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  1. History Bastion Point, also known as Kohimarama, is an area of land that overlooks Waitemata Harbour, in Auckland. Originally, the land was occupied by Ngāti Whātua, a large Māori tribe consisting of four sub-tribes that settled in Tāmaki. However, when Western colonisation of New Zealand occurred, the land was ‘bought’ and confiscated by the New Zealand Government for ‘public works and development’. However, in 1895, with the threat of a Russian attack imminent, the New Zealand Government decided to build a military outpost at Bastion Point. The area of land had a commanding and strategic advantage against any warships entering the harbour below. Once completed in 1886, the fort, which was named Fort Bastion, had two disappearing guns and two six pounders, with underground passages connecting each of the sites together. However, the Russian threat waned by the 1920s and this resulted in the fort being abandoned. Fort Bastion was reactivated in the 1940s, following the outbreak of World War Two. However, as a memorial had been built over the former artillery storage tunnels, the position of the battery was moved slightly. The fort was then fitted with twelve pounder guns, which were later replaced with six pounders, and two guns at water level (where the Tamaki Yacht Club now sits). A large boom that linked Torpedo Bay with Bastion Point was also placed across the harbour to prevent enemy submarines from reaching Auckland. The last things to be added to the renovated fort were an anti-aircraft battery, three searchlight emplacements, an observation post, a radar station and a camp to house the expanding military personnel required to man the new installations. Soon after the war, Fort Bastion was abandoned once again. Over the years some sections of the site were demolished to make way for a memorial garden. The remaining parts of the fort fell into a state of disrepair and were gradually lost as the surrounding bush shrouded them. The remainder of the fort survived because little development work went on in the area owing to territory disputes that eventually culminated in the 1970s. Fierce arguments over the ownership of the land arose as the Ngāti Whātua tribe wanted the area handing back. The tribe did manage to occupy the land for five-hundred and seven days at one point, but the New Zealand army were sent in to forcibly remove the protesters. In the end, two-hundred and twenty-two of them were arrested. Despite the eviction, though, the land was eventually placed under Māori ownership in the 1980s. It was handed to the Ngāti Whātua tribe, along with some financial compensation. Since then, little interest in the fort has been shown; therefore, it remains neglected and forgotten. Our Version of Events After a fairly successful day exploring Auckland, we decided to meet up with another explorer who knew about some old tunnels that existed over near Kohimarama – one of the city’s suburbs. Apparently, very few people know about their existence because they are well hidden in the bush, so it seemed like a good idea to go check them out. It didn’t take too long to drive across the city to Kohimarama. From there, we ditched the cars and climbed over a small fence to get into the bush. At the tree borderline, you could just make out the remains of an old concrete staircase, but it was very easy to miss if you happened just to be passing by. We followed the staircase, which was harder to ascend than we initially thought due to the dense vegetation. The stairs started to disappear after a while too; they were absolutely caked in moist earth and dead foliage. The climb continued until we reached a large block of concrete that was heavily worn and cracked. Then we traversed slightly to the right to get behind it, to reach a small cave-like opening. The portal to the old tunnels wasn’t what we were expecting at all. It looked very similar to the coal mine we found in Bishop Auckland – bloody tiny! Nevertheless, our new friend, René, told us that the tunnels were inside, so, leading the way, he cracked on and disappeared into the hole. We followed him, with our fingers tightly crossed in hope that what we were about to find was going to be worth it. The first few metres were tough going with bottles of beer in hand, as it was tight and muddy. After that, though, the cave started to transform into a crude concrete tunnel. The concrete tunnel led us into a large chamber that was supported by three large columns and a long metal girder. We crossed the room quickly because it was incredibly hot inside, and headed into another passage that gradually turned to the right. At the end of it, we discovered a collapsed section of the fort and a small room to the right, behind an iron door. And that was all there was to see, unfortunately. However, even though the explore turned out to be a short one, it was still cool to be able to stand in the remnants of Fort Bastion. It always amazes us how this sort of stuff manages to survive, despite being abandoned for well over seventy years. Explored with Nillskill, Nadita and René. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9:
  2. History “Originally the station [Otahuhu A] was designed to be maintenance free but this proved to be a fallacy early on. Although we all knew very little about gas turbines, we learnt quickly that there was a great team environment” (Allen Morrison, former generation technician). Otahuhu Power Station is located in Otara, in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. The site holds two decommissioned plants: Otahuhu A and Otahuhu B. Otahuhu A, a gas turbine plant, was constructed in the 1960s. When it became operational in 1968, it had four 45 MW gas turbine units and, for three years, it contained the largest turbines in Australasia. Two additional units using Rolls-Royce Olympus gas turbines were installed in 1978, to cope with the demands of a rapidly expanding city. The turbines in Otahuhu A were retired from electricity generation in the late 1990s. However, they remained in service to provide reactive power to Transpower NZ, the owner of the national grid. Active power is the energy used to power our homes and various devices, while reactive power is used to regulate voltage in an electrical power system. This prevents damage, such as the overheating of generators and motors, reduces transmission losses and helps to maintain the ability of the system to withstand and prevent voltage collapse. The turbines were finally decommissioned in November 2013. The Otahuhu B site was commissioned in January 2000 at a cost of $350 million. It was a natural gas combined cycle plant that used a Siemens V94.3A(2) gas turbine in single-shaft configuration. When it was first commissioned, the plant capacity was 385 MW; however, upgrades to the equipment had to be made in 2005 to increase the amount of electricity being produced by the plant. It’s capacity subsequently increased to 404 MW. Otahuhu B was still a relatively new plant when it closed its doors in September 2015 (it had only been run for half of its expected life). Sadly, of the thirty-three people working at the plant, fifteen were left without jobs, while the rest were transferred to other Contact sites. According to Contact Energy, the former owners of the site, the plant was turned off due to the increasing development of renewable energy across New Zealand, such as the new Te Mihi geothermal power station. One report also indicated that ‘New Zealand has a surplus of generating capacity at the moment and this means that generators have less control of the price. To make money they need to keep the system on the edge of a shortage. Shutting down Otahuhu is consistent with this objective.’ Otahuhu Power Station was sold to Stonehill Property Trust for $30 million in February 2016. Both plants are due to be cleaned of asbestos, dismantled and sold off as scrap. It is expected that the land will eventually be sold off for commercial and industrial use. Our Version of Events It recently came to our attention that the old Otahuhu Power Plant closed its doors back in 2015 and is now due to be demolished, so we decided to go have a wee look. Having heard that demo work was already in progress, though, we weren’t expecting to find much, especially after catching a rumour about the police blowing up the control room as part of a training exercise. Our first glimpses of the site showed our speculations to be accurate. Site A, the oldest part of the power station, is currently semi-demolished and it has many, many holes in it. Obviously, this made accessing it very easy, but we were a bit disappointed to find we’d missed out on our chance to see the turbines. Nevertheless, as with most power stations, there was still plenty of stuff lying around, so it wasn’t a complete waste of a journey. The control room was certainly interesting too, for it did indeed look like someone had lobbed a few grenades around in there. Nevertheless, after spending a good hour on the site, we decided we’d revisit the site during the day the following day, as it was difficult to take photos and not get caught waving torches around – especially when the building didn’t have much of a roof left. We returned the next day and gathered the snaps we’d been after. Then, we decided to head over to site B, the newer plant. At this point, we weren’t sure whether the site was closed or not, since there were two car parks nearby and they were full of cars. What is more, all of the lights were still on, and a few machines were still casually humming away. Yet, despite having initial reservations, we crept onto the site, albeit very slowly. The entire place looked like a live power station; it seemed as though it could be put back into operation tomorrow, and it felt like we were going to accidently bump into someone – a worker or security guard – at any moment. There was some evidence that demolition work might have begun from the outside, or at least some redecoration work, but we really weren’t sure which at this point. We must have been on the second site around two minutes before we noticed that we may have wandered directly into the path of a camera. That’s what worrying about bumping into workers does to you… Nevertheless, rather than run away we decided it would be worth the risk to crack on and get inside the main building. After all, opportunities like this only come round every so often. So, that’s what we did. In the end, we’re glad we did because inside we found ourselves surrounded by fine quality industrial porn. We spent the next forty minutes or so convinced security would be onto us at any moment, so every single sound made us stop in our tracks. As it turned out, though, no one turned up to give us a bollocking and escort us off site, so, all in all, it ended up being a great explore. Explored with Nillskill. Otahuhu A 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: Otahuhu B 29: 30: 31: 32: 33: 34: 35: 36: 37: 38: 39: 40: 41: 42: 43: 44: 45: 46:
  3. History “The association of motorcycles with LSD is no accident of publicity. They are both a means to an end, to the place of definitions.” (Hunter S. Thompson). As far as we are aware, the history of this location remains mostly unknown. In terms of the architecture, the building is similar to most houses across New Zealand; it is a wooden structure with a corrugated metal roof. There is a bit of evidence within the house, and on a couple of forums, that suggests the building was a former biker gang clubhouse. Although we found a remembrance card inside the premises with the Plimmerton Motorcycle Club (a group located just outside Wellington) logo on the back, it is likely the house belonged to one of the one percenter motorcycle clubs, as it is unusual for the ninety-nine percenters to have gang houses in the middle of nowhere that are full of beds, booze and drugs. There is also a considerable 207 kilometre distance between the house and Plimmerton. One percenter gangs emerged after the Second World War, when there was an abundance of ex-military Harley Davidson motorcycles and many ex-servicemen looking for brotherhood and the same rush found in battle. Since the 1940s the ‘1%’ have spread and formed different chapters across the world, including New Zealand, and they are famous for being outlaws. The members of one percenter gangs normally wear an identical patch on the back of their jackets, and they gain their reputations through violence, smuggling drugs and extortion. Our Version of Events All in all, this was a great little explore. From the outside, the place looked like an absolute shithole, and from the inside the condition we even skankier. However, we have a very keen interest in motorcycles, so the moment we realised we were standing in some kind of old biker den, the explore instantly became an epic (in our minds anyway). We started in the kitchen to begin with, where we could see a couple of old ammunition boxes, empty moonshine bottles and a remembrance card honouring Ricky (Snake) Howse (AKA, The Snakester). Judging by his photograph on the cover of the card, he was a real, Harley-ridin’, badass. The house reeked of dirty bikers, with the distinct smells of oil and old leather lingering in our nostrils. Even Throttle, Modo and Vinnie seemed to have moved in, happily chilling in the fridge that was just to the left of us. Next, we stepped into the corridor. This led to a couple of single bedrooms that were heavily decorated with images of motorbikes, scantily-clad women and old biker signage. One of the bedrooms had a fair bit of gear it in, including some old biker clothing, and it gave us the overall impression that it was perhaps the gang leader’s dirty den. The next room along was similarly decorated, but it was virtually empty in terms of furniture. The best room was still to come, though, and this was the next one along. We peered inside from the doorway and discovered a heavily decayed room with the remnants of nine old beds. The smell was bloody awful, but it was cool to imagine that this is where the gang once slept. Out from the troop room, there was a large communal area fitted out with several chairs, sofas and a dead sheep. Whatever happened to the sheep wasn’t pleasant either. It was spread across a large proportion of the floor and across an armchair near the window. We guess the bikers must have had mutton stew for their last supper. Just behind the seating area was a bar space too – it looked perfect after a day’s hard riding. All in all, the place wasn’t huge, but there was plenty inside to keep us occupied for a good while. After checking out the main house we had a quick wander over to two exterior sheds too, in the hoping we might find a couple of old Harleys, or some parts at least. However, we weren’t so fortunate. The wooden structure turned out to be some sort of animal holding room – presumably for the killer dogs that likely guarded the premises. Explored with Nillskill. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22:
  4. History This report is based on a ‘Californian’ bungalow – a style that is popular in New Zealand – that was built in the 1930s. It lies in the heart of the city of Wellington and as an ‘untouched’, ‘fully furnished property’ has been valued as being worth half a million dollars ($540,000). However, in its current condition the roof is no longer attached to the walls and it has been deemed earthquake prone. A brick wall was also removed for safety reasons following a recent earthquake as it was adjacent to a pedestrian walkway. What this means is that potential buyers cannot view the interior, by order of the City Council. Nevertheless, it is anticipated that the premises will still be sold and most likely demolished to make way for a new build. It is reported that an elderly woman has owned and lived in the property since 1966, but she vacated the premises at the end of 2016. Little is known about the woman; although one report suggests she was once a nurse. Several neighbours recall seeing the woman outside on the porch of the house feeding a tabby cat. Others say they often saw her sitting outside in her car. Sadly, what happened to the woman remains unknown. Our Version of Events It was eleven o’clock and we were stood opposite a dilapidated looking house on the other side of the street. All the doors and windows were heavily boarded, so we weren’t quite sure how we were going to get inside. We crossed the road, waited several seconds for a couple of people to pass us, then hopped a low wall to get into the alleyway that runs alongside the property.We figured if there was going to be any form of access it was probably going to be found around the back. Next, following a bit of creative thinking, wefound ourselves inching our way through a tight gap that we could just barely fit inside. The passageway we’d discovered was filled with years of grime and other things we’d rather not think about, and the air was incredibly stale and harsh against our lungs. After what felt like a lifetime of crawling flat against the foundations, we emerged through the floorboards and found ourselves inside some kind of cupboard. Rather disappointingly, no relief from the bad air was to be found though as the room absolutely reeked of the rich stench of piss. Gagging slightly, we hurried to pull ourselves out of the hole so we could stand up and try to find a room with better air quality. We promptly left the cupboard and found ourselves standing in the main corridor of the house. Since the lights were on, we could see into most of the rooms from here. We were thankful the lights were on too because the entire property was practically bursting with utter shit. At this point, we attempted to set up our tripods, but this was a challenge in itself since there wasn’t much room to put them anywhere. But, we somehow managed it and so, being very careful not to touch anything for fear of catching something incurable, we cracked on and started to explore the house a bit. At this point, though, we decided we’d make the whole endeavour a quick one. If anything, the heavy smell of piss was getting worse; it was so bad in the corridor it brought tears to our eyes. There was certainly plenty to see inside the building, especially in the dining/kitchen area, and it would have been great to have learned more about the previous owner to help preserve her history, but the very dated food substances we stumbled across put us off a wee bit. Fifteen minutes later, feeling satisfied that we’d seen everything there was to see, we were pretty keen to get back in the filthy hole again. There were a lot of old photographs and pieces of documentation lying around that gave some insight into who the old lady was, but in the end the smell became unbearable. In hindsight, it smelt a bit like there sewage pipes had malfunctioned. Anyway, putting that thought aside, we emerged back on the street in record time. The tight squeeze that had previously seemed challenging was in fact a doddle. After that we felt pretty damn dirty – the level of dirtiness you feel when you’ve been exploring non-stop for several days – so we headed off in search of an industrial car wash. Explored with Nillskill. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17:
  5. History ‘Legend has it that McLean, then aged nearly eighty, walked in to the offices of England Brothers Architects and told the clerk he wanted the plan of a house. He was offered the blueprint of a conventional four-roomed cottage popular at the time. McLean retorted abruptly – “Not four rooms, but FORTY!” He was then ushered into the office of R. W. England.’ (Christchurch City Council). McLean’s Mansion, formerly known as Holly Lea, is a Category 1 heritage building that was designed by Robert England. It was built for the seventy-eight-year-old Scottish philanthropist, Allan McLean, between April 1899 and September 1900 by Rennie and Pearce Builders. Once it was completed it became, at the time, the largest wooden residential structure in New Zealand, built almost entirely out of kauri (a type of evergreen tree). The mansion, which is said to have been inspired by Mentmore Towers in Buckinghamshire, is based on a fusion of styles of Jacobean architecture and additional Victorian features. Once completed, the building had fifty-three rooms in total. There were nineteen bedrooms, nine bathrooms, six servant rooms, a library, a kitchen, a large basement, a large dining area and additional function rooms. Analogous to other Jacobean buildings, many of the interior features were elaborate and ornamental; most the handiwork of Christian artisans. A number of the ceilings on the ground floor were extravagant coffered ceilings. Finally, the balustrades and newel posts on the grand staircase featured thistles and flowers, all emblems of Scotland, to remind visitors of the owner’s homeland. As for the furnishings, most were of an exclusive design specifically selected by the housekeeper and an expert from Paris. Both were sent to Britain with instructions to buy there, or from Europe, regardless of the cost. The following descriptions of different rooms in the house provide a good impression of what McLean Mansion’s interior looked like: … an enchanting wood carving of the traditional bear and her playful cub up a seven-foot tree. Along one wall a mirrored mahogany stand displays a fine group of bronze and marble statuary. Nearby is the handsome grandfather clock… and along the opposite wall stretches an outsize in high-backed winged settees upholstered in glowing burgundy. There is a dramatic contrast here between the mirrored reflections of dark polished woods, the gleaming white ornamental ceiling and portico, and the time- defying Persian carpet… The antique chairs, covered in regency brocade are feather-light… Several twin-light wall brackets supplement the ceiling lights. Paintings of Flemish and Scottish scenes hang in groups from brass rods. The green and chartreuse fitted carpet makes a perfect complement to its white and gold background. Round the white marble fireplace the ornate brass fender makes a glittering splash… Nevertheless, despite the extravagance, the residence was only used privately for thirteen years. After McLean died in 1907 he ensured that his wealth and mansion would be left to help others who were less fortunate than himself. Under the provisions of his will, McLean stated that his mansion was to be used as an institute, providing ‘a home for women of refinement and education in reduction or straitened circumstances’. The mansion remained an institute for thirty-eight years, before it was sold to the Health Department and used as a dental nurses’ hostel in 1955. During the 1950s a lack of staff was a major problem for the New Zealand School Dental Service; however, McLean’s Mansion made it possible to launch a recruitment drive as many new trainees could be offered board and lodge in the large building. The only consequence of this alteration was that after the sale of the premise most of the extravagant furniture was taken away as it was not suitable for the building’s new purpose. The building remained a hostel up until 1977; after this time, though, the house stood empty for ten years while the government sought to find a new use for the building. Eventually, by 1987, the old mansion was purchased by Christchurch Academy, a vocational training organisation. Today, McLean’s Mansion is something of an oddity that stands out as belonging to a different era because it is surrounded by modest residential houses and modern commercial buildings. What is more, McLean’s Mansion was badly damaged in the 2011 Canterbury earthquake and, despite its Category I heritage status, the Canterbury Earthquake Authority (CERA) immediately issued a demolition notice. However, this caused a public outcry by the local community. As things stand, all demolition plans were halted, but the owners of the premises have not been able to find a buyer who is willing to restore the property. The cost to restore the building is estimated to be $12 million. Our Version of Events It’s always good popping back through Christchurch and seeing how the city is slowly being brought back to life. Compared to what we saw when we first arrived in 2014, things are certainly looking very different! Having said that, there are still plenty of abandoned things to see, especially in the suburbs. So, after a quick drive around the city to see how the reconstruction projects are going, that’s precisely where we headed. Our aim this time round, though, or at least part of our overarching aim, was to visit McLean’s Mansion because it’s still standing but may not be there for much longer. After all, it has been left to rot and crumble for six years now. All things considered, it didn’t take us too long to find the building. We would like to suggest that it was our awesome detective skills that helped us locate the mansion, but the fact it stands out like a sore thumb compared to everything else surrounding it is probably the real reason we found it so easily. Maybe a sore thumb isn’t a good comparison, though, because the mansion’s architecture is stunning compared to everything else nearby. Anyway, we’re digressing, this time round we were much more cautious as we sought to find a way inside. Unlike the good old days when the city was a veritable free-for-all, there have been massive improvements in security in recent years as there are certain people who have grown intolerant of people sneaking around Christchurch’s abandoned buildings. For instance, the recent rumour is that the mansion has been fitted with alarms and sensors. Whether this is true of course is another matter. Fortunately, it seemed the alarms were taking a quick break when we entered the property, and no one turned up to turf us off the premises. This left us with enough time to have a good look around and grab some snaps. Our overall opinion of the place is that it is looking very fucked these days, owing to the deadly combination of vandalism and earthquakes that have plagued it for the past six years or so. Now, rubble is scattered absolutely everywhere throughout the mansion, and several sections of wall have collapsed altogether. The place reeks of mould, mixed with a dusty woody scent, too, probably on account of the fact that the building is still largely a wooden construction. This is not to suggest the building is uninteresting, though. In fact, the architecture is pretty unique and much different to anything we’d find in the UK. There were a few oddities to be found in the mansion as well, such as a dentist’s chair and the legendary staircase decorated with well-known Scottish flowers. All in all, then, we’d suggest that McLean’s Mansion is a place worth visiting. Hopefully, if some funding is found to repair and strengthen the structure, it will continue to be an important part of the city’s heritage for many years to come. Explored with Nillskill and Bane. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23: 24: 25: 26:
  6. History Green Lodge Naturopathic Centre is located in Halstead, Essex. One naturopathy journal article indicates that the centre opened in 1988 and that the site was once part of a residential care home. However, little else has been written about its history. What is known is that Green Lodge became a centre for Integrated Natural Medicines and it set up a complete medical infrastructure according to naturopathic principles. Naturopathic philosophy claims to be a science, art and practice. It argues that if the body is left to its own devices, or encouraged by a skilful physician, it can heal itself and regain harmony and balance without the use of drugs. The philosophy behind the practice follows the idea that we are all individuals with certain ‘habits’ (poor diet, inadequate exercise, taking harmful substances, attaching ourselves to possessions, negative psychology etc.) which create ‘obstacles’ that disturb our normal, natural functioning. It is argued that our habits are difficult to eradicate with medicine, and that we lose our ability to recognise we are unwell if we do not seek treatment. Naturopathic research goes on to suggest that it is the only form of treatment that can ‘lead us back to the right track’, by offering an approach that is sensitive, compassionate, empathetic and personal. Nevertheless, some professional doctors refer to this type of practice as being a pseudo form of medical treatment that offers little more than a Placebo effect. At Green Lodge Centre great emphasis was placed on the ‘Lifestyle Assessment’. In other words, each patient’s dietary habits, daily routines (at work and home) and environmental circumstances would be recorded. After the initial assessment, the centre would look at the detailed medical histories of patients to further piece together their physical and mental characteristics. Finally, the third part of the naturopathic assessment at Green Lodge involved an Iridology investigation (a close look at the structure of the iris and sclera) to uncover deficiencies and malfunctions which might otherwise go undetected. Sometimes additional examinations were conducted, such as pulse, urine and tongue analyses. Once all the above information about a patient was gathered, a treatment programme would be carefully selected to address the cause their problems. The community at Green Lodge was said to have been 2000 strong. It included a range of people, including children, monks, nuns and refugees from Tibet and the South of India. However, the centre closed sometime after 2012. It is not known why the centre closed, and there is little evidence to suggest that the centre and its staff relocated. Since its closure a nearby care home has used the site to store old equipment. Our Version of Events This epic tale begins with us searching for a secret derp that’s hidden deep in a forest. Among the fresh, hayfevery, grasses, blooming flowers and trees, we followed a well-trodden trail. Clearly many other explorers had attempted to visit this derp before us, so to call it secret is a blatant lie. The further we walked, though, the more dense the trees, ivy and nettles became, so maybe others before us had given up their search before reaching it. Eventually, the trail led up to a red bricked structured that was heavily coated in a dark green moss. We’d found it! Without further ado, we soon found ourselves inside a fetid-looking bedroom, which looked as though it was regularly visited by the local goons. It was disheartening. Nevertheless, we’d walked this far, so it was time to whip the cameras out regardless of our disappointment. We set about taking a few shots of the heavily decayed rooms we’d found, then moved on towards a building that looks as though it was an old stable. Unfortunately, as we quickly discovered, this was full of shit and a mountain of old care home equipment that’s slowly being consumed by vines and nettles. At this point, the pair of us split up and I decided to inspect some of the junk, in the hope I’d find something photogenic. That’s when I came across a good-looking old red bicycle that was standing next to a rotten wooden piano which was teeming with life. After the stable, which in hindsight might have been a barn, it was time to move on to a large building just ahead of us. This is when we were greeted by those suspected radgies mentioned earlier, who in the end turned out to be alright since they saved us the effort of having to look for access. Once inside, we realised that the building was mostly fucked. There were a couple of cool features, such as the swimming pool – but even that’s filled with old zimmer-frames. There was also a ‘herb room’ that was still filled with herbs; however, after spending all our time looking for one specific herb, we failed to discern what the others actually were. Still, it was an interesting room. Towards the end of the explore, we started to notice that the corridors had begun to fill with the immediately distinguishable smell of a skunk rolling around in ragweed. Some have likened the pungent odour to the fragrance of ‘God’s vagina’. So, we went to investigate and soon discovered that a group of fourteen year olds had managed to get their hands on a stash of ganja. It would appear that tastes have improved significantly since the days of consuming White Lightening in the underpass – either they beat us to the herb room, or they have well paid paper rounds… Anyway, at this point we felt a bit dodgy, so we decided to leave the local goons to their little session of self-discovery. We headed back to the dark forest and foggy meadows with our fingers crossed that the fuckers hadn’t traded our tyres in for their bag of herbs. Explored with Ford Mayhem and Sx. 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:
  7. History Unlike the railways in Europe or northern America, New Zealand tracks were rudimentary. They were built cheaply and hastily using light iron rails that had a narrow 3ft 6in gauge. Even the tunnels and bridges were minimalistic and usually made as small as possible to get the railways up and running as quickly as possible. It was always the intention, though, that the lines would be improved in the future as traffic and available finances increased. The four-hundred and sixty-two metre long Chain Hills Railway Tunnel, also known as Wingatui Tunnel, was one of the tunnels built in the 1870s, during New Zealand’s brief period of industrialisation. The line itself was constructed to improve transportation of coal and other natural resources across the land to major ports, where the goods could then be shipped elsewhere. Like the Caversham Tunnel, the Chain Hills Tunnel was largely dug out by hand, but it is unique in the sense that it is a Victorian styled brick tunnel that would have taken longer to build than some of the others that were carved out. The Chain Hills Tunnel also sparked much excitement in Dunedin during its construction as workmen made an interesting discovery while making a cutting at the southern end of the tunnel. Thirty-five feet under the ground, which it is thought was once swampland, a large number of moa bones were found (a flightless bird endemic to New Zealand). The bones ranged in shape and size and were in a very good state of preservation owing to the high alkaline levels in the soil. The Chain Hills Tunnel was completed in 1875, and it was measured as being four hundred and sixty-two metres long. Progress was aided with the construction of brick kilns at either end of the tunnel, as this meant materials did not run short because bricks were constantly available throughout the project. However, finishing the tunnel proved to be a difficult and dangerous task. For years the project was plagued by regular flooding, which slowed progress, and workers were also encumbered by the hardness of the stone they were cutting through. Alongside these issues, six months before completion a rock fall occurred at the north end of the tunnel. The incident claimed the lives of two men, Patrick Dempsey and Thomas Kerr. A third man was severely injured as both of his legs were shattered, leaving him crippled for the rest of his life. In the end, the tunnel did not remain in service for very long either as it was abandoned in 1914. A new dual-lane tunnel was constructed further south which meant there was no longer any need for the Chain Hills Tunnel. In the short period of time the Chain Hills Tunnel was operational it claimed another life – that of Irishman George Thompson. Reports indicate that late one evening in 1895, George took a shortcut through the tunnel to get home. Although there are several niches in the tunnel it is likely George was unaware of them, or simply too far away to reach one, before he noticed the oncoming train. Since its closure, however, no more lives have been lost. For a while the tunnel was used as a popular way of passing between Abbotsford and Wingatui, and for moving sheep between the two locations. Nevertheless, since the 1980s the tunnel has been closed to the public due to the deterioration of the tunnel’s structural integrity and subsequent health and safety concerns. In recent years there have been plans to redevelop the tunnel into part of the proposed Otago Central Rail Trail (a cycle and pedestrian track). But, due to lack of funding and ongoing concerns surrounding the structural integrity of the tunnel, especially with the increased risk of it being damaged by an earthquake, the project has come to a standstill. The only recent work Dunedin City Council has carried out on the Chain Hills Tunnel has been to shift two vents from sewer gas reticulation pipes, to stop them from venting into the tunnel. Our Version of Events Having just returned from a South Island trip the previous night, we had no intentions of going exploring, until Nillskill rocked up that is. He was passing back through Dunedin so we decided while he was around to have a crack at the old Chain Hills Tunnel that’s been on the cards for quite a while. We understand there was a public open day a few months ago, but going to an event like that would take away one of the most interesting parts of exploring – figuring out how to slip into these places. We loaded up the car with the usual gear and raided the fridge for all the beers we had spare, then set off in the direction of Mosgiel, a town that is apparently well-known for its local legends and myths. The drive didn’t take too long, which is always good, but the next hour or so we spent trying to find the damn tunnel was a right challenge. To avoid a couple of nearby farms we headed into a patch of native woodland. This would most likely have been quite pleasant, if we’d been able to see where the fuck we were going. But, as we didn’t want to risk using the torches with the farms being so close, we ended up getting very lost among the trees and bushes. After following a few false trails, we did eventually stumbled across the entrance to the tunnel. Just the faint sight of it in the distance raised our disheartened spirits. The next challenge, though, was to get past a locked gate. Fortunately, this wasn’t as bad as it had first appeared, probably due to the fact that we’ve had plenty of practice in the art of contortion over the years we’ve been exploring. To keep it brief, despite some initial doubts about our ability to contort through the space available to us, we managed to worm our way inside. As expected, the inside of the tunnel was incredibly muddy. Even sticking close to the walls didn’t help very much. As for the tunnel itself, though, it was, aesthetically speaking, very pleasant. It reminded us of an old Victorian railway tunnel you’d find in the UK. The condition of some of the bricks in the Chain Hills Tunnel are quite poor too, which enhances its overall photogenicity. Other than that, however, there isn’t a lot else to see. That’s the nature of old railway tunnels unfortunately. We did find a couple of niches and a few pipes belonging to the sewer system, but they’re pretty standard finds in these places. Eventually, after what felt like a fair bit of walking, we found ourselves at the second gate. For some reason, the authorities had left this one open, probably due to the fact that the tunnel is inaccessible from this side. Whatever the reason, it gave us an easy exit from the tunnel, where we found ourselves on a narrow muddy trail surrounded by dense forest. Apparently, if you continue down the track for a while you eventually reach the present day railway line, but it’s quite difficult for anyone to access the tunnel from this side. We didn’t walk down the trail to find out if this is true mind, since we had a bottle of whisky to get started on back in Dunedin. Explored with Nillskill. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14:
  8. History The Chapel of St. Luke, designed by Elcock and Sutcliffe (two prominent architects at the time), was the chapel attached to Runwell Mental Health Hospital. It was constructed in 1937, alongside the hospital. Once competed the entire site was viewed as a pioneering development in mental health hospitals and the project boosted both architect’s reputations significantly. The hospital was divided into several specific zones, separating buildings and patients according to purpose and diagnosis. The Grade 2 listed chapel was placed at the principal junction at the top of the drive. The chapel, which has a cruciform ground plan, is constructed of white brick with heavy ashlar masonry. Its design is reported to be in an eclectic Mediterranean style with clever positioning of windows to light the alter and nave. Some of the building’s key features include the tiled mansard roof, an apse at the east end and a circular stair tower with a spiral staircase to the north of the apse. As for the furnishings, the altar, riddle posts, organ, choir stalls and lectern are all made of varnished timber. The pulpit, organ and choir stalls are all said to have jazz modern fluted frieze (a particular type of design), and the lights in the main nave take the form of roman lamps. Closure of the hospital was announced in the late 1990s. The entire site was gradually closed down, bit by bit, for many years after this date though. In the end, it did not close until 2010, as this was when the final closure and decommissioning of the site was eventually set. By April of the same year, all staff and patients at the hospital had been moved out. Today, only a handful of the site’s buildings have survived demolition, which started in 2012; these include the water tower, the Chapel of St. Luke and part of the administration building. It is rumoured that the chapel’s bell tower is now the home to a colony of bats, and that Chelmsford County Council are looking into ways of finding alternative accommodation for the creatures so that the building can be reused. Our Version of Events While cruisin’ around one of the new housing estates in Runwell, the Chapel of St. Luke appeared on the horizon. Without too much ducking and diving, or getting impaled on fences, we quickly found ourselves on the grounds of the chapel. At first glance, we thought that the building matches the style of the new housing estate that now surrounds it particularly well. The church has a modern feel to it, but, unfortunately, there isn't much left of it. After a quick sing song on the piano and a failed attempt at playing the organ, it was time to head back to the car and get back on the road! There wasn’t very much to see so it was a quick in-out jobbie. Explored with A-Jay. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14:
  9. History Even though the small town of Milton was connected with the goldrush years in the 1860s, it was actually founded as a milling town at the beginning of the 1850s. It is rumoured that this is how the town received its name – Milltown is said to have been shortened to Milton. The Bruce Woollen Mill, which was primarily a vertical woollen and worsted manufacturing mill that made blankets, rugs, carpet and apparel fabric, was one of the later additions to the industry as it was not established until 1897. A considerable amount of money was invested in the mill as much of the company’s machinery was specialist equipment imported from Britain. If anything, then, this indicates how prosperous the industry was at the time. Although there are no records of the prices of the machines, a government website reveals that the estimated cost to run the mill initially was £6,000 ($998,000 in today’s NZ currency). However, despite the huge investment, the doors at Bruce Mill did not stay open for long as a devastating fire destroyed the building four years later. Although no one was killed, only the brick walls were left standing after the incident. The mill was rebuilt in 1902, though, thanks to the high demand for woollen products at the time. Thereafter, no further disasters occurred, and by 1923 the company had, apparently, produced the first Swanndri shirts (hard-wearing wool bush shirts). In the same year renovations had to be made to increase the size of the building to meet increasing consumer demands for their growing range of products. The main classical styled office building was the last building to be constructed as part of the expansion plans. Yet, by 1962 Bruce Woollen Mill was taken over by Alliance Textiles. The mill was run smoothly thereafter, without further incident – up until 1992 at least, when forty-nine workers were locked out for refusing to sign new contract agreements. This would result in a group of thirteen protesters assembling outside the gates for the next six years. This was the longest industrial action in New Zealand trade union history. Unfortunately, the protests did not amount to much as Alliance Textiles closed the mill in 1999, with the loss of fifty-four jobs. It was reported that it was no longer economically viable to run the mill due to cheaper products being imported from China and India. Despite the closure at the end of the 1900s, Bruce Woollen Mill Ltd. was re-established for a few years by a consortium of Wool Equities Ltd. and a group of manufacturers and wholesalers in 2012. The mill reopened as a manufacturer of woollen, merino possum, worsted and hand knitting yarns Nevertheless, the Bruce Woollen Mill went into receivership in January 2016. As a result, it is said to have had a considerable impact on the local community in terms of the job losses incurred. Our Version of Events We’d spotted Bruce Woollen Mill while we were checking out the old bacon factory in Milton, but decided we’d come back the following day to have a crack at it during the day. It’s easier to get photos during the day after all. The only problem, though, was that we weren’t quite sure if the place was abandoned or not. Therefore, we spent a little while researching the location, and eventually came across a few articles that indicated it was indeed partially closed. Well, that was good enough for us. It was time to find a way inside! Getting in wasn’t particularly easy, especially since workers from the live section of the factory kept coming outside to satisfy their nicotine addictions. However, we persevered and crept around the site checking out all the nooks and crannies, hoping one of them would reveal a way inside. In the end, our searching turned up nothing, except access to an old workshop – a part of the site that looked a lot more fucked than the other buildings. At this stage, though, we were out of options, so we decided to have a poke around inside anyway. Industrial porn is industrial porn at the end of the day, and sometimes you just have to take what you can get. As it turned out, the workshop we’d managed to access wasn’t too bad at all. The entire place was alive with the rich smells of oil and used metal. The wooden benches and floor boards were littered with hundreds of screws and heavily stained with years of grease. The sheer amount of old-school equipment in there was great to see too, and it even had the classic stash of VHS porn tapes lying around. It’s likely that we would have spent longer in this room, testing out a few of the machines to see if they worked, but this didn’t happen because we happened to find a door hidden among the shadows at the very back of the room. It goes without saying, our curiosity got the better of us and we couldn’t help but take a peek to see what was on the other side. Sure enough, it led into another room. It was a good start. This one was much different, however. Suddenly we found ourselves inside a small warehouse that was filled with cardboard boxes and metal carts. At this point we started to get a little excited, wondering if we’d perhaps found a way into the actual woollen mill as this section appeared to be an old storage area for products ready to be transported. So, with this in mind we cracked on and made our way to the other side of the building, where we found a set of industrial rubber curtains. Little did we know at the time, but this was our last obstacle – the last thing between us and the juicy machinery on the other side. One by one we passed through the curtain and, on the other side, we found ourselves standing before rows upon rows of pure industrial goodness. We’d managed to wander into the closed part of the old woollen factory, and it was fucking amazing. There were cogs, switches, levers and buttons everywhere we looked. For the next ten minutes or so, then, we were all happy snappers. If anything, mind, there was too much to take photos of! However, in our excitement we inadvertently ended up wandering into the live part of the site, where the production line was still up and running. So, from this point on we turned from being excited schoolboys into epic ninjas with unrivalled stealth skills and, somehow, managed to work our way around the workers and active machinery. It was great, being among whining machines and the whirring of drilling that coming from somewhere on the far side of the factory floor. Somehow, though we’re not quite sure exactly how, we managed to remain undetected the entire time we were inside the old woollen mill. At one point all of the machines even stopped, meaning our footsteps and camera taking noises suddenly seemed unbelievably loud. But, the guys working inside seemed oblivious to our presence. Nonetheless, after a further half an hour or so we decided that we’d pushed our luck far enough and that it was probably time to call it a day. We still had a bit of daylight left and more explores lined up, so it made sense to leave while we were still ahead. The battle to resist the urge to take more photos was intense on our way out, but eventually we managed to get back to the bus without incident. It was time to get back on the road and get a few more explored under our belts. Explored with Nillskill and Bane. Equipment being assembled in 1897 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23: 24: 25: 26: 27: 28: 29: 30: 31: 32: 33: 34: 35: 36: 37:
  10. 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:
  11. History Following the Second World War, sixty huts were moved from a United States Marine camp at Paekakariki to the small town of Otaki. This was part of an initiative that was started by the Wellington City Mission. The buildings were moved to establish a haven/holiday lodge for widows and children of those unfortunate servicemen who perished while in service. Today, none of the existing wartime buildings survive. The only relic from that era is an outdoor church altar. Over the years the number of people visiting the site steadily declined, until the mission eventually decided to sell the land and buildings. A couple named Maureen and Howard Lange purchased Bridge Lodge in 1998, and they transformed the site into what was described as a ‘popular function centre’. Once it was open to the public, the Lange’s advertised Bridge Lodge as being a ‘backpackers type accommodation’, with single and double separate rooms rather than dormitories. The site also catered for motorhomes and caravans, and was willing to accommodate seasonal workers for the local orchards, special events and wedding parties. The site was especially popular because it was within walking distance of the town of Otaki, where visitors could, apparently, find an array of cafes and shops. However, the dreams of owning a holiday venue and building up a retirement fund were short lived. In 2010 the Government announced their plan to build a four-lane expressway between Peka Peka and Otaki. The project was expected to cost $355 million and affect more than one hundred properties. Despite gathering a number of petitions and requests to alter the course of the road, Maureen and Howard, along with ninety-nine other property owners, were handed compensation (limited to the estimated value of their property) and ordered to pack up and leave immediately. Construction was expected to start in 2013. In 2017 it is still ongoing. Our Version of Events Having had a bit of a mooch around New Plymouth, we decided to head back down to Wellington. The journey north had resulted the near-destruction of the car’s CV joint, meaning every single corner we turned caused a heavy clunking sound. So, driving extra carefully, and only forwards (as much as this was possible), we had to limp our way back down the highway with our fingers crossed, hoping the joint wouldn’t snap and leave us stranded in the middle of Middle Earth. After all, there are all those orks, uruk-hai and Nazgul lurking in the bushes. And yet, even with such dangers surrounding us, travelling anywhere without regular exploring breaks is, as we all know, incredibly boring. Therefore, we decided to make a quick stop at an old holiday camp which can only be likened to a 1950s version of Butlin’s. Accessing the site wasn’t particularly difficult, given that most of the neighbouring houses and buildings are also abandoned because of the highway development that is now very close to reaching these properties. If anything, with the exception of us of course, the whole area seemed completely devoid of people. Instead, it was one of those places where nature has been left to take control. Those areas of bush and grass land that were once nicely trimmed and tamed are now wild and teeming with life. Getting inside the buildings wasn’t too challenging either as most of the doors around the old holiday camp were open. What struck us as odd, though, was seeing how intact most of the site is. For a place that’s been shut since around 2010, it’s in remarkably good condition. In fact, it could probably reopen next week if someone brought along a hedge trimmer and a tin of paint. In terms of the explore itself, the holiday camp is fairly basic. It mainly consists of a number of communal buildings which house such things as the kitchen, dining hall and events spaces. It also has many identical rooms, several toilet blocks and a main reception house. We explored most of the site and, in the end, determined that there’s nothing exceptional about it. If anything, walking around the site made us consider how miserable a holiday at Bridge Lodge might have been. In our minds, it looked a lot like a spruced-up concentration camp, albeit without the barbed wire and armed guards. Having said that, we did find some old spotlights that were left behind. What was really good about the explore, though, was the was the abundance of fruit we came across. It seems that the nearby orchards have pollenated the grounds of the old camp over the years, leaving a diverse range of tasty snacks available to unsuspecting passers-by. Some of the ones we came across while wandering around included banana passionfruit, grapefruit, feijoa, blackberries and lemons. After making this a discovery, the exploring went completely out of the window for a while. You can’t turn your nose up at free lunch, especially when there was an incredible amount of it. Several feijoas and passionfruit later and it was time to get back to the broken car. The aim was to get back to Wellington where we planned on getting a bit more exploring done. With that, we made our way towards the main road. In the end, though, we didn’t leave for another forty-five minutes because we stumbled across those derelict houses I mentioned earlier, and more feijoa trees that looked like they were worth checking out. There were some fine looking properties hidden between the trees, but unfortunately it seems they’re all destined to be demolished along with the old holiday camp to make way for the extended highway. Explored with Nillskill and Bane. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23: 24: 25:
  12. History Barrett Street Nurses’ Home, which is a two-storey roughcast building, was designed in 1918 by the firm Messenger and Griffths. At the cost of £16,089, it was constructed between 1921 and 1922. It was officially opened on 14th March 1922 by the Minister of Health at the time, Mr. C. J. Parr.Further additions were added by Frank Messenger in 1928, 1936 and 1945. One final part of the building was also modified in 1950, five years after Messengers death. The nurses’ home was one of the many buildings at Barrett Street Hospital that the Messenger and Griffths firm designed; the others include, a doctor’s residence, storage buildings, a children’s ward, the ambulance garage, a laundry block and the Board offices. As indicated in our report of Barrett Street Hospital, in August 2012 the legal and illegal tenants of the Barrett Street site were forced to vacate the buildings with immediate effect due to assessments that had revealed their poor structural integrity. In other words, the entire site was deemed earthquake prone. What is more, the assessment also revealed that there were extremely high levels of asbestos throughout most of the old buildings; therefore, the entire site has been marked as posing a health risk to the general public. As things stand in 2017, demolitions plans are said to be imminent, starting with the removal of asbestos. However, it has been reported that the old nurses’ home, which is now a Category A heritage building, will not be demolished. Having said that, though, no decisions have been made concerning what will actually happen to it. Our Version of Events As indicated in our last report, we’d already spent much time trying to get inside the old nurses’ home and, as far as we could tell, it seemed pretty inaccessible. Nevertheless, after having something of a group ‘lightbulb moment’, we decided to have one last crack and check out a part of the building we’d previously neglected to thoroughly examine. It’s a good job we did have a look there too, because that ended up being our way inside this incredibly historic building. Once inside, it was quickly very obvious that the place was almost completely stripped. Admittedly, this was a little disappointing, but, as we would soon discover, the building had much more to offer in the way of aesthetic features. It didn’t take us long, then, to realise that this building was much different to the rest of the hospital we’d already wandered around. Rather than adhering to a traditional medical-style design, this place was heavily cladded in dark brown wood. The floors, too, weren’t your average concrete base, or plywood; there were solid hard wood boards covering them. The place was fantastic, especially with the lingering smell of the wood in the air, which was a bit like the mouth-watering aroma you get when you bake a joint of ham. Are we all hungry now? Ignoring the sudden craving for ham, we cracked on and made our way through a long corridor towards a sizable wooden staircase. From here building only got better and better. Down on the ground floor we came across several large rooms that reminded us of being inside a traditional English pub, or a fancy teaching college. Take your pick. Then came a large grand hall, the old laundry room and a traditional-looking kitchen. In hindsight, the place could easily become a small museum, not unlike some of the buildings you can find in Beamish. The final interesting feature we uncovered in the building was a strange metal contraption that looked a little bit like an incinerator. In fact, there was one in every single bathroom we’d wandered into. However, we couldn’t be sure they were incinerators, all we know is that we’ve never come across anything like them before. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time left to investigate them too thoroughly as we didn’t have a spanner on hand, and we were rapidly losing daylight. It had taken us that much time to explore the whole hospital, and all of its buildings, that it was almost time to find a pub somewhere in New Plymouth. You can probably guess what we did next, then. With that thought firmly planted in our minds, it was time to pack up the camera equipment and get back to the car. Explored with Nillskill and Bane. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23: 24: 25: 26:
  13. History The foundation stone for Oamaru’s former hospital (known locally as ‘the hospital on the hill’) was laid by Deborah Shrimski (the wife of Samuel Shrimski, who was himself a reputable businessman) on 2nd April 1872. All of the shops in the town were closed for the entire day to commemorate the event. After that, the hospital was constructed remarkably quickly and it opened at the end of the same year; although, the first patient, twelve-year-old James Riddell, had been admitted the previous month. The new public facility had four small wards (each equipped with two beds each), a day room, a surgery and two rooms for the warder and his wife. An additional attached wooden building housed a kitchen and wash house. In its first year, sixty-three patients were admitted to the hospital. Although a fee was expected where possible (£1 weekly), the committee in charge of such affairs never pressed for payment. Unfortunately, though, this lenient and humane attitude toward health led to some patients, who were more than capable of paying, avoiding to do so. Over the years, as New Zealand’s population grew, so did its facilities to cope with the increasing number of people. Oamaru Hospital was one of those services that was extended and improved, and by the 1980s the site was completely transformed. Nevertheless, the beginning of the 1990s brought new Government health reforms and with them uncertainty as Area Health Boards were abolished and replaced with bureaucracies whose aim it was to ‘rationalise’ health costs and delivery. Subsequently, new hospital charges were introduced and many hospitals, including Oamaru’s, had to be downgraded. Despite largescale protests which saw half of Waitaki’s population attend a citizen’s march, hospital services were ‘rationalsied’. By 1997, all surgical operations requiring anaesthetic had ceased at Oamaru, and the Maternity Annexe was closed. This resulted in many jobs loses. Things changed for the better, however, in 1998 when the Government announced that a $5 million loan would be provided towards the construction of a new Oamaru Hospital. Essentially, the funding was attained thanks to a community of lobbyists who had spent years trying to secure the continuation of services for the Waitaki population. A new hospital was constructed in 2000 and all services and staff were moved to the new site. Thereafter, the old hospital on the hill was closed. The original plan had been to redevelop the old buildings into a residential area; yet, the only development that took place between 2000 and 2016 was the conversion of the former maternity annexe into the Eden Gardens motel. As for the rest of the site, it rapidly deteriorated due to vandalism. Today, most of the site has been demolished, to make way for a proposed residential housing estate, but work on the project has stalled as parts of the hospital have had to be used as landfill for stabilisation purposes. Our Version of Events The old Oamaru Hospital site is one we’ve visited several times, usually on our way up to Christchurch as it’s an ideal stopping-off place. Each time we’ve visited, though, we’ve normally just loitered by the car while the Urbex Central boys have gone off to take photos of some ‘amazing boiler house’. I can’t say we’d ever been in an interesting boiler house before, so we were of the opinion that it was a bit of a desperate explore. However, what we didn’t realise when was that it contained an enormous boiler system and several additional rooms. For some reason, this part of the hospital survives and remains relatively intact. This is probably due to its relatively concealed location. Anyway, on this occasion, we thought we’d bite the bullet and go take a look at this ‘epic’ forgotten place. And, I can say now that I’m glad we did go do some investigating. Props to Urbex Central for actually finding it too, since there’s nothing immediately obvious about the place at all. God knows what possessed them to wander down there in the first place. Once you find it, then, the first thing you enter is a kind of locker room and toilet block. If you pass through this you find yourself at the top of a staircase that takes you down into the boiler house itself. At the bottom, there are three doors to choose from. The one to the immediate right takes you into the boiler room, the one to the left into two smaller rooms that house some heavily decayed machinery and the one behind takes you into a room that eventually joins the large boiler house. We started with the main part of the building and were instantly awestruck at what we found. The entire room, which was pitch black, was filled with plenty of archaic machinery, mostly from Northern Ireland. The smell of damp and decay was quite powerful, but that was to be expected I guess and the place doesn’t really get aired out very often. All in all, we spent around thirty minutes inside the building. It doesn’t take very much time to wander around it all, but there is plenty to take snaps of. Explored with Nillskill and Bane. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20:
  14. History Audio is a former three-storey brick nightclub that was built sometime in the 1970s. It is close to the centre of Darlington and was once a popular circuit bar and night time venue that brought big name DJs to the town. However, like most nightclubs in Darlington, the venue attracted a ‘troublesome’ crowd which ultimately affected its reputation. Over the years the nightclub has been known as ‘Mr Bojangles Nightclub’, then ‘The Lounge’ and ‘Cactus Jack’s’, and finally ‘Audio’ and ‘Buffalo Joes’. There are two main trading floors inside the building, both of which were completely independent of one another and traded as two separate businesses. The ground floor was accessed via an entrance lobby that is located at the front of the premises. Some of the key features on this floor include: a cash desk, cloak room, DJ booth, raised seating zones and small stage areas for performers. The first floor’s features include: its own lobby, open plan trading areas and dance floor, a DJ booth, seating around the edges of the room and an additional VIP area. The second floor has never been used for trading; it comprises office space and staff changing areas. It is not known when the club closed, although it is likely to have been after 2010 when the venue reopened after being revamped. An estimated £200,000 alone was spent on the first-floor transformation, which included the installation of a new state-of-the-art sound system. Prior to this, it had been earmarked for demolition as part of a £500,000 Oval shopping complex initiative. This project, however, never took off, so the nightclub remained. Our Version of Events It's a little bit of an overdue report this one. We explored it all the way back in February, but never got around to doing the report as we still needed a few external shots - which we forgot to take at the time because we were too focused on the after-exploring drinking session we were due to head to... With a couple of hours to kill before we were due to have a WildBoyz gathering, we decided to have a quick drive over to Darlington to check out a site we’ve been keeping an eye on. Unfortunately, that place was still sealed up tight so it’s still on our to-do list. However, as a result of that failure we did discover that an old nightclub that seems to have been abandoned for as long as any of us can remember was accessible. We weren’t expecting to get inside either, since from the street outside it gives the impression that it’s impregnable. Despite all appearances, though, we did in fact manage to get inside. As far as derelict nightclubs go, this one wasn’t bad. There was still a fair bit of stuff left over, and the building wasn’t completely trashed either. Clearly the local chavs think this one is sealed too. Anyway, we found ourselves on the first floor of the building to begin with, inside a weird room that feels as though the designer managed to get a massive discount on purple furniture at IKEA one afternoon. From there, we made our way downstairs and, rather bizarrely, found ourselves in a kind of saloon. This part of the explore was perhaps the highlight as some of the taps still worked behind the bar. Needless to say, we had a bit of fun testing those out and seeing how rancid alcohol becomes when left alone for too long. There is a second floor to the building as well, and this basically comprises office space, a small open-air roof area and staff only rooms. However, we couldn’t really be arsed to take many photos up there. What is more, since there are no boards on the windows in that part of the building lighting up the place with our torches would have been a bad idea as there is a very active car park right outside. You’re not missing much, though, as there’s nothing of interest up there. After that, then, we decided we’d seen everything there was to see and that it was about time we met the others for some beer and a few games of poker. Explored with MKD. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16:
  15. History Clinton, which was originally named Popotunoa (after the nearby bush-clad hills), is a very small town in New Zealand. It was named after the 5th Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne, Henry Pelham-Clinton, the former British Secretary of State for the Colonies. It is located along State Highway 1, approximately halfway between Balclutha and Gore, and has a population of 285. There are 129 occupied dwellings and 15 remain unoccupied. Government statistics indicate that the town is showing signs of a decrease in the number of people who work and reside there. As far as its history goes, the only interesting thing to happen in the town throughout its entire history was that it was ‘dry’ between 1894 and 1956. In other words, no alcohol was consumed anywhere within the town’s established borders. The townspeople were among those who voted in favour of the Temperance movement (a social movement against the consumption of alcohol and subsequent intoxication) across New Zealand in the early 1900s. However, it is important to point out that having never lived in the town ourselves, our view of Clinton’s uninteresting history is more than likely quite bias; we have never lived there, so perhaps do not appreciate the general goings-on that have occurred there over the years. The fact that there is a book titled, Clinton: Our History, is enough evidence to suggest that something more must have gone on since the mid-1800s. Unfortunately, we were not able to get a copy of the book to inform our reader’s because Mrs. Barnett was not home when we passed through town. But, if anyone desperately wants to learn any more about this town’s history, but more especially the stories and photographs gathered by local families, they can purchase the three-hundred-and-twenty-page book from Mrs. Barnett by giving her a ring on (03) 415 7723. Our Version of Events There was no actual plan to visit Clinton, it just sort of happened. After a massive fail in Invercargill, we happened to be driving through and randomly decided to stop off to stretch our legs a bit. We didn’t know it at the time, but true to its description the place was a veritable ghost town. Even the classic rock tunes blasting in the mini bus didn’t stir any life in the place. It took all of two and a half minutes to drive around the entire town and in that time we located a nice abandoned-looking row of houses. They looked a bit shit, but we figured they’d do just nicely while we took a break from driving. Finding the front door of the first house was a bit of a challenge, because it didn’t seem to have one. We thought that was a bit odd, but in hindsight, why waste money on a front door when you have a well-functioning back door. Seems perfectly logical when you think about it. Anyway, once we were inside we quickly discovered that the place was a right shit-hole. It would have been great the previous night when we’d had to kip in the mini bus (which was a lot more uncomfortable than it sounds) since it had several beds inside, a bathtub and a tin of chunky soup that we could have shared, but as far as explores go it was pretty desperate. There was a can of deodorant in there, too, which seemed to amuse our fellow Kiwi friends far more than it should have done… Five minutes later and we were heading towards the second house. This looked as though it had a lot more potential. We wandered down the main garden path and peered through the front window to make sure the place was actually abandoned. You have to be careful in New Zealand; you might be convinced a house is abandoned, but quite often it turns out someone is still living there. With this in mind, we wanted to be doubly sure that we weren’t about to walk in on someone eating their morning Shreddies. Still unsure whether anyone was living there, we wandered around the back to try the back door. The same trick worked, it opened without so much as a push. We entered the kitchen very cautiously, preparing ourselves to hit legs at any moment. Our shoes suddenly seemed to squeak rather loudly as we edged forward across the kitchen floor, and that classic sneeze that hadn’t been there all day now wanted to be released. Isn’t that always the way. Despite the epic nose explosion, we managed to make it across the kitchen and into the main corridor. This was the sketchiest bit, though, since all of the doors leading off the corridor were closed. In other words, we had no idea whether anyone was lurking inside any of the rooms. By now they’d be arming themselves with the nearest baseball bat, ornamental vase or double barrelled shotgun. Courageously, or stupidly, take your pick, we opened each of the doors one by one. Fortunately, it turned out the house was empty, but it had been an exciting five minutes finding that out. More importantly, though, this house was far more interesting than the previous one had been. This one had plenty of stuff leftover, which is what we all like. Oddly, it looked as if someone had started trying to pack things up at one time, but it seems they never managed to finish for some reason. After spending a bit of time in there, it became quite clear that no one had been around in a long while. There was mould growing in semi-drunk beer bottles on the dining room table, and dust on most of the belongings in each of the rooms. Judging by the photographs and ornamental objects in the cabinets, we’re guessing the place was owned by an elderly person and, sadly, they most likely passed away a few years ago. After around twenty minutes, we were out of things to take photographs of, so we decided to call it a day in Clinton and head off in the general direction of Milton. As we were walking back to the bus we did notice a third abandoned house just over the road, but it looked pretty fucked from the outside. Also, we figured two houses is more than enough for one report, so it’s there and ready for the picking if anyone happens to find themselves passing through the sleepy town of Clinton. Explored with Nillskill and Bane. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23: 24: 25: 26: 27: 28: 29:
  16. History Believe it or not, bacon has been an important part of human history since at least the twelfth century, when it was offered as a reward to married men who could go a year and a day without arguing with their wives. The term originally derived from the Middle English word ‘bacoun’, which was used to refer to all forms of pork. Across the United Kingdom, any man that brought home the bacon became well respected in his community. It is no surprise, therefore, that bacon remained a popular food among colonialist settlers in New Zealand. They brought the tradition with them and this resulted in the establishment of the Kiwi Bacon Factory in Milton. Milton very quickly became an important farming and industrial town in New Zealand. It was originally a small settlement in the 1850s, but it grew rapidly due to its geographic location that placed it on the route to several thriving goldfields. However, following the First World War the town struggled to survive. First, the significant loss of manpower had a detrimental impact on the productivity capabilities of the townspeople, and, second, the goldrush years came to an abrupt end. Eventually, only a large woollen mill (Bruce Woollen Mills) and the bacon factory (Kiwi Bacon Co. Ltd.) kept the town going through the 1900s. Both factories were the town’s main employers. Throughout the 1900s Kiwi Bacon went on to become one of New Zealand’s most prominent industries, with factories based in Auckland, Palmerston North, Christchurch and Milton. On its website, Kiwi Bacon Co. Ltd. suggests that the brand has been serving New Zealanders since 1932 but that the Milton factory existed long before this. It was William Henry Hitchon (1872-1957) who started the bacon factory in Milton, which later became known as Hitchon Brothers Bacon Ltd. It is reported that at least two generations of their family worked there before it was purchased by Kiwi Bacon Ltd. However, although Kiwi Bacon is now a nationwide brand, the Milton site was closed in the early 1980s due to its isolated location and the diminishing scale of the town. Despite the closure of the factory, the bacon tradition in Milton was, in a way, temporarily revived in 2008 when a local collector named Rex Spence decided to open the Milton Butchery Museum. While it lasted, the museum was New Zealand’s largest collection of antique cleavers, chopping blocks, photos and many other meat-related things. Apparently, it also featured the country’s most famous sausage maker. For a while, the museum was a popular tourist destination, especially among elderly ladies who had been the ones who used to visit the local butcher, and it became a place of nostalgic reminiscence. Some of the women recalled many of the classic jokes the butchers would have for them, and one women in her 80s retold her story of one butcher asking her if she wanted to hop inside the chiller. She said, “I thought he wanted to have sex with me, but as soon as I got in there he shut me in and stayed in the shop!” Nonetheless, despite its initial success it seems that interest in Milton’s Butchery Museum dwindled, to the extent that it was no long viable to keep open. As things stand today, then, Milton’s famous bacon and butchery past has been cleaved. Our Version of Events With the turn of a new month, we decided it was time for a new exploring trip. This time, though, we wanted to hit New Zealand’s South Island and see what treats it had in store for us. So, after a very late departure from Dunedin, we set off in the direction of Milton. There’s nothing much in Milton these days, as the history above hinted, but two things on the internet did capture our attention: an old bacon factory. Having never been inside a dedicated bacon factory before, it seemed like a potentially interesting explore. Besides, aside from Vegans, Veggies, Pesco-vegetarians, Pollo-Vegetarians, Flexitarians, Cannibal-vegetarians, Lacto-ovo vegetarians, Fruitarians, Raw/Living Foodists, Muslims, some Hindus and Jewish folk, who doesn’t like a bit of bacon? We rolled into Milton in the dead of night, in a very large and conspicuous minibus. We had requested something smaller, like a pigup truck, but they didn’t have any left apparently. The bus was a bit excessive for the three of us, but the upside was that it was roomy and ours for free for a few days. Fortunately, given the size of the vehicle, Milton was exactly like a ghost town, with no cars on the roads or pedestrians on the footpaths, so our bus didn’t attract too much attention. The only life in the small town seemed to be two guys outside the wool mill having a smoke, and a barking dog somewhere in a garden behind us. We spent a good fifteen minutes or so sneaking around in the bushes around the back, trying to find a way inside the factory, but our efforts were in vain… Until, we eventually found an unlikely way of getting inside. Several minutes later, after a bit of breathing in and dodging an old bees nest filled with decaying bee corpses, we were in! Our first glances inside the building revealed that it clearly hadn’t been visited in quite a while. There was a lot of mould covering the floors and furniture, and water had managed to get in through the roof as there were many photogenic green stains on the walls. From the first damp room, we proceeded to tiptoe our way around the building, trying hard to not alert the smokers outside to our presence. This is where torches with high lumen outputs aren’t such an advantage anymore. Of course, as with anyone trying to be stealthy without an adequate light source (we chose not to turn the torches on for a while), we managed to walk over everything that made a significant amount of sound: glass, metal, plastic bags. How the guys outside didn’t hear us we’ll never know. Or maybe they did and just didn’t give a shit? In terms of the explore itself, then, we found that even though it was filled with a large amount of utter shite, it still resembled how we imagined a bacon factory would look. There were large storage areas, chillers and strange tiled rooms. In particular, one room that caught our interest had a large tiled L-shaped bath inside it. It reminded us of something you’d find in a horror film styled abattoir. Even now, since all of us are a bit rusty when it comes to knowledge about butchery equipment, we can’t tell you what it was used for. Aside from the bath, the other interesting things we stumbled across were the old records books, a sizable ‘bacon cauldron’ (our interpretation) and a chat up line: ‘Do you like bacon? Wanna strip?’… Classic. After the bacon banter, it was time to leave. We’d run out of things to look at. The largest room in the building was crammed full of old equipment and most of it wasn’t even butchery-related. Getting out was a lot easier than getting in, and by the time we were back on the street the guys who had been smoking and the sound of the barking dog were long gone. Milton was back to being a ghost town. With that in mind, we decided to take advantage of the silent night and have a quick wander over to the old wool mill nearby to do a bit of investigating and find out whether or not part of it was abandoned. The answer to that question, however, will have to wait. In the meantime, we leave you with some more bacon banter: What do aerobics instructors and people who process bacon have in common? They both tear hams into shreds. Explored with Nillskill and Bane. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19:
  17. History The Miramar Peninsula, which is located on the south-eastern side of Wellington, has a rich and especially fascinating underground history. The area is perforated with many coves and caves, and even more interestingly old military bunkers that date back to the late 1800s. However, information about these subterranean worlds is quite often fragmented or simply non-existent. What is known, though, is that for many years the peninsula was occupied almost entirely by the military, until 1907 at least when the northern section of the peninsula was linked to the rest of the city by tram. The peninsula has always been an important component in the defence of Wellington; its very name, Miramar, means ‘sea view’ in Spanish. The strategic position of the land was thought to be ideal for the construction of observation posts, coastal guns and emplacements. These were installed to prevent the approach of Russian enemy warships and subsequent attacks. Further additions to Wellington’s defence were made between 1933 and 1960, when Palmer Head was selected as the site for a new battery. Guns were installed in 1936 and by the outbreak of World War II it was operational, although not at full efficiency because some facilities had not yet been constructed. One of the fundamental problems was accommodation; however, this was eventually resolved with the erection of temporary huts. These were later replaced with more substantial buildings. A radar station was the next facility to be added to the installation in 1941 and remnants of this can still be found today. Later in that same year, following the completion of the radar station, it was decided that the site would be expanded once again. This time secret underground military plotting and wireless rooms were to be constructed. The development included the construction of an access road, an access tunnel, two plotting rooms, an engine room and two wireless rooms. Only two entrances for the secret facility were built, one to the north and the other to the west. Palmer Head was decommissioned in 1957, along with every other battery in New Zealand. The advent of air warfare and the threat of a nuclear apocalypse rendered these outdated forts redundant. Nevertheless, the guns were not removed and scrapped until 1961. Thereafter a widespread demolition exercise was put into effect. The original idea for Palmer Head was that it would become a new housing estate, and preliminary plans were drafted. In the end, though, the land was never actually set aside for this development. It was decided that the project could not go ahead due to the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) facilities in the area. Despite the rejection of the development project, the demolition plans for Palmer Head still went ahead and it was dealt with in two phases. By the end of 1970 most of the Palmer Head site had been reduced to rubble. As for the old plotting rooms and wireless rooms, though, they were never destroyed because they lay inside a fenced-off compound owned by the CAA. It is reported that for many years the old ventilation ducts to the rooms were left exposed and they were not buried until the 1990s, when several alterations were made to the compound. The Moa Point Radar station at the top of the hill also survived as it was being used by the CAA in the 1970s. Today, the forgotten secret rooms are once again accessible; although, finding the hole in the hillside is no easy task. Our Version of Events It was almost time to leave Wellington and head off in search of more abandoned places elsewhere in New Zealand, but as we had a little bit of time left on the last evening we set out to get one final explore done. Thanks to a young wizard who goes by the name Zort, we’d received word of some old plotting rooms deep inside a hillside somewhere on the Miramar Peninsula and they sounded particularly interesting. A good old historic underground explore would be a perfect way to end the trip. We drove as close to the site as was possible, but had to ditch the car and walk the rest of the way. So, armed with our cameras and torches, we entered the bush. For the most part, we were walking blindly, not quite sure exactly where the tunnel entrance would be. But it was good fun and we spotted a fair few wētā along the way. In the end, we actually came across the way into the underground rooms a lot quicker than we’d expected. For once there was a minimal amount of fannying around, so everything went smoothly much like a well-oiled machine. Getting into the rooms was, as we’d expected, a tight affair. Basically, if you have any Christmas padding around the midriff, or aspire to be a Hercules lookalike, you’re not getting into this site. With that in mind, we crawled flat on our fronts for a fair few metres until the tunnel gradually widened enough to kneel. From there we had to scramble down a pile of rubble and drop into a long concrete corridor. At this point we could stand up straight and see, quite clearly, that the only way we could go was forwards. So, we followed the tunnel and passed a few empty rooms to the left and right of us. One of these looked like it might have housed the engine at one time. As for the others, it was impossible to tell what their original purpose was. At the end of the corridor we found two larger rooms that were connected by a small window and a left-hand turn. We explored each of the rooms which have a few bits and pieces metal lying in them, and then made our way back to the corridor which turned out to be flooded in the next section. It wasn’t too deep to begin with, but the further we went the higher it got. It wasn’t exactly a pleasant pool of water either; it was slightly green and stale looking. Eventually, we reached the limit of our gumboots (wellies) and couldn’t quite reach the end of the tunnel where there was a large metal gate and more rubble. This forced us to turn back the way we came. After that we faffed around for a while trying to do a bit of light painting, before we finally decided it was beer O’clock and time for some food. To get back out we returned to the pile of rubble and, once again, suffered the tight squeeze back through sand, rubble and concrete. Explored with Bane. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16:
  18. 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:
  19. 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:
  20. 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:
  21. 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:
  22. 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:
  23. 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:
  24. 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:
  25. 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:

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