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    • By The_Raw
      This place really should have been looked at a long time ago, the history behind the place is literally insane. Thanks to zombizza for putting the lead up, it was still just about worth a look inside although practically everything has been stripped already. I went inside with workers present which made it a fairly tense explore, lots of patiently hiding around corners and sneaking around expecting to get seen at any moment, eventually that moment came and I had to scarper quick sharp. I decided to go back at night and finish off seeing the place assuming there would be nobody present. Surprisingly this turned out to be an impossible mission due to previously unlocked doors being locked and an annoyingly active pair of torch waving security guards with way too much energy. During the day was better. Onto the lengthy history, take a deep breath, there's a lot to read if you can be arsed.
      Originally known as the Middlesex County Asylum, this was the first pauper lunatic asylum built in England following the Madhouse Act of 1828, which allowed the building of purpose-built asylums. It went on to become the largest asylum in the world at it's peak.
      When it opened in 1831 the Asylum accommodated up to only 300 patients. The building was enlarged in November of the same year and by 1841 90 staff were looking after 1302 patients. Extensions were added in 1879 and by 1888 there were 1891 patients and the Asylum had become the largest in Europe. Patients were looked after by members of their own sex and there were two gatehouses at the entrance - one for males and one for females.
      It achieved great prominence in the field of psychiatric care because of two people, Dr William Ellis and Dr John Connolly. Dr (later Sir) William Ellis encouraged patients to use their skills and trades in the Asylum. This 'therapy of employment' benefitted both the Asylum and the patients themselves and was a precursor to occupational therapy. Dr John Conolly became Medical Superintendent in 1839. He abolished mechanical restraints to control patients. This was a great success and encouraged other asylums also to do so. Padded cells, solitary confinement and sedatives were used instead.
      The extensive grounds were cultivated for produce. The Asylum became self-sufficient, with a farm, a laundry, a bakery and a brewery. Local artisans - tailors, shoemakers - worked at the asylum. There was a gasworks and a fire brigade and even a burial ground for those patients whose relatives had not claimed their bodies. Water was taken from the nearby Grand Union Canal and the Asylum had its own dock for barges delivering coal and for taking away produce for sale.
      Several name changes took place over the years. In 1889 the Asylum was renamed the London County Asylum, Hanwell. In 1918 it became known as the London County Mental Hospital. In 1929 it was renamed Hanwell Mental Hospital. In 1937 its name changed again, to St Bernard's Hospital, Southall.
      During WW2 the Emergency Medical Services commandeered one ward for war casualties. The Hospital and grounds received some bomb damage and later the laundry was destroyed by a V1 flying bomb, which caused many casualties. A gatehouse was also damaged. It joined the NHS in 1948 as part of the North West Metropolitan Region, with its own Hospital Management Committee.
      By the 1960s the Hospital in its 74 acre site held 2200 patients.
      St Bernard's Hospital was merged with the adjacent Ealing Hospital in 1980 and became the Psychiatric Unit. It was then known as the St Bernard's Wing of the Ealing Hospital. By this time it had 950 beds for psychiatric and psychogeriatric patients. In 1992 the Ealing Hospital General Unit and Maternity Unit split off to form a new Trust and the St Bernard's Wing regained its previous name of St Bernard's Hospital. The Hospital underwent a major refurbishment in 1998. The exterior of the buildings still in use were cleaned, revealing the yellow colouring of the bricks.
      Scenes from Porridge were filmed in the courtyard here and also scenes from the 1989 Batman movie with Jack Nicholson.
      Much of the site has been demolished already, and other parts converted into flats. The current hospital has decided that the asylum buildings can no longer be refurbished in such a way as to support a modern hospital so the remainder of the asylum buildings are being refurbished for private housing. The extensive modern buildings at the back (canal-side) of the hospital will remain in use and will be supplemented by further new buildings away from the historical asylum.
      I didn't know it at the time but the screws on my wide angle were completely loose so the majority of my shots were out of focus unfortunately. These are the shots that came out good enough.
       
      1. How the exterior of all the buildings looked....

       
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      3. I spotted this stuck onto the skirting board in a corridor, I assume this was the adolescents ward...

       
      4. Most rooms had cartoon characters painted on the walls in here

       
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      7. Not sure what this old hall might have been used for

       
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      9. At this point the place became a little more interesting, this was the busiest area of work so I didn't hang about long

       
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      13. The last few shots were all taken on the top floor

       
      14. The ceiling in here was one of the only remaining features left

       
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      EDIT: July 2017 revisit ....
       
      19. Chapel and Hall, the only two buildings that haven't been converted yet. The chapel was locked and appears to be in use as a site office. 

       
      20. Large backstage area behind the hall, difficult to capture the size of it due to the scaffolding and temporary flooring above.

       
      21. Some glimpses of former grandeur with these columns.

       
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      23. Temporary flooring below the ceiling 

       
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      26. The Hall, amazingly still untouched despite the remainder of the buildings being completely stripped or converted. 

       
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      Thanks for looking
    • By WildBoyz
      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. 
       
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    • By WildBoyz
      History
       
      The Stratford Riverside (an apartment block) is a ‘prestigious’ new riverside development situated on the Waterworks River, near the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Once fully completed the project will be 29 storeys high and it will have a ‘striking’ glass façade. The building, which features balconies/terraces in every one of its 201 apartments, will offer residents fantastic views of London’s skyline, where it is possible to view the financial powerhouses of the British economy to the west, and the modern towers of Canary Warf to the south. Alternatively, people can also use the expansive roof garden on the 7th floor to gaze out at the city. Additional features of the development include a resident’s only gymnasium, a hotel-styled foyer with concierge and a café/bar. The developers describe the building as a ‘world of luxury’, suggesting that it will quickly become an enviable address in one of London’s fastest growing areas. Stratford itself is said to be a vibrant district of London, which offers everything you need for a ‘superior lifestyle’. For anyone who is interested, prices for a two-bedroom apartment start from £465,000, while three bedroom dwellings start from £680,000. 
       
      Our Version of Events
       
      Looking for another night of fun in London, we decided to have a wander around Stratford.We’d noticed some development going on over that way a few evenings earlier, so thought it was worth a look around. After spending a few moments eying up various sites, we finally settled on the Stratford Riverside development; it looked reasonably high, and offered views over the Olympic Stadium. 
       
      As always, it took a little time to figure out how to get onsite. Eventually, though, we found a suitable way into the site and ended up inside some sort of bush. As it turned out, this wasn’t the best way inside and Mayhem quickly discovered that the bush wasn’t weight bearing. There was a brief moment it seemed to take his weight, but a second later several large cracks erupted from beneath him and he was sent tumbled downwards. His life flashed before his eyes as he plummeted towards the ground below, and, as he told us later, he could see the bush above him steadily disappear as it grew smaller and smaller, as the distance between it and himself grew larger. 
       
      Mayhem landed with a sudden thud, into an enormous pit of thorns. Feeling for his arms, legs and other essential parts, to check everything was where it was supposed to be, he glanced around to see where he was. As he began to come to his senses, he quickly realised that the fall had been a whopping metre. He could see a large hole in the bush above with moonlight pouring through. He was lucky to be alive. Using the light to find a way out, he attempted to crawl out of the pit where there were fewer thorns. A sudden pain shot through his body as he tried to move. Quickly he reached for his arse and it was then that he found a large spikey thorn wedged between his crack. Taking in several deep breathes, he grasped it firmly between both hands it gave it a good yank. A stifled scream escaped his tensed lips as the barbs very nearly extended the diameter of his anus. After breathing a sigh of relief, he managed to crawl his way out of the bush to join the rest of us who were waiting patiently.  
       
      Next, we raced over to the buildings just ahead of us. At least most of us raced there; those less fortunate were forced to adopt a cowboy strut with their legs wide enough apart to prevent chafing. A few moments later and we were all gathered as the base of the building. From here we had to do a fair bit of ducking, a little bit of dodging and some diving to get to the top of the Riverside development. Had we been wearing leopard-skin leotards and headbands, we would have looked an 80s aerobics class in full swing. 
       
      At the top of the Riverside development we immediately set about taking photographs. The view was pretty good, and once again we could see for miles. Unfortunately, it was blowing an absolute gale up on the rooftop, meaning it was hard to keep the tripods steady. It was brass monkeys up there too, so we didn’t stick around for too long. After facing the blizzards and hurricane force winds that were battering us harder than a granny with a washing bat, it wasn’t long before we were forced to retreat. In the end, we’ve managed to salvage some of the shots, but we were a little disappointed with them overall. 
       
      Explored with Ford Mayhem, Slayaaaa and two anonymous individuals. 

      Stratford Riverside


       
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    • By WildBoyz
      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.
       
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    • By WildBoyz
      History

      The Grade II Crystal Palace subway is a former Victorian relic that lies beneath the A212. The arched subway, which led from the High Level line and station into the centre transept of The Crystal Palace, opened two days before Christmas day, in 1865. Constructed out of plate-glass and cast-iron, The Crystal Palace was originally situated in Hyde Park to house the Great Exhibition of 1851. The building was rebuilt in a larger and more elaborate form on Penge Common, near Sydenham Hill – an affluent area of London at the time. At the time the development, which comprised of 4,000 tons of iron, cost £150,000 (approximately £2 million today); this was an incredible amount of money in the 1800s. A second building, known as The Garden Palace which was based on the same design, was also constructed in Sydney in 1879. 

      By the 1890s the popularity of the Palace had deteriorated considerably; it was purported that the condition of the building gave it the ‘appearance of a downtown market’. Bankruptcy was declared in 1911 and possession of the building passed through the hands of the Earl of Plymouth, until the 1920s when a public subscription purchased the Palace on behalf of the nation. Under the guidance of Sir Henry Buckland, Crystal Palace was restored to its former glory and it began to attract visitors once again. Nevertheless, despite the effort that went into the refurbishment, on the 30th November 1936 a catastrophic fire destroyed the entire building. It was reported that the fire started following an explosion in the woman’s cloakroom. Although over 400 firefighters arrived on the scene, they were unable to extinguish the ravaging fire. A few hours after it started, the entire building burnt down; all that was left standing were two water towers. These were later demolished. Somewhat ironically, The Garden Palace in Sydney was also destroyed by fire in September 1882; the only remnants of it that remain today are the sandstone gateposts and wrought iron gates. 

      With Crystal Palace’s destruction, traffic on the High Level line quickly declined. However, the line was used during World War II as people used the former subway as an air raid shelter. The subway was fitted with 190 bunkbeds and chemical toilets. After the way, the High Level line was repaired following bomb damage, but the continuing decline in the number of passengers using led to its permanent closure in 1954. The station was demolished in 1961, and the old Palace site was redeveloped into housing in the 1970s. The subway, which manage to survive both the fire and demolition, still remains today. During the 1960s the old subway was popular among children as the old wooden steps were still in situ, meaning it quickly became a playground. By the late 1970s the subway was home to ‘Subway Superdays’, a society that organised cultural and educational days. The subway was finally closed to the public, except the occasional open day, in the 1990s, due to health and safety concerns. 

      Presently, the Friends of Crystal Palace Subway aim to reopen the Grade II listed small underground space, for community use. Most recently, the FCPS received planning permission from the Council to reinstate a gate on the Southwark side of the Parade.  

      Our Version of Events

      After spending the night in London, we set off bright and early with good intentions for the day ahead. The old Crystal Palace subway was at the top of our list, because it looked pretty unique and there are rumours it will be reopened to the public very soon. For some reason, there seems to be less enjoyment in being able to see something that’s publically accessible, so we wanted to get it under our belts before we lost the opportunity to see it in all its abandoned glory. 

      When we first arrived, access looked to be a bit problematic. It’s surrounded by palisade fencing, but that isn’t the main problem; after that there’s a rather large drop into the subway and we couldn’t see any obvious way of getting down there. You would think we’d have anticipated that, given it is a subway after all, but we didn’t. For a brief moment we discussed amongst ourselves how prepared we’d been, because we’d had the foresight to bring along a rope with us on this trip; however, we also made note that the rope was back in the car, on the other side of London. At first, we were going to have a crack at climbing down into the old courtyard but, because there was a park keeper nearby who probably would have seen us, we re-reconsidered this idea. 

      Ten minutes later, after some quick thinking and waiting for the crowd next to a nearby bus stop to clear a little, we found ourselves stood outside the main gates of the subway. It looked spectacular inside, much better than all the photographs we’ve seen of the place; ours don’t do it much justice either mind, it’s one of those places you have to actually visit to experience it fully. Stood outside the locked gates still didn’t get us in, though, and the gap in the gates was tight. For those of us who don’t seem to eat, it was piss easy; for the rest of us, we had to strip down a bit and crack out a few hundred push up to shed a few inches off the waistline. Breathing in deeply was crucial… And not breathing out again midway through the bars was even more important! But, as anyone who’s ever squeezed through a tight hole will know, once the shoulders are through the rest is plain sailing. Gasping for air, we dropped into the old subway, and took in our surroundings. Inside, with the uniquely shaped pillars, patterned stone floor and red and cream brickwork, the atmosphere is phenomenal – if it wasn’t for the A212 above, it would feel like you’ve stepped into a different world. 

      Explored with Ford Mayhem, Meek-Kune-Do and Husky.
       
      The Crystal Palace
       

       
      Crystal Palace High Level Train Station
       

       
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