The First Expedition

It's a nice summers day, so it's decided that we should visit Cane Hill. With just the intention of having a look round, we go up there with no tools or anything. We go in the back way, because it's easier and avoids the guard.

On the way we pass the old gatehouse, which is simply a large Victorian house, well secured and boarded up as well as very overgrown. I've seen plenty of houses, so I just leave this alone and carry on.

Next is an even bigger house, which was converted to train nurses. Again, they've boarded this one up, and it's badly overgrown with horrible prickly cut causing plants, so it's not that interesting.

The Nurse House

Once you reach the hospital, the first thing you see is the ward blocks. They appear to be layed out in a pretty much standard way,, with long, thin wards, with toilets and baths halfway along. They are three floors high, the lower two have smashed windows.

One of the wards

Looking in, all the fittings are still in there - curtains, lights, hospital curtains, everything. People have obviously been in there, windows are open, the odd third floor window in broken (and getting a stone through one is quite difficult).

A non vandalised ward block

There are no lights on anywhere, so I assumed that the power had been turned off. The owners hadn't predicted such widespread vandalism, and they have put a 6 foot mesh fence around the perimeter of the wards quite recently (3 years or so).

A smashed ward block

A rough map

Detailed map with blow-up:
Blue - the boiler house
Purple - the larhe expanse of concrete and the weighbridge
Yellow - the gate
Red - the post mortem room
Green - the tower
Light Blue - the substation
Orange - the path we took

Walking around the wards, the next thing you see is a boiler house. Plastered with "Warning Asbestos" signs, it probably isn't the best idea to go in.

The boiler house

Asbestos warning signs

It isn't surrounded by fence or secured very well, which is surprising. It still has a lot of equipment inside it, looking through the higher windows, which have been smashed out. The boilers look huge, but it wouldn't be wise going in without respirators and overalls... even then I don't have a death wish.

Look at the chimney

The hospital was designed to be self sufficient, so the boilers were oil/coal powered. There are two huge oil tanks behind the boiler house.

The huge tanks

The valves still work, as does the guage, showing that they are still half full and that there is electricity. It's surprising that someone hasn't opened the valves and emptied them yet.

The working guages

There is a large chimney, probably a hundred feet or so high, but it looks rusted and dangerous. The pipes from the boiler house come out and disappear somewhere, which presumably is one way of getting into the underground tunnels.

The working guages

In front of the boiler house is a large expanse of concrete, with a weighbridge. This is broken, but it was probably used to weigh the coal used in the nearby boilers, but I can't see where they would have kept all the coal. That's it for this little bit.

The area in front of the boilers

Going along a bit, you come to the road leading up to the services area. There is a corrugated iron "barn" on the left. It's separated into two halves, and they've got raised concrete floors, a sink and hosepipes. What they were used for was probably holding the bins, as there is a large, rusted compactor sitting outside. These places are completly open, have mattresses on the floor and stink of urine, suggesting human presence. They aren't very interesting at all, and the compactor is rusted badly....

"The Nodder" rubbish compactor

Next is a small garage, pretty badly smashed up. It contains a convenient car, lawnmower engine and hundreds of aerosols. I just looked in through the windows, which have all been smashed. This was probably a garage for use by the staff, it's too small for the bus used to go to and from the hospital, although is maybe big enough for ambulances. No one has been in here for a while.

The garages

Now we had two options - over the six foot barbed wire fence, or down the little path to the side. We took the path for now. Crossing several large concrete blocks, and pipes, you come to a small block of buildings. There's loads of crap everywhere in this little courtyard - fridges, washing machines, rubbish etc. Part of the building is a garage, very dark so we kept out even though it was open. The middle bit is quite well preserved, with frosted glass in the windows. Jumping up to see through a small gap in the window, you can see two long, thin, shallow sinks with long flourescent lights above. It's the post mortem room. Lovely... not a place where you want to go without being shit scared.

The sinks!!!!!

In front of this little block is a courtyard, with signs mentioning the laundry. Unfortunately there is another one of the high gates. We turn back towards the original gate. The post mortem room freaks me out a big, so I don't like this little bit of the hospital.

Ok, we've exhausted this area without climbing a fence. The barb wire looks nasty, but it's decided to climb over into the courtyard with the tower and engineering bits in it. A weird noise, a sort of clattering, seems to eminate from inside the courtyard every few minutes - a tramp? Or some sort of nut... we sit there a while, contemplating hopping over. We decide that a tramp would be alright, and there is two of us, so if there's only one nut, we'd be alright. It seems a lot easier to climb a wooden fence, onto the roof of a small building, then down a wall into the courtyard.

The gate and the base of the tower

Well, we're in the courtyard now. It's long and thin, and very little is smashed - no one else is stupid enough to jump over the fence. There is a substation about halfway along, and it's still buzzing. They didn't turn of all the electricity after all. The most tempting thing is the water tower. It looks pretty massive from this distance. Warning signs about non-ionising radiation are on the door, warning cellnet and BBC workers. It's locked. We go for a walk around the building, looking in the few small windows. Only a lot of large rusted pipes and wooden floors to be seen. I'm pissed off now, because I really wanted to go in.

The tower.

Well, I look at the options. Climb through a six inch square window, or open the door. More chance with the door. We try pushing it but it holds. It looks like a bog standard Yale. So I take a run up, and give the door a pretty hefty kick. Wahey!!! It opens, smashing the Yale a bit, but the door frame is alright.

Tower ground floor plan

Walking inside, your greeted by what could be basically classified as a shit hole. It's divided into two high rooms. The first contains a load of pipes, valves, labels, wires, and crap. Interesting, but covered in crap. We couldn't be bothered working out what everything did. It was a bit scary in there. On the other side of the room is a rickety, thin stair case leading up to the next floor. A horrible wooden cage under these stairs is piled high with plastic barrels, labelled with horrible chemical names and hazchem symbols. Looking up to the top of the stairs, it's almost pitch black, so we decided not to go up, because the floor didn't feel secure. Back downstairs, we notice trapdoors in the floors, used for hoisting the barrels up. Moving into the second part of the ground floor, there is another door in front, but it has been boarded up well. There is a load of old switch gear to the right, as well as some new stuff, presumably for the transmitters on top of the building. On the left is a small partitioned office, with glass windows. A huge flexible silver pipe runs from the office into the other part of the room. Why? We couldn't work it out. A subtle gas chamber?

It started getting dark, so we decided to leave, after a final quick explore. We find the source of the noise in a small adjoining courtyard. It's the refrigeration unit for the transmitters turing on and off. The transmitter gear must all be at ground level, since this is down here and a lot of large coax runs up the sides of the tower to the bar and rod aerials on the roof, high above us. We can't get in here because of the locked gate in the way, which was too high to get over. Moving round to the back of the water tower, we come to the incinerator, a small room with a furnace and a chair. The chimney reaches high above us, a large brick construction, probably as high as the tower.

That was it for the first journey. We didn't take a camera, I can't even remember what date I went. However, we knew enough and had to go back again to get to the top of the impressive tower.

The goal!

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© Andrew Tierney 1998-2002