The Second Expedition

This trip was with the intention to get all the way to the top of the tower. Taking all the necessary tools for any eventuality, we ended up carrying the following up there:

Torches - it was bloody dark on the first floor of this place, and the windows get smaller as you go up.
An inspection lamp - if there was power, we could use this instead of torches.
Hammer - well, just in case.
General tools - for door opening, box opening, sign removal, general souveniers.
The entire phreaking kit - phone, croc clips, sockets, cable, line isolator. Everything.
Not a camera. Stupid me.
A bag to carry all the stuff in, so that I could climb handsfree.
Cak clothes - there's loads of shit everywhere.
Water - thirsty job climbing a huge tower.

Anyway, this lot weighed a tonne, but better safe than sorry.

We take much the same route to the hospital. Again, we go over the roof of the building to get into the courtyard. We check for people, because I've got this thing against getting caught. The door is still easy to open, so we go in. Going up to the top is a bit dodgy, so we were more nervous than before. A multitude of strange noises kept on causing us to worry, but we started to go up. First, we shut the door to stop anyone coming in behind, and then we leave a convenient garden gate across the stairs to make sure we here someone coming.

The first few floors are wooden and joined by seemingly dangerous strairs, although they were quite sturdy. There are re-inforced pieces with guide ropes, and signs warning workers to keep on these walkways. Not wanting to die, I keep to these walkways. The hoist trapdoors are encased in a wooden tunnel to stop people falling down, but it's outside of the walkway, so I don't go near.

The next floor has a metal rung ladder running up to it, which seems quite safe. This floor is concrete, and has some small windows. Pigeons are everywhere, as is there shit, carrying a multitude of diseases. Most of these floors are divided in two by a brick wall, although both sides are much the same. The first concrete floor has some shallow tanks and some valves and pipes. All the tanks are empty.

Going up, we find most of the floors to be concrete up here. There are multitudes of tanks, some occupying whole floors, empty and echoey. Some floors are empty and dark, divided into small rooms. Most have mattresses and putrid smells. How anyone could live up there, without dying or shitting themselves, I don't know. One scary thing we find is a huge tank with large paddles, driven by huge cogs and shafts. It looks really horrible. Probably for chlorinating the water, as it was self sufficient. It's weird thinking that this place was probably busy with people 10 years ago.

Everywhere you look, there is pigeon poo. Everytime you lean over to look in the tank, some pigeons fly out. These noises and things put us on edge, but there was one point where we heard a noise and almost shat ourshelves. We reach a weird floor now. There are two ladders, one going up to one half of a room, the other leading up to another half. The middle wall doesn't have a door. We go up one ladder, reaching a dark room with a large tank. The ceiling is metal, supported on girders, with a small gap round the edge. A wooden ladder sits in the tank on the other side of the room, leading up to the gap. Carefully climbing across the tank using the rusted support rods, we reach the ladder and climb up.

After squeezing through a tiny hole, you appear in a gap around the edge of a huge tank. It is at most 2 feet, with a 6 inch ledge running around the edge. The tank is probably 30 feet square, and about 20 feet deep. There is a metal rung ladder placed diagonally on the corner of the tank. Edging along the ledge, you reach the ladder and climb up. Standing on the tank, looking in, it looks huge. Hundreds of metal support rods run from side to side. All you have to stand on is a tiny triangle of metal. To get to the roof, you have to turn to face the corner of the building and climb another ladder, until you reach a small hole in the roof, no trapdoor. One slip, and you'd otherwise fall 40 feet onto the ledge below, or fall 40 feet into the middle of the tank, hitting metal rods on the way down and probably smashing straight through the base, falling onto rusted pipes and tanks. Lovely.

Struggling through the badly placed hole, you are finally on the top of Cane Hill's very own water tower. The roof is rickety, but waterproof and safe around the edges. A 3 foot wall runs all the way around, making it reasonably safe. What you find is one of the best views you can get for miles around. In good visibility, you can see for miles and miles. It feels like the highest point for a long way. You find yourself looking down on the boiler house, seeing the huge machines dwarved by the distance. You can even see the top of the boiler's chimneys, as well as the incinerators chimney at equal height. Cane Hill looks at it's most amazing from here. It looks like a large village, with all the buildings the same. It stretches for miles and miles it seems. You can see all the parts of it, from end to end. Then you look over the edge and down at the ground. It's a very long way down. I'm not sure how high it is, but it's pretty impressive considering it was built in the 1880s.

Plan of the top

It's got a feck load of aerials as well. One of those white rod aerials on each corner of the building, probably transmitting TV signals to the local people. There is a weird Yagi aerial arrangement in the corner, with two stacks of three Yagis perpendicular to each other, in a triangular formation. I think this is for repeating TV signals, but I'm not sure. About 10 feet down the sides of the building, there are two bar aerials on each side, which are cellnet transmitters, seen everywhere. A huge bundle of coax comes up the side of the building, and crosses the wall, where it is then distributed to all the aerials. The RF up there is probably pretty strong, so we left soon - the warning signs about non-ionising radiation are probably there for a reason. Anyway, it was pretty easy being seen from up the top of that tower.

We went back down now, finding out that there is a much easier route to the top avoiding climbing across a tank and along the ledges, which I remembered for the next time. It was much quicker reaching the bottom than it was climbing up. We didn't hang about, but we left barrels and the garden gate on the steps, so we could see if anyone had come along the next time we were there. Fixing the Yale lock so that it would still fuction as a lock, but be easy to open with a small kick, we left the building. Having a last look round for presents, we found nothing and went over to the gate.

Now was the time when we shat our pants big time. Over the other side of the gate, stretched between the trees, was some of that plastic "POLICE DO NOT CROSS" tape. Clearing the barbed wire fence in seconds, me carrying a heavy bag, we ran down the hill as fast as we could, straight down to the back gate. Glancing back quickly, I saw a man wearing a shirt with sometinhg black on the lapels. Whether or not he was a copper, I don't know. Anyway, we got away from this, after a tiring run. We haven't been back since.

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© Andrew Tierney 1998-2002