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    • By WildBoyz
      History
       
      The Chapel of St. Luke, designed by Elcock and Sutcliffe (two prominent architects at the time), was the chapel attached to Runwell Mental Health Hospital. It was constructed in 1937, alongside the hospital. Once competed the entire site was viewed as a pioneering development in mental health hospitals and the project boosted both architect’s reputations significantly. The hospital was divided into several specific zones, separating buildings and patients according to purpose and diagnosis. The Grade 2 listed chapel was placed at the principal junction at the top of the drive.
       
      The chapel, which has a cruciform ground plan, is constructed of white brick with heavy ashlar masonry. Its design is reported to be in an eclectic Mediterranean style with clever positioning of windows to light the alter and nave. Some of the building’s key features include the tiled mansard roof, an apse at the east end and a circular stair tower with a spiral staircase to the north of the apse. As for the furnishings, the altar, riddle posts, organ, choir stalls and lectern are all made of varnished timber. The pulpit, organ and choir stalls are all said to have jazz modern fluted frieze (a particular type of design), and the lights in the main nave take the form of roman lamps.
       
      Closure of the hospital was announced in the late 1990s. The entire site was gradually closed down, bit by bit, for many years after this date though. In the end, it did not close until 2010, as this was when the final closure and decommissioning of the site was eventually set. By April of the same year, all staff and patients at the hospital had been moved out. Today, only a handful of the site’s buildings have survived demolition, which started in 2012; these include the water tower, the Chapel of St. Luke and part of the administration building. It is rumoured that the chapel’s bell tower is now the home to a colony of bats, and that Chelmsford County Council are looking into ways of finding alternative accommodation for the creatures so that the building can be reused. 
       
      Our Version of Events
       
      While cruisin’ around one of the new housing estates in Runwell, the Chapel of St. Luke appeared on the horizon. Without too much ducking and diving, or getting impaled on fences, we quickly found ourselves on the grounds of the chapel. At first glance, we thought that the building matches the style of the new housing estate that now surrounds it particularly well. The church has a modern feel to it, but, unfortunately, there isn't much left of it. After a quick sing song on the piano and a failed attempt at playing the organ, it was time to head back to the car and get back on the road! There wasn’t very much to see so it was a quick in-out jobbie.
       
      Explored with A-Jay.
       

       
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    • By Vief
      Former water tower. Don't know much about this place, but it was cool to visit something different.
      Didn't made it to the top, too lazy . When we just finished this place, security came along, luckily they didn't caught us.
       
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    • By WildBoyz
      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. 
       
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    • By WildBoyz
      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.
       
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