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.
So here is a short film I made on a few abandoned train carriages in Norfolk. Probably not going to appeal to all tastes, ya may find the intro comical though. As I have said before I don't want to make shaky cam videos so trying to work out ways of making them with steady shots.
Thanks for watching and I hope you enjoyed. I have a few other bits on my channel from non exploring to tutorials. Feel free to take a look.
In our continuing adventures of exploring abandoned mines, we revisit Smallcleugh Lead Mine in Nenthead, Uk, which dates back to the 1700s. In the 3.5 hour adventure, we visit the classic Ballroom, where a huge body of ore was removed, and then onto what we have named the " Second Ballroom ", which is the largest stope I have ever seen.
A little history (Thanks mineexplorer.org)
Smallcleugh Mine was started in about 1770, looking for the continuation of Hanginshaw's West of Nent Vein, but this was soon abandoned. In 1787 the work was restarted by an agent for the London Lead Company along the Smallcleugh Cross Vein which produced an immense quantity of ore. There where also many other rich veins worked from Smallcleugh - Middlecleugh (and 1st and 2nd Sun Veins), Longcleugh, and Great Cross. The mine over the years was also worked by the Nenthead and Tynedale Lead and Zinc Company and Vieille Montagne Zinc Company. Most of the operations in Smallcleugh had come to an end around the 1900's. In 1963 the mine was briefly reopened in pursuit of new ore reserves, but little large scale mining took place. A famous occurrence at the mine was the dinner party held down it. On September 2nd 1901, 28 members of the local Masonic branch held a dinner down the mine in a large stope know today as the Ballroom Flat.It is often assumed that Smallcleugh Mine extends all the way to Bogg Shaft and beyond, as these are reached via the Smallcleugh portal, however Smallcleugh originally only went as far as the Longcleugh Vein past the Ballroom, and the beginnings of the Middlecleugh Vein and Middlecleugh Second Sun Vein. The area past this which covers Carr's Cross Vein, Cow Hill Cross Vein, Barron's Sump Chamber and beyond are is in fact a separate mine called Longcleugh Mine, which was originally worked by shafts.Smallcleugh Mine is the one that everyone knows and goes down. We have been going down this mine on and off since 1988. It is very impressive and extensive with multiple flats, circular routes and connections to Middlecleugh, Rampgill, Carr's and Caplecleugh Mines.
Enjoy, please like if you do and leave any relevant comments
I've been out and about again and this time, we've taken a continuious (almost) videoed walk down a lead mine level that is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the North Pennines, Hangingshaw, part of the Rampgill mine complex.. I also fixed my sound issue so in this one, there is no music, just the recording of us walking through!
Hope you enjoy and please leave any relevant comment
A little history of the main mine complex curtsy of mineexplorers.org:
Rampgill Horse Level was started by the Greenwich Hospital in 1736 following the Scaleburn Moss Vein until it reached Fairhill Vein, this then followed into Rampgill Vein. Rampgill Vein may have been worked as early as 1690. There are references to other veins being worked from much earlier on which join into Rampgill Mine. In 1745 the lease was sold to the London Lead Company who developed the mine at an impressive rate and found the Rampgill Vein and others to be incredibly rich in ore. Altogether Rampgill with all its veins yielded 140,000 tons of lead ore between 1703 and 1886.By the end of the 19th century most of Rampgill Vein above the water table had been worked out. Between 1899 and 1921 the Vieille Montagne Zinc Company reworked some of the veins in Rampgill Mine and Coalcleugh Mine for zinc ore, with the Rampgill Horse Level being used for access to Coalcleugh Mine. The Rampgill Horse Level was also used as a haulage way via the Hanginshaw Branch Level for the eastern workings of the Middlecleugh and Longcleugh Veins in Smallcleugh Mine.One of major veins in Rampgill Mine, Scaleburn Vein is generally referred to as being part of Rampgill Mine, it is however a sperate mine in its own right and it only used the Rampgill portal as its access point.
We recently did a trip down Brownley Lead mine in Nenthead, Uk. I have the video up on my Youtube channel. Link is below. If you want info before watching, the following is from mineexplorer.org.
Brownley Hill mine was first worked for lead with silver being extracted as well, the earliest workings being via surface shafts on the Brownley Hill Vein. Records dated 1735 from the Greenwich Hospital indicate that the mine was of no real economic value at this time. In the middle of the 1700's the London Lead Company took out a lease for just under 20 years. They worked the Brownley Hill Vein in the Little Limestone and in the hazles above it, obtaining a considerable amount of ore, but they were prevented from mining deeper by water. To overcome the problem they drove the Brownley Hill High Level in the sills above the Great Limestone in an attempt to reach the Little Limestone gaining access to the bottom of old workings, however only a fraction of the expected ore was found. The company also tried the Brownley Hill Moss Cross Vein and Jug Vein, but due to poor ventilation they abandoned their undertakings in this area. In all, they gave up their lease before it was expired as the total current outlay on development brought forth very little in results.At the end of 1765 a new lease was taken out by two man team who obtained a very large amount of ore from the cross Veins as well as the Brownley Hill Vein. The ore raised was sold to the London Lead Company. In 1795 the lease passed to the newly formed Brownley Hill Lead Company. This was a particular lucrative time as the price of lead increased dramatically due to the wars with France. When the price declined again the lease was sold on to another group in 1816, which continued to work the mine under the same name of the Brownley Hill Lead Company. The mine now was being worked for zinc as well lead. It is during this period that the mine started to really develop. The Bloomsberry Horse Level was driven and the previously worked veins were now being worked from below. The horse level extended out on Guddamgill Cross Vein, Wellgill Cross Vein, Brownley Hill North Vein, Brownley Hill Vein eventually reaching the Brownley Hill Moss Cross and Brownley Hill High Cross Veins as well as Jug Vein. The lead ore in the lower levels were much poorer than that obtained in the higher horizons, however the grade of zinc ore was very good and this contributed to the operations profitability. Production was maintained until the middle of the 1850's.In 1869 the mine was operating under a different concern again, the Brownley Hill Lead Mining Company during this period the mine was closed for a while and then reopened again with the same workforce. In 1890 the company sold up the complete mining operation to the Nenthead and Tynedale Lead and Zinc Company who held the lease until 1894. At this time high grade lead ore was depleted and the Vieille Montagne Zinc Company took over the lease in 1914 shifting operations to the extraction of zinc ore. The mine operated until 1936. The last working of the mine was between 1964 and 1966; when the trial Slate Sill level was driven in the Slate Sills southeast of the Brownley Hill Moss Cross Vein.