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!
2. Operating Theatres
4. Corridors etc.
9. There are some bits and pieces left.
15. Mint Bathroom
16. Very Pink.
thanks for looking!
Visited with Shadow, Frosty and Muffie.
This place has been in my mind for years, but it's only recently since moving to Faversham that I went and checked it out, and today being snowbound a local explore was called for. I expected the remaining buildings to be totally stripped, which they pretty much were except for one end of the back building which still housed some of the origenal equipment and thus makes it worth posting.
Firstly a little history.
Founded in the early 1700s by Edward Rigden. Registered in 1902. Merged with George Beer & Co (Canterbury) in 1922 to form George Beer & Rigden Ltd, when the Canterbury brewery was closed and brewing was then concentrated at Faversham.
George Beer & Rigden was then acquired by Fremlins Ltd (Maidstone) in 1948. Brewing ceased at Faversham in 1954, but was resumed in 1961 to meet increased demand. Following the takeover of Fremlins by Whitbread in 1967, Fremlins' Maidstone brewery was closed. Finally, Whitbread closed the Faversham brewery in 1990 and transferred brewing to Cheltenham.
A large portion of the buildings were converted to a Tescos supermarket in 1996, but there's still 2 or 3 buildings left un-used which we were able to have a peek at.
(History from http://www.breweryhistory.com)
Outside Shot. The building housing Tescos is to the Right of this building.
Inside shot, a majority of the buildings look like this, lots of structural re-enforcement. I understand from a friend one of the clauses when Tescos converted the first building into a supermarket was that they made the other buildings safe and re-enforced the structure.
Just behind that blockwork wall is the Tescos cafe.
Success, there's just about enough left to make it worthwhile.
At one end is this dodgey as staircase, but it's worth climbing.
Top of the stairs
Right up in the top of roofspace.
So there we go, not the most amazing place in the world, but another one ticked off the list.
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.
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.