Jump to content
WildBoyz

UK Newton Aycliffe Clock Tower, Newton Aycliffe - May 2016

Recommended Posts

History

“As centre manager I am delighted that after substantial investigations to secure the clock tower, we now have in place the ability to demolish Churchill House and leave the clock tower as a freestanding, fully operational structure” (Bryan Haldane, centre manager).  

For the many out there who do not know, Newton Aycliffe is a town in County Durham. It is said to be the oldest town in the north of England, and the original residential areas were built around the utopian vision of Lord William Beveridge. In the aftermath of WWII, the style and design of the town was meant to tackle Britain’s ‘Five Giants’: poverty, disease, homelessness, ignorance and unemployment. The government had intended that the whole of Britain would be based on the Newton Aycliffe design; they called it the ‘Welfare State’. Contrary to the ‘streets in the skies’ projects, in cities such as Newcastle, Leeds and Sheffield, Lord Beveridge’s new development involved creating the perfect town in the countryside. Free education, fresh air, a National Health Service, council housing and full employment were promised to all those living in Newton Aycliffe; according to Lord Beveridge, this was going to be a new, balanced and fair world. The moors situated between Aycliffe Industrial estate, a crucial munitions area during the war, and the small village of Middridge were selected because there was plenty of farmland to build on. Lord Beveridge was so confident that this utopian project would be successful, he moved there himself. His house was located at the top of Pease Way (near the town centre). 

The first house was officially opened on Tuesday 9th November, 1948; this was one of 3,000 dwellings. As the growth and development of the town depended on the industrial estate, the Development Corporation were limited in terms of the number of houses they were permitted to build; they were not allowed to construct more than was necessary to match the growth in employment in the area. Although a village green was planned for the town centre, the idea became lost as shopping facilities began to appear. The proposals suggested that at least fifty shops would be situated in the town centre. There were also discussions for the development of a town hall, however, this too was never built. Instead, Churchill House was constructed in the centre of the town, along with a 77ft clock tower. The Development Corporation made this building their headquarters. As facilities gradually appeared around it, the clock tower soon became the focal point of the town. The idea was to create a simple landmark that would be visible from a number of approaching roads, including Pease Way. While the tower, which has never been altered, is not listed, it has been spared amid recent town centre redevelopment plans due to public interest in the structure. 

By the late 1970s, the utopian vision of a ‘classless town’ was considered archaic. Consequently, the town centre was sold and private contractors were allowed to build new housing estates across Newton Aycliffe. The sale of the town centre also began to include the sale of surrounding council houses. In recent years the town centre has been undergoing a further largescale £2 million redevelopment plan. A number of the original buildings have been demolished, making way for an area that is more open, accessible and profitable. The demolition of Churchill House was halted in 2014, however, following an investigation into the structural integrity of the building and clock tower. The clock tower is to remain in situ, helping to give the town a whole new image that combines the old with the new; therefore, an enquiry into the integrity of the clock, which is to be left as a “freestanding fully operational structure” was necessary. 

Our Version of Events

Newton Aycliffe clock tower is a site we’ve had our eyes on for quite some time now. It’s always been on our list as something that’s a little special, as quite a few of us grew up around here, and ever since there were discussions around demolishing it we decided we wanted to get ourselves up and make the most of it before the opportunity disappeared, perhaps forever. Our wait had been painstakingly slow of course. As most locals will attest, any suggested development in Newton Aycliffe takes years to actually begin, and even longer to complete. Recently, however, as many local folk will have noticed, work on the clock tower has finally begun. 

In our eagerness to climb the tower, we found we arrived far too early. The clock tower is very visible during the day, just as the developers had intended it to be, so we milled around the town centre for a while. Eventually, after a long wait, six chicken mini-fillets and several slices of pizza, the sun started to fall beneath the horizon. It was time to try out luck with an ascent to the top. It still wasn’t quite as dark as we would have liked when we set off, but we decided to make a start anyway. Trying our best to avoid the many cameras situated in the town centre, we found a point that appeared to be less watched than anywhere else. From there, gaining access was fairly straightforward. 

Five minutes later, we found ourselves on the roof of Churchill House. Despite the relative simplicity of the clock, the views it offered were quite spectacular. Perhaps this was our nostalgia for the place though; aside from the bells, the tower itself isn’t especially spectacular at all. As darkness still hadn’t quite set in, we waited a few more moments, trying our best to hide in the shadows. After all, we wanted to see the lights of Newton Aycliffe in all their glory. The last dash up the interior staircase of the tower was good. It brought back some old memories as the lower levels of the staircase were used to access other buildings back in the day. As these buildings have either been demolished, or are in the process of being stripped, all the old doorways are now bricked up, except from the entrance door at the base of the tower.

The hatch into the clock itself creaked as we opened it. Years of dust exploded into the air. As our eyes adjusted to the darkness, we took in our surroundings. We could see old gears positioned in the centre of the small room, and four individuals control boxes that controlled the four faces of the clock. A second ladder took us to another hatch, and this led up to the bell tower which is outside. When we first imagined what it would be like up on top of the tower, we envisaged that the whole platform, including the bells, would be covered in pigeon shit. In actual fact, there was barely a drop up there. Instead, we were greeted by five spotless bells and a clean floor. They looked far more imposing from up top; down at the bottom of the tower you can’t really appreciate them as much. Up here we could see every detail: their original inscriptions, and the marks and colours from being weathered over the years. 

All in all, we spent a lot longer up the tower than we’d anticipated. It was only when we spotted a large police presence gathering outside the nearby police station, which we had a good view of from where we were sat, that we decided we’d pushed our luck far enough. The clock tower is still very visible and we didn’t doubt that human silhouettes would be particularly noticeable to anyone who happened to be looking up. It didn’t take long to get down to the ground, back inside the town centre once again. Feeling good we’d pulled it off, it was agreed that the very long wait had been worth it. 

Explored with Ford Mayhem, Box and Husky. We also want to say a special thanks to our ‘informant’ who kept an eye on the tower for the past year or so. 
 

Newton Aycliffe Clock Tower - Redevelopment in Progress

 

aycliffe-town-centre-19-june-2015-2_zps0

 

The Clock Tower 'Back in the Day'

 

newton-aycliffe-the-clock-tower-churchil

 

1:

 

aDSC_0711_zpsb7tstqst.jpg

 

2:

 

aDSC_0717_zpsvftjaonk.jpg

 

3:

 

aDSC_0724_zps8g7blcj9.jpg

 

4:

 

aDSC_0728_zpsgte2mxpq.jpg

 

5:

 

aDSC_0730_zpsyhrwoyud.jpg

 

6:

 

aDSC_0735_zpsprwnyxzx.jpg

 

7:

 

aDSC_0736_zpsxq5atmyz.jpg

 

8:

 

aDSC_0738_zps96hmfqrq.jpg

 

9:

 

aDSC_0740_zpsqxbptqv5.jpg

 

10:

 

aDSC_0745_zpshqmjgrxx.jpg

 

11:

 

aDSC_0748_zpsam2mjrlb.jpg

 

12:

 

aDSC_0749_zpsmekzwn1x.jpg

 

13:

 

aDSC_0750_zpslncwwth4.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, hamtagger said:

That's something different and as @coolboyslim said thats a mighty fine set of bells you got there :D 

 

:comp: 


Lol. They are indeed a fine set of bells :P 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, degenerate said:

I love clock towers, that last picture is an instant win!! Great shots, nice to see your wait paid off :)


Cheers :thumb Yeah, never really been up something that's just a clock tower; they've always been attached to courthouses and other things, so this was a good experience. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is no way that I would have been able to resist the temptation to play a little tune on the bells if I climbed this. :grin: 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks guys, cheers for looking and commenting.

 

17 hours ago, Maniac said:

There is no way that I would have been able to resist the temptation to play a little tune on the bells if I climbed this. :grin: 


Haha, we couldn't resist either. It doesn't take much to make them make a sound. You'd think it would with them being heavy things. It was like playing the bongo drums, but with bells instead. 

Edited by WildBoyz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Similar Content

    • By Maniac
      As part of the 'stop talking about doing stuff, and actually go and do it' initiative, I Visited this place with DesertionPhotography.
      Atkinson Morley Hospital was established on its present site in 1869 and closed in 2003. It was noteable as being the first place in the UK to have a CT scanner installed in 1972, however that scanner is not one of the one's you can see there today; they are much more modern. In its day, Atkinson Morely was one of the most advanced brain surgery centres in the world.
      Interesting explore this one, as some of the place is quite trashed then other areas just round the corner are still mint.
      1. Your basic generic hospital corridor

      2.

      3.

      4.

      5. Operating theatre control board

      6. CT Scanner number 1.

      7. And control room for it.

      8. Buttons

      9.Little bit of kit left in the X-Ray room.

      10. X-Ray developing department (I think)

      11. CT Scanner number 2

      12.

      13. And control room

      14. Chapel, later used as a lecture theatre. Note security are using this for storing their boarding, tools and stepladders - they are based very close to this room.

      15. The wards are stripped bare.

      Thanks for looking!
      Maniac
    • By Maniac
      Might as well stick these up. Leybourne grange is a shadow of it's former self, actually to be blunt it's f**ked. There's still however a few bits and pieces to be seen. The Manor house is in a much worse state than I thought, and I think it's days are numbered, as with the rest of the complex it's just been left to decay.
      Just had a poke around he biggest accomodation block, and the manor house. There's a lot of the other villas still on site, but it didn't seem worth the effort to get inside them.
      1.

      2.

      3.

      4.

      5.

      6. Staircase is about the only part of the main building worth photographing. The rest is a soggy mess of rotton wood, and it smells baaaad!

      7. In the basement areas

      8.

      9.

      10.

      Thanks for Looking!
      M
    • By Maniac
      I wasn't going to bother with a report, but I think I had just about enough photos to make it worthwhile, so may as well. Being very bored at the weekend, myself, Frosty and Obscurity decided to take ourselves off here to have a looksie. It was also the first exploring outing of the new car, the first of many I'm sure!
      Our visit to this place was cut short by Mr security guard together with dog handler and badly trained dog, and a visit from the police who were very professional and just let us on our way. Becasue of this minor setback we only got to see inside the big main hospital building and didn't get to see the mortuary or other parts of the complex like we were hoping. However Harold Wood is more than a mortuary (even if the rest of it is quite knackered.)
      Harold wood hospital closed its doors in 2006, and plans were submitted for housing. As far as I can work out these plans are being objected to by local residents resulting in a long drawn out process and leaving the site in limbo at the moment.
      This place is used by Air Soft players, there were thousands of pellets everywhere inside the place, and players on another part of the site when we were in the building. It's a good job we exited that building when we did, as it was their next playing area and that could have hurt lots!
      We managed precisely one building before being busted, although it is the biggest one it is the least interesting.
      Anyway, have some pics!
      1. Outside

      2. Operating Theatres

      3.

      4. Corridors etc.

      5.

      6.

      7.

      8.

      9. There are some bits and pieces left.

      10.

      11.

      12.

      13.

      14.

      15. Mint Bathroom

      16. Very Pink.

      thanks for looking!
      Maniac.
    • By Maniac
      The Margate caves are situated at one end of Northdown Road in Margate, and run for a reasonable distance underneath the site of a one time vicarage and church, both of which were destroyed in WWII - and the site is now a car park. Origenally they are thought to have started out as a denehole, but have had many uses in their past including a prison with dungeons that can be seen today, a secret place of workship buring times of religious persecution, and as a hideout and storage for smugglers with passeges to and from the sea.
      The caves fell out of use at some point and got forgotten about until somewhere near the end of the 18th Century, a man named Francais Forster built a large house called Northumberland House, and around 1798 his gardener re-discovered the caves by accidently digging into them. A private entrance into the caves was made, and it was during this time that most of the murals and paintings you can see in the caves today were created. According to local history, the paintings were all done by a local artist named Brazier, who unfortunitely destroyed many interesting aspects of the caves contruction when the walls were smoothed over to create a surface for his work.
      In 1914 a new entrance was cut from the cellar of the vicarage, which is the entrance that is still used today. In the making of this entrance, one of the murals (The Thanet Hunt) was destroyed.
      The Caves were opened as a tourist attraction, but were eventually closed to the public in 2003 amid 'safety concerns' and the council has put forward plans to have them filled in and housing built on the land above on more than one occassion. Each time it's been blocked and thus they now sit there today doing nothing. (Quite honestly there's nothing unsafe about them they just need cleaning up a bit, but of course caves don't really make councils any money, but land for housing does! )
      There have been proposals recently to re-open the caves as part of the Margate Regenration scheme, but as far as I know at the moment no real progress has been made on this.
      Explored with Fortknox0, Obscurity, Frosty, Gizmo and Townie.







      Thank for Looking!
      Maniac.
    • By Maniac
      I wanted to go here more for personal reasons than anything else. My mum grew up in Chelmsford, and she and her mum and a lot of their friends all worked for Marconi at different times.
      Well what can I say it sure is a mess - pikeys and graffiti artists have been at play here. Having said that if you move away from the factory floor areas and into the other areas, it's not actually too bad. It's totally stripped, hardly anything to show what it's purpose was which is a shame.
      Also it's huge - it really is a pretty big site, you don't realise until you're inside. There must be 4 very large factory floors, with several other large spaces as well as a 5 story high admin block, which although very samey does get better as you go higher. Then there's the very oldest part right at the front.
      Visited on the spur of the moment with Obscurity and his misses - cheers for a good day people

      It has to be said, this bit's pretty bland


      Amazingly all the glass is intact, but the ceilings trashed.

      Old meets new


      There's a few bits left


      I love the roof of this building.



      Reception area was pretty good, shame it's no where near as neat as it was in earlier reports, but it could be worse.





      The main lobby of the oldest part.



      Although it was trashed in parts, I thought it was a pretty good - it would have been fantastic to have seen it in it's prime.
      Maniac.

Disclaimer

Oblivion State exists as an online forum to allow like minded individuals to share their experiences of Urban Exploration. We do not condone breaking and entering or other criminal activity and advise all members to read the FAQ articles about the forum and urban exploring in general. All posts are the responsibility of the original poster and all images remain copyright to the original photographer.

We would just like to thank

Forum user AndyK! from Behind Closed Doors for our rather excellent new logo.

All of our fantastic team of Moderators who volunteer their time to keep this place running smoothly.

All of our members for continuing to support Oblivion State by posting up the most awesome content. Thank you everyone!
×