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Found 98 results

  1. History The foundation stone for Oamaru’s former hospital (known locally as ‘the hospital on the hill’) was laid by Deborah Shrimski (the wife of Samuel Shrimski, who was himself a reputable businessman) on 2nd April 1872. All of the shops in the town were closed for the entire day to commemorate the event. After that, the hospital was constructed remarkably quickly and it opened at the end of the same year; although, the first patient, twelve-year-old James Riddell, had been admitted the previous month. The new public facility had four small wards (each equipped with two beds each), a day room, a surgery and two rooms for the warder and his wife. An additional attached wooden building housed a kitchen and wash house. In its first year, sixty-three patients were admitted to the hospital. Although a fee was expected where possible (£1 weekly), the committee in charge of such affairs never pressed for payment. Unfortunately, though, this lenient and humane attitude toward health led to some patients, who were more than capable of paying, avoiding to do so. Over the years, as New Zealand’s population grew, so did its facilities to cope with the increasing number of people. Oamaru Hospital was one of those services that was extended and improved, and by the 1980s the site was completely transformed. Nevertheless, the beginning of the 1990s brought new Government health reforms and with them uncertainty as Area Health Boards were abolished and replaced with bureaucracies whose aim it was to ‘rationalise’ health costs and delivery. Subsequently, new hospital charges were introduced and many hospitals, including Oamaru’s, had to be downgraded. Despite largescale protests which saw half of Waitaki’s population attend a citizen’s march, hospital services were ‘rationalsied’. By 1997, all surgical operations requiring anaesthetic had ceased at Oamaru, and the Maternity Annexe was closed. This resulted in many jobs loses. Things changed for the better, however, in 1998 when the Government announced that a $5 million loan would be provided towards the construction of a new Oamaru Hospital. Essentially, the funding was attained thanks to a community of lobbyists who had spent years trying to secure the continuation of services for the Waitaki population. A new hospital was constructed in 2000 and all services and staff were moved to the new site. Thereafter, the old hospital on the hill was closed. The original plan had been to redevelop the old buildings into a residential area; yet, the only development that took place between 2000 and 2016 was the conversion of the former maternity annexe into the Eden Gardens motel. As for the rest of the site, it rapidly deteriorated due to vandalism. Today, most of the site has been demolished, to make way for a proposed residential housing estate, but work on the project has stalled as parts of the hospital have had to be used as landfill for stabilisation purposes. Our Version of Events The old Oamaru Hospital site is one we’ve visited several times, usually on our way up to Christchurch as it’s an ideal stopping-off place. Each time we’ve visited, though, we’ve normally just loitered by the car while the Urbex Central boys have gone off to take photos of some ‘amazing boiler house’. I can’t say we’d ever been in an interesting boiler house before, so we were of the opinion that it was a bit of a desperate explore. However, what we didn’t realise when was that it contained an enormous boiler system and several additional rooms. For some reason, this part of the hospital survives and remains relatively intact. This is probably due to its relatively concealed location. Anyway, on this occasion, we thought we’d bite the bullet and go take a look at this ‘epic’ forgotten place. And, I can say now that I’m glad we did go do some investigating. Props to Urbex Central for actually finding it too, since there’s nothing immediately obvious about the place at all. God knows what possessed them to wander down there in the first place. Once you find it, then, the first thing you enter is a kind of locker room and toilet block. If you pass through this you find yourself at the top of a staircase that takes you down into the boiler house itself. At the bottom, there are three doors to choose from. The one to the immediate right takes you into the boiler room, the one to the left into two smaller rooms that house some heavily decayed machinery and the one behind takes you into a room that eventually joins the large boiler house. We started with the main part of the building and were instantly awestruck at what we found. The entire room, which was pitch black, was filled with plenty of archaic machinery, mostly from Northern Ireland. The smell of damp and decay was quite powerful, but that was to be expected I guess and the place doesn’t really get aired out very often. All in all, we spent around thirty minutes inside the building. It doesn’t take very much time to wander around it all, but there is plenty to take snaps of. Explored with Nillskill and Bane. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20:
  2. History Even though the small town of Milton was connected with the goldrush years in the 1860s, it was actually founded as a milling town at the beginning of the 1850s. It is rumoured that this is how the town received its name – Milltown is said to have been shortened to Milton. The Bruce Woollen Mill, which was primarily a vertical woollen and worsted manufacturing mill that made blankets, rugs, carpet and apparel fabric, was one of the later additions to the industry as it was not established until 1897. A considerable amount of money was invested in the mill as much of the company’s machinery was specialist equipment imported from Britain. If anything, then, this indicates how prosperous the industry was at the time. Although there are no records of the prices of the machines, a government website reveals that the estimated cost to run the mill initially was £6,000 ($998,000 in today’s NZ currency). However, despite the huge investment, the doors at Bruce Mill did not stay open for long as a devastating fire destroyed the building four years later. Although no one was killed, only the brick walls were left standing after the incident. The mill was rebuilt in 1902, though, thanks to the high demand for woollen products at the time. Thereafter, no further disasters occurred, and by 1923 the company had, apparently, produced the first Swanndri shirts (hard-wearing wool bush shirts). In the same year renovations had to be made to increase the size of the building to meet increasing consumer demands for their growing range of products. The main classical styled office building was the last building to be constructed as part of the expansion plans. Yet, by 1962 Bruce Woollen Mill was taken over by Alliance Textiles. The mill was run smoothly thereafter, without further incident – up until 1992 at least, when forty-nine workers were locked out for refusing to sign new contract agreements. This would result in a group of thirteen protesters assembling outside the gates for the next six years. This was the longest industrial action in New Zealand trade union history. Unfortunately, the protests did not amount to much as Alliance Textiles closed the mill in 1999, with the loss of fifty-four jobs. It was reported that it was no longer economically viable to run the mill due to cheaper products being imported from China and India. Despite the closure at the end of the 1900s, Bruce Woollen Mill Ltd. was re-established for a few years by a consortium of Wool Equities Ltd. and a group of manufacturers and wholesalers in 2012. The mill reopened as a manufacturer of woollen, merino possum, worsted and hand knitting yarns Nevertheless, the Bruce Woollen Mill went into receivership in January 2016. As a result, it is said to have had a considerable impact on the local community in terms of the job losses incurred. Our Version of Events We’d spotted Bruce Woollen Mill while we were checking out the old bacon factory in Milton, but decided we’d come back the following day to have a crack at it during the day. It’s easier to get photos during the day after all. The only problem, though, was that we weren’t quite sure if the place was abandoned or not. Therefore, we spent a little while researching the location, and eventually came across a few articles that indicated it was indeed partially closed. Well, that was good enough for us. It was time to find a way inside! Getting in wasn’t particularly easy, especially since workers from the live section of the factory kept coming outside to satisfy their nicotine addictions. However, we persevered and crept around the site checking out all the nooks and crannies, hoping one of them would reveal a way inside. In the end, our searching turned up nothing, except access to an old workshop – a part of the site that looked a lot more fucked than the other buildings. At this stage, though, we were out of options, so we decided to have a poke around inside anyway. Industrial porn is industrial porn at the end of the day, and sometimes you just have to take what you can get. As it turned out, the workshop we’d managed to access wasn’t too bad at all. The entire place was alive with the rich smells of oil and used metal. The wooden benches and floor boards were littered with hundreds of screws and heavily stained with years of grease. The sheer amount of old-school equipment in there was great to see too, and it even had the classic stash of VHS porn tapes lying around. It’s likely that we would have spent longer in this room, testing out a few of the machines to see if they worked, but this didn’t happen because we happened to find a door hidden among the shadows at the very back of the room. It goes without saying, our curiosity got the better of us and we couldn’t help but take a peek to see what was on the other side. Sure enough, it led into another room. It was a good start. This one was much different, however. Suddenly we found ourselves inside a small warehouse that was filled with cardboard boxes and metal carts. At this point we started to get a little excited, wondering if we’d perhaps found a way into the actual woollen mill as this section appeared to be an old storage area for products ready to be transported. So, with this in mind we cracked on and made our way to the other side of the building, where we found a set of industrial rubber curtains. Little did we know at the time, but this was our last obstacle – the last thing between us and the juicy machinery on the other side. One by one we passed through the curtain and, on the other side, we found ourselves standing before rows upon rows of pure industrial goodness. We’d managed to wander into the closed part of the old woollen factory, and it was fucking amazing. There were cogs, switches, levers and buttons everywhere we looked. For the next ten minutes or so, then, we were all happy snappers. If anything, mind, there was too much to take photos of! However, in our excitement we inadvertently ended up wandering into the live part of the site, where the production line was still up and running. So, from this point on we turned from being excited schoolboys into epic ninjas with unrivalled stealth skills and, somehow, managed to work our way around the workers and active machinery. It was great, being among whining machines and the whirring of drilling that coming from somewhere on the far side of the factory floor. Somehow, though we’re not quite sure exactly how, we managed to remain undetected the entire time we were inside the old woollen mill. At one point all of the machines even stopped, meaning our footsteps and camera taking noises suddenly seemed unbelievably loud. But, the guys working inside seemed oblivious to our presence. Nonetheless, after a further half an hour or so we decided that we’d pushed our luck far enough and that it was probably time to call it a day. We still had a bit of daylight left and more explores lined up, so it made sense to leave while we were still ahead. The battle to resist the urge to take more photos was intense on our way out, but eventually we managed to get back to the bus without incident. It was time to get back on the road and get a few more explored under our belts. Explored with Nillskill and Bane. Equipment being assembled in 1897 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23: 24: 25: 26: 27: 28: 29: 30: 31: 32: 33: 34: 35: 36: 37:
  3. History Audio is a former three-storey brick nightclub that was built sometime in the 1970s. It is close to the centre of Darlington and was once a popular circuit bar and night time venue that brought big name DJs to the town. However, like most nightclubs in Darlington, the venue attracted a ‘troublesome’ crowd which ultimately affected its reputation. Over the years the nightclub has been known as ‘Mr Bojangles Nightclub’, then ‘The Lounge’ and ‘Cactus Jack’s’, and finally ‘Audio’ and ‘Buffalo Joes’. There are two main trading floors inside the building, both of which were completely independent of one another and traded as two separate businesses. The ground floor was accessed via an entrance lobby that is located at the front of the premises. Some of the key features on this floor include: a cash desk, cloak room, DJ booth, raised seating zones and small stage areas for performers. The first floor’s features include: its own lobby, open plan trading areas and dance floor, a DJ booth, seating around the edges of the room and an additional VIP area. The second floor has never been used for trading; it comprises office space and staff changing areas. It is not known when the club closed, although it is likely to have been after 2010 when the venue reopened after being revamped. An estimated £200,000 alone was spent on the first-floor transformation, which included the installation of a new state-of-the-art sound system. Prior to this, it had been earmarked for demolition as part of a £500,000 Oval shopping complex initiative. This project, however, never took off, so the nightclub remained. Our Version of Events It's a little bit of an overdue report this one. We explored it all the way back in February, but never got around to doing the report as we still needed a few external shots - which we forgot to take at the time because we were too focused on the after-exploring drinking session we were due to head to... With a couple of hours to kill before we were due to have a WildBoyz gathering, we decided to have a quick drive over to Darlington to check out a site we’ve been keeping an eye on. Unfortunately, that place was still sealed up tight so it’s still on our to-do list. However, as a result of that failure we did discover that an old nightclub that seems to have been abandoned for as long as any of us can remember was accessible. We weren’t expecting to get inside either, since from the street outside it gives the impression that it’s impregnable. Despite all appearances, though, we did in fact manage to get inside. As far as derelict nightclubs go, this one wasn’t bad. There was still a fair bit of stuff left over, and the building wasn’t completely trashed either. Clearly the local chavs think this one is sealed too. Anyway, we found ourselves on the first floor of the building to begin with, inside a weird room that feels as though the designer managed to get a massive discount on purple furniture at IKEA one afternoon. From there, we made our way downstairs and, rather bizarrely, found ourselves in a kind of saloon. This part of the explore was perhaps the highlight as some of the taps still worked behind the bar. Needless to say, we had a bit of fun testing those out and seeing how rancid alcohol becomes when left alone for too long. There is a second floor to the building as well, and this basically comprises office space, a small open-air roof area and staff only rooms. However, we couldn’t really be arsed to take many photos up there. What is more, since there are no boards on the windows in that part of the building lighting up the place with our torches would have been a bad idea as there is a very active car park right outside. You’re not missing much, though, as there’s nothing of interest up there. After that, then, we decided we’d seen everything there was to see and that it was about time we met the others for some beer and a few games of poker. Explored with MKD. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16:
  4. History Clinton, which was originally named Popotunoa (after the nearby bush-clad hills), is a very small town in New Zealand. It was named after the 5th Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne, Henry Pelham-Clinton, the former British Secretary of State for the Colonies. It is located along State Highway 1, approximately halfway between Balclutha and Gore, and has a population of 285. There are 129 occupied dwellings and 15 remain unoccupied. Government statistics indicate that the town is showing signs of a decrease in the number of people who work and reside there. As far as its history goes, the only interesting thing to happen in the town throughout its entire history was that it was ‘dry’ between 1894 and 1956. In other words, no alcohol was consumed anywhere within the town’s established borders. The townspeople were among those who voted in favour of the Temperance movement (a social movement against the consumption of alcohol and subsequent intoxication) across New Zealand in the early 1900s. However, it is important to point out that having never lived in the town ourselves, our view of Clinton’s uninteresting history is more than likely quite bias; we have never lived there, so perhaps do not appreciate the general goings-on that have occurred there over the years. The fact that there is a book titled, Clinton: Our History, is enough evidence to suggest that something more must have gone on since the mid-1800s. Unfortunately, we were not able to get a copy of the book to inform our reader’s because Mrs. Barnett was not home when we passed through town. But, if anyone desperately wants to learn any more about this town’s history, but more especially the stories and photographs gathered by local families, they can purchase the three-hundred-and-twenty-page book from Mrs. Barnett by giving her a ring on (03) 415 7723. Our Version of Events There was no actual plan to visit Clinton, it just sort of happened. After a massive fail in Invercargill, we happened to be driving through and randomly decided to stop off to stretch our legs a bit. We didn’t know it at the time, but true to its description the place was a veritable ghost town. Even the classic rock tunes blasting in the mini bus didn’t stir any life in the place. It took all of two and a half minutes to drive around the entire town and in that time we located a nice abandoned-looking row of houses. They looked a bit shit, but we figured they’d do just nicely while we took a break from driving. Finding the front door of the first house was a bit of a challenge, because it didn’t seem to have one. We thought that was a bit odd, but in hindsight, why waste money on a front door when you have a well-functioning back door. Seems perfectly logical when you think about it. Anyway, once we were inside we quickly discovered that the place was a right shit-hole. It would have been great the previous night when we’d had to kip in the mini bus (which was a lot more uncomfortable than it sounds) since it had several beds inside, a bathtub and a tin of chunky soup that we could have shared, but as far as explores go it was pretty desperate. There was a can of deodorant in there, too, which seemed to amuse our fellow Kiwi friends far more than it should have done… Five minutes later and we were heading towards the second house. This looked as though it had a lot more potential. We wandered down the main garden path and peered through the front window to make sure the place was actually abandoned. You have to be careful in New Zealand; you might be convinced a house is abandoned, but quite often it turns out someone is still living there. With this in mind, we wanted to be doubly sure that we weren’t about to walk in on someone eating their morning Shreddies. Still unsure whether anyone was living there, we wandered around the back to try the back door. The same trick worked, it opened without so much as a push. We entered the kitchen very cautiously, preparing ourselves to hit legs at any moment. Our shoes suddenly seemed to squeak rather loudly as we edged forward across the kitchen floor, and that classic sneeze that hadn’t been there all day now wanted to be released. Isn’t that always the way. Despite the epic nose explosion, we managed to make it across the kitchen and into the main corridor. This was the sketchiest bit, though, since all of the doors leading off the corridor were closed. In other words, we had no idea whether anyone was lurking inside any of the rooms. By now they’d be arming themselves with the nearest baseball bat, ornamental vase or double barrelled shotgun. Courageously, or stupidly, take your pick, we opened each of the doors one by one. Fortunately, it turned out the house was empty, but it had been an exciting five minutes finding that out. More importantly, though, this house was far more interesting than the previous one had been. This one had plenty of stuff leftover, which is what we all like. Oddly, it looked as if someone had started trying to pack things up at one time, but it seems they never managed to finish for some reason. After spending a bit of time in there, it became quite clear that no one had been around in a long while. There was mould growing in semi-drunk beer bottles on the dining room table, and dust on most of the belongings in each of the rooms. Judging by the photographs and ornamental objects in the cabinets, we’re guessing the place was owned by an elderly person and, sadly, they most likely passed away a few years ago. After around twenty minutes, we were out of things to take photographs of, so we decided to call it a day in Clinton and head off in the general direction of Milton. As we were walking back to the bus we did notice a third abandoned house just over the road, but it looked pretty fucked from the outside. Also, we figured two houses is more than enough for one report, so it’s there and ready for the picking if anyone happens to find themselves passing through the sleepy town of Clinton. Explored with Nillskill and Bane. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23: 24: 25: 26: 27: 28: 29:
  5. History Believe it or not, bacon has been an important part of human history since at least the twelfth century, when it was offered as a reward to married men who could go a year and a day without arguing with their wives. The term originally derived from the Middle English word ‘bacoun’, which was used to refer to all forms of pork. Across the United Kingdom, any man that brought home the bacon became well respected in his community. It is no surprise, therefore, that bacon remained a popular food among colonialist settlers in New Zealand. They brought the tradition with them and this resulted in the establishment of the Kiwi Bacon Factory in Milton. Milton very quickly became an important farming and industrial town in New Zealand. It was originally a small settlement in the 1850s, but it grew rapidly due to its geographic location that placed it on the route to several thriving goldfields. However, following the First World War the town struggled to survive. First, the significant loss of manpower had a detrimental impact on the productivity capabilities of the townspeople, and, second, the goldrush years came to an abrupt end. Eventually, only a large woollen mill (Bruce Woollen Mills) and the bacon factory (Kiwi Bacon Co. Ltd.) kept the town going through the 1900s. Both factories were the town’s main employers. Throughout the 1900s Kiwi Bacon went on to become one of New Zealand’s most prominent industries, with factories based in Auckland, Palmerston North, Christchurch and Milton. On its website, Kiwi Bacon Co. Ltd. suggests that the brand has been serving New Zealanders since 1932 but that the Milton factory existed long before this. It was William Henry Hitchon (1872-1957) who started the bacon factory in Milton, which later became known as Hitchon Brothers Bacon Ltd. It is reported that at least two generations of their family worked there before it was purchased by Kiwi Bacon Ltd. However, although Kiwi Bacon is now a nationwide brand, the Milton site was closed in the early 1980s due to its isolated location and the diminishing scale of the town. Despite the closure of the factory, the bacon tradition in Milton was, in a way, temporarily revived in 2008 when a local collector named Rex Spence decided to open the Milton Butchery Museum. While it lasted, the museum was New Zealand’s largest collection of antique cleavers, chopping blocks, photos and many other meat-related things. Apparently, it also featured the country’s most famous sausage maker. For a while, the museum was a popular tourist destination, especially among elderly ladies who had been the ones who used to visit the local butcher, and it became a place of nostalgic reminiscence. Some of the women recalled many of the classic jokes the butchers would have for them, and one women in her 80s retold her story of one butcher asking her if she wanted to hop inside the chiller. She said, “I thought he wanted to have sex with me, but as soon as I got in there he shut me in and stayed in the shop!” Nonetheless, despite its initial success it seems that interest in Milton’s Butchery Museum dwindled, to the extent that it was no long viable to keep open. As things stand today, then, Milton’s famous bacon and butchery past has been cleaved. Our Version of Events With the turn of a new month, we decided it was time for a new exploring trip. This time, though, we wanted to hit New Zealand’s South Island and see what treats it had in store for us. So, after a very late departure from Dunedin, we set off in the direction of Milton. There’s nothing much in Milton these days, as the history above hinted, but two things on the internet did capture our attention: an old bacon factory. Having never been inside a dedicated bacon factory before, it seemed like a potentially interesting explore. Besides, aside from Vegans, Veggies, Pesco-vegetarians, Pollo-Vegetarians, Flexitarians, Cannibal-vegetarians, Lacto-ovo vegetarians, Fruitarians, Raw/Living Foodists, Muslims, some Hindus and Jewish folk, who doesn’t like a bit of bacon? We rolled into Milton in the dead of night, in a very large and conspicuous minibus. We had requested something smaller, like a pigup truck, but they didn’t have any left apparently. The bus was a bit excessive for the three of us, but the upside was that it was roomy and ours for free for a few days. Fortunately, given the size of the vehicle, Milton was exactly like a ghost town, with no cars on the roads or pedestrians on the footpaths, so our bus didn’t attract too much attention. The only life in the small town seemed to be two guys outside the wool mill having a smoke, and a barking dog somewhere in a garden behind us. We spent a good fifteen minutes or so sneaking around in the bushes around the back, trying to find a way inside the factory, but our efforts were in vain… Until, we eventually found an unlikely way of getting inside. Several minutes later, after a bit of breathing in and dodging an old bees nest filled with decaying bee corpses, we were in! Our first glances inside the building revealed that it clearly hadn’t been visited in quite a while. There was a lot of mould covering the floors and furniture, and water had managed to get in through the roof as there were many photogenic green stains on the walls. From the first damp room, we proceeded to tiptoe our way around the building, trying hard to not alert the smokers outside to our presence. This is where torches with high lumen outputs aren’t such an advantage anymore. Of course, as with anyone trying to be stealthy without an adequate light source (we chose not to turn the torches on for a while), we managed to walk over everything that made a significant amount of sound: glass, metal, plastic bags. How the guys outside didn’t hear us we’ll never know. Or maybe they did and just didn’t give a shit? In terms of the explore itself, then, we found that even though it was filled with a large amount of utter shite, it still resembled how we imagined a bacon factory would look. There were large storage areas, chillers and strange tiled rooms. In particular, one room that caught our interest had a large tiled L-shaped bath inside it. It reminded us of something you’d find in a horror film styled abattoir. Even now, since all of us are a bit rusty when it comes to knowledge about butchery equipment, we can’t tell you what it was used for. Aside from the bath, the other interesting things we stumbled across were the old records books, a sizable ‘bacon cauldron’ (our interpretation) and a chat up line: ‘Do you like bacon? Wanna strip?’… Classic. After the bacon banter, it was time to leave. We’d run out of things to look at. The largest room in the building was crammed full of old equipment and most of it wasn’t even butchery-related. Getting out was a lot easier than getting in, and by the time we were back on the street the guys who had been smoking and the sound of the barking dog were long gone. Milton was back to being a ghost town. With that in mind, we decided to take advantage of the silent night and have a quick wander over to the old wool mill nearby to do a bit of investigating and find out whether or not part of it was abandoned. The answer to that question, however, will have to wait. In the meantime, we leave you with some more bacon banter: What do aerobics instructors and people who process bacon have in common? They both tear hams into shreds. Explored with Nillskill and Bane. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19:
  6. History The Miramar Peninsula, which is located on the south-eastern side of Wellington, has a rich and especially fascinating underground history. The area is perforated with many coves and caves, and even more interestingly old military bunkers that date back to the late 1800s. However, information about these subterranean worlds is quite often fragmented or simply non-existent. What is known, though, is that for many years the peninsula was occupied almost entirely by the military, until 1907 at least when the northern section of the peninsula was linked to the rest of the city by tram. The peninsula has always been an important component in the defence of Wellington; its very name, Miramar, means ‘sea view’ in Spanish. The strategic position of the land was thought to be ideal for the construction of observation posts, coastal guns and emplacements. These were installed to prevent the approach of Russian enemy warships and subsequent attacks. Further additions to Wellington’s defence were made between 1933 and 1960, when Palmer Head was selected as the site for a new battery. Guns were installed in 1936 and by the outbreak of World War II it was operational, although not at full efficiency because some facilities had not yet been constructed. One of the fundamental problems was accommodation; however, this was eventually resolved with the erection of temporary huts. These were later replaced with more substantial buildings. A radar station was the next facility to be added to the installation in 1941 and remnants of this can still be found today. Later in that same year, following the completion of the radar station, it was decided that the site would be expanded once again. This time secret underground military plotting and wireless rooms were to be constructed. The development included the construction of an access road, an access tunnel, two plotting rooms, an engine room and two wireless rooms. Only two entrances for the secret facility were built, one to the north and the other to the west. Palmer Head was decommissioned in 1957, along with every other battery in New Zealand. The advent of air warfare and the threat of a nuclear apocalypse rendered these outdated forts redundant. Nevertheless, the guns were not removed and scrapped until 1961. Thereafter a widespread demolition exercise was put into effect. The original idea for Palmer Head was that it would become a new housing estate, and preliminary plans were drafted. In the end, though, the land was never actually set aside for this development. It was decided that the project could not go ahead due to the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) facilities in the area. Despite the rejection of the development project, the demolition plans for Palmer Head still went ahead and it was dealt with in two phases. By the end of 1970 most of the Palmer Head site had been reduced to rubble. As for the old plotting rooms and wireless rooms, though, they were never destroyed because they lay inside a fenced-off compound owned by the CAA. It is reported that for many years the old ventilation ducts to the rooms were left exposed and they were not buried until the 1990s, when several alterations were made to the compound. The Moa Point Radar station at the top of the hill also survived as it was being used by the CAA in the 1970s. Today, the forgotten secret rooms are once again accessible; although, finding the hole in the hillside is no easy task. Our Version of Events It was almost time to leave Wellington and head off in search of more abandoned places elsewhere in New Zealand, but as we had a little bit of time left on the last evening we set out to get one final explore done. Thanks to a young wizard who goes by the name Zort, we’d received word of some old plotting rooms deep inside a hillside somewhere on the Miramar Peninsula and they sounded particularly interesting. A good old historic underground explore would be a perfect way to end the trip. We drove as close to the site as was possible, but had to ditch the car and walk the rest of the way. So, armed with our cameras and torches, we entered the bush. For the most part, we were walking blindly, not quite sure exactly where the tunnel entrance would be. But it was good fun and we spotted a fair few wētā along the way. In the end, we actually came across the way into the underground rooms a lot quicker than we’d expected. For once there was a minimal amount of fannying around, so everything went smoothly much like a well-oiled machine. Getting into the rooms was, as we’d expected, a tight affair. Basically, if you have any Christmas padding around the midriff, or aspire to be a Hercules lookalike, you’re not getting into this site. With that in mind, we crawled flat on our fronts for a fair few metres until the tunnel gradually widened enough to kneel. From there we had to scramble down a pile of rubble and drop into a long concrete corridor. At this point we could stand up straight and see, quite clearly, that the only way we could go was forwards. So, we followed the tunnel and passed a few empty rooms to the left and right of us. One of these looked like it might have housed the engine at one time. As for the others, it was impossible to tell what their original purpose was. At the end of the corridor we found two larger rooms that were connected by a small window and a left-hand turn. We explored each of the rooms which have a few bits and pieces metal lying in them, and then made our way back to the corridor which turned out to be flooded in the next section. It wasn’t too deep to begin with, but the further we went the higher it got. It wasn’t exactly a pleasant pool of water either; it was slightly green and stale looking. Eventually, we reached the limit of our gumboots (wellies) and couldn’t quite reach the end of the tunnel where there was a large metal gate and more rubble. This forced us to turn back the way we came. After that we faffed around for a while trying to do a bit of light painting, before we finally decided it was beer O’clock and time for some food. To get back out we returned to the pile of rubble and, once again, suffered the tight squeeze back through sand, rubble and concrete. Explored with Bane. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16:
  7. 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:
  8. 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:
  9. 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:
  10. 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:
  11. 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:
  12. 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:
  13. 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:
  14. 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:
  15. 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:
  16. 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:
  17. 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:
  18. History Runcorn, which derives its name from the Anglo-Saxon term rumcofan (meaning a wide cove or bay), is a small industrial town and cargo port in Cheshire. It is located alongside the southern bank of the River Mersey, where the estuary narrows to form the Runcorn Gap. For much of its existence, Runcorn was a small isolated village and a fort, defending the borders of the lands of the Kingdom of Mercia. However, the Industrial Revolution transformed the entire area towards the end of the 18th century. Due to its topography, a large number of manufacturers established a presence in Runcorn, to the extent that all of its open green spaces were quickly occupied. It did not take long for the original village to expand beyond its own borders either, so the town now also comprises a number of the former outlying villages. Today, as the surface space has been significantly reduced, large proportions of the small streams and brooks that flow into the River Mersey have been culverted. Even though the industry in Runcorn has been in rapid decline in recent years, new housing developments have been established in their place, so the culverts remain. Double Trouble, which derives its name from the large dual entranceway, is one of those drains. It is made up of several different sized chambers that are positioned between sections of RCP. Double Trouble also features a number of concrete stairs that are encased within brickwork; these structures allow water to follow with the natural gradient of the landscape and so prevent water from accumulating at certain junctions in the drain. Our Version of Events Double Trouble was the last 2016 explore for us. All of a sudden we’d run out of time to fit anything else in. We’d been keen to get a good old dirty drain done on our trip to Liverpool, but it seemed that all the city has to offer were small shitty RCP’s – as far as we deduced anyway. It was for this reason we had to travel all the way over to Runcorn to find what we were looking for. Once we arrived in Runcorn, we quickly realised that finding the bastard thing wasn’t as straightforward as we’d first imagined. Nonetheless, after foraging around in the trees and bushes for a while, and finding a smaller drain that smelt very strongly of sewage, we eventually stumbled across the two great entrances that denote the start of Double Trouble. The sheer size of the outfall makes this drain especially inviting, even if it is a concrete monolith, and we couldn’t wait to have a peek inside to see what it might have in store for us. We climbed up the side of the overflow weir and onto a raised platform to reach the entranceway of the left-hand side tunnel. From there we plodded on for some metres, before we reached a junction where both of the initial tunnels join together. We continued on, following a long square passage for what felt like a long time; having said that, we did stop several times to take a few photos. At the end of the long square concrete section, we came across what was perhaps one of the best parts of the whole explore: a large concrete chamber with a staircase positioned in the centre, alongside two smaller RCP’s either side of it. This room was perfect for flinging a bit of steel wool around on a whisk, so the next fifteen minutes or so were spending doing exactly that. Leaving the smell of burnt wool behind us, we climbed up the stairs and discovered that the next section was a stoopy RCP. It looked boring as fuck, but we carried on anyway. It wasn’t too bad at first, apart from the monotony and stoopiness, but it did have a few surprises in store for us along the way in the form of small brick chambers that are presumably access areas for engineers and maintenance crews. However, the best bit was yet to come. Towards the end of the insipid RCP, another staircase was gradually becoming visible. When we did in fact step out of the cylindrical pipe we found ourselves inside a brick-lined chamber with a concrete staircase straight ahead. More fire and flames ensued as we tried to make use of the aesthetically pleasing setting surrounding us. The final part of Double Trouble takes you through more RCP that eventually leads to another staircase and a second split in the system, where you can carry on towards Liverpool if you want by taking one of the two the back-breaking RCP’s that lie ahead. For us, however, this is where we decided to call it a day. As the next section was considerably smaller than what we’d just wandered through, we decided that what lay ahead was probably the same shitty concrete. Besides, it was almost New Year at this stage and we all had places we wanted to be, such as the pub. With that, we took a quick group shot and turned around to make our way back to the entrance. Why we didn’t pop a lid to get back out a little sooner is beyond me, but there you go. It seemed WildBoyz were in the mood for more walking that day. Explored with Ford Mayhem, Meek-Kune-Do, The Hurricane, Box and Husky. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17:
  19. History Victoria Tower, which is also known locally as ‘the Docker’s Clock’, is a Grade II listed Gothic Revival clock tower located alongside Sailsbury Dock in Liverpool. It was designed by Jesse Hartley, an eminent engineer who was responsible for the construction of a large number of the docks and warehouses along the River Mersey. Hartley’s design was inspired by the castle architecture of the Rhine region in Central Europe; this is why the structure was built using irregular blocks of grey granite and why it has embrasures that have been cut into the tower’s walls. The tower was built between 1847 and 1848, to commemorate the opening of Sailsbury Dock. It was also constructed to aid ships using the port. It allowed them to set the correct time as they sailed out into the Irish sea (the time ball was apparently controlled by a signal from the Liverpool Observatory) and was equipped with a bell to warn vessels of impending meteorological changes such as high tide and fog. A navigation light encased inside an ornamental structure was originally planned for the roof of the tower; however, a 9 metre flagpole was installed instead when it was agreed that the structure would not function as a lighthouse. An additional lesser known feature of the tower is that the bottom three levels of the structure served as a flat for the Pier Master. These floors were boarded and designed to be much more comfortable than the rest of the building. On account of the decline in shipping along the Mersey, the condition of Victoria Tower has deteriorated significantly, primarily due to water and wind damage. In addition to these problems, the tower has become overgrown with vegetation over the years, and is now also infested with a large number of pigeons. Although it was announced in 2010 that the clock tower, along with several other historic buildings around the area, would be repaired and fully restored as part of a £5.5 billion restoration programme, no work has yet been initiated. Our Version of Events It was getting late on in the evening and we were all keen to get back to our digs for the night to drink beer and play poker, but we also wanted to have a quick wander over to Victoria Tower. We’ve stared at it enough times from the other side of the water, so it seemed about time we paid it a visit. Plenty of fucking around certainly ensued trying to figure out which part of the dock we had to trespass on to get to it; as we were to discover, it’s situated on a piece of land that’s tricky to get to if you’re not very familiar with the area. But, in the end we figured out where we needed to be; right on the other side of a drive-thru movie night. We entered through the main gates of one of the dockyards and wandered towards a small congregation of cars. The plan had been to blend in, but having left the car behind this was very difficult. Fortunately, however, the film was a decent one: Die Hard 1. And we’d entered at the good bit – the scene on the rooftop where Alan is making a last-bid attempt to get rid of Bruce. At this stage in the film Bruce’s vest top was well and truly green. Using the film to our advantage we crept through the cars. We passed a blue Ford Fiesta first, where, much to our delight, the couple inside seemed distracted enough without the film. It looked as though the woman in the passenger seat had dropped her revels somewhere on the driver’s side and was frantically looking for them. She had her head positioned over the driver in a very unusual position. The driver seemed to be helping to force her head down a bit lower too. There must have been an orange flavoured one in his lap or something. A red Volkswagen Golf had to be passed next. The passengers in this one didn’t seem to be focused on the film either though. A rather large flabby woman in her late 50s was pressed up against the windscreen, with both enormous breasts, a cheek and two plump lips firmly plastered against the glass. To our horror she was bouncing up and down a bit, so her folds sounded a bit like window wipers in turbo mode during a heavy downpour. Slightly scarred, psychologically, we made it to the other side of the dockyard. From here to the tower the journey was much less eventful. We had to make haste, however, since the tall palisade gates at the entrance would be closing soon – as soon as the movie was finished. Nothing like a bit of time pressure to spur you on. Unfortunately, though, when we did finally reach the door to the tower we quickly discovered that it was locked up tight. A bit frustrated that we’d already used up some of our gambling and drinking time, we decided to get the ball sacks out and climb our way inside instead. A tiny barred gate wasn’t stopping us from getting into the tower! It was around the halfway mark that we decided the climbing part of the plan was a bad idea. It was a chilly night and much more difficult that we’d first imagined. Hartley didn’t think it through when he designed overhanging ledges on the tower, which are now caked in a fine layer of slippery moss and pigeons’ cloacal secretions. Nevertheless, we’d watched the classic Stallone movie Cliffhanger three nights previously, so we knew we should probably just man the fuck up and get the climb done. Each of us had more than a t-shirt on too, so I don’t know what we were complaining about. We reached the top just as Alan was hanging off the side of Nakatomi Plaza. Everyone gathered at the top of the tower and peered through the crenels as Alan was plummeting to the ground; we were glad we’d made it in time to see the best scene in the film. You know what they say after all, it’s not really Christmas until Hans Gruber falls from a building. A few minutes were spent taking shots from the roof, but it was very a windy evening so the tripods ended up taking quite a battering. In the end we had to make do with the few usable nightscape shots we’d managed to take. Some luck was on our side, though, since some thoughtful chavs, who I presume were wearing Burberry check, had smashed the lock off the hatch. This made getting inside the tower much easier. An explosion of pigeony disease-ridden gas erupted as we lifted the lid. It smelt like thousands of them were down there, slowly drowning in their own shit and piss. For some reason we decided to crack on anyway, as you do. So, we climbed down the several broken rungs we could see into the depths of the festering pit of doom. A very sketchy bendy ladder came next. It was clearly some sort of improvisation to make up for the lack of staircase. At the bottom the situation didn’t improve either, as we found ourselves literally knee deep in shit and rotting carcasses. Pigeon pie was definitely off the menu later that evening. We hastily plodded on, racing down the rusted spiral staircases, trying our best not to disturb the crusted layers of poo. After all, you can’t leave an explore until you’ve seen absolutely everything there is to see. We didn’t hang about inside the tower for long after reaching the bottom, especially since we’d recently discovered that you can catch Chlamydia psittaci from contaminated bird droppings. That’s right, you can catch ‘the clam’ while urbexing! Although, having said that, this type is definitely a lot worse than the kind you’ll get from having ‘protected’ sex with a resealable sandwich bag. Anyway, back to the story. We managed to get back out onto the street just as the credits of the film were rolling down the screen. Thank fuck too, because climbing the fence would have been shit! After that we headed back to the car and, for most of us, this signified the end of the night where the rest of the evening would be spent drinking beer and playing several games of poker and pigeon toss (it sounds like a dirty game, but we assure you it’s quite innocent). Explored with Ford Mayhem, Rizla Rider, Husky and Soul. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17:
  20. History Wheelbirks is a small rural part of Northumbria, located to the south of Hadrian’s Wall. According to several historical books, there have been farmsteads in the area since the 16th century. It was David Richardson, though, who would have the greatest influence in transforming the area. Richardson, who was a Quaker and the owner of some of the largest tanneries in the country, moved to the area in 1882. The family has a long history as tanners, tracing as far back as the mid-16th century to a site based at Great Ayton, Cleveland, so they had a considerable amount of wealth and influence. In 1902, Richardson started work on replacing the original farmhouse at Wheelbirks with a Restrained Gothic style farmhouse and several small cottages. By 1911, the area was completely transformed, having changed from a small farmstead into a fully-fledged estate. Further development was prompted a few months after completion following an outbreak of tuberculosis (TB) inside Richardson’s tanneries. During the early 1900s, for instance, the works located at Elswick were reported to have a high incidence of the disease. The sanatorium itself is a cruciform construction of steel-reinforced concrete, white engineering brick and glass. It was designed to appear as if it is standing on stilts in a hollow; three bridges attached to the main entrances of the building helped to create the illusion. The design of the structure, which is reportedly American-based, and its chosen setting is said to have comprised a fresh-air method of treatment whereby patients would be surrounded by countryside and a clean, unpolluted environment. Unfortunately, Richardson never witnessed the completion of the sanatorium because it remained unfinished at the time of his death in 1913. In the end, the building was never used to treat TB sufferers because developments in antibiotics led to important changes in how TB was treated, to the extent that the use of isolated hospitals was rendered unnecessary. Today, the sanatorium is in a dilapidated condition. The interior is badly damaged and almost completely stripped, and the outside is clearly showing its age. In addition, one of the entrance bridges appears to be missing; there is some evidence that one existed on the western side of the building. Despite its condition, there is evidence that a local farmer has commandeered the space, using it as a storage site for various pieces of farm equipment and a random collection of boats. Our Version of Events Prior to visiting the Wheelbirks TB Sanatorium, we were warned that some stealthy moves would be required as there is an active farm overlooking the premises. With this is mind, we parked several miles away and decided to have a wander through the woods, to approach the building from the rear. Taking the necessary precautions, we camo’d up, slapping on a few streaks of black paint across our cheeks that we happened to have lying around for full effect. The walk that followed was itself quite pleasurable as we navigated our way along the side of a stream that runs close by the sanatorium. If anything, with tripods in our arms it felt a bit like we were stalking a predator (the extra-terrestrial kind, not a paedophile). Thankfully we weren’t, though, because if one really had been skulking around alongside us our attempt to fend it off would have been a very shit addition to the sequels. The building appeared all of a sudden, lurking behind a thin cluster of trees just ahead. It was just as everyone has described it: American. It was certainly different, but I can’t say it struck us as the most aesthetically pleasing building in England. However, before we could stand in awe for any longer, as we were peering out from the treeline, we suddenly noticed that the pre-warnings about the farm next door and there being lots of activity were quite accurate. The farm was a veritable hive of activity, with cars coming and going and a hardened sentry equipped with a set of heavy-duty binoculars sitting on the roof. What is more, just ahead in the next field there appeared to be a shooting party. It wasn’t very clear what they were shooting at, but they all looked the business with their flat caps, tweed jackets and 4x4s. Taking care not to get shot, we crept up to the old sanatorium waving a fresh Kleenex tissue for good measure. From there, choosing a point of entry wasn’t particularly difficult as all the doors were either missing or wide open. Once inside, it was immediately apparent that local farmers and the nearby ice cream parlour are using the site as a makeshift storage facility. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be storing any ice creams in the big freezer though. That’s right, we checked. The main floor, which I would assume is the ground floor (the design of the building is a bit odd having been constructed in a hollow), is filled with bicycles, boats and farm equipment. Downstairs is being used in a similar way, although a lot of the gear down there appears to be quite dated. As for the upper floors of the building, they are absolutely fucked. With the sheer number of holes in the walls, it would appear as though the guys over in the field are in much need of some target practice. There is only really one room that might be of interest to anyone passing through, and that is the one filled with old-ish whisky bottles and newspapers. We decided to call it a day after taking a quick look around the upstairs rooms. There wasn’t much left to see, and the group of would-be mercenaries in the field opposite seemed to be packing up to leave. The first few land rovers were already leaving the field and forming a Mad Max style convoy. The last farmer who was closing the gate even seemed to have a large speaker system mounted on the back of his Toyota Hilux. We ducked beneath a window ledge for a moment as the convoy roared past us, then when everything went quiet again headed back towards the woods to face our trek back to the car. Explored with LightSaber. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21:
  21. History St. Paul’s Church is a grade II listed building that overlooks the small town of Denholme. It was designed by J. B. Chantrell and constructed in 1846, and represents an early English style of architecture which comprises a seven-bay nave and lean to aisles, a Chancel and a vaulted roof with ribs and bosses. As for the exterior, the building is built from coursed gritstone with ashlar dressings and it boasts a large western tower with a Welsh slate roof. The church closed in 1999 due to falling numbers in the parish. In the months that followed the closure of the building, the Church of England were able to remove the majority of the valuable items, such as the bells, the ground floor stained glass windows and the organ. At present, the church is said to be on the market for £170,000 and various plans have been submitted to convert the entire structure into one dwelling. Alternative plans have also been proposed to demolish the church and build residential housing on the site. Many concerns have been raised by local residents and the Bradford Diocese about the current condition of the building as it has been badly damaged by vandals and thieves. Our Version of Events It was a cold December morning when eight WildBoyz decided it would be a good idea to have a drive over to Liverpool for the New Year. On our journey towards the beer, fireworks and other celebratory shenanigans, we decided to stop off at a few locations and take some snaps. The first stop-off along the way was St. Paul’s Church, which we spotted as we bombed our way through the small town of Denholme. Keen to get out of the cars and stretch our legs, we parked up in one of the nicest residential estates any proper northern lad has ever seen in his entire life. Trying hard to blend in with the locals as we walked towards the old church, we made casual conversation about men’s country clothing, golf and skiing in the alps. Our knowledge of such topics was limited, however, so our discussion only managed to get us halfway to the church gates. From that point on, we turned back into a wild throng of yobs. Conversation quickly slipped back to our usual topics: food, boobs and torch chat. From the graveyard access into the church wasn’t too difficult, thanks to some local Reebok clad chavs. So, within minutes each of us were stood inside the main navel gazing at our ruined surroundings. For the most part, the building is absolutely fucked. Most of the furniture is either broken or stacked into chaotic piles, and many of the old wall plaques are broken and cracked. It seems that some fucking bellend thinks it’s acceptable to smash commemorative tablets… There’s evidence of a fair few holes in the floor too, but the sheer amount of pigeon shit that’s been allowed to build up over the years has covered most of these over. The blue painted ceiling is still rather nice to look at though, especially from the upstairs balcony. After spending a good few minutes inside the main part of the church, we decided to have a search for a way inside the western tower. At first, access seemed impossible because the only way up appeared to be through a massive hole in the ceiling of the tower, which was a good few metres high. With only a broken ladder at our disposal, which itself was at least three metres to short anyway, all hope of getting up there seemed lost. As it turned out, however, we’d walked past the real way up about several times: a small spiral staircase at the base of the tower near main front doors. Once up inside the tower, we quickly discovered that it was very tower-like. It was clear that it once housed bells, but today it’s merely home to thousands of fetid one-legged pigeons. As the smell of shit brought tears to our eyes we didn’t hang about for very long up there. And that about concludes our little trip to St. Paul’s Church. It’s damp, mostly trashed and fairly grotty, but it still makes for a good photo or two if you happen to be passing by. Fifteen minutes after arriving, we headed back to the cars and set off in the direction of the famous Queensbury Tunnel. As it was only around the corner, it seemed like a wasted opportunity not to visit it. Explored with Ford Mayhem, Meek-Kune-Do, Rizla Rider, The Hurricane, Box, Husky and Soul. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23:
  22. History MV Royal Daffodil, formerly known as Overchurch until 1998, was constructed in Birkenhead in 1962 by Cammell Laird (a British shipbuilding company that was founded in 1828) for Birkenhead Corporation. The 751 tonne vessel, which was constructed to be part of a fleet of ferries operating on the River Mersey, was named after one of the town’s post-war overspill housing developments. It was the first of the fleet to be of an all-welded construction and is now last of the Mersey Ferries to be built. Once in service, the ferry was popular with passengers because it was considered to be the warmest vessel of all the Birkenhead ferries; however, it is not actually known why it was warmer. The ship was also popular among its captains as it had a large, modern, navigation bridge which spanned the entire width of the ship, unlike the other more compact and cluttered bridges on Overchurch’s sister ships. In terms of her other features, Overchurch was fitted with two main outdoor deck areas, a loudaphone system and an advanced radio system. It was also equipped with two medium speed Crossley diesel engines which were capable of propelling the vessel over 12 knots. Both of the engines were controlled by engine order telegraphs (E.O.T’s) – communications devices used by a navigator to order engineers below deck to power the vessel at a desired speed. Nonetheless, despite being more advanced that her sister vessels, Overchurch could be difficult to control in stormy weather due to a design flaw in the high funnel being attached to the bridge and the flare of the bow being different. These faults meant that in a strong swell bringing the vessel alongside the dock could be troublesome, and that water had a tendency to spill over the bow onto the observation deck. In 1998, Overchurch was moved to undergo a major refit. This was completed at Lengthline Ship Repairs in Manchester. The vessel was completely modernised and refurbished over the next year and new engines and navigation equipment were fitted. The original funnel and bridge were retained, but some minor alterations were made. After being refitted, the vessel was renamed The Royal Daffodil and returned back to service. However, the ship was altered again in later years as the lower, main and forward saloons were completely gutted and rebuilt. New catering and bar facilities were fitted, along with dance floors and a new crew area. Following the refurbishment, The Royal Daffodil was used for functions, parties and special cruises along the River Mersey. Although she was converted into a cruising vessel, The Royal Daffodil’s sisters were rebuilt as multi-purpose ferries; they are now known as Royal Iris of the Mersey and Snowdrop. By December 2012, The Royal Daffodil was withdrawn from service. Reasons for this are linked to persistent engine problems. Since then she was moved to a dock alongside Duke Street in Birkenhead. There are plans to restore the vessel to its full glory, and the engines and generators are still tested periodically; however, she is beginning to show signs of dilapidation (considerable rust, peeling paint and rotten decks). Our Version of Events After a bit of a fail at a nearby brewery which seems to have some sort of vintage shop and a café in it now, we found ourselves over in Birkenhead looking out over the Mersey wondering what the fuck to do next. That was when we spotted a slightly lopsided ship sitting on the horizon. Keen to take a closer look and investigate a little further, we set off towards it to uncover whether or not it was actually abandoned. As it turned out, it looked a bit fucked and dirty, so we guessed it was somewhere on the old abandoned scale, making it nice and ripe and juicy for the picking. At first, getting into the site seemed to be a bit of a ball-ache, since there seemed to be a lot of sharpened palisade and many cameras. What is more, Merseyside Police decided to turn up… Typical that they always turn up when you don’t need them. We were forced to wait patiently as the same car passed us several times between two minute intervals. In the end, though, they fucked off, apparently satisfied that we weren’t a group of yobs armed with spray paint and white lightening. There was, however, something to be gained from the local bobbies turning up, and that was that we’d ended up sitting there long enough to figure out how we were going to get onto the site. Fifteen minutes later and we were stood on board The Royal Daffodil. In many ways it’s very similar to the Tuxedo Royale over in Middlesbrough, but it has far fewer holes in it. On that note, it was nice to go below decks and not feel as though we were taking a tour around the Titanic. It didn’t take long to work our way around the whole ship in the end mind, not least because the engine room and captain’s cabin doors were tightly locked. We were quite disappointed after making this discovery, but in hindsight they were going to be nothing compared to those we found on the North Sea Producer, so the disappointment has somewhat receded. All in all, then, the explore wasn’t the best we’ve ever done, but it wasn’t a bad way to spend twenty minutes either. After all, it’s always good to get another ship under the belt. Explored with Ford Mayhem, Meek-Kune-Do, Box, Husky and Soul. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18:
  23. History “This is a historic day for Greenwich Peninsula and without doubt, this is one of the most exciting developments in London – of great significance to the capital as a whole, as well as to our borough. This scheme will bring the long-term regeneration of Greenwich Peninsula to fruition, cementing what is a whole new district for London providing housing and jobs for tens of thousands of people and landmark new facilities and buildings” (Councillor Denise Hyland). Greenwich Peninsula, which is surrounded on three sides by the river Thames, is in the east area of London. One of London’s famous landmarks, formerly known as ‘The Millennium Dome’, can be found on the tip of the peninsula. The area was first drained in the 16th century, so that the land could be cultivated. During this era, individuals accused of piracy were frequently hung in cages at Blackwell Point, precisely where the Dome is situated, to deter any other would-be pirates. As London grew, the peninsula quickly became increasingly industrialised, and by the 19th century there were many sites producing chemicals, steel, iron, cement, animal feed, asbestos, bronze and heavy guns. A large power station and gasworks took up the largest proportion of the peninsula, and at one point the gasworks was known as the largest producer of its kind in Europe. However, unfortunately the good times did not last, and the peninsula was hit by the widespread deindustrialisation of England in the late 1900s; many companies fell into financial crisis, and others moved overseas where production costs were cheaper. No longer producers, England was rapidly coming a consumer-based society. At the turn of the 21st century, most of the remaining industry was concentrated on the western side of the peninsula. As for the rest of the land, a large proportion of it was purchased by the Homes and Communities Agency (previously known as the National Regeneration Agency). The agency invested approximately £225 million into the area, helping to create homes, commercial spaces and new transport links. The construction of the Millennium Dome came next, alongside the Greenwich Millennium Village, which brought further residential development to the area: more homes, a school, a medical centre and a Holiday Inn. Currently, Greenwich Peninsula is undergoing more development as 15,000 new homes, two schools, a new transport hub (including London’s first cruise terminal), a 60,000 square metre business space and a 40,000 square metre film studio are being constructed. The Royal Borough of Greenwich Planning Board approved the planning application in 2015. It is estimated that 4,000 of the new homes will be affordable, and that the development will bring at least 12,000 new jobs to the area. Despite the optimism, there has been much criticism concerning long periods of inactivity, where little seems to be achieved. There are also disputes among developers and councillors over turning London into a high-rise capital, similar to Hong Kong or Manhattan. Many argue that London is not suited to being carpeted over with such towers, especially when families will have very little chance of ever living in them. Having said that, it is obvious that some development is underway and the area is gradually being transformed. Our Version of Events We were sat inside McDonalds and it was getting late. Despite the fact that we were in the heart of the capital which is celebrated for its fine quality food, diversity and choice, we ended up choosing this fine establishment to fuel up before we went out exploring. As you might expect, it smelt strongly of grease, tomato sauce and cheap cleaning product; the floors were so caked in all those substances customers could slide their way right up to the counter; it was a bit like curling without the stones. For a while we each stared hard at our burgers, searching for some evidence of something natural as we munched on what were effectively bags of salt with a few crispy fries hidden inside. Suddenly, my eyes caught a glimpse of something. A long scraggly hair poking out from under the gherkin. I pulled at it, hoping to tug it out in one swift yank, but it kept coming. It grew longer and longer with every tug. Yummy! After an intense struggle, the beasty hair, coated in goo and white bits (which I was hoping was mayonnaise), was eventually successfully removed. Cleared of all debris (hair, fingernails and all that sort of shit), I began to prepare myself for the taste sensation that was about to ensue. Death in a bun, with a bit of brown lettuce squeezed in-between for aesthetics. Precisely fourteen minutes and eight seconds later, we left McDonalds relatively unscathed. Now, fully fuelled on absolute shit, we thought it would be a good idea to check out a massive development on the peninsula that we’d spotted earlier in the day. It didn’t take long to make our way over there, and once we arrived we decided to have a little wander around the premises first of all, to check out the camera situation. Initially, it didn’t look good. There were cameras of all shapes and sizes dotted around (big ones, tall ones, small ones and rotating ones), hundreds of the fuckers, along with PIRs and several high-powered lights. At the time we were thinking that we’d never seen so many security devices in one location before, but, in hindsight, we always end up thinking this… What made things worse was the heavy traffic. Anyone would think the city never sleeps. After deciding where we would enter, we waited. We waited some more. Then, we did a little bit more waiting, just for the crack. And, POOF! After smashing a bottle of instant fog against the ground, all of a sudden we magically appeared inside the construction site. I’d like to say that we popped along to the Leaky Cauldron earlier in the day, and that we’d managed to lay our hands on some of that magic dust they all rave about, but it turns out it doesn’t really exist. We had to make do with bottled fog from the North York Moors. It was a right bastard to collect with empty Sprite bottles and fishing nets from Aldi, but we managed it. Inside, we raced to the nearest crane. It was very difficult to access, so we whipped out a grappling hook and harpoon launcher. This made things a lot easier. Like ninjas in the night we ascended the rope and managed to get onto the crane itself. Once inside the main tower where the ladder is located we began to climb, right up to the hatch. Disappointingly, it was locked, so we decided we’d try another one and started to descend. At the bottom of the crane though, we discovered that there was access to a basement, so we popped inside in search of water. By now the McDonalds had vaporised all the water content in our bodies, so we were parched. Thankfully, we found some, and what a refreshing experience it was! At that moment I would have been willing to drink the Thames, I was so thirsty. After drinking our body-wright in water, we continued on to the next crane. We raced to the next crane, and the many litres of water we’d consumed sloshed about inside us noisily. At least it felt that way. At the base of the next crane, Mayhem volunteered to go first. Having used up the grapple hook, he was forced to use suction cups this time round. His ascent was painstakingly slow, but eventually he made it to the hatch. Unfortunately, this one too was locked. Feeling even more disappointed and disheartened, we decided to take the stairs to the top of the nearby building instead (which was about fifteen storeys high). We figured the night wouldn’t be an entire waste if we got some shots from up there. It was only when we reached the top of the building that we noticed yet another third crane. Deciding that we’d try our luck one last time, we decided to scramble up and see if access was possible. Fortunately, this hatch was unlocked! Moments later we emerged on the top of the crane, surrounded by fantastic views of the peninsula. Several other cranes were visible from our position, and they too looked quite spectacular from where we were stood, with their range of lights and colours. Wasting no time, we whipped out the camera gear and started taking photographs. After that, we did the usual thing of hanging around for a wee bit, taking the time to take in the view with our own eyes. In the end, we felt satisfied with how the night turned out. Explored with Ford Mayhem, Slayaaaa and two other anonymous individuals. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11:
  24. History Once part of Lancashire, Worsley is a small town in Greater Manchester, England. It is first mentioned in the Great Rolls of the Pipe (a collection of financial records maintained by the English Exchequer) in 1195, when it was known as Werkesleia, meaning, in the language of the Saxons, ‘the cleared place which was cultivated or settled’. Prior to the 18th century, Worsley comprised a small farm-based village and a manor created by William I; however, after the completion of the Bridgewater Canal in 1761, the village began to expand as cotton manufacturers, iron and brick works and coal mining companies were established in the area. Further expansion of the town came following the First and Second World Wars, as large residential estates were introduced, to house the increasing number of workers of nearby factories and evacuees from the south of England. A small section of Worsley Brook was culverted during the Industrial Revolution, because a canal had to be constructed above to provide a more efficient means of transporting coal from Worsley to Salford. The first part of the culvert would have been built sometime in the late 1750s. After the completion of the canal it was considered a major engineering achievement because it was accomplished in a timely fashion, built over the top of obstacles such as Worsley Brook and the River Irwell, and even allowed boats to travel underground into the coal mines themselves. By 1887, however, the mines in the area ceased production. Most of the works and several large warehouses were demolished during the early 1900s and the area was transformed so that new developments could be positioned on the land. As part of this redevelopment a larger 400 metre section of Worsley Brook was culverted, to allow for building over the top. Today, Worsley Culvert is undergoing major restoration work to address various structural problems. It was reported that the deteriorating state of the brickwork posed risks to 260 local properties because there was a risk of it collapsing and causing subsequent flooding. The plans to stabilise the structure involve lining it with thirty-six four-tonne concrete sections. According to the Environment Agency, a number of pumps have been installed to help drain and divert the brook while the work takes place. Our Version of Events After a rough night sleeping beneath a tarp, we were pretty keen to get moving and do some exploring. To avoid sleeping in two cramped cars (there were eight of us after all), which were each filled with a lot of Tesco sandwich packaging, pigeon shit, a little bit of asbestos and enough gear to get us through a nuclear war, four of us had decided to kip outside beneath the stars. We’d found a nice little spot in some sort of country park by a small duck pond, and it was only really as we were setting up that we started to noticed that the floor was turning white with frost. Still, we decided to ignore it, and cracked on with setting up our campsite for the evening. We figured that we’d just each wear three or four jackets and hoodies and light a few candles for warmth. By the morning, though, none of us could feel our arms and legs anymore. The last bit of warmth in our bodies was centred around the torso area. Getting up was the worst bit, as we left behind the little warmth there was inside our sleeping bags. Putting the boots back on felt like stepping into blocks of ice. The morning didn’t get any better as we noticed that there was a layer of ice covering the tarp, and that the pond behind us had completely frozen over. What is more, we’d left a large half-eaten cake outside, thinking it would be perfectly fine throughout the night for us to enjoy at breakfast, but it was gone! All that remained were several fox footprints (or so we guessed) in the frost. It took a wee while to thaw out a bit before we could pack everything up, so our start to the day was a little delayed. Nevertheless, once we were back inside the cars, with the heaters running at full blast, we were ready for some more exploring. First on the list was an old culvert… You can tell this was a well-planned winter trip. Having said that, there was some intelligent thinking behind this decision to don the waders in December. Prior to embarking on our trip to Liverpool, we’d stumbled across a few old reports on a fantastic looking culvert known as ‘Old Worsley’. Judging by the photographs we found, it was short but filled with all sorts of old brick and stonework. The problem, though, was that we’d read about redevelopment work being scheduled between 2016 and 2017. So, since we were passing through Manchester on our way to Liverpool, we figured it would be nice to take a quick look. We hoped, with a little bit of luck on our side, that the work crew might not have ruined it too much just yet. We arrived at the entrance of the culvert, which is situated at the side of a nice residential estate, just as everyone else seemed to be waking up. What this means is that we looked like a right bunch of space cadets as we wadered up in middle of the street. One guy who was walking his small sausage dog, which made him look ever so slightly like a camp paedophile, stared at us with an angered expression on his face. He even doubled back on himself to walk past us another couple of times, and the entire time he kept his beady little eyes on us. Thankfully, it didn’t take long to walk up to the brook, so we were soon out of sight. You know what they say, out of sight out of mind. Inside, we were instantly a bit disappointed because the redevelopment work seemed to be in full swing. The first section is now almost completely reinforced with concrete. The next part, where there is an arched entranceway and what should have been a rugged boxed off section inside, didn’t look too good either; now, a concrete shell has been erected inside it. The work looked very recent too, since some of the cement was still a bit damp, which was unfortunate indeed. Things looked a lot more promising, however, once we reached the end of this fresh Soviet-inspired culvert (someone ought to stamp a little hammer and sickle in the cement as the company logo really). We had reached a brick chamber with an arched brick tunnel leading off to the right. The first steps into the chamber were tentative. The water looked deep and cold. We weren’t wrong. As we waded a few steps forwards towards the arched tunnel, the water instantly became thigh deep (and by that we mean upper thigh). But, ignoring the ball tingling chill, we carried on; the tunnel ahead was interesting and, as far as we could see, there was much more to see further ahead. It was at this point that Ford Mayhem started to find the explore a lot less entertaining mind, as he had discovered a hole in his waders. The main thought whirling around his head at the time was something along the lines of “for fucks sake, why is it getting deeper?! Man, I’m going to have to hold my torch and snap shut the hole on my waders with my hand. Here goes… Fuck, fuck! It’s cold! Jesus, my hand is cold”. Things got even more tricky towards the middle part of the arched tunnel too, as it dips a little bit, so we were forced to lean further into the water. At this point, it was safe to say that most of us were within inches of breaching point as the water was chest deep. For poor Mayhem, the situation was even worse because the key thought swirling around his head now was, “Wait. Why am I getting wet down my right leg? I thought I was holding it shut?... Oh shit. I have a hole on the rear side as well. FUCK!”. Inside the next section the ceiling was considerably higher, so we could stand up straight again. We were still waist deep in the water though, and by this point our legs were starting to go a little numb. It was so cold in there that there was an icy mist hovering over the water. It was a bit like walking into a steamy sauna, but without the steam and heat. At least we didn’t have to worry about our balls being cold anymore mind, since they’d moved right up into our stomachs to hibernate. For reasons unknown even to ourselves, we continued on. Once again the water level started to get deeper and deeper. It was at this point, two of the Boyz bailed after having stopped for several minutes to discuss how much of a shit time they were having. They had almost reached the breaching point of their waders and couldn’t continue forward any longer as it was still getting deeper. Mayhem was left standing in waist deep water the whole time, trying to pinch shut two holes while holding his torch. What was running through his mind at this point was a slightly desperate “why won’t the others hurry the fuck along? I’m freezing my tits off here!” After a bit more debating, the rest of us made the decision to carry on and see how far we could get. Two metres later, though, and almost all of the other Boyz had decided to bail. The water was millimetres away from pouring inside the waders at this stage. So, now, there were only two happy-ish WildBoyz willing to carry on, all for the sake of producing a swish new report at the end of it. Soul led the way, followed by Mayhem. For some reason, Soul’s waders seemed to go right up to his nipples and beyond. He might as well have been wearing a dry suit, so he was pretty comfortable throughout this entire endeavour. As for Mayhem, he battled on, trying to pinch his waders with one hand while carrying a torch and now a tripod and camera in the other. The rest of the group had handed it to him as they weren’t going any further. Somehow, he was doing well for a few more metres or so, until, all of a sudden, another icy trickle could be felt down the inside of his right leg. The water was so cold he’d lost all feeling in his fingers, and they were no longer capable of gripping anymore. The bitter water, which might as well have been a murky flavoured Slush Puppy, quickly started to fill up his waders. A sequence of the foulest words known to mankind quickly filled the still silence of the tunnel, followed by the cruel laughter of five others. Cold and completely wet, Mayhem decided that he might as well continue and finish off the explore. Motivated by the knowledge that he had a dry flannel back in the car, he cracked on like a proper legend. Meanwhile, everyone else headed straight for the Barton Arms, a pub that’s not too far from the entrance of ‘Old Worsley’, for a quick shandy. By the time Soul and Mayhem got to the pub, looking a lot like two washed up submariners, the rest of the Boyz had knocked back a good few drinks and a few steak and ale pies. It has to be said that sitting in the pub, close to a roaring fire, after being permanently cold for the past 12 hours or so felt pretty damn amazing. Explored with Ford Mayhem, Meek-Kune-Do, Rizla Rider, Box and Soul. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22:
  25. History The Manor Church Centre is a Grade II listed building in Egremont, Wallasey. It was designed by architects Briggs, Wolstenholme and Thornley (the same company who designed the local town hall) in the early 1900s, and was constructed by George Parkinson between 1907 and 1908 for £19,000. It was built to replace the Presbyterian’s first Neoclassical church on King Street because it was too small to accommodate a rapidly growing congregation. Once completed the building was known as the Egremont Presbyterian Church, and being the largest Presbyterian church at the time it had the capacity to accommodate 1,000 people. The church opened for worship in 1908, almost immediately after completion. The large church hall at the rear was added in 1910. For many years the church remained unchanged, until 1972 when the Presbyterian Church of England and the Congregational Church in England and Wales joined to form the United Reformed Church. As a result, the church became Egremont United Reformed Church, until 1994 when it united with Trinity Methodist Church and became the Manor Church Centre. Manor Church Centre is well-known for its architecture and interesting stained glass windows. The church is constructed out of red sandstone from quarries in Runcorn, and is based on a unique mixed English Perpendicular, Arts and Crafts and Gothic Revival style. The design of the building includes a large nave with north and south passage aisles, a north transept, a short chancel and a 60ft southwest tower. The interior of the building was designed to be spacious and to offer uninterrupted views for all members of the congregation. The Baltic Pine hammerbeam roof (a decorative open timber roof truss) with corbels that are decorated with foliage help to create such an atmosphere. As the church hall was built a few years afterwards, it adheres to a different Tudor style with four bays and mullioned and transomed windows. As mentioned above, the stained glass throughout the building is famous. Some of it dates back to the 1890s, and other pieces the early 1900s. Some of the most notable pieces include: a pane depicting the Empty Tomb by H.G. Hiller in the east window, the window in the transept depicting The Sower that was designed by W. Aikman and made by Powell’s, a window by G. Gamon depicting Faith, Hope and Charity, a window on the north side of the building by the famous stained glass artist Wilhelmina Geddes, and the west window which contains glass that was designed by Percy Bacon. Although reports are limited, it is reported that the church closed sometime after 2011. Dwindling congregation numbers have been attributed to its closure. Another report suggests that the building is undergoing a refurbishment project, but it is unclear whether the building will reopen as a church, be reused for an alternative function or be demolished to make way for a potential housing project. There are concerns among the local community that vandals have started to cause considerable damage to the building, particularly some of the stained glass where there is evidence that stones have been thrown through. Our Version of Events It was getting on for late afternoon, and we were heading back to base camp for the evening after spending a few hours looking around a derelict mansion we’d passed several times while staying in Wallasey. A large church towered above us as we wandered along the footpath. The building itself was one of those that look a bit abandoned, but you’re not too sure if it really is. Nevertheless, it merited a bit of closer investigation, so we hopped the non-existent fence and tried to have a peek through a window. Unfortunately, our efforts proved to be fruitless. A strippergram could have been jiggling her tits around on the other side, but we wouldn’t have been any the wiser. It was way too dark inside. We continued wandering around the outside a bit more, though, and much to our delight ended up discovering a possible means of entry. Several minutes later and we had successfully infiltrated the church. Of course, the stripper had been a complete figment of our imaginations, so the remaining content of this report has been given a PG rating. But, in taking our first glances around the silent navel we could see lines of pews and what appeared to be an almost immaculate looking setting. A gigantic wooden ceiling hung over us and what was left of the fading sunlight outside struggled feebly to penetrate the thick stained glass windows. The entire church looked as though it has been abandoned only yesterday. Our footsteps echoed loudly as we wandered towards the large organ and baptismal font. It was incredibly dark inside the church, especially since most of the stained glass windows have been enclosed in metal cages to protect them from the failed ejaculation specimens of Merseyside. To rectify this problem, we were forced to wave a 1000 lumen torch around (the only torch we had available). As we did this, we hoped that neighbours and people walking past outside wouldn’t notice the erratic light display that was going on inside. If one of us had taken to the organ it’s likely people would have thought Elton John was getting frisky with the keys, or that John Lennon had risen from the grave, checking all the nooks and crannies for where he left his bastard submarine keys. It grew darker and darker very quickly, so in the end it became a case of running around the church to grab as many snaps as possible of the good stuff. We left the tower until last because the vast majority of it isn’t anything particularly special; it looks as though much of the original spiral staircase has been replaced for metal ladders and gantries. At the top we arrived just in time to see the sun setting over the River Mersey and the lights turning on over in Liverpool. The views were surprisingly good considering we were in the middle of a residential area. After expending the last of the daylight, we made our way back down into the church. From this point on taking photographs inside the building became virtually impossible so we decided to head off. We guessed that the chances of getting caught by someone walking or driving past outside were considerably high now, especially since people would be leaving work around this time. Overall, though, despite the light problems Manor Church Centre proved to be a really good wander. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23: 24: 25: 26: 27:

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