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    • By franconiangirl
      At first glance, the huge psychiatry campus with its historical buildings reminds you of certain pieces of literature or films. The early morning haze lies over the hospital grounds and really adds to that somewhat uncanny atmosphere. It´s still pretty early in the morning. Thus, we almost don´t meet any people. A situation, that changed completely on our way back, when we had to keep as insconspicious as possible among patients, nursing stuff and "normal" visitors. Yet, everything´s still pretty calm and we can enjoy the morning silence as we walk across the park-like grounds of the hospital, walking on paths which are bordered by beautiful flowers. Here and there, beautiful buildings appear. Everything occurs to be peaceful and neat. Almost a place for your well-being, at least form the perspective of a non-patient. Not before we pass by a building, fenced up by thick bars, reality sets in. As if by command, we can suddenly hear screams coming out of the building. 

      The hospital is largely still active. Only a small part has been disused out of unknown reasons. It seems like time´s been standing still here for a pretty long time. Old benches would´ve been disappeared in a jungle-like thicket entirely, if it wasn´t for their bright red colours. Across an architectural more than beautiful patio we enter the building in front of us. Inside, particularly striking are the numerous toys scattred around the building. What exact purpose the old building served remains a mystery. 
       

       

       

       

       

       

    • By WildBoyz
      History

      The local history for this one is a bit vague, so we’re going off a few dodgy sources here. One of those includes a local lad we met inside the building who happened to be ‘salvaging’ trophies. With that in mind, it is unknown when the International Social Club was constructed. However, judging by the style of the building, and the fact that the social club only traded for the past twenty years or so, it could be surmised that it was originally a three-storey house that was built at the same time as some of its neighbouring buildings. In its current form, the building has a four-room underground cellar, a snooker room and main bar area with a stage and dance floor on the ground floor, a lounge and bar area on the first floor, and a one bedroomed self-contained flat on the top floor. The property is currently on the market with a guide price of £175,000. The brochure advises potential buyers that the building is ‘suitable for residential redevelopment’ and ‘benefits from central heating’. As for the reason for it being derelict, according to the local lad we met, the building was condemned and subsequently shut down due to a rat infestation. This information comes from an individual who, apparently, used to frequent the club on the odd occasion when he fancied the odd Carlsberg or lager shandy.  

      Our Version of Events

      With a bit of time to kill over in Liverpool, we decided to go check out the International Social Club. It was fairly close to a couple of other buildings we’d been scoping out, so we agreed it was a good idea to pop in on our way back to the city centre. We found it without any bother; however, it just so happened that when we rocked up, so did a local chav. Clad in his dark blue tracksuit, we caught him sneaking onto the grounds trying to enter the building. At this point, then, we assumed he was meeting a few other local yobs to drink a couple of bottles of White Lightning in the cellar or smash the place to shit, or both. Nevertheless, no sooner had we thought these things did he emerge from the building once again, looking a little lost. So, we decided to confront him and ask him what he was doing.

      After a quick chat with the local youth, he declared his ‘interest’ in abandoned buildings but also admitted that he didn’t have any kind of torch or light with him. This was when he happened to notice that we were armed to the teeth with torches, so we shared with him our intention to enter the premises. Our new chavvy friend was elated at this news because we could now light the way for him. With the newfound knowledge he would be able to see where he was going, he led the way and showed us how to enter the building (which, as it turned out, was rather easy anyway). 

      Once inside, we chatted with our new chavvy friend and did our best to convince him that ghosts don’t really exist. We didn’t seem to do very well in that department, unfortunately, so we told him that real ghosts only haunt pubs and clubs that had a good selection of beer, which this one didn’t. This seemed to settle Chayse’s (we made this name up, but it seems suitable) nerves and, from that point on, he started to reveal his true reason for being in the social club. He was there to steal a couple of trophies. By the time we were finished taking snaps, we realised his tracksuit pockets were filled with the things. We were about to ask him what he was doing, and how much he thought he was going to fetch for the merchandise, when we heard someone run (presumably away from us) up a set of stairs. This startled Chayse and, after checking to see the stairs were clear, he made a run for it himself. We never saw him again. 

      Following Chayse’s untimely departure, we continued to explore the remainder of the building. All we really had left to check out was the top floor. Once we found the staircase that took us up there, we quickly discovered that the door was firmly locked. It turns out, as we discovered later when talking to two Liverpool-based explorers, that some guy is living in that section of the building, claiming it’s his home. In hindsight, then, it was probably this guy we heard bolting up the stairs, to make sure we didn’t wander uninvited into his personal living quarters. We did knock, but there was no answer, so, having explored the entire building at that point, we decided to call it a day and make our way back out. 

      Explored with A Local Chav. 
       
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    • By WildBoyz
      History

      “We’re excited at the opportunity to restore the Littlewoods Building and give it an exciting new lease of life that will put it on a national stage and finally give it the recognition that it deserves” Tim Heatley of Capital & Centric. 

      The former art deco style Littlewoods Pools Building, which is rumoured to have been designed by Scottish architect Gerald de Courcey Fraser, was constructed in 1938. It was run by Sir John Moores and his brother Cecil as the headquarters of their retail and football betting company, Littlewoods, that was founded in Liverpool, and originally used to process betting slips from the Football Pools. At the time, with almost twenty thousand employees, the brothers possessed England’s largest family owned business empire. It was also the world’s largest football pools business. 

      Following the outbreak of World War Two, the Littlewoods Pools Building, with its vast internal space, made a significant contribution to the war effort. When war initially broke out, the building’s enormous printing presses were used to print over seventeen million National Registration forms in just three days. The main workshop floors were later used to assemble Halifax Bombers and barrage balloons. The building also served as the nerve centre of MC5, the government agency that intercepted mail to break enemy codes. 

      After the war, the Littlewoods Pools Building resumed its normal pools operations, and later became the headquarters for the Littlewoods Printing Division, JCM Media. However, Littlewoods huge success came to an abrupt end towards the end of the 1990s/beginning of the 2000s. Subsequently, as the various branches of the company were sold off, the former Littlewoods Pools Building was vacated in 2003, after the lease was sold to the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA). The building has since remained unoccupied. For many years, the threat of demolition hovered over the rapidly deteriorating site. However, as of April 2017, the iconic building has been sold and is due to be redeveloped into a major film and television studio hub, to make it ‘the heart of Liverpool’s film and media industry’. It is anticipated that thirty-five million pounds will go into regenerating the site. 

      Our Version of Events

      The old Liverpool Pools Building has been on the cards for a very long time. Unfortunately, it seems we’ve never been in Liverpool long enough to get it done. It was time to change this though, since we’d heard the building has now been sold and is due to be refurbished. With no time to lose, then, we made our way over there pretty sharpish. 

      Initially, we were rather worried that we’d missed out on our opportunity to explore this site, as several other explorers have recently reported that they had difficulty accessing it due to cameras and security guards. True to their word, when we arrived we immediately spotted a chap sitting in his car outside the site’s main entrance. He looked kind of like an authority figure, but we weren’t entirely sure. We also, inadvertently, found the camera with the speakers while we were scouting out the other side of the building, after a strange bloke walking his dog lobbed a stick at it. Needless to say, the speaker went mental and informed everyone nearby that the police had been alerted. It wasn’t a great start. 

      Despite the first few problems, we found accessing the Littlewoods Pools Building a doddle. So much so, we popped back the next day because we ran out of daylight while exploring it the first time. So, given it might not be an explore for much longer, any local Liverpool lads and lasses might want to pop by now while they still have the chance. We’d say it’s well worth a visit. Anyway, once inside we set about photographing the main halls, then moved on to the front reception buildings. Once we’d finished with those, we made our way over to the clock tower. Although it’s mostly stripped, it still offers some nice views looking out over Liverpool. There’s also a very photogenic room at the top, just before you ascend the last staircase to the tippy top. 

      It took a good few hours and two visits to cover the entire site – other than the underground bits. The underground section we did find was flooded, and we didn’t fancy getting wet. At the time, we weren’t that arsed we’d missed it out. However, in hindsight there’s a wee bit of regret that we didn’t venture down there, especially since none of us are local to Liverpool. Still, we’re glad we finally got the rest of the building under our belts.

      Explored with MKD. 
       
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    • By WildBoyz
      History

      Simpson Street School is a Grade II listed building that was constructed by the local council between 1904 and 1905. It opened on 1st May 1905 and was, apparently, originally known as Deptford Terrace Council School, Junior Department, and later Deptford Terrace Junior Mixed School. Whether this is true or not is another matter because Deptford Terrace is a completely different street to the north of the school building. It is reported that Deptford closed on 26th Match 1929; however, Simpson Street Council School, Junior Boys Department opened on the same site one week later. The school remained an all-boys school until 11th January 1943, when it was amalgamated with the Girls Department to form Simpson Street Council School, Junior Mixed Department. The school eventually closed on 21st July 1967 as a larger one was built nearby. 

      Although the precise date is unknown, at some point in its history Simpson Street School fell into the hands of Sunderland Artist’s Group. Subsequently, it was ‘redeveloped’ into a number of workshops and used by artists for a number of years. There is little evidence to reveal why the artist’s group left the premises; it could be surmised that the group no longer exists as their website no longer works, or that they simply moved to a new site and renamed themselves. Whatever the reason, it appears that the building has been left to deteriorate gradually over a period of time. The fate of the old Simpson Street School is currently unknown. 

      Our Version of Events

      Having just purchased a new car, we decided to take it for a spin. And what better way to break a car in than to take it on its first explore. We chose the Simpson School site for two reasons: it was close by, and, based on what we’d seen from Dave’s report, it looked like a decent little wander that wouldn’t take up too much time. We planned to have a get-together later in the evening, so we didn’t want to waste too much valuable drinking time. 

      Finding the place was easy, as the name is a bit of a giveaway. Actually accessing it, though, was even easier! It only took several seconds before we were stood inside a building that had a very arty feel to it. However, this was slightly problematic, as we weren’t sure if the place was actually abandoned at first. After all, artist workshops tend to have that general derelict feel to them. Anyway, we found ourselves in room that was filled with stuff, and some of the junk looked like it had been placed there relatively recently. Fortunately, our initial doubts didn’t last too long, once we ventured downstairs. Apart from the first two rooms, the rest of the building teased our nostrils with the familiar smell of decay. 

      On the whole, there wasn’t a great deal to see. A lot of the rooms have interesting bits and bobs in them, but nothing you wouldn’t expect to find in an old art college type of place. A few of the old art projects were perhaps one of the most interesting parts of the explore, along with some of the framed photographs we found. In terms of it being an ideal little explore if you happen to be passing, then, it’s spot on. It should take you about twenty minutes to cover the whole lot. That means you’ll have plenty of time afterwards to spend in the pub. 

      Explored with MKD and The Hurricane. 
       
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    • By WildBoyz
      History

      Heap’s Rice Mill, which is now Grade II listed, was founded by Joseph Heap. It was constructed in 1778, on Pownall Street, Liverpool. Originally, the site operated as a small processing mill; however, additional warehouse space was constructed as demand for rice in Europe increased. The warehouse space was later combined with the mill to form one single building. The reason for Joseph Heap’s success can be attributed to the Indian Mutiny of 1857-58 and the American Civil War in 1861-65 as these events meant British traders were forced to seek out trade in other areas of the British Empire. Heap was one of the first to establish trade in British-ruled Burma. By 1864 the company was sending its own ships to acquire one thousand tons of ‘Cargo Rice’ for its Liverpool mill. Joseph Heap & Sons Ltd. became wealthy enough to own its own shipping firm which was known as Diamond H Line, named after their house flag. 

      In the mid-1800s, during a period of expansion, Heap’s company constructed a number of new warehouses at various other sites across Liverpool. These buildings were used for the storage of sugar, and as additional office space. The sugar warehouses were later adapted and amalgamated into the rice mill industry. At this point in time, Joseph Heap & Sons Ltd. vessels were sailing as far as the East Indies and Australia. The original mill would also become the one that ground rice for Kellog’s Rice Krispies in 1927.

      Despite several changes in ownership, Joseph Heap & Sons Ltd. main mill was still fully operational up until 1988. After this time, some operations were transferred to a new site on Regent Road. Parts of the mill on Pownall Street continued to operate until 2005. Twelve years later, however, and Heap’s original Rice Mill has decayed badly due to water damage, to the extent that it was due to be demolished in 2014. Nevertheless, a petition to save the site resulted in it being categorised as a listed building by English Heritage. This means the imposing structure remains one of the earliest and last surviving warehouse complexes in a once-thriving industrial area. It is also an important reminder of Liverpool’s rich mercantile history and overall prominence. In terms of its future, it is reported that the building is due to be converted into luxury apartments. However, the £130 million residential development has been heavily criticised because the developers threatened to pull out if they were forced to keep the interior. Subsequently, it is likely that only the original façade of the mill will survive; the interior is due to be sleek and modern. 

      Our Version of Events

      In the mood for a bit of action and adventure, we decided to have a drive over to Liverpool. We had a bit of business to attend to over in Scouse Land first, but plenty of time before that to get a couple of explores under our belts. We didn’t really have much of a plan, but since there are many places on our to-do list over in the North West, we had high hopes we’d get something interesting done.  

      After taking a look at a site we’ve had our eye on for a while, and deciding the street was too busy for us to access it, we wandered back to where we’d parked the car. It was on the way that we spotted a very large derelict-looking building that was just ripe for the picking. It didn’t take us long to realise that this was the old Heap’s Rice Mill (the name is written on the side of the building) and that it’s rather historic. 

      Finding access to the rice mill was a bit of a ball-ache to be honest. All of the ground-level doors and windows are covered with heavy-duty metal doors and shutters, so there’s no getting past those. We spent the next half an hour wracking our brains and were on the verge of giving up when we realised the way in was right in front of us. This raised our urbex-deprived spirits and ten seconds later we were inside the old mill, staring up in awe at an incredible bridge and several large tanks. The place felt absolutely huge from the inside, and it was fucked, in a nice, photogenic kind of way. The only downfall was the phenomenal amount of green fetid bird shit dripping from the roof, which was weird because there didn’t appear to be any living birds. 

      Splodging our way through a good inch of crap, we made our way to the far end of the enormous alleyway we seemed to be in. From there, we found a staircase and made our way up with the intention of finding the roof. However, by level three we soon discovered that the former metal staircase had become so corroded a huge section had fallen off. This forced us to backtrack a bit, until we found a stone staircase. This was much more sturdy and took us to the top levels of the building. Roaming around up here, though, is quite risky, so if anyone happens to pop to Heap’s Rice Mill after seeing this report, watch your step! You should take Historic England’s description of the building, the one that says the premises is ‘mainly 7-storeys’, quite literally. Many of the floorboards have disappeared, and those that remain are completely rotten. We moved around very tentatively up here. 

      Other than a few bits of leftover machinery and random bits of kit, there isn’t much to see throughout the building, but the extreme decay is pretty cool to see. The best bit of the explore, by far, was what we found in the basement. At first, we thought we’d discovered a normal cellar sort of setup. But, we stumbled across a small stone staircase that took us even deeper, until it reached a beautiful brick-lined tunnel. Unfortunately, the tunnel was sealed at the end, but we’re assuming it probably led all the way to the docks at one time. It seemed to head off in that general direction. After wandering around in the basement for a while, we agreed we’d seen most of the building and decided to call it a day. We didn’t have a proper place to stay, so we still had to find a spot to camp. On that note, then, we made our way back to the main street and set off in search of a place to drink a couple of beers and catch fifty winks. 

      Explored with MKD. 
       
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