news archive 2005
Last update: 12|05|06
2003 archive | 2004 archive | current



lack of updates, severalls, st. johns, aquila, raf upwood, crx, derelict places 03|10|05
Sorry! I've been really, really busy on another website and urbex had to take a bit of a back seat recently. And I have a huge backlog of mail, but I'll get through it in the next couple of weeks.

However, I've got some new explorations in the pipeline, so to start things off, here's some updates...

The main hall at Severalls is no-more. It was burnt down a couple of weeks ago. Of course, it was arson. And everyone is gutted.

Severalls Hall: How it was.

Some archival shots of St. Johns have been added to the tour here and here (some scrolling may be necessary but it's the black and white shots - they're the giveaway!).

Updates to the ever popular Aquila: 1 and 2

And, very kindly, I've been sent some aerial shots of RAF Upwood. So, finally, I can give an impression of the size of the place.

It seems that The National Trust are finally sick and tired of the number of people tramping in and out of the CRX at all times of the day and the night. It's popularity has been the basis of its demise. Whilst arguments about the future of the site still rumble on, the Trust is going to start demolishing the CRX in the next few weeks.

So, I may raise a pint in The Feathers for the old girl, but, to be honest, the place is utterly, utterly trashed... and its time has come.

The most popular urban exploration forum in the UK is Darkplaces. However, it became far too popular for its own good, and site owner/admin Root decided to limit the site to underground exploration only - which was its original purpose and his own area of interest.

A new sister forum has been created for all fans of above-ground derelict structures. Derelict Places will become one of the places to discuss urban exploration in the UK, specificially of the sort of places featured on this site.

And, whilst I'm recommending forums, there's Dark Places for all your underground needs, and the excellent forum of Hidden Glasgow for everything north of the border.

st. johns, asylum of mystery 02|08|05
For the first time, I've had an e-mail from the owners of a building which I've explored. Oddly, it was St. John's. I say oddly because (a) I was within it's asbestos contaminated walls yesterday and was almost trapped in a ward by workmen nailing it up and (b) I only published the tour last week.

Asbestos at St John's Lunatic Asylum, Bracebridge Heath, Lincoln

I work for the company who have bought St John's and have had some trouble there over the last few days with 'youths' traveling to come and vandalise and generally cause havoc there - through this we heard of a website advertising St John's as a derelict Asylum and free to explore (nothing more enticing I agree). So, I did some research and found - quite alarmingly, a number of sites all 'advertising' the joys of St John's. On further investigation I discovered the extremely interesting and moral world of the Urban Explorer and completely understand that these websites are totally seperate to the recent incidents and that what you do is actually rather fascinating.

You are clearly a highly intelligent person who is interested in what we are doing with St John's and for that reason I am asking for your urgent help.

What most worries us is that a couple of the sites have particularly stated that there are tunnels worth exploring at St John's but what is not mentioned and desperately needs to be is that throughout the building there is a considerable amount of loose Asbestos material, most particularly in all ground floor, basement and service ducts (tunnels which run the entirety of the ground floor area). The material in the tunnels is particularly dangerous and anyone entering these areas runs a serious risk of death (the cancers caused by asbestosis, one of which is Mesothelioma, are 100% lethal - you just do not recover). I can't overstate the personal danger people are putting themselves in by entering the tunnels. We have a contract in place for removal of the asbestos to the value of 2.6m which is a reflection of the serious nature of the problem.

I really am asking your help, we realise people have a natural curiosity and also how easy it would be to assume any signs warning of Asbestos could be just seen as an untruthful deterrent - I can assure you it is not untrue and is extremely serious. Please help us by posting on your website a warning, that's all I ask, informing people of the seriousness of the situation. More than anything I can't bear the idea of anyone (let alone intelligent, free-spirited people) dying a vile and painful death because they just didn't know.

Yours sincerely,

Josephine Harris
Arenway Ltd

So, please heed this warning, and don't venture inside St. John's. Thanks, Simon.

That said, there's been some additions to St. John's: Information about the honeycombe ceilings and Some new pictures and the warning again.

I've added a few shots from the Asylum Of Mystery. In time, I'll post more from this shoot, but for now, I've put up some shots as a taster.

st. johns, warley, wallpapers, cane hill yellow pages, high royds 23|07|05
I've finally found time to write up another tour. So, take a look at St. John's - a 'new asylum for this site, but the oldest I've visited yet.

Added Harold Court to the Warley Project - this was a private house nearby which was used briefly as part of the asylum.

A beautiful example of something that can only be described as 'brownish' has been added to the wallpapers section.

From an early clutch of mouldy yellowing mush from The Laura Files, I've been able to update the Cane Hill yellow pages with more zany fun. (And, unfortunately, there's still more to come).

High Royds starts to get the project treatment, as the original plans and photographs of its construction are added to the site - it's 1888 all over again!

aquila, severalls, independent article, other explorations 05|07|05
Updates to Aquila: BTH Projector #1 and BTH Projector #2.

Updates to Severalls: Fernholme Villa.

It was finally published yesterday and urban exploration was featured across a whole page in The Independent. The unedited original can be found here, whilst some unpublished pictures of the day can be found here.

Lots and lots of pictures are almost ready to go up on the website. I've not published a tour in a month or so, but that doesn't mean I've not been exploring. Coming soon: St. Johns, Mystery and West Park.

the independent, asylum list, rauceby, english partnerships 20|06|05
The Independent 21st June 2005

There should be a feature about Urban Exploration in today's issue. Please flick through it, and buy it if so. Some of the photographs taken by their fearless photographer can be found here.

After getting very confused about the asylums in Derby, I finally managed to sort the mess out and separate the two asylums originally listed into three: Woodlands (converted), Pastures (the original county asylum, not originally listed, and now converted) and Kingsway (the original borough asylum and still open).

Want to live in the grounds of Rauceby? Sorry - it's now called Devessey Meadows - how posh.

All hail the new owners. NHS Estates no longer look after (ahem) some of the prime urban exploration locations in the land. That (dubious) honour now goes to English Partnerships who have wasted no time announcing redevelopment plans for Leybourne Grange and Park Prewett. Despite such speed, it's going to take them a while to get thorugh the whole list.

I rather skimped on the about section of this site, adding a few rules which is central to the urban exploration ideal. I always wanted to say more, and I've finally found time to pen something. Plus some nice previously unpublished shots of Marchington Camp adorne the piece.

cane hill 25|05|05
Warning: due to the increased number of people visiting the old asylum, the vandalism, and the potential risk of arson, serious injury and/or death; the authorities at Cane Hill are increasing security. The fence has been repaired, the buildings boarded, patrols will be more frequent, and the police will regularly train dogs around the site.

The only public access is the footpath to the south east of the hospital buildings. Check or take a map if you go. Getting lost around the periphery or in the grounds will no longer be a valid excuse and you will be arrested.

It's a summer of zero tolerance at Cane Hill

With that said, here's some more archival documentation from the old ruin: firstly some great elevations and plans and secondly the derivation of the ward names.

st. crispin, denbigh, severalls 22|05|05
Additions to the st crispin tour: 1 & 2

It looks like the majestic, magnificient (and as yet unexplored by my good-self) Denbigh is to be redeveloped. Check out the BBC for more information.

After a few months hiding in the house, I've been out and about and three explorations are ready for uploading. The first is a return to Severalls, for two reasons: firstly to get better photographs of those endless corridors and main hall, and secondly to get into the final areas I'd yet to get into, namely the water tower and chapel.

The latest and greatest can be found here.

st. crispin, cane hill, stanley royd 26|04|05
Interior and exterior shots of St. Crispin are now online.

Further to the bomb (or explosion damage) to Cane Hill, it seems that the damage was caused by people trying to get into the hospital's safes (which I pictured during my first Grand Tour). After eventually getting inside, and managing to collapse three storeys of the building in the process, they found very little of interest.

However, it's not all bad at Cane Hill. Harry Potter, Hermione and Snape have ventured into the ruinous rooms of Cane Hill to rescue elves. Read more here.

Whilst Stanley Royd is now either piles of bricks, or swanky apartments, some pictures of how it used to look in its asylum days have recently turned up.

Very doomy and very gloomy, St. George's in Stafford has been on my list of potentials for a while. So, whilst I'm working out when, where and how, Steven has already done the perimeter tour for me.

cane hill, west park, great barr: then and now, warley, aquila, high royds, wallpapers 06|04|05
explosion damage at cane hill

It's been over a year since I've been to Cane Hill, my 'first' asylum, and the only known example of the 'radiating-pavillion' style of general layout. As such, it doesn't really make the whole site worthy of being kept, but the Admin Block and Chapel surely merit special consideration. But, I digress, over the previous year, I've been putting up all sorts of information about the hospital, and posting other people's pictures.

As security used to be based in the Admin Block and the buildings were heated until 2002, the structure was in good condition (unlike the rest of the place with its infamous spongy floors). If/when the site was redeveloped, it could've been retained.

Oddly, last year, half of the Admin Block was boarded up. Odd really, as the vandals had been in and smashed it up already. Why shut the door after the horse had bolted? Furthermore, shouldn't the Chapel also be secured?

I've been sent pictures of why it's been boarded up. Someone has blown part of it up - three storeys of wall has been blown out of the back, and some of the interior floors have now collapsed or are close to failing. The blast appeared centered on a ground floor fireplace.

It is assumed that the SAS (who train there) have been up to their old tricks again. But why blow a huge hole in one of the most preserved parts of the building? Draw your own conclusions. Why wasn't this reported? Draw your own conclusions.

There's activity going on at Cane Hill and it stinks.

Pictures here.

However, it's not all doom and gloom. A set of old pictures of the hospitals and grounds has been unearthed and shows the asylum in all its original glory. (Still no pictures of the interior of the Main Hall though).

Whilst Cane Hill is being destroyed on the sly, West Park has become the asylum of choice for many wanting to kill an afternoon exploring. Unfortunately it has been the subject of an arson attack, but (luckily) only a lodge was targetted and the main complex remained undisturbed.

And on the subject of the little morons with packets of matches, Severalls also suffered a 'mysterious fire' in November.

Many thanks to Steven Hull (who's unearthed some historial photos of Great Barr), I've been able to put together a brief Then And Now presentation.

And an article about the redevelopment of Warley has been unearthed. Plus some more information about the graveyard.

The mystery of the boats at Aqulia has been solved.

And guess what. I've only gone and finished the tour!!!!

Most of High Royds is still standing but peripheral buildings are now being demolished. The main block, one of the first echelon asylums, has been used as a film set. Look out for the imaginatively titled Asylum starring Sir Iain McKellan which was shot there, and is due for general release soon.

And in a move which is very, very wrong, I've added some desktop wallpapers to the site - so your desktop can look just like a urban exploration experience.

whitefields/uplands 13|02|05
Houses tend to be quite boring - well, they are after an asylum or two. But after looking at the superior architecture of Great Barr Hall and Beedingwood, then I was open to looking at an interesting location in my own back yard.

And whilst it wasn't the most architectural of places to visit, Whitefields/Uplands made it up with high weirdness.

conversions, rauceby, warley, great barr 04|02|05
A couple complain their flat, converted from an asylum day room, feels like an asylum day room.

It's a bit of a mess: Great Barr Hall.

aquila, st. margaret's, rauceby 20|01|05
aquila, whittingham, the cane hill mother lode, paddock, scalebour park, warley, the rauceby mother lode, st. margret's 18|01|05
Aquila has been updated: 1, 2, 3 and 4. Plus a further 26 pages have been added. This also includes an explanation of the weird blue-spiked-foam chambers we found in Block 6.

"One of the architectural - and social - tragedies of recent years has been the abandonment of the great Victorian lunatic asylums. Yes, they were sometimes badly and cruelly run. But they were well built and humanely designed, often in spacious, beautiful grounds. Now, surplus to requirements because of "care in the community", most of these fine buildings have been flogged off. Very few have been converted to housing, as they deserved; instead they have been cleared to make way for new housing estates from which somebody has made a tidy profit.

Whittingham Hospital near Preston, opened in 1873, offers a new twist on the saga. One of eight such massive institutions on huge sites once administered by the Lancashire Asylums Board, the NHS has wanted to get rid of it for years. Many of the ward blocks have gone, but the original buildings and the chapel, by Henry Littler of Manchester, survive.

The NHS Executive (North West) proposed building 950 houses together with commercial premises on the site. Opposed by Preston city council and local residents, this was turned down on appeal after public inquiry in 2002. But now Preston has approved a plan for 584 houses and a 20,000m2 business park at Whittingham. So what's changed? Well, if permission were granted, the NHS said it was prepared to contribute to the cost of building the Broughton by-pass, for which planning permission was given in 2001, so making a useful link between the M55 and Whittingham. This comes under a "section 106 agreement" between the NHS, Lancashire county council and Preston city council. How much money is involved isn't clear, but the cost of the by-pass is 9m while 6.867m will come from "development comtributions, previous expenditure spent on land and design and land resale".

Those on hospital waiting lists will be delighted the NHS Executive is prepared to act as speculator and spend taxpayers' money on a "sweetener" to encourage a purely commercial development on land originally acquired for public benefit."

Private Eye
Oct/Nov 2003

(Thanks to Dave Rowe).

Fans of Cane Hill: Enjoy!
(Blue prints of the ground, first and second floors, main site plan and recent aerial photograph of amazing resolution).

Plus some recent pictures in Salter and The John Hutchinson Centre care of Steve and his mates.

And an update, thus proving that Buxton Chairs are not fun (and here I'm refering to the legendary Buxton Chair of the CRX and Buxton Chair Academy by Pwurg).

Will there be a definitive answer about these machines?. And there's some tales from the gatehouse.

Plus, the old place was in the news recently, as being one of the dirtiest hospitals in the UK. Hand on heart, it is a bit of a state in there. (Although seriously, I think it's the secure unit which needs a wipe down with the Flash liquid).

Additions to Paddock: an explaination of the codes on the distribution frame.

"Back in 1988 my mother was a domestic supervisor at Scalebour Park. She had worked there for many years. I was on sick leave at the time due to a bad accident and when I was ready to go back to work I asked if she could get me a job there (I wanted something less dangerous). So I got a job on the domestic team cleaning the main corridors and carpeted areas.

The hospital itself consisted of 14 wards with approx 300 patients, 12 on the main site and 2 (wards 9 & 10) were villas outside to the rear of the building. The layout of the building was in a "T" shape leading from the main Admin Block and Clock Tower (which is still there). Wards 1 to 8 were the original buildings, made of stone and in a two storey detail. Another corridor was later constructed off the main corridor which lead down to wards 10 to 14. Most of this building has now been demolished.

Wards 1 & 2 are still standing and can be seen from Moor Lane. I do believe that Wards 11 & 13 are still in use as an acute admission block. It had a cricket field and bowling green to the front of the building and I also remember they had a small aviary outside ward 3 which housed a number of different birds. I remember ward 2 which was a drug rehabilitation unit having 2 full sized snooker tables and at the far end of the ward there was also another games room opposite ward 11 which had snooker, darts, table-tennis, dominoes and cards.

The hospital had a small social club that was run by the hospital staff. There was also a building on the outskirts of the grounds which was a children's unit. It was called "Highlands". I think it was some sort of residence before it became a children's unit.

Across the road from the hospital was a place called "West Lodge" which in the grounds housed a teaching building for nursing staff and two prefab tower buildings which were male and female residences. But, alas, all these buildings have gone now, home to housing developers (no suprise there) as the hospital was run down. I decided it was time to leave"

Andy

The werid turrets around the grounds of Warley Asylum have finally been identified, along with some of the buildings.

Plus further updates from Ian: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8.

Fans of Rauceby: Enjoy!
(Blueprints of the ground floors (modern and original), block diagrams, tunnel diagrams, landscape layout and recent aerial photograph of amazing resolution).

Fans of Rauceby: Enjoy Again!
(Pictures from 1905, views from the 1930s, and shots of the interior of the hospital whilst in use).

And, finally, something new: part one of a trip to an extensive location near Birmingham, St. Margret's Hospital.