This was another one of those what the fuck just happened moments in my life.
So I was on my way back from (not so) sunny South Wales with @The_Raw @extreme_ironing and @sentinel after visiting @Lenston when I got a call from a very excited @Frosty. "Mail Rail is doable." I know by now if he says something is possible then he's normally right. We had looked at ways into the network on many many occasions, each time being thwarted at the 11th hour by something so this was high on our list and deserved all our attention.
Initially like a fool I passed on this trip. Well I was supposed to be at work early the next day and I was, for want of a better word, fucked. An enthusiastic night out drinking the night before had definitely taken it's toll. However on my home to sunny(er) Kent after dropping some people off in London, I realised what an immense idiot I was being and 4 hours later found myself back where I had just been with the people I had just been with (minus @sentinel who was sleeping off his weekend) emerging into the gloomy depths of the abandoned tunnels. It was an insane day.
The Post office Railway (or Mail rail as it became known) is for many considered the 'holy grail' of exploration, especially in London. I can understand why, you've got an entire abandoned miniature underground railway complete with stations, rolling stock, miles of tunnel and the powers still on. It's pretty cool. You can walk for miles under London's streets and not really know where you are and it's also not that easy to access.
It was constructed in the early part of the 20th century to link together some of the main London sorting offices and alleviate delays that occurred in moving mail around London on the surface. Construction started in 1915, but was suspended just over a year later due to labour shortages. The line was eventually completed and became available for use during 1927 and was in service from February 1928 onward.
I could go into the detailed history of the railway and it's design, but I'd be writing for ages and there's plenty online about it if you want to do some research. Needless to say that by the early 2000's the system was in need of major investment to keep it working efficiently and now only had 3 stations out of the original 7 due to relocation of the sorting offices above. In 2003 the railway was officially mothballed, but has more-or-less been totally abandoned. It would take a significant injection of cash to even think about bringing it back into service and there wouldn't be much point as there's now only 2 live sorting offices located on the route, pity.
In October 2013 the British postal museum announced plans to open part of the network to the public and indeed this is pressing ahead. In the coming years it will be possible to visit the station and workshops at Mount Pleasant and (apparently) go on a short train ride round one of the loops. I'm actually pleased at least part of the system is being preserved because it is a unique place and deserves it's place in history. I just hope they do a good job and don't make it too gimmicky.
What you see here is only a small section of the line from Rathbone place to Mount Pleasant. I needed to get home so I left after we reached Mount Pleasant. Regretted it ever since because try thou we might we've not managed to get back in, but we have got oh so close (oh you have no idea!)
So on with some photos. It won't be anything you've not seen before, but here is my take on the Post Office Railway.
Rathbone station is now a tad damp because of the building work going on above it.
Typical tunnel section twin tracks
Before the stations, the twin tracks break into two smaller tunnels and split apart to go either side of the platform.
This was actually an abandoned tunnel to the original western district office which was re-located in 1958. The abandoned tunnel was used as a siding to store locomotives and wagons in.
Trains in tunnels
Just before Mount Pleasant station, you have these massive doors, which I'm lead to believe are for flood protection.
Coming up to Mount Pleasant
And that's as far as I went.
Thanks for Looking!
By The Urban Collective
Hey, guys, this is a video from my recent exploration of Manchester's Victoria Arches.
Unfortunately, we were caught entering and as I couldn't resist taking a peak I went it alone. However, we will be back to make a proper video report on the place.
I was absolutely gutted to not get a proper vid but the footage I did get was half decent and worth it for the experience alone. This place holds so many memories and it is astonishing to wonder whats under our feet.
Well, heres another easy explore I done recently with a few friends. This is only the second location I've visited, so be gentle!
I wont bore you with TOO much history, as this has been done numerous times, and I'm sure most of you are aware of this place or have visited yourself.
CRANK CAVERNS, ST HELENS, MERSEYSIDE.
There are also legends of vicious dwarves eating children, soldiers going into the mines with gunpowder, etc.. But now to the pictures.
Sorry, not all the photos are in order, I had lots to do this morning and was just trying to get this uploaded. Hope you lot enjoy the photos anyway!
Another local one that I've been wanting to do for ages, but never got round to it until now.
It's filled full of asbestos, so I made sure to bring my good PP3 mask, but even that wasn't enough probably.
During World War 2, the Southern Railway took over the Deepdene Hotel near Dorking in Surrey for its wartime emergency headquarters. In the grounds they excavated an underground control centre taking advantage of a network of existing natural caves that had been acknowledged 300 years before in the diaries of John Evelyn. Because of the natural protection afforded by the location of the caves they were eminently suitable for the development of a bunker to house both the headquarters' telephone exchange and Traffic Control who also had their underground control centre there with underground divisional controls at Woking (South West Division), Southampton (Western Division), Orpington (South Eastern Division) and Redhill (Central Division)
I got a message in the morning saying it's doable and to go soon. So a few hours later I was there and inside.
I'd been meaning to do this one for a long time now, especially as its pretty local, so now was a good a time as any.
It's actually not a very large bunker, but its nice for its modest size. The infamous 100 steps lived up to its reputation as terrifying. I only went up a few steps, but that's enough.
I actually bumped into another explorer here who got the fright of his life as I turned the corner and shown my light at him in a moment of confusion and panic. Turned out to be someone else who got the memo and took a trip down to see it from a little further afield.
A nice little bunker, rich full of history.