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Underground Gathering April 2015

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    • By Gromr123
      A piece of British WW2 History hidden under a hillside. HMS Forward, a maritime intelligence centre, was key to monitoring the English channel and and was heavily involved in D-Day. Although it's fallen into dereliction, attempts to restore and maintain it have been carried out by 'Friends of HMS Forward'.

      History
      HMS Forward was the Royal Naval HQ, setup up on the 20th of June 1940 in the Guinness Trust Holiday Home.
      It had responsibility for units along the south cost, including:
      HMS Marlborough - Eastbourne HMS Aggressive - Newhaven HMS New - Newaven HMS Vernon - Roedean HMS Lizard - Hove
         
      The tunnels of HMS Forward began life in March 1941 after an Admiralty direction that ordered channel ports to setup facilities to maintain naval plots and created the need to securely house equipment for plotting and communications. It was decided to built a network of tunnels into the a hillside of South Heighton for operations to take place from.
      HMS Forward was designed by Lt. Col. F.H.Foster, Commander of the Royal Engineers, and built by the 1st Tunneling Engineers Group and No 172 Tunneling Company. They were completed on the 14th of November 1941.
       
      At the time they were a state of the art facility and were kitted out for every eventuality. This including backup power generator and full air conditioning systems with gas filters. They had chemical toilets, sleeping cabins and a gallery. Although the toilet were for emergencies only and it was noted that he veterans who worked here didn't even have knowledge of these toilets.
       

       
      The labyrinth of tunnels had an East and West entrance. The West entrance by the main road was the main entrance. The East entrance was under the West wing of the Guinness Trust Holiday Home (now demolished).
       
      There were two Pill boxes at the top of the hill that were accessible from inside the tunnels, but were demolished long ago.
      During its operational period between November 1941 and August 1945, the tunnels of HMS Forward carried out many key maritime operations. It monitored the English channel from Dungeness to Selsy Bill using ten radar stations from Fairlight to Bogner Regis.
      It was heavily involved with D-Day as well as nightly raids on the occupied french coast.

      The Explore
      A very nice explore in a very nice set of tunnels. They are quite extensive and is quite the maze, however once you get your head round the layout its impossible to get lost.
      Its quite a shame that such an important piece of history has been left to rot. This is somewhere that really needs to be preserved for future generation. I'd heard that there was intention to turn it into a museum some time ago, but plans for this got scuppered by the local residents up top.
      It was clear that there was once some kind of open day as there were still laminated signs and notices left up by the 'Friends of HMS Forward'.

      Photos
      The West entrance with signs and notices from a previous open day / tour. Looks like it was a good few years ago though. You can see here what looks like a machine gun nest in the brick wall as you turn the very first corner.


       

       

      The large security gate of the West entrance.
       

       

      The long 100m West adit tunnel looking towards the east end.
       

       

      Looking from the East end of the West Adit. The two tunnels going left and right just before are the stairs up to the South and North Pill boxes.
       

       

      Looking up what remains of the stairs to the Northern Pillboxes. It is possible go up to the top of these, but its been sealed up at the top with rubble.
       

       

      The West Airlock.
       

       

       

      The Air conditioning plant room and standby generator room. The standby generator was a large diesel JP Lister engine. This provided 400V/230V power at 22Kw. Exhaust was piped through to the annex at the back of the engine room where it was exhausted through the ceiling too the surface through a 4" pipe.
       

       

       

      The start of the operational rooms of the tunnel. The room on the left side is the TURCO Office, and looking right down the long tunnel is down the length of the main tunnel with sleeping cabins.
      T.U.R.C.O stands for Turn Round Control Organisation, used to 'Assist naval shore authorities in the quick turn around of ships and craft'.
       

       

      The East gallery was used for sleep accommodation, switchboards and coders. 
       

       

      The GPO Voice frequency equipment room. The pits in the floor are to fit the equipment in, as the modems were over 8ft tall. 
       

       

      Looking down the East Galley and into the Teleprinters room.
       

       

      Looking down the the far end of the plotting rooms. 
       

       

      The sleeping cabins. There were 4 of these for personnel on the night duty and split watches. 
       

       

      Looking up towards the mock hen house, sealed at the top of course.
       

       

       

       

      The stairs up to the eastern entrance with pit at the bottom to slow down would-be invaders. 
       

       

      The gate on the way to the East entrance.
       

       

       

      The remains of a second gate.
       


      Thanks for reading!
    • By LewisS
      Hello there again everybody.
      I think it's safe to say a redundant Postman posts more than I do, but getting out can be difficult when you work daft hours.
      Once this opportunity came up though, I just couldn't turn it down. I've been fascinated with Whittingham for at least 15 years but never managed to get in. Sadly I finally got in while she was in the midst of being torn down. I missed out on the amazing corridors although I did get into the famous hall and even managed to get up the water tower that had eluded so many previous explorers, which was being torn down the week after we were told.
      I had heard many stories of how dangerous the old girl had become over the years and finally she had to succumb to the wrecking ball. I wish I'd seen her in her pomp and I envy my friend Rob who quite often walked down the corridors while the floor was still shiny and untouched.
      You all know the history of Whittingham so I shall get on with the piccies.
      I always found the images of the Crimbo decorations still being in place in the old hall quite creepy.

      Stumbling across this little relic in the middle of a demolished corridor was surreal to say the least!

      Glass and peely paint!!!

      After these little stopping points we headed straight over to the water tower while we still had the light. It was a gem once you got to the top floor. Not being a fit person at all, I was knackered once I got up there...


      We did go up the up the spiral staircase but with there being 3 of us and the light not being so good, it was a bit cramped for 3 tripods. Also I'm always guilty of gawping around on an explore instead of taking pics. An explore to me is also an excuse to piss about with torches and LEDs in abandoned buildings.
      This one was lit up by Rob to which myself and Tom gleefully took advantage.

      My turn to light up the staircase with green LEDs.

      With the daylight finally on it's way out we headed back to the hall to mess around with torches and LEDs.
      I stood guard with the cameras all on long exposures while Rob and Tom gave the hall a lick of light paint.

      Time to head in and play around a bit and say goodbye to the old girl.


      It was a pleasure to finally get inside the walls but also quite upsetting and maddening to know this has been on my doorstep for a long time and I've only seen Whitt's partial beauty when it's become near enough too late.
      Thanks for looking
    • By Lavino
      visited st josephs myself woopashoopaa and gronk this was our first stop of the day after we gained access we found it was now being inhabited by pidgeons and there was shit everywhere. the church and been pretty much stripped but was still worth a look. as the place hasnt been covered that much.just as we had left and crossed the road taking our externals the police turned up so made our escape to our next place so heres bit of history i found and a few pictures
      In October 1870, Father Henry J Lamon (see "St. Joseph's Clergy") was appointed head of the new mission that would soon become the Parish of St. Joseph, Wigan, and it was due to the untiring zeal and great energy of the new Rector that rapid progress was made.
      The first service was held on 22nd January, 1871, in a small chapel that formerly belonged to the Primitive Methodist Body, in Caroline Street, but in a very short time the building was found to be too small for the increasing numbers of Catholics living in the surrounding Wallgate area.
      Consequently, with the permission of the Right Reverend Doctor O'Reilly, Bishop of Liverpool, Father Lamon purchased some adjoining land to the chapel, at a cost of £500. The old Methodist chapel was then pulled down, and on the site was erected the first church of St. Joseph, which opened in April 1872. This new church was built to accommodate between 500 and 600 worshippers at a cost of £3,000 - a considerable sum at the time.
      At a further cost of £5,000, through the support of his faithful parishioners, by 1874, Father Lamon had built the schools at St. Joseph's, which soon had an average attendance of over 800 scholars!
      However, it soon became evident that the new church was totally inadequate for the requirements of the district, and steps were taken without delay for the erection of a more extensive building.
      NOTE: During his time at St. Joseph's, there was frequent correspondence between Father Lamon and the Bishop of Liverpool, regarding the possible acquisition of land around Caroline Street. Indeed, some of Father Lamon's letters to the Bishop, which are kept in the Archdiocesan Archives, suggest that the first Rector of St. Joseph's was most shrewd and business-like when dealing in such matters
      In due course, more land adjacent to the church was purchased, and the old premises were removed to make room for the building of a second new church!
      The design of the new St. Joseph's Church, the one that so many came to know and love, was entrusted to Mr. Goldie, of the firm of Messrs. Goldie and Child, of Kensington, London, and the contract, which amounted to about £6,000, to Mr. J. Wilson, of Wigan, with Mr. Weatherby acting as clerk of works. In 1877, the foundation stone was laid and blessed by the Right Rev. Dr. O'Reilly, and, together, with the adjoining Presbytery for the accommodation of three priests, the church was completed in 1878 and opened on Sunday, 30th June of that year.







      P



    • By Lavino
      visited this primary school with @woopashoopaa a nice little school this we visited has we were passing to go to another place so thought it would be worth a look inside and glad we did still a few bits and bobs left lieing around theres not much history about this place so heres a bit I found and then on with the puics.....
      The long established St John's, Wingates CE Primary & Fourgates County Primary schools were closed in 2004 following amalgamation to form The Gates CP School. The place has remaining untouched for many years after the Bolton Council set up a Family Learning Centre there for a few months but again moved to another building in Bolton City Centre and was put up for sale in 2009 but no buyers were found it remains to be seen wether the building will be knocked down in the near future














    • By Lavino
      a recent visit with @woopashoopaa @Telf and @GRONK was a fun day out had by all of us.visited various locations so on to the police station after have a good look around and telf working out our way on site we spotted our entry point finally got in all was good headed streight upstairs was going well till we reached the ground floor and got busted. so not many pictures as i was more busy looking around and to be honest not really much to see a bit of history and pics....
      The building has been empty since 2010, when the police force left Irwell Street for a new £16 million base in Castlecroft Street.
      A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said: “We recommend that the public do not enter condemned buildings and adhere to safety signs that are on these buildings.
      “We will arrest and detain anyone who is caught breaking and entering.â€









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