news archive 2003
Last update: 30|07|05
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cane hill 14|11|03
My thanks to intreped explorers Laurence, Rafal and Marlon, who braved security, police, forensics, arsonists, vandals and the cold weather to take some pictures of the fire damaged Vincent/Vanbrugh ward.

This was also a good opportunity to write a small summary of the various fires that have taken place on the site. Interestingly it proved much harder to figure out than I thought.

Fire Damage At Cane Hill is a handly list of what's gone up in smoke - always in suspicious circumstances.

cane hill arson, the exeter mis-guide, asylum list 23|10|03
The chapel is safe, the admin block has been spared, and the piano still sits in Lidgett/Lettsom. However, on Monday, Vanbrugh/Vincent caught fire to the extent that the roof in this three storey ward has collapsed. I expect that the building is now a gutted shell.

The fire fighters had great trouble finding water (the underground water tanks at the hospital being stagnant) and had to pump water up the hill. They also had problems with the dense undergrowth and the security fence. Two firefighters were injured - not from burns. I wonder if they attempted to direct hoses from Wren/Wesley and fell through the floor.

I hope that Zachary/Unwin survived - there's a unique octagonal tower attached to that building which I've always wanted to look at. Turner ward was also at risk, given its proximity.

Thank you to the residents of Coulsdon and the explorers who have been to the site to see for themselves. I would expect the police and forensics to be on the site for a while, so it's best to leave them to it.

RIP Vanbrugh/Vincent.

An Exeter Mis-Guide
ISBN 0-9546130-0-7

Created by urban explorers Wrights & Sites working with the visual artist Tony Weaver, An Exeter Mis-Guide is a disruption of city tour guides and a disruption of tourism. In Exeter. Anywhere. The Mis-Guide offers a model by which residents explore the urban space, choose their role, take the opportunity to Ďdriftí. Rather than directing anyone where to go and what to see, the Mis-Guide explores ways of seeking cities within cities that no one has found yet; a forged passport to an 'other' city and a hyper-sensitised way of travelling the familiar one.

The Mis-Guide combines three years of experiments, theoretical exploration of the psycho-geographic dťrive, reverse archaeology and both older and more recent traditions of urban exploration, with generic ideas for disruptive exploration and accounts of actual Ďdriftsí.

An Exeter Mis-Guide was hailed by The Times of London as creating ďĎMis-guide tourismí Ė the latest of all the forms of Ďexperimental tourismí.Ē

The book marks the culmination of a three-year project funded by the Local Heritage Initiative, Arts Council England, Exeter Arts Council and the Centre for Creative Enterprise and Participation.

Further information, including sample pages and details of how to buy the book are available at www.mis-guide.com

And many thanks to the people who've been writing in about my short-list of potential explorable asylums which I published on the 14th September. I'm crossing them off as people have been writing in about them - it's a pretty mixed bag at the moment: some gone, some still in use, and some derelict.

Check these out:

1. De La Pole, Willerby, Hull, Humberside
2. High Royds, Menston, Yorkshire Closed in 2003 - site for sale, limited UE.
3. St George's, Morpeth, Northumberland
4. St Mary's, North Saltwick, Northumberland
5. Rauceby, Sleaford, Lincolnshire Asbestos removal started in 2003.
6. Fairmile, Cholsey, Oxfordshire. Closed in March 2003. Currently being cleared. Top security with CCTV.
7. Littlemore, Oxford, Oxfordshire Converted into flats.
8. St Crispin, Duston, Northamtonshire. Asbestos removal complete - being turned into a hotel.
9. Park Prewett, Sherbourne St John, Hampshire Empty and derelict - excellent UE.
10. Roundway, Devizes, Wiltshire.
11. Whitecroft, Newport, Isle Of White Pretty empty, laundry still in use, about to be redeveloped. Good UE.
12. Whittingham, Preston, Lancashire To be redeveloped, St. Margaret's Division gone, St. Jonh's Division being demolished, St. Luke's Division fenced off. Good UE
13. Napsbury, St Alban's, Hertfordshire (Could be redeveloped). Being converted to The Arboritum.
14. Runwell, Chelmsford, Essex (Closing 2003).
15. Warley, Brentwood, Essex (Closing 2002).
16. Cane Hill, Coulsdon, Surrey Documented well.
17. West Park, Epsom, Surrey Excellent UE - mostly unexplored.
18. Graylingwell, Chichester, West Sussex Now closed and a great UE site.
19. Hellingly, Hellingly, East Sussex Derelict, partly destroyed by arson, still lots to see.
20. Springfield, Wandsworth, London (Parts may still be in use)

May be worth a look:

1. Clifton, York, North Yorkshire
2. Garlands, Carleton, Carlisle, Cumbria
3. Middlewood, Wadsley Park, Sheffield, South Yorkshire (Mostly demolished)
4. Scalebor Park, Burley In Wharfedale, West Yorkshire (Being demolished)
5. St. Lukes, Middlesbrough, Cleveland
6. Stanley Royd, Wakefield, West Yorkshire
7. Storthes Hall, Kirkburton, West Yorkshire (Some demolished, some converted)
8. Winterton, Sedgefield, Durham, Co. Durham (Plans for business park/houses. Status unknown). Fully demolished.
9. Kingsway, Derby, Derbyshire
10. Saxondale, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire (Some demolished, new houses on land).
11. The Towers, Humerstone, Lecestershire (New housing on site, new planning submitted 2002).
12. St Andrew's, Norwich, Norfolk (Looks intact, grounds being redevloped).
13. All Saints, Winson Green, Birmingham, West Midlands Taken over by prison authorities, now part of Winston Green Prison.
14. Barnsley Hall, Bromsgrove, Birmingham (Mostly demolished)
15. Knowle, Fareham, Hampshire (Believed all housing)
16. St James's, Portsmouth, Hampshire (Believed being converted to housing).
17. St. Lawrence's, Bodmin, Cornwall Roofs gone, aquired for clients, good perimeter fence.
18. Countess Of Chester, Chester, Cheshire (Might still be in use).
19. Lancaster Moor, Lancaster, Lancashire (Might be demolished).
20. Normansfield, Kingston, Surrey (Closed. Grade II listed. To be refurbished.)
21. Oakwood, Maidstone, Kent (Closed. Being converted).

cane hill arson, tales from the hill, links, paddock 21|10|03
Last night (20th October), another section of cane hill was destroyed by fire. Considering the lack of amenities to the site (electricity or gas), and a fire on the site the previous day, then itís being treated as arson.

Eight fire engines were in attendance, including units from Wimbledon and Battersea. One fire fighter was injured.

So - thatís another piece of cane hill destroyed forever.

Itís acts of mindless vandalism like this that make me seriously consider running a website devoted to vulnerable buildings such as cane hill. Then again, arson occurred at cane hill before any urban exploration sites were devoted to it - the same goes for hellingly and west park.

I really hope the police catch them.

Before cane hill became a smoking ruin, it was a place of work, treatment and therapy. Tales of the operational days of the hospital are a little thin on the ground, but Michelle mailed in with a wonderful Christmas tale of being kicked in the shins. Read about it in the new tales from the hill.

And there's been some minor updates to the links section.

I'm currently working on the Paddock section - hope to get it up by Sunday.

wired 15|10|03
Those in the Croydon area should beg, steal or borrow - or simply just take as its free - a copy of Wired. My 'creepy' essay on my experiences in cane hill can be found inside.

The front cover is very discrete and a picture can be found here.

I've been given permission to publish the pdf files (thanks Angela) so those outside Croydon will be able to read my article soon.

cane hill project 10|10|03
I've done some more work on the cane hill project. A brief history has been added, illustrated with new pictures from the collections of Marlon Bones and Mr. Warren.

cane hill 05|10|03
The most recent tour of the hospital (17th August) will be my last. The vigilant security patrols, which have always been at the hospital, are understandably irritated by the constant stream of curious explorers and other trespassers who they find within the hospital buildings.

May I reiterate what I have said before. Cane Hill is an extremely dangerous building, and when security catch you (because they will), you can expect the police to become involved.

(A group of twenty explorers on a guided tour were recently apprehended by security and handed over to the police. A group of twenty! Whatís going on? This is madness!)

You can view the south western flank of the hospital by taking the public footpath from Portnalls to Coulsdon South station. Itís a fascinating building and I wish I could explore it more. But, itís become a victim of its own success (in view of public interest). Enjoy my pictures - but please, think about it, and donít think you wonít be caught - security are good there.

cane hill project, links 04|10|03
One of the nurses' enamel Cane Hill badges has now been uploaded to the cane hill project.

Some additions have been made to the links pages - a site devoted to RAF Upwood has been added.

cane hill project 23|09|03
Some long awaited improvements have been made to the cane hill project. Firstly, I've finally got hold of the hospital's rather masonic logo, the art section has opened, and some stationary has been scanned and uploaded.

session nine review 21|09|03
I've finally reviewed Session 9 - an interesting film for those into exploring old lunatic asylums.

cane hill preview 18|09|03
I'm writing a piece about cane hill for a magazine and they're planning on using various pictures from this site as illustrations. As I wanted them to have the widest selection available, I've put up a preview of my latest jaunt. Just the pictures - none of my witty, amusing, incisive comments - then again, you might prefer that.

I've also updated my exploration list for this year with some small pictures of my other tours which are waiting to be formatted, sorted and generally written up.

cane hill, asylum list, books 14|09|03
Iíve just been reviewing the latest set of pictures I took of Cane Hill as Iíve been asked to write a piece about the hospital; Iíve also been reflecting on my lucky escape.

Security are back inside Cane Hill and theyíre not happy. Theyíre busy nabbing urban explorers and trespassers left, right and centre. Some have been sent away with a warning, some have had the dogs unleashed on them, and others have been escorted to the front of the hospital where the police have been called and the explorers have spent half the night in cells.

So I would urge extra caution, but then again, Iíd urge you to stay away from the place. My new pictures will be up in a while - but there are other explorations to cover first.

Galvanised by the reports that Cane Hill is now out-of-bounds, Iíve finished my list of asylums. Iíve kept it based in England, so my apologies to those in Wales and Scotland - but after viewing pictures of the North Wales asylum and seeing various Scottish asylums on the Internet, then I donít think you need too much help over the borders.

Iíve also compiled two short lists. The first is of asylums that seem ripe for urban exploration of sorts - people should get out and do recces of these:

1. De La Pole, Willerby, Hull, Humberside
2. High Royds, Menston, Yorkshire (Closing 2003 - site for sale).
3. St George's, Morpeth, Northumberland
4. St Mary's, North Saltwick, Northumberland
5. Rauceby, Sleaford, Lincolnshire (Being converted 2003).
6. Fairmile, Cholsey, Oxfordshire. Closed in March 2003. Currently being cleared. Top security with CCTV.
7. Littlemore, Oxford, Oxfordshire Converted into flats.
8. St Crispin, Duston, Northamtonshire.
9. Park Prewett, Sherbourne St John, Hampshire.
10. Roundway, Devizes, Wiltshire.
11. Whitecroft, Newport, Isle Of White (Be quick, housing plans submitted).
12. Whittingham, Preston, Lancashire
13. Napsbury, St Alban's, Hertfordshire (Could be redeveloped). Being converted to The Arboritum.
14. Runwell, Chelmsford, Essex (Closing 2003).
15. Warley, Brentwood, Essex (Closing 2002).
16. Cane Hill, Coulsdon, Surrey (Derelict and done to death).
17. West Park, Epsom, Surrey (Epsom Cluster #5)
18. Graylingwell, Chichester, West Sussex (Closing soon. Development in grounds).
19. Hellingly, Hellingly, East Sussex (Derelict, partly destroyed by arson).
20. Springfield, Wandsworth, London (Parts may still be in use)

And this second list, Iím not so sure about, but these locations may be worth a look:

1. Clifton, York, North Yorkshire
2. Garlands, Carleton, Carlisle, Cumbria
3. Middlewood, Wadsley Park, Sheffield, South Yorkshire (Mostly demolished)
4. Scalebor Park, Burley In Wharfedale, West Yorkshire (Being demolished)
5. St. Lukes, Middlesbrough, Cleveland
6. Stanley Royd, Wakefield, West Yorkshire
7. Storthes Hall, Kirkburton, West Yorkshire (Some demolished, some converted)
8. Winterton, Sedgefield, Durham, Co. Durham (Plans for business park/houses. Status unknown). Fully demolished.
9. Kingsway, Derby, Derbyshire
10. Saxondale, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire (Some demolished, new houses on land).
11. The Towers, Humerstone, Lecestershire (New housing on site, new planning submitted 2002).
12. St Andrew's, Norwich, Norfolk (Looks intact, grounds being redevloped).
13. All Saints, Winson Green, Birmingham, West Midlands Taken over by prison authorities, now part of Winston Green Prison.
14. Barnsley Hall, Bromsgrove, Birmingham (Mostly demolished)
15. Knowle, Fareham, Hampshire (Believed all housing)
16. St James's, Portsmouth, Hampshire (Believed being converted to housing).
17. St. Lawrence's, Bodmin, Cornwall Roofs gone, aquired for clients, good perimeter fence.
18. Countess Of Chester, Chester, Cheshire (Might still be in use).
19. Lancaster Moor, Lancaster, Lancashire (Might be demolished).
20. Normansfield, Kingston, Surrey (Closed. Grade II listed. To be refurbished.)
21. Oakwood, Maidstone, Kent (Closed. Being converted).

Finally the full list of 105 asylums in England can be found here. If there are any inaccuracies or additions then please let me know.

The amount of literature, whether it's about hospital and asylums, or about urban exploration, is starting to slowly grow. If you're interested in some extra bedtime reading, then check out the book list.

severalls, bourne, links, west park, future plans 29|08|03
Finally, the new interior tour of Severalls is now up - this includes Ivy and Fernholme villas along with the laundry, engineering, admin and the tunnel system of the main hospital complex.

RIP Bourne Hospital - on a recent trip to Rauceby we drove past a large pile of rubble where the hospital used to stand. This is the first location I've visited and documented to actually disappear.

The most popular location is still Cane Hill, but Whittingham and Severalls are catching up fast. Another site, which I've hinted at, but have yet to vist myself is High Royds. The map I added on the 1st August as a present are the ground floor plans - and I've since had photos of an infiltration with everyone looking very pleased with themselves in the mortuary.

But you can check out the pictures too, as they're on a website featured in the newly updated links section.

I've also received some communications about West Park. The infamous hydrotherapy ward isn't really a hydrotherapy ward - merely some bathing apparatus for the old and infirm. For more detailed descriptions of these devices, check out here and here. (Thanks to Barrie and Kim for the info).

West Park, penultimate of the Epsom cluster, is also proving to be popular. Although I don't know whether to laugh or be shocked at a recent infiltration where everyone followed the security guard by running from bush to bush, but one of the party ended up in A&E later.

Then again, I expected Horton to have gone as well - but there's still things to see as they pull it down.

There's some great tours coming up - the new Severalls one is just the start - there are four successful infiltrations being written up, including two tunnel networks. Next will be Paddock, which was Churchill's backup cabinet war room citadel if Whitehall became unusable, the interiors of Rauceby (at last), the Cane Hill bunker which has become almost has legendary as the hospital itself, and some new interior pictures of everyone's ruin of fun, Cane Hill itself.

A word about Cane Hill: it seems that security are now patrolling inside the hospital again. So, either be extra careful (good advice for Cane Hill anyway) or find somewhere else.

ghost pictures, west park, severalls 12|07|03
Ohhhhhhh.... spooky!!! The infamous ghost pictures have now been included all in one place. Spirits of the dead or Urbexers high on spirits... you decide!

Finally the pictures of West Park and the infamous hydrotherapy ward have now gone online. Enjoy!

And more pictures of the interiors of Severalls will be uploaded soon - we've explored its industrial heart, the Admin Block and its extensive tunnel network.

tours to come, hospital list, mystery map of fun 01|07|03
I know - it's been ages since the last update. Is everything dead? Well no - not in the slightest. Things are reaching overload at the moment. I've got the West Park tour still to write, there's another massive tour of the interiors of Severalls and some of its villas, there's more pictures of Rauceby and I have yet more trips planned for July and August. Busy, busy, busy... hopefully I will start shifting the backlog soon!

It's not all just promises - I've update the infamous asylum list - which has been helping urbexers throughout the country find their locals. Now those in the West Midlands will be able to find their local derelict haven of fun - or new swanky Barrett build - those old asylums are going fast!

I've currently documented 48 asylums - I'm not even half way yet!.

Finally, here's a present that I hope a fellow urbexer will find useful.

cane hill, horton, links 25|05|03
Itís been over a year since I stared this website. So I marked the occasion by a ramble through the interiors of Cane Hill to match my original Grand Tour.

Well, that was the plan. What I ended up doing was walking around the perimeter fence (again!). But, I took some better photos than my effort from 2002.

And the fate of the swimming pool is also revealed.

Anyway, after the disappointment of Cane Hill, there were other places to see. And so we visited the Epsom Cluster, and checked out a further four asylums. The final pictures of Horton can be found here - for now, itís probably just a pile of bricks.

But we did get into West Park, and found some very creepy hydrotherapy wards. The West Park tour will be the next one uploaded - probably in a couple of weeks.

And after all that excitment (well, not really), I've updated the links pages.

crx 21|04|03
Remember those 'fat toilets' we found in the CRX?. A site visitor, who is also a surgical first assist in trauma, was able to explain all.

cane hill project, severalls 19|04|03
Another section has been added to the cane hill project. It deals with the relatives of famous people in the asylum, and also concentrates on the David Bowie connection, with the tragic tale of his half-brother Terry Burns. (Many thanks to Vincent Burns for the research.)

And as promised, the tour of the interiors of Severalls has been uploaded. 130 pictures of dereliction and fun.

Plus a recee of the biggest asylum in Europe - over 50 pictures of the exteriors of Whittingham asylum.

And I've also reorganised and updated the links section.

warley, severalls, asylum list, cane hill project 14|03|03
I've just received an e-mail suggesting that the small octagonal towers seen around warley asylum could be aviaries.

Could be. Anyone else have any ideas?

Third time lucky. For I successfully got into severalls asylum last weekend and took 130 pictures. I just need to write up the text and then the pictures will be uploaded.

The asylum list continues to grow. Unfortunately most of the asylums in the Oxford And Anglia district seem to be converted or demolished. However, I visited St. Crispin in 2000, and found it boarded up and secure. It's now being converted to housing, so perhaps a return visit with a camera is required.

I'm still filling in the gaps and gradually completing the rest of the site. As part of this ongoing work, the Cane Hill Yellow Pages has been added to the Cane Hill Project. It's rather silly, but adds a little bit of history to the final days of the hospital.

asylum list 01|03|03
I've added another eleven asylums to the asylum list. This covers the centeral and east midlands.

arson at CRX 22|02|03
As I was moving the CRX from Berkshire to Buckinghamshire, some idiot(s) decided to set fire to it. At least one fire crew was in attendance yesterday afternoon.

For more details, and a picture, check out The Shrine. No-one knows the extent of the damage, but Taplow and Cliveden didnít smell too sweet last evening.

No doubt the demolition will start in earnest now.

the first additions 21|02|03
Planned visits to Horton Asylum and Hellingly Asylum were cancelled due to all the snow and fun of the weekend we were planning to go. A pity - because Horton is starting to disappear.

We did, however, make it back to Severalls Asylum. Vandalism and arson has started there unfortunately, but security is good and they patched up the fence well - in fact, we couldn't get in. So, another disappointing tour, but I did take five nice pictures.

Bourne Hospital now gets a nice map - which really simply shows where the place is. But you can make some of the buildings out from the aerial shot.

The Shrine (home of all things Canadian Red Cross Hospital) have published my tour of the crumbling ruin. I wrote them a different account of my mad rush around the site as the light gradually gave out.

It looks like the CRX may be the first place I've documented to get demolished - things are definitely going on in darkest Taplow (which, incidentally, is in Buckinghamshire, not Berkshire. It looks like both Taplow, and the CRX, at some point in the past hopped the county border.)

new 'new' section 05|01|03
The above statement does make sense, albeit for a limited time only. Welcome to the new Ďnewí section in which all sparkling, clean, new additions to this site of old decaying material will be outlined for your browsing pleasure.

Basically, the entire site has been updated and expanded. Thereís little point in outlining everything thatís new, so just explore the site and enjoy yourselves.

There have been some additions to the two tours previously featured. These include some minor additions to my walk around Wytonís Photographic Factory, in which seasoned urban explorers recognized an air filter in the plant room, which as I erroneously identified as some photograph drying pouches. Sometimes a spade is just a spade.

Of more interest to Cane Hill enthusiasts, my Walking The Perimeter has been enhanced with input from other explorers, and with a stack of ancient plans and maps of this glorious ruin, has allowed me to wax lyrical about ward names and toilet locations. Take the tour again and you wonít be disappointed.