. A moment later darkness shrouded us, and it was as if we’d entered into the arcane shadows of a nun’s knickers. Its veil closed tightly around us and an eerie silence followed. We stood motionless for a while, just listening. Listening hard for any sign of the darkness – the very void that is the underworld. Nothing. Only the dull ache of my back, as it screamed at me for being in a place too small to be comfortable. Until, suddenly, a low fffffffffffffff sound rose from the depths, almost as if someone was blowing on hot soup. One of the lads mumbled something of an apology, and told us it would probably be best if we evacuated this section of the tunnel. These were wise words indeed, for we’d stumbled across the darkest thing possible to find in the underworld. It was the incarnation of death itself: the raw, sticky, stench of cabbage. For a brief moment, as the whiff floated gently past the tips of my nostrils, I felt a true sense of what it’s like to be mortal. It hadn’t been what we were expecting, but we continued feeling as though we’d gained a real insight into our mortality. There was only one thing left to do now, and that was to develop a fetish for infrastructure. This was a tricky one. Looking around, one of the lads pointed out a small portal in the side of the wall, enclosed by a ‘hydraulic’ (or so it said on the side) metal cover. “Perhaps if two of us lift the flap, and you pop something in and have a good jiggle around, we’ll understand what all this fetishism is all about”, one of the lads suggested. We thought about it for a moment, and it seemed to make sense, in a weird sort of way. So, as two of us set about lifting the flap, the third among us set about finding a long rod which he could poke into the hole and have a jiggle. He found a stick that was protruding slightly from the water and prodding uncomfortably into his waders, and decided that it would have to do. Getting down into a bit of a crouched position in front of the portal, the third among us signalled to the others to lift. As they did, he was quick to insert his stick. A bit of back and forth pump action was required to clear much of the old stagnant debris, but once he was through he was able to have a good jiggle, as we’d discussed. And then he stopped. There was a pause, as everyone waited for something to happen. Perhaps an alluring drain aroma would overcome us, or we would suddenly feel at one with the drain having been so intimate with it. There was nothing for the next few moments, until the slightest trace of something sent prickles down my spine. The smell of egg. All of a sudden I was losing the feeling in my hands, my arms, my face, until it finally consumed my lungs. A great cloud of green gas erupted from the pipe, choking us all. “Fuck man”, someone yelled amid spluttering and coughing, “did you poke it in the right hole?” The lads holding the flap quickly dropped it. Suddenly realising that we’d got this fetishism idea all wrong, we decided to escape as quickly as possible. Unlike the guy in the book we’d read, we certainly weren’t awash with feelings of satisfaction. No, no. We were awash with the putrid smell of shitty egg! To conclude, then, and to offer our own contribution to the book. Inside this culvert beneath Darlington, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to peel back the history of the place, because there are too many cobwebs. You will get a sense of your own mortality under certain circumstances, but it will require a strong curry the night before. It’s unlikely that people with a fetish for infrastructure will get off on the architecture here, unless egg is your thing. And finally, the ‘winding tentacles’ are a load of bullshit; what they surely mean are spikey fucking brambles, and there’s nothing spectacular about those. As for the allure of mystery and all that, this explore is a culvert, so you should expect that you’ll probably reach the other, unspectacular, end at some point along the way. Unless, of course, there’s a fuck off grill at the other end – and then, the only mystery will be how long it’s going to take you to walk all the way back. Explored with Meek-Kune-Do. Faverdale back in the 1930s (Black Path is up on the top left hand side of the image, beneath the railway line) Darlington to Barnard Castle Line The Wagon Works 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17:
  20. History ‘Boxed In’ is likely to be part of the Etherley Dene Colliery. Although the specific history is rather vague, evidence suggests this was the closest mine in the nearby vicinity, and it was one that was spread over a considerable amount of land. Traditionally, coal was mined in the Bishop Auckland area for a long time, and there are numerous references to coal mining in the area in terms of place and street names. Therefore, the likelihood we ended up in a former coal mine is high. The colliery first opened sometime in the mid-1800s, when the industry was said to be booming, by R. Atherton. It was sold to Quarry Drift Colliery Ltd. in the 1920s, and later to the National Coal Board in 1947. The mine was closed in the early 1950s when the main coal seam dried up and it became unfeasible, economically, to continue operations at the site. Most of the mine was filled in in parts, for safety reasons, and its entrances all sealed. Throughout its entire history there were only five fatalities reported at this colliery; although, records are reported to be missing. All of the individuals who were in the register were either crushed to death or fell from a height. Our Version of Events After spending one too many nights smoking ‘reefer’ and drinking with the locals of Bishop Auckland, we heard rumours of a cave – ‘Smokies Cave’, as they all referred to it. After spending several minutes listening to them explaining how big the place was, and how you could still access multiple levels, we decided it would be worth seeking out. Unsure whether ‘Smokies Cave’ really existed or not, we set off late the next afternoon to find it. Unfortunately, though, as we had no transport, other than one bicycle, we ended up hiking seven miles to reach it. Much to our disappointment, after a fairly thorough search, we failed to find the elusive cave on this first excursion. A few days later, we decided to try again. This time we resolved not to dawdle and reached the area much more quickly. After a further thirty minutes walking aimlessly around a patch of woodland, we stumbled across a reasonably sized inflow concealed behind a large concrete wall. It was an old cylindrical structure constructed of large stones. Having deduced that the old mine may be accessible via this old culvert, and agreeing that this looked like a worthwhile explore anyway, we decided to enter the culvert. To begin with, it was an inviting explore, as it had a perfect stone lined floor and minimal stooping was required. What is more, there was very little water flow and no dirty debris, so having not brought waders with us we were happy chappies indeed. It took a good few minutes to pass through the nice stone culvert, until we reached an opening to our left, which we assumed was ‘Smokies Cave’. Unsure whether to proceed, as it looked incredibly wet and muddy, we fumbled with a ‘cigarette’ for a moment. Having already decided we would probably enter anyway, regardless of the dampness and muck, we took a quick break and smoked it to put off the inevitable for a moment longer – the unavoidable fact that we were going to get very dirty. Unfortunately, sparking up down here turned out to be a big mistake, and we soon found out why the cave is known as ‘Smokies Cave’. Lighting up down there creates a very dense cloud of smoke that stubbornly refuses to move, no matter how much wafting you try to do. Consequently, taking clear photographs becomes very difficult. In the end, we finished up with a set of snaps that looked as though they’d been taken down a steamy sewer. On top of the smoke issue we’d created, we quickly discovered that the cave was much wetter and muddier than we’d first anticipated. Furthermore, the ceiling height becomes very low at this point and it becomes necessary to crawl on all fours – both hands and knees. As we crawled on, passing remnants of condom wrappers and the odd cider can, we became increasingly desperate to find somewhere we could stand up. Fortunately, we reached this point after around ten metres or so, and from this point on we name this section ‘Pussy’s Point’. This is the most spacious part, boasting a head clearance of approximately 12ft, so you can stand up. For a good distance this section, which looks as though it dates back to the early twentieth century, is lined with bricks and it looks a little bit like it was originally a ventilation shaft. A lot of coal fragments are scattered across the floor in here. In many ways, it reminded us of the service tunnels in Standedge canal tunnel, where you disembark from the raft (if you enter via dinghy). Looking ahead, further down into the cave, a very small crevasse-looking type of thing was visible, and it was filled with rubbish and other pieces of shit. It looked very much like a dead end. This seemed like the sort of place people tend to avoid, unless you want to take a piss into it from the entrance point, especially since it was roughly four-foot-tall and four-foot-wide and involved slithering on your chest through the mud, wrappers and other dubious-looking things. For some unknown reason, however, we decided to risk catching gonorrhoea and other highly contagious things, and we went for it. The sludgy shit made strange sounds as we crawled on, but we tried to avoid looking at it. The smell was bad enough after all. We continued like this, winding left and right, for what felt like an eternity, until eventually the height of the ceiling began to increase. Five minutes later, down in the depths of the cave things started to feel much different. It began to feel like some sort of game of survival. Although it was much cleaner down here, the walls of the cave were changing in colours and textures, sort of like an LSD trip (we imagine), and it felt as though we were becoming lost in a different sort of world, far away from the surface. What was certain at this point, however, was the fact that we were definitely in a former mine since the ceiling was flat and there were random man-made mounds of debris here and there, which made crawling very difficult. A number of roughly made brick walls started to appear in this deeper section too, which made the whole things feel increasingly like a forgotten labyrinth. The height and width of the mine changes a lot down here; at some points, while lying flat on the floor, the ceiling is about two inches above you, and at others it is much higher. After two hundred metres or so of crawling along the ground, we reached a ramp that led down into a long straight tunnel. This tunnel, unfortunately, is filled up to the ceiling with water. While we were a little disappointed the explore was ending here, we were able to push aside our disappointment as we became captivated by a series of beautiful coal veins which were dotted everywhere around us. At this point, though, we started to notice that our heads were hurting, presumably due to a lack of oxygen, so we decided to make a hasty exit. As you might expect, it took us a lot less time getting out than it did getting inside! Back in the oxygen filled entrance to ‘Smokies Cave’ (the smoke had finally cleared now), we decided to continue our walk down the culvert. The fantastic stone continued the entire way, right up until the end where we reached a metal grate covering the exit. As you can imagine, this walk was blissful compared to the cave where we’d been forced to crawl. It didn’t take too long to bypass the metal grill, and slightly relieved to be in the fresh tasting air of the woodland we headed up the hill to where we guessed civilisation might be. A few free roaming horses passed us as we scrambled through thick brambles, which we thought was a little strange. Determined to find civilisation, however, we chose not to stop and mediate on the situation. Further up the hill, we edged past some sort of mini-rave tent gathering too, where the sound of Macky Gee tickled our ears, which, again, seemed rather out of the ordinary given where we were. At this point, we decided we’d had enough of Bishop Auckland’s strange occurrences, though, and keen to re-join a bit of normality we continued on without stopping, hoping to find a road or a building of some description. Explored with Ford Mayhem, Box, Husky and Beth. 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:
  21. History Shildon Friends Mission Hall was constructed in 1897, following the evangelising Quaker movement which thrived in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The movement is more widely known as the Religious Society of Friends; they had halls across Europe, America, Africa and Asia. The hall was likely to have been erected to accommodate rising patterns of worship, and to tackle widespread illiteracy among adults in the local community. Quakers became renowned for their strict focus on developing behaviour, their private lives and reflecting emotional purity in the light of God. In the past Quakers were also well-known for their opposition to slavery, teetotalism, plain dress and refusal to participate in war. Instead, many Quakers went on to found banks, such as Barclays and Lloyds, and British confectionery makers Cadburys, Rowntree’s and Fry’s. Our Version of Events Following a successful explore over in Gateshead, we decided to head to Shildon, having heard that there was an abandoned community hall of some description there. At first, access looked impossible; everything was sealed tighter than a Yorkshire man’s wallet. However, with a bit of perseverance, we were able to overcome this slight problem. Once inside, it was obvious that the building has been visited by the local idiots, as everything was everywhere it shouldn’t have been. Tables have been turned, chinaware smashed and cupboards ransacked. Despite this, there were still a few odd photogenic bits and bobs lying around. All in all the building is fairly small though, and it doesn’t take long to get through all of the rooms due to its size. Overall, we spent around twenty minutes inside, until we ran out of things to look at. Explored with Ford Mayhem, Meek-Kune-Do and Box. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17:
  22. History The New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company, originally known as the Otago Wool Stores, was built in stages between 1872 and 1885 by notable architects Mason and Wales and R.A. Lawson. The initial project was financed by an American merchant and businessman, Henry Driver, who settled in Dunedin in 1861 and established the Wool Stores company in 1871. The site was selected as the perfect location for a wool store because of its close proximity to the harbour. Although construction of the two-storey building was expected to be swift, progress was delayed due to concerns about the stability of the ground since the foundations would rest on part of the old sea bed. This problem was rectified by 1872 and by 1873 the first part of the building was completed. At the time, the tide would surround it at high water; however, over the years additional land has gradually been reclaimed, so the water’s edge now lies approximately forty metres away from the premises. By 1885 the premises comprised a main warehouse, several offices, a stable and engine house, and was described by many as being ‘the finest building of the kind in New Zealand’. As with other key structures in Dunedin, the main building itself is constructed of stone that was mined from quarries at the water of Leith and the Town Belt. Additional stone for the piers, windows and doors was excavated from quarries at Port Chalmers. As for the roof, it had thirty-nine skylights of rolled plate glass originally, and the remainder of the roof was lined with Bangor slates. Inside, at some point in its early history, a railway gauge was laid through the centre of the building to improve the efficiency of the service area. The tracks allowed goods to be moved to the main railway lines that ran parallel to the main building. A number of trapdoors and hoists were also installed, to move bales of wool between floors. Towards the end of the 1800s, the Otago Wool Stores were taken over by the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company, with Henry Driver appointed as the manager of the Dunedin branch. It is reported that the company was ‘a prominent London-based pastoral finance concern’ with links to the Bank of New Zealand and the Colonial Bank of New Zealand. At the time, it was one of the largest companies in New Zealand and one of the key sellers and distributors of wool, grain, animal produce and other stock. Being a London based company also meant that money could be borrowed and distributed more easily. After purchasing the building, the Loan and Mercantile Agency Company altered the design of the premises so that a number of ‘handsome, classically-styled’ offices could be housed inside. During this time the roof was also altered, and a raised saw-tooth design was selected to replace the original skylights and slate tiles. The New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company owned the building up until 1961. Following a financial crisis throughout the country, and the fact that there were too many stock and station agents (which were warranted because railways and roads were still being built across New Zealand, and such companies were vital in managing the transportation of goods to and from farms) the company merged with Dalgety, becoming Dalgety & New Zealand Loan Ltd. From the 1960s onwards, Stewart’s Transport purchased and occupied the building. Various alterations were made inside at a cost of $31,000, to create 6,000ft of office space and a board room. The original 100,000 square feet of warehouse space was retained. In later years, the upper storey was let to a clothing manufacturer, Sew Hoy and Sons Ltd., and the ceiling space to an indoor go-karting company who also set up a small arcade in parts of the ground floor of the premises. The go-karting business was the last to vacate the building at some point between 2008 and 2010. Since the early 2000s, though, the building as a whole has fallen into a dilapidated state. One by one its windows were gradually boarded up, and the masonry has started to crumble in several places. Currently, the future of the building remains uncertain; although, there is evidence that some restoration work has been carried out in the last few years. Our Version of Events Dunedin’s a place that’s often described as still being a bit ‘Wild West’. The main shopping precinct, for instance, is found down the main road of the city where there are old-fashioned shop fronts with canopied pedestrian walkways on either side. The chances of catching a train are so slim you’d find it easier to find a horse to ride to the next town or city. And beneath the surface and overall façade, much of the architecture is wooden and very colonial. In many ways then, the former New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company building fits the general theme that’s going on rather well, as it too has a certain Wild West feel about it. So, bearing that in mind, we can continue with the story. It was just before midnight, when two silhouetted riders appeared on the horizon. Their horses whined and reared; they were tired after a hard night of urbexing and in desperate need of rest. Their riders, however, were keen for one last explore, so they spurred their animals forward, towards the remains of the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company. Outside the building, the pair quickly dismounted and tied up their faithful steeds: Passing Wind and Mary Hinge. Their boots clanked loudly against the ground as they walked towards a nearby window. Pulling out his six-shooter, Nillskill blasted it three times. Access isn’t a problem when you carry around Smith and Weston Schofields and Winchesters. At this point, though, we should warn new ‘urbexers’ that carrying around such equipment counts as being equipped if caught by the police, so it’s likely you’ll get arrested for breaking and entering. Or worse, you’ll be done for being caught in an enclosed space with ‘tools’. Anyway, back to the story. With the window pane successfully shattered, the pair of dusty desperados climbed through the wooden frame with relative ease. Inside, the building was still. Only the curtain by the window stirred the silence as it flapped in the breeze. Undeterred, however, the pair moved on into the corridor. Their boots resounded on the hard wooden floorboards. But otherwise, the eerie silence prevailed. However, turning the next corner revealed something unexpected. The pair found themselves inside some sort of make-shift saloon, called Rosie O’Greedy’s Bad Time Bar. Without further ado they demanded whisky, and using a deep husky tone advised the bar tender to leave the bottle. Ignoring the no-smoking sign displayed prominently over the bar, Nillskill pulled a small packet of matches from his saddle bag. He withdrew a single match and in one swift motion brushed it against the hard stubble on his face. The match erupted, baring a bright orange flame. Each of the bandits leaned in over the match in turn, using it to light their partagas (strong Cuban cigars, for all those English pipe smoking folk reading this report. I say, what ho! Pip pip). A cloud of thick smoke filled the room. For a while the pair laid down their Nikon D3100s, and other gadgetry, choosing instead to revel in the moment. After several undisturbed moments of smoking, bucket spitting and drinking, a spicy little thing dressed in a black corset and matching suspenders wandered over. Her auburn hair was long and wavy. She walked over to Nillskill and, resting her foot on the base of his stool, started to adjust her stocking. Extending her other arm over the bar, she reached for the ashtray. For a brief moment, she held her cigarette holder above it, until finally she gave it two firm taps causing the ash to fall. She leaned over to Nillskill and whispered into his ear, seductively. The other desperado couldn’t quite hear what she was saying, so had to piece together the information he could hear: ‘upstairs… $18 dollars… whips and chains… handcuffs… bad boy…’. In the end he got the gist of the conversation. All of a sudden, however, before this report could become anymore raunchy, the Wild Bunch burst through the doors of the saloon. Captain Bill, Black Jack, Big Jim, Emmett Tibbs and Indian Joe entered the room. New on the block they were trendy kids who prefer to post video reports. Each of them were wearing ‘proper’ urbex attire: clown masks covered their faces, and they each wore dark hoodies – with their hoods up. Captain Bill spoke first, he seemed to be their leader, while the others hastily updated their Instagram accounts and Twitter feeds. “This urbex ain’t big enough for the both of us, WildBoyz”, he growled. Nillskill spat into the bucket one last time, and pushed the scantily clad whore to one side. She would have to wait until later. As he moved he withdrew his tripod and lobbed it in their general direction. It caught Emmett Tibbs on the side of the head, smashing into his GoPro which, in turn, caused him to stumble. It did no damage unfortunately, and merely served to piss the Wild Bunch off even further. Each of them withdrew their pistols and a shootout ensued. WildBoyz leapt behind the bar, taking cover to avoid the onslaught. Bullets shattered the bottles above them, and liquor splashed and erupted everywhere. A mirror suddenly exploded, covering the sheltering pair in jagged shards of glass. Defending themselves, they returned fire, releasing a volley of rounds toward the Wild Bunch. Emmett Tibbs, the unlucky bastard, caught another blow, this time to his chest. Blood and other essential inside bits of him exploded from his chest. He collapsed knees first, before finally crumpling to the ground in a growing pool of crimson blood. Using Tibbs as a distraction, as Black Jack and Indian Joe were desperately trying to send a Snapchat of the chaotic scene, WildBoyz decided to move. The pair raced towards a nearby trapdoor and hurled themselves inside. Everything around them turned dark as they fell for what felt like an eternity. They hit the ground with a loud crash, but with little time to check for injury continued on towards an empty mine cart. They’d landed in the cellar of the building, and decided that their best means of escape was the old railway network. Above them, as they leapt inside the cart, Captain Bill and his gang fired their pistols and rifles like frenzied wild men. They too were starting to jump into the cellar though, so the two bandits didn’t have long. Nillskill fired a round at a nearby lever and the cart they were in slowly started to move. It creaked and rumbled loudly as it gradually picked up speed along the rusted tracks. Several moments later and WildBoyz were being pursued by the Wild Bunch, who had found a second cart. Bullets and camera lenses whizzed past heads, and sparks sprang from the tracks as the carts flew around tight bends in the depths of the cellar. Aiming his pistol carefully, Nillskill’s trusty partner fired a shot. It caught Big Jim right smack in the face. Jim’s clown mask exploded into hundreds of tiny pieces, along with his face. Despite Jim’s unfortunate end, the Wild Bunch continued their pursuit. With the end of the line in sight, the two desperados needed a distraction to shake the remaining Wild Bunch boys. With some quick thinking, Nillskill, using the flash on his camera to temporarily stun the pursuers, allowed his partner to fire several more rounds and throw a stick of ACME TNT. Unfortunately, all of the rounds missed, but, unexpectedly, Indian Joe caught the TNT. Unsure what the strange sparkling stick was, because he was born and raised out in the desolate plains of Sunderland, where the way of life is more culturally deprived, he mistook the stick for a candle. Captain Bill tried desperately to wrestle the stick from Joe, but he wasn’t having any of it. He smashed Bill squarely on the jaw with the butt of his Winchester lever-action repeating rifle, and sent him tumbling over the side of the cart. Bill screamed, but quickly disappeared from sight as the carts rocketed towards the very end of the track. Only his clown mask hovered in the air for a second, before it too tumbled into the abyss below. Suddenly, an eruption of flame and smoke appeared from the Wild Bunch’s cart. It exploded and sent shards of metal and debris towards WildBoyz. The pair ducked, as a large chunk of railway sleeper sailed across their heads. Behind them, where the second cart had been, lay splinters of metal and wood and the crumpled remains of Indian Joe and Black Jack. Right now, Jack really was was living up to his name. Before they could stare in awe any longer, however, the first cart smashed into a solid wooden barrier – they had reached the end of the line. Both explorers were flung into the air as their cart broke apart. They landed with a crash into a small building at the far end of the cellar. The pair laid on the floor, surrounded by debris and a cloud of dust, until the silhouette of a small man appeared before them. It was Deputy Sheriff Kum Hia Nao. As acting security for the site, he demanded to know what the pair were doing. After explaining that they were there only to take photos, Kum Hia Nao decided to escort them off the premises, making it clear to them both that they were lucky the police hadn’t been called for their wily act of trespass. He did, however, thank them profusely for ridding him of the five clowns that had been taking bondage photos of each other while tied to chairs for the past few nights. Explored with Nillskill. *There may be several slight exaggerations in this version of events. The New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company 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:
  23. History The construction of Caversham Tunnel, now a disused railway tunnel that was cut through a solid sandstone embankment, began in September 1871 in the Kaikorai Valley. Cutting work began on the Caversham side around the same time, but construction of that side of the tunnel did not begin until March 1872. Both sides were joined in almost perfect alignment on 26th September 1872. The 865-metre-long tunnel was fully completed by late February 1873, and a celebratory dinner was held to commemorate the occasion. The tunnel was officially opened for service by Sir Julius Vogel, the eighth premier of New Zealand (prime minister), in December 1873. A party made the first excursion of the line from Dunedin to the Green Island terminus which was located near the coal pits of Messrs Sampson and Brown. A celebratory luncheon was held in a nearby field on the same day. The first passenger service was run on the line in July 1874, from Dunedin to Green Island terminus. A one-way ticket cost fourpence, while a return-journey cost sixpence. Additional links, such as one to Balclutha via the Chain Hills, were later opened at the end of the 1870s. For the time it was operational, however, the tunnel is said to have claimed a total of three lives. In 1876, a Green Island police constable named Henry Vernon was hit by a train while walking through the tunnel. Later, in 1897, a farmer named Kenneth Kennedy fell from a train while it was passing through. And finally, in 1900 an assistant guard named Robert Burns slipped from the train while moving between carriages in complete darkness inside the tunnel. In spite of the seemingly high mortality rate, the service was used up until 1910, when a larger replacement dual line took over all rail traffic. The replacement line sits a few hundred metres away from the original Caversham Tunnel. Over the next few years the tunnel remained closed to the public and was almost forgotten, until there was a flood in 1923. Unfortunately, the deep cutting and tunnel provided a drainage conduit for the Kaikorai Stream which had burst its banks. As a result, the water was guided straight into the large flat areas of South Dunedin. Hundreds of people were forced to evacuate their homes, and many lost valuable possessions. It is reported that drainage issues with the tunnel were addressed at the outset of World War Two, when the tunnel was fitted out as an air raid shelter that could be used by the public in the event of an attack. After the war, ownership of the tunnel passed to the council. It was used during the sixties to lay electrical cables and sewage lines; however, the structure itself has since been left to slowly deteriorate. Lacking any means of proper drainage has resulted in the tunnel filling with thick mud and water, and it is now deemed a dangerous structure. To keep people out, the council erected a barbed wire fence around the Kaikorai Valley side, and a large gate on the Caversham portal. Although there have been talks to convert the tunnel into a pedestrian walk/cycleway, with locals offering to pay for the lighting, all formal proposal have been rejected due to ‘theoretical cost estimates’ and ‘drainage problems’. Our Version of Events After a long night of drinking ale and whisky, we were hungover as fuck as we made our way over to Caversham to seek out the legendary ‘secret tunnel of Dunedin’. According to local legend, the tunnel was said to be nestled among trees and concealed by the motorway. It took a fair bit of faffing around to find the exact location of the tunnel, and a little bit of running along the motorway (thankfully the motorways here are a lot different to European ones). With no footpath and a sharp drop to our right, we had to carefully choose a quiet moment and hit legs. With our vision slightly blurred, and everything swaying ever so slightly, we tried to keep our focus on the white painted line on the road as we jogged. With the taste of ale steadily returning to our mouths, jogging is all we could manage. By the time we reached the entrance to the tunnel, sweat was dripping from us. The post-alcohol effect was in full swing, but we were keen to get the tunnel under our belts. I stood in front of the wire fence and gazed up at the barbed wire fixed across the top for a while. I was waiting for it to stop moving so I could perhaps think about climbing over. The fence was spinning a little bit too, and no matter how hard we held it, it just wouldn’t stop moving. Eventually, though, we managed to get onto the other side. We headed down a set of old decayed wooden steps. They were covered in foliage and, consequently, we stumbled our way down them as some of them had completely disappeared altogether. At the bottom we reached a large number of pipes poking up from the floor, and a small hut just to the left of us. These, as we quickly discovered seemed to be part of Dunedin’s sewage system. Unfortunately, it was at that precise moment we became sober enough to notice the bubble-guts syndrome had begun. We were going to have to make this a quick explore, before nine pints of arse soup demanded to be set free from the trap doors. Stumbling over sewage pipes seemed to bring the sensation on ever more, so it was time to squeeze the cheeks together, tightly. One slight stagger over a pipe or tree root and that would be it. Disaster. Entering the tunnel itself wasn’t difficult from here. But, the reports about the mud certainly don’t exaggerate. The sludge was incredibly sticky and we very nearly lost our boots to it. The floor in the first sections resembled a swamp, and in parts was almost at welly breaching point. It’s was almost as if the sewage pipes were leaking… Things got a little easier further on though, for some of us. With the help of a very handy handrail on the right hand wall, The Mexican Bandit was able to climb onto a ledge of raised mud that seemed to have solidified. Using the slightly rubbery feeling ‘handrail’, which was caked in years of slimy grime, he made quicker progress. He continued like this for quite a few metres, leaving us swamp dwellers far behind, until something caught his eye. Squinting, to properly focus his vision in the dark conditions, he could make out a sign plastered onto the ‘handrail’. It read either ‘DANGER 600 VOLTS’, or ‘6000’. In the heat of the moment, his vision was playing tricks on him, adding zeros to the situation, but he swiftly let go in any case. Apparently wellies are excellent at preventing electrocution, but I guess he didn’t want to test that theory out. For the most part, Caversham Tunnel is a bit samey throughout. It’s a very different style to the railway tunnels we have in England though, so it felt quite unique being all natural rock rather than Victorian brick. There was a small brick section around 400 metres into the tunnel though, and for a very brief moment excitement made the hangover subside. Upon discovering that the brick section was more like an underground bridge, however, disappointment set in and the battle to hold the ale inside ensued once more. There were other interesting features of course, such as the millions of seashells which littered the floor (the swamp ends halfway through, and the remainder of the tunnel is relatively dry). They were all different shapes and sizes, but I have no idea why they were there. The final interesting feature to add to the growing list would be the sewer we found that runs beneath the main passageway. We’d managed to stumble across a semi-broken lid, so decided to have a peek inside to see if there was anything interesting. And behold, there was: Dunedin’s shit floating about right beneath our feet. And to be perfectly honest, whatever you’ve been eating Dunedin, you need to stop… Explored with Nillskill and The Mexican Bandit. South Dunedin Flood (1923) 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14:
  24. History The Stratford Riverside (an apartment block) is a ‘prestigious’ new riverside development situated on the Waterworks River, near the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Once fully completed the project will be 29 storeys high and it will have a ‘striking’ glass façade. The building, which features balconies/terraces in every one of its 201 apartments, will offer residents fantastic views of London’s skyline, where it is possible to view the financial powerhouses of the British economy to the west, and the modern towers of Canary Warf to the south. Alternatively, people can also use the expansive roof garden on the 7th floor to gaze out at the city. Additional features of the development include a resident’s only gymnasium, a hotel-styled foyer with concierge and a café/bar. The developers describe the building as a ‘world of luxury’, suggesting that it will quickly become an enviable address in one of London’s fastest growing areas. Stratford itself is said to be a vibrant district of London, which offers everything you need for a ‘superior lifestyle’. For anyone who is interested, prices for a two-bedroom apartment start from £465,000, while three bedroom dwellings start from £680,000. Our Version of Events Looking for another night of fun in London, we decided to have a wander around Stratford.We’d noticed some development going on over that way a few evenings earlier, so thought it was worth a look around. After spending a few moments eying up various sites, we finally settled on the Stratford Riverside development; it looked reasonably high, and offered views over the Olympic Stadium. As always, it took a little time to figure out how to get onsite. Eventually, though, we found a suitable way into the site and ended up inside some sort of bush. As it turned out, this wasn’t the best way inside and Mayhem quickly discovered that the bush wasn’t weight bearing. There was a brief moment it seemed to take his weight, but a second later several large cracks erupted from beneath him and he was sent tumbled downwards. His life flashed before his eyes as he plummeted towards the ground below, and, as he told us later, he could see the bush above him steadily disappear as it grew smaller and smaller, as the distance between it and himself grew larger. Mayhem landed with a sudden thud, into an enormous pit of thorns. Feeling for his arms, legs and other essential parts, to check everything was where it was supposed to be, he glanced around to see where he was. As he began to come to his senses, he quickly realised that the fall had been a whopping metre. He could see a large hole in the bush above with moonlight pouring through. He was lucky to be alive. Using the light to find a way out, he attempted to crawl out of the pit where there were fewer thorns. A sudden pain shot through his body as he tried to move. Quickly he reached for his arse and it was then that he found a large spikey thorn wedged between his crack. Taking in several deep breathes, he grasped it firmly between both hands it gave it a good yank. A stifled scream escaped his tensed lips as the barbs very nearly extended the diameter of his anus. After breathing a sigh of relief, he managed to crawl his way out of the bush to join the rest of us who were waiting patiently. Next, we raced over to the buildings just ahead of us. At least most of us raced there; those less fortunate were forced to adopt a cowboy strut with their legs wide enough apart to prevent chafing. A few moments later and we were all gathered as the base of the building. From here we had to do a fair bit of ducking, a little bit of dodging and some diving to get to the top of the Riverside development. Had we been wearing leopard-skin leotards and headbands, we would have looked an 80s aerobics class in full swing. At the top of the Riverside development we immediately set about taking photographs. The view was pretty good, and once again we could see for miles. Unfortunately, it was blowing an absolute gale up on the rooftop, meaning it was hard to keep the tripods steady. It was brass monkeys up there too, so we didn’t stick around for too long. After facing the blizzards and hurricane force winds that were battering us harder than a granny with a washing bat, it wasn’t long before we were forced to retreat. In the end, we’ve managed to salvage some of the shots, but we were a little disappointed with them overall. Explored with Ford Mayhem, Slayaaaa and two anonymous individuals. Stratford Riverside 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13:
  25. History Chelmsford is the county town of Essex; it was granted city status in 2012 and is now a key location for redevelopment. The City Park West site is one of those developments, located on the land that was home to the Anglia Ruskin University Central Campus. Most of the campus was demolished in 2010 and since then a number of residential and commercial buildings have begun to appear in its place. Three historic buildings still remain and have been completely refurbished: The Anne Knight, Frederick Chancellor and Law buildings. The site was specifically selected as it is adjacent to the train station, and reasonably close to the bus depot. The company, Genesis, managed to obtain planning permission for the development. As far as their plans go, City Park West will be a contemporary mixed tenure build with one and two bedroom apartments on offer, along with three additional townhouses that will be available to rent. The company suggest that the ‘state-of-the-art’ apartments will feature all the style and quality customers are looking for. Some of these features include balconies, designer kitchens and dimmer lighting controls throughout each property. It is expected that over five hundred homes will be available when the project is finally complete. Additional office, retail and community units will be constructed in phase two of the development. Our Version of Events It was a mild night in the City of Chelmsford, just perfect for a spot of climbing. With a decent sized white crane in mind, we met up with Slayaaaa (and his friend), who we’d already arranged to meet up with a few days earlier, and made our way over to the City Park West construction site. Without too much fucking around, we managed to get onto the site and were instantly greeted by thousands of tons of fresh concrete. We did our best to stick to the designated safety paths, but there may be an accidental footprint here and there. We apologise, Genesis, it was dark and we didn’t fancy shining our torches around for fear that you might try to stop us climbing your crane. If it’s any consolation it was a very deep wet patch, so the next day I woke up to find that my shoe had transformed into something that’s now pretty heavy duty. Anyway, after navigating our way through the concrete swamp, we finally managed to reach the base of the crane. Looking at the tall structure close up, it became obvious quite quickly that this was one of the cheaper pieces of shit. The ladders were light and bendy, and once we began our ascent the entire structure felt as though it was moving ever so slightly. After a long, non-stop, climb upwards we emerged at the top, slightly breathless. I always forget about the problems a tripod can pose when trying to climb anything, and as usual it was a right bastard the entire way up, catching itself on every possible piece of metal there was to get caught on. Nonetheless, as we stood for a quick moment, looking over of Chelmsford as we caught our breath, we were greeted by fantastic views, so the all the problems on the ladder were instantly forgotten. All in all, it wasn’t the largest crane in the world, and it was a little cramped on top, but I guess that was to be expected. We set about taking as many snaps as possible for the first fifteen minutes or so. After that we pissed about a bit on the rear ballast (it functioned well as a decent seat) and main jib, and spent a fair amount of time just taking in the view. As always, it didn’t take too long to get back down. Even the concrete swamp seemed easier to traverse as we were making our exit. Explored with Slayaaaa. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21:

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