The train in question is the Eurostar 373018, one of many Eurostar Class 373 trains that started operating in 1994. Capable of speeds up to 186 mph, the Class 373s were specifically designed to transport passengers between London, Paris, and Brussels via the Channel Tunnel.
Since 2016, however, many 373s have been withdrawn or scrapped, despite just 22 or 23 years in service. Eurostar 373018 is officially in storage, but the word “abandoned” seems more appropriate.
Branches from nearby trees now reach out and touch its windows. Weeds rise up from the rusting tracks on which it sits. Graffiti covers what were once the clean lines of the train’s streamlined form. It looks like the kind of place where Rick Grimes would butcher a bunch of zombies, or where Mad Max would go shopping if he wanted to buy a train.
What the future holds for this high-speed train is anyone’s guess. So far, 18 of the 373 Class trains have been sent to be scrapped by European Metal Recycling (EMR) at Kingsbury in the West Midlands region of England. Others have been scrapped in France, three have ended up in museums or colleges, and some lucky 373s have been refurbished and remain in service.
Eurostar 373018, however, remains in “storage” in the north of France, a fine nesting place for birds, an interesting canvas for graffiti artists, and an intriguing landmark for train enthusiasts, eagle-eyed users of Google Earth, and urban explorers like AdcaZz whose video exploration of the train you can check out on YouTube.
And if you’re wondering why these 373s were abandoned and not reused elsewhere, well, it seems like a few factors were in play. Technology had simply moved on, leaving these 22-year-old trains out of date. It was also more cost efficient to bring in a modern fleet rather than overhaul these existing trains, especially as the replacements had a greater seating capacity, meaning more money over less time. In the end, therefore, many of the 373s were deemed “life-expired.”
HMP Holloway was the largest women’s only prison in Europe until its closure in 2016. Rebuilt between 1971 to 1985, the prison's design was intended to produce an atmosphere more like a hospital than a prison. This design was recognised as a failure in the 1980s as its lack of traditional wings or landings, and a maze of corridors, means warders had difficulty monitoring inmates.
Entrance to the rebuilt prison (CC Licence)
The history of Holloway dates back to 1852 when the original prison opened as a mixed-sex establishment, but due to the increasing demand for space for female prisoners, it became female-only in 1903. Inmates of the original prison included Oscar Wilde, and more recently Moors murderess Myra Hindley from 1966.
The original Holloway Prison (public domain image)
Holding female adults and young offenders either sentenced by the courts or being held on remand, the prison consisted mostly of single cells, but there was also various dormitory accommodation. In January 2016 an inquest into the death of Sarah Reed, a paranoid schizophrenic being held on remand, identified failings in the care system. The prison was closed in July 2016, with plans for it to be sold for housing.
Time to start the unofficial tour....
Wandering between the modern buildings within the prison grounds
Let's head straight into the cells...
Single prisoner cell
Another dorm room
Mural in one of the many winding corridors
Lots of peely paint in some places
There were several styles of cell
Entrance into the prison...
Prisoner transport vehicles would park inside this area, and the gates closed behind them
The front entrance leads into this area, with a command room behind the glass
Corridors lead into the prison
Each area separated by iron gates
Prisoner amenities and facilities
Entrance into the "family friendly" visitor centre.
Visitors and prisoners could be kept separated in these divided rooms
The prison had a swimming pool for prisoners to use
And gym facilities
The glazed walkway was decorated by inmates
The prison had a medical ward, including its own opticians
Covered walkway leading to the chapel. Note the high-security walls
The chapel was large but pretty basic
More inmate artwork
Mural inside one of the rooms
A room for presentations
The prison's boiler house
Exterior of the buildings within the prison walls
High fences divided the exterior areas