Visited back in November with Mookster after seeing the Typhoo Factory. Another one ticked off the list which has been kicking about for years. I really enjoyed this one; though quite bare and largely sealed, it had a lot of nice things to see down there. The air was pretty bad though in places!
History - Borrowed!
The ‘Shadow Factory Tunnels’ are what remain of Lord Austin’s secret plans that were created to increase the force of the British military against the German military aggression in the arms race that led up to the start of the Second World War.
Munitions workers produced Merlin engines to power Spitfires and Hawker Hurricanes which were used to regain control of the British skies during the 1940 Battle of Britain.
The Shadow Scheme involved two stages; the building of nine new factories and the extension of existing factories.
This extension included here; the Longbridge plant. Australian-born industrialist and Conservative MP, Lord Austin, whom founded Austin Motors; had already contributed to the war effort during the First World War, turning his factories to munitions and engine production.
The tunnels which ran beneath Austin Rovers Longbridge plant are mostly all that is left of the plant; a large housing development increases in size upon the former footprint. These tunnels ensured that production of the engines and munitions could continue underground in relative safety.
After WWII; the factory returned to producing automobiles and the tunnels were soon abandoned. By the late 60s, the plant was the second largest car plant in the world.
After the collapse of MG Rover, the site saw its redevelopment. Famously; a mini was kept down here after workers damaged it in the 70s and it was hidden from bosses. The mini is now in a museum.
This is a very small portion of the tunnels. Lots is bricked up
The history of the Albanian Navy dates back to 1925, following the creation of the Albanian Republic. Albanian naval forces operate out of two main bases; Bishti-i-Palles in Durrës, and Pasha Liman in Vlorë, with four reserve bases respectively in Shëngjin, Porto Palermo, Saranda and a submarine base on Sazan island. The vessels of the Albanian naval force are mostly patrol craft and support craft as well as four whisky class submarines (Soviet Union built in the early Cold War period) which have been taken out of service at Pasha Liman. In Shëngjin a Soviet built minesweeper M-111 and an AFD-115 gunship remain abandoned at the entrance to a bunker. The Albanian navy still operates out of Shëngjin in a low capacity so it's still an active military zone but you are allowed to drive through it to reach a beach resort on the other side. Handy for us! Visited with adders, extreme_ironing, otter and reenie. Here's what we found....
AFD Mujo Ulqinaku M-111 - A mine warfare ship designed for the location of and destruction of naval mines which combines the role of a minesweeper and minehunter in one hull. Minesweepers are equipped with mechanical or electrical devices, known as "sweeps", for disabling mines, so waterways are maintained clear for safe shipping. This one appears to have been disused since 1996 (the date of a calendar on board), just prior to the Albanian civil war, when many vessels of the Albanian navy were seriously damaged.
Behind it sits this half-submerged AFD P115 - Albanian Navy gunship (Chinese type 62 "Shanghai-II") which has had its 57mm gun mount removed
They sit in front of the entrance to a navigable bunker which was inaccessible. Another entrance parallel was also sealed although we reached the blast door for that one
The AFD Mujo Ulqinaku M111 was named after Mujo Ulqinaku, an Albanian sergeant of the Royal Albanian Navy, known for his resistance to the Italian forces during the Italian Invasion of Albania in 1939. Armed with only a machine gun, he was placed at the centre of the defense line and fought uninterruptedly until he was eventually killed by an artillery shell from an Italian warship in the last hour of the battle. He was given the People's Hero of Albania award posthumously.
On board the AFD - M111
An old gun at the front
You can see an active patrol boat moored up on the left of the shot
Inside the AFD - M111
A small engine room
Hatches and squat toilets
All the cabins were locked except for this one
Some old military posters
Back on land, this AFD S104 - Huchuan class 'motor torpedo boat' is waiting to be scrapped. Powered by Soviet-era engines, these hydrofoil-equipped boats are capable of 50 knots (93 km/h; 58 mph) and carry two torpedo tubes for torpedoes, with some known to be armed with naval mines.
A few dilapidated buildings remain nearby
This building to the left was manned but we were just out of view so we took a quick peek at these old military vehicles
Some rusty torpedoes lay on the ground alongside one of them
A couple of old trucks overgrown by vegetation above the bunker. We were aware of someone from the base heading in our direction at this point so we hopped in the car and made tracks
We made it to the beach resort on the other side of the military zone where unfortunately the pigs were waiting for us. Thankfully they just grunted a bit and we were on our way 😮
Just in time to catch the sunset!
Thanks for looking
In classic Harry style; this forms part of another explore backlog! I visited here in November 2018 with Mookster. It formed part of a little Midland Roadtrip we did that day.
We all know what to expect with this place; its pretty pillaged now, access was a doddle and it was full of other explorers; something which seems to be a much more frequent occurrence these days!
We met some really nice people here and had a relaxed half hour or so before moving to the next site.
The Typhoo Tea Factory, founded by John Summer in 1903 and was known a local landmark in Birmingham.
Tea production began here in the 30's; and survived bombing by the Luftwaffe in WW2. in 1968; Typhoo merged with Schweppes and with Cadbury the following year, forming Cadbury-Schweppes.
The factory eventually closed in 1978 as a tea making facility; but remained open as a clothes warehouse until around 2008.
The grounds, which are currently being used as a 148-space pay and display car park (very handy for exploring!), have been granted planning permission as part of a £14 million project to turn the site into a brand new university campus for the Birmingham City University.
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In 1919 Leeds Corporation rented Meanwood Park to provide a ‘colony’ for the mentally handicapped, which was formally opened on 3rd June 1920, although the first patient had been admitted in the previous year. In 1921 the Corporation bought Meanwood Park estate and surrounding land totalling in all one hundred and seventy eight acres, from Sir Hickman Beckett Bacon of Thonock, Gainsborough, grandson of Sir Thomas Beckett. Originally 87 patients were accommodated in the Hall, but during the following twenty years villas were built in the grounds and by 1941, beds were provided for 841 patients. The Hall by then referred to as ‘The Mansion’ was used for other hospital purposes. MPH was taken over by the NHS in 1948 and administered by Leeds. It is now the responsibility of the Leeds Eastern Health Authority and accommodates about 460 residents.
The hospital was controlled by Leeds Corporation. The Hospital trained nurses in a room in the children’s school. Male nurses lived on the wards, on the farm or male hostel. No meals or catering facilities were provided for non resident staff. In 1946 some villas were used by the military for convalescent cases.
Most of the Villas were locked. No child under 14 was allowed to visit. Relatives and friends were allowed to visit once a month. Patient’s mail was censored in the Chief Male Nurses office. The CMN was Mr Parson’s. One free stamp a month was issued to patients. Many of the patients at that time were literate. If they behaved they were given a pass which allowed them a few hours weekend parole. Passes were signed by the Medical Superintendent. Patients were awarded 6d per week or a bar of chocolate. The Chief Male Nurse and the Matron were paid on the number of beds. They had their own sides of the hospital, male and female patients mixed only at dances and church services.
A few historical photo's I found online
I visited with @hamtagger at the beginning of December. i'd seen this pop up online and quite liked the look of it. Now I will say, there really isn't much to see at all but I was really happy with the place. The decay was nice and mature, had some nice features reminiscent of its times. The whole place is surrounded by a newly built residential estate with the closest house literally 75 years away from the Hall itself and its like this all around.
we had quite a nice leisurely paced explore round it, a really random room in the middle of the place with really modern furniture which threw us a little bit. The explore became a bit smelly about 3/4 of the way through when @hamtagger decided he needed a shit. I'm pretty sure he even killed a few pigeons with the stench! now you'd think that with a nice airy building the smell would disappear quite quickly and I'm not one to be bothered much by smells but even I was heaving.
So, apologies to future explorers although I'm sure its safe now!
Thanks for looking!