this second part nearly didnt happen as when i arrived i found the yard had changed hands and was all set to write it off as a waste of time and head home untill i spotted something in the far corner of the yard and sought permission to take some photographs which was given by way of intercom so off i trotted across the yard camera in hand to find my subject.
mass transit was founded in May 1998 by Michael Strafford an engineering business, performing contract maintenance for other operators. It also specialised in the conversion of buses for non-passenger use. It then diversified into the operation of school bus services At the time operations ceased it operated 86 routes serving 32 schools and at its peak carried some 15,000 children a day to and from schools across south yorkshire and lincolnshire
Between 2001 and 2005, Brightbus, then known as Mass Transit, had a substantial presence in lincolnshire following the acquisition of the bus operations of Applebys Coaches, Reliance Travel of great gonnerby and the grantham depot of lincolnshire roadcar.
The Grantham operation failed under Mass ownership and was sold to centrebus and the Lincoln area operations to dunn line in 2005
In 2004, BrightBus purchased the long established Leon Motors of finningley that was formed in 1922 and operated buses in doncaster by 2008 the company's stage-carriage work had passed to first south yorkshire and concentrated on school contracts which were based at the main BrightBus depot at north anston
mass/transit now brightbus disposed of the elderly leon and northern bus fleets which had kept the stage carriage and school services going and ran
a fleet of 73 buses, including many English built three-axle dennis dragons and leyland olympians the dragons repatriated from Hong Kong.
painted in what i thought was a very sickly green michael strafford retired at 55 stating ill health but didnt want to sell the business although he has disposed of the vast majority of the bright bus fleet possibly to other school or service bus operators .
today the yard is in the hands of hallam express a logistics company full of lorries and fork lift trucks but a few of michaels buses are stored in the far corner of the yard
all be it in a scrap state i think he is trying to sell these vehicles on for preservation rather than send them to booth roe or carlton PSV at barnsley he also still owns the former depot at leon wether these are to pass on to his family or he his hanging on for a better price i wouldnt know what i do know is like leon this marks the passing of another operator from the bus world.
i acknowlage the author of the brightbus photos
a rather scruffy mass transit bus possibly filling in between school runs heads for hexthorpe near doncaster
a mixed group of bright buses mostly repatriated hong kong tri axles wait for the school run
a wider view of the hong kong tri axles sandwich in a leyland olympian
a hong kong tri axle MIL 55774 stands under the bus wash
hong kong BIG 9823 which moved to leon finningley for a short time and C887 RFE parked at the rear of the yard near the inspection ramps
viewed through the fence american schoolbus GHL 212 V in the yard
as stated bright buses yard is now home to hallam express logistics lorries now park where buses once used to
the former bus repair sheds now used for storage
this is all that remains of brightbus a hong kong tri axle and a few scrap buses stored in one corner of the yard
a side view of tri axle E537AKU and olympian W141 EON which spells leon the company brightbus aquired in 2004
the hong kong still retains its brightbus fittings
and that of its previous company
an interior view of the downstairs of hong kong
looking down the bus it smelt like one of the museum type buses a unused shut in smell not unpleasant
looking up the bus to be honest its in good condition and would make a runner again
where as leon was in a deploreable state
had to squeeze past rammels corner to get the interior shot
SN53 KKH stands in pieces far from its london home
although inside it could have just finished the days service
came across this dennis dominator a long way from home formally with greys from ely
complete with its cambridgeshire county council notice
with junk dumped in its interior
but wait all is not what it seems ...its colour and the sticker insider gives it away it was formally a magic bus based near piccadilly manchester
the american schoolbus GHL 212 V is still parked up in the yard
the interior and drivers seat tastefully redone ..... in moquet...yuck!!
and as i take my leave the bus wash still exists but out of use
mass brightbus still need fitters
and the spirit of mass /brightbus continues to haunt the north anston industrial estate
Here's a little selection of some of the more random, less-obvious shots from 10 years of exploring asylums.
One shot each from most of the ones I've visited.
Thought I'd try and avoid the obvious shots a little.
(Nottinghamshire Mental Defective Colony, opened in 1930)
(West Lothian District Asylum, opened in 1906)
Main administration block
(2nd Bristol Borough Mental Hospital, opened in 1938)
(Charitable public asylum, opened in 1713)
(4th incarnation of "Bedlam" (founded in 1247), initially for private middle-class patients, opened in 1930)
Admin block staircase
(3rd Surrey County Asylum, opened in 1883)
(Leicestershire & Rutland County Asylum, opened in 1904)
(Swansea Borough Mental Hospital, opened in 1932)
South-eastern view of ward block and water tower
(aka Friern, 2nd Middlesex County Asylum, later 2nd London County Asylum, opened in 1851)
Admin block tower
(aka North Wales Asylum, opened in 1848)
View from ward block window towards admin block clock tower
(Three Counties Asylum (for Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire & Huntingdonshire), opened in 1860)
South east view of main block
(Berkshire County Asylum, opened in 1870)
South-east view of main block
(Cambridgeshire & Ely County Asylum, opened in 1858)
Main elevation (admin block in centre)
(Glasgow District Asylum, opened in 1896)
View from dormitory window
(Bristol Borough Asylum, opened in 1861)
(West Ham Borough Asylum, opened in 1901)
Gallery with cell doors
(Middlesex County Asylum, later first London County Asylum, opened in 1831)
Main corridor in female wing
(Middlesex Mental Defective Colony, opened in 1934)
(Lanarkshire District Asylum, opened in 1895)
Jump-proof fire escape
(former Norwich Union Workhouse, converted into 2nd Norfolk County Mental Hospital, opened in 1927)
(East Sussex County Asylum, opened in 1903)
Corridor network (with random portable bathtub)
(Glamorganshire Mental Defective Colony, opened in 1930)
(3rd West Riding County Asylum, opened in 1888)
(8th London County Asylum, opened in 1902)
(Charitable Public Asylum, opened in 1820)
View from eastern wing
(Dunbartonshire Mental Defective Colony, opened in 1937)
Admin block coaching entrance
(Kent Mental Defective Colony, opened in 1936)
(Norfolk Mental Defective Colony, opened in 1930)
Discarded training material
(Nottingham Borough Asylum, opened in 1880)
(2nd West Riding County Asylum, opened in 1872)
(Middlesex County Asylum, opened in 1905)
Recreation hall (left) and ward block (right), with water tower in background
(Monmouthshire County Asylum, opened in 1851)
(Overspill annexe to North Wales Mental Hospital, opened in 1937)
(Kesteven County Asylum, opened in 1902)
(East Lothian & Peebles District Asylum, opened in 1874)
(East Ham & Southend-on-Sea Borough Mental Hospital, opened in 1937)
(2nd Essex County Asylum, opened in 1913)
Gallery with cell doors
(Norfolk County Asylum, opened in 1814)
(Connaught District Asylum, opened in 1833)
(Newport Borough Asylum, opened in 1906)
Window in day-room.
(Ipswich Borough Asylum, opened in 1870)
"Quiet room" in medium-secure annexe
(Northamptonshire County Asylum, opened in 1876)
Staircase in Superintendent's residence
(Joint Counties Asylum for Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire & Cardiganshire, opened 1865)
Observation room in annexe
(Northumberland County Asylum, opened in 1859)
(Lincolnshire County Asylum, opened in 1852)
Admin block main reception
(Gateshead Borough Asylum, opened in 1914)
(The City Of London Asylum, opened in 1866)
Strathmartin (aka Balvodan)
(Charitable Public Idiot Asylum, opened in 1855)
Eastern side of main building
(Montrose District Asylum, opened in 1858)
Congregation area outside recreation hall
(Joint Breconshire and Radnorshire County Asylum, aka Mid-Wales Asylum, opened in 1903)
View from ward window
(Leicester Borough Asylum, opened in 1869)
Main corridor in ward section of eastern block
(11th London County Asylum, opened in 1915 as Canadian War Hospital, reopened in 1923 as mental hospital)
Geriatric ward day room
(4th Lancashire County Asylum, opened in 1873)
Entrance into ward block from corridor network
following the decline of industries Sheffield offers plenty interns of urban exploring... from abandoned breweries, redundant steel works and leisure sites. It's difficult to experience all this in a single outing therefore I have compiled this into three years of exploring the city. Having started out at relatively low level explores and advancing this further to more harder to reach buildings here are some of the most important abandoned buildings Sheffield offers. If not for the buildings themselves Sheffield's street art is an important part of the explore. Often explorers take to photography for the art which is of a high standard coming from a far to experience this. Historically the buildings offer more than the art its self... the buildings often dating back to the victorian era give great scope to capture real history of the city. Often buildings have either been destroyed or are in the process of this. Been able to capture the buildings in their original state albeit a derelict one captures the cities past... and more importantly the history of British industry.
So here I am. Half a decade after my first ever explore on a beautiful summers day, June 12th 2009. I can remember that day like it was yesterday, it was the day after my last AS-Level exam and I had been looking forward to my first proper explore for some time after finding out a good friend of mine I'd known for years through another of my hobbies had been doing this stuff since the late 1990s. Hellingly was the goal for us and two of his other friends that sunny afternoon and little did I know how dramatically my life would change. I can still remember the feeling I got when I first climbed through one of the many smashed out windows and set foot inside a derelict building for the first time, I can remember the sounds, the smell and the feel of it under my feet like I am there right now and that is something which will stay with me forever and part of the reason why Hellingly is my favourite out of all the Asylums I have managed to do so far.
Looking back since that day five years ago I can't believe how far I've come, from starting out with what at the time was already a four year old Fujifilm point and shoot camera and no tripod, to the setup I've got now. If someone asked me five years ago where I thought I'd be now I'd never have been able to answer it, as I never envisioned I'd have explored over 200 times all over the UK, as well as four trips to the continent and another coming up in July, as well as the biggest trip of my life to the USA later on this year being planned as I speak. I've gone through finding and losing love in abandonments as well as losing my best ever explore buddy to a woman, meeting so many awesome people I never would have encountered otherwise some of whom have become close personal friends and others I wouldn't say no to exploring with again if the offer arose, and others I'm shamefully still yet to meet up with! I was part of a now infamous encounter with Beardy, had three car accidents, outran police dogs pursuing us, met the hottest policewoman in the whole of France, encountered the worlds angriest farmer in rural Belgium, had two very narrow escapes from serious injury as well as so much else I can't even begin to describe it all here...in short I've had five amazing years of generally being where I shouldn't with equally amazing people and long may it continue. Thanks to everyone I've met and explored with over the last half decade and to all others for helping me with related stuff, I couldn't have done it without you. Literally. Had my mate not introduced me to this properly chances are I'd still be an armchair explorer like I was for a good four years prior to 2009!
So five years and 254 explores later (don't even ask me to work out how many individual sites!) I am going to let these pictorial highlights and personal landmarks do the talking (well maybe with a little bit of narration....). This has the added bonus of you being able to see just how far I have progressed photographically as well!
Genesis....Hellingly June 12th 2009. My revisit in November 2009 is still to this day one of my favourite explores ever.
But it wasn't until I visited West Park six times between August and October 2009 things really took off for me...the visit in early September was marked by us encountering the odd fellow wearing only a red lacey vest top and womens underwear running out of the adjacent forest shortly after a policeman had driven off...
Wispers School in Haslemere in December 2009 provided probably the biggest adrenaline rush and one of the closest calls I have ever had exploring, about half an hour in we heard car noises outside and dogs barking, so we hid upstairs listening to people and dogs moving around downstairs, before we moved and ended up in the old servery, I reached out for a door handle and as I touched it a tremendous amount of barking erupted directly behind the door which made us totally leg it, we flung open a tiny inset door built into one of the bay windows and didn't stop running until we reached the road, it was about as intense as things have ever gotten for me. Later it transpired the police used to use the place for dog training...
Fairmile in the snow December 2009
RAF Upper Heyford January 2010, here I would meet someone who would later become both my girlfriend for much of the year as well as an awesome explore buddy to boot. I revisited RAF Upper Heyford in March 2010 with Landie Man and TBM and got collared by the fuzz who searched us, but as we are good boys nothing came of it.
Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford April 2010
Pyestock, June 2010...I made four visits to Pyestock in 2010 and this was the most successful, but the experience in April when we were probably the first group of explorers to encounter the security with their new Land Rover Defender was bizarre, as a game of cat and mouse underneath the Weir Road bridge ensued with them parked on the road on top of us then backing off then coming back repeatedly.
GT July 2010, only a couple of days after it first surfaced.
BIBRA, Carshalton August 2010. Barely anyone got into this place because of how well secured and alarmed it was, it's the only place I have ever been which has given me a really bad feeling, the whole atmosphere of the place was heavy and hard to stomach. We set an alarm off and got the hell out of dodge as we knew it was wired straight into the local police station...
Abbey Mills Pumping Station November 2010, we turned up not knowing it had been very recently sealed up after some braindead morons left the access open, but by a massive stroke of luck we ran into a contractor who was milling around outside waiting for a delivery, and instead of chucking us out like we expected him to he said 'how'd you get in, over the back?' to which I replied yes we had, and then to all our surprises he let us in and gave us a guided tour! Very shortly after my visit a huge eff-off fence went up around the entire place.
Reading Courage Brewery December 2010
Centre for Human Sciences Farnborough January 2011, I made four visits to this woefully under explored site just down the road from Pyestock, which featured some truly awesome sights including the enormous climatic cold chamber, dummy fighter plane cockpit rigs and more
Crane, Oxford January 2011...my first and so far only crane climb
Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals Basingstoke March 2011. Organised as an 'official' tour after closure by the actual staff and members of the security team, this was a fantastic afternoon to see what was there as any attempts to get in unofficially would have been met with complete and utter total failure!
Mitchell Grieve Needle Works, Coalville, March 2011. My favourite factory of all time.
Hanging a giant England flag from the local Grain Silo, April 2011
Denbigh April 2011, the infamous group visit which resulted in Beardy speeding out onto the public road and allowing his dog to attack one of us
That house I wish I'd never found, June 2011
RAF Upper Heyford Hospital Boiler House, the place that tried to kill me with stupidly difficult access but was worth it as barely anyone got to see this part of UH, hence it's totally untouched nature!
RAF Greenham Common GAMA Site, a lifelong dream of me and my fellow urbexer was finally realised on the 2011 August bank holiday weekend. Simply one of the most amazing mornings of my life watching the sun rise over the missile silos.
Mobil Oil Grease Blending Plant, Birkenhead October 2011, the culmination of my first ever multi-day urbex roadtrip and another favourite.
Malvernbury Care Home October 2011
RAF Upper Heyford Commissioned Officers Club October 2011. The best bit of the massive Upper Heyford site by a long way and only doable with permission as it was right behind the still open base police station....
Booked a table for four with live entertainment, turned out he was a fire breather and he had a little accident while practicing for the show
If you like grunge then this is the place for you, in the middle floor your walking in about a inch (about 25mm to you youngsters) deep of white slime.
I know its late, but Happy New Year