All my old exploring videos

Over the years I’ve enjoyed making exploring videos, though my principal medium has always been photography. Hence my videos have always been recorded on my main camera as an afterthought, mostly from the days when I used a Sony bridge camera but more recently on my Canon DSLR. I got out of the habit though when I moved exclusively to Mac since iMovie wasn’t good enough and I never got on with Final Cut despite it supposedly being the “industry standard”.

Hospitals

The Mount was a local hospital that I kept an eye from when it closed to when I was possibly the first to explore. It’d formerly been an TB hospital. I finally got to use In the House, In a Heartbeat from the film 28DL.

Possibly the most famous derelict grand asylum in the UK, when I explored Cane Hill I could finally use All the Madmen by David Bowie given the strong (but never confirmed by Bowie) linkage between the two.

And then there was West Park and the padded cell. Too much footage and the ten minute YouTube limit back then meant split screen mayhem.

Harperbury was a pretty dark and dismal place, partly because of any early start on a gloomy day.

Ahh CMH! A wonderful place with quality dereliction in both the maternity unit and the main hospital with its monster main corridor. This video was originally carefully edited with a superb Black Sabbath track, but back then it seems Ozzy and boys weren’t into getting some revenue from YouTube ads and I was forced to change the soundtrack to some sort of spooky royalty free music.

Ironically we rushed to Severalls because redevelopment/demolition was due to start. It’s still there now, eight years later! A simple editing trick and a favourite track from Kingston Wall.

My very first exploring video, a favourite place to mooch – Hellingly – and the gorgeous 1992 from my favourite Blur album.

Military

I popped in to Longcross Barracks without any prep on the way back from West Park. I didn’t even know where it was, but somehow managed to find it. It’s one of those interesting videos that attracts comments from service personnel who were stationed there which is awesome.

One of the most visible landmarks over Portsmouth, I still to this day can’t believe they demolished the art deco beauty that was Portsdown Main!

A couple of ROC posts from a journey home in the Vee through Oxfordshire.

One of the few WWII remnants left in the New Forest.

Industrial

Born and bred on the south coast, an opportunity to go and clamber around some dock cranes was not be missed. A excuse to use Shipbuilding too!

Another favourite … Pyestock! Nothing else like it anywhere, and sadly no more!

Others

Another one that attracts cool comments from people who used to work there, or stayed there, or even had their wedding receptions there.

And finally another local one – I used to go swimming in the La Sainte Union pool when I was a lad.

Federal-Mogul camshafts

It’s always a little bit strange when you discover sizeable factories out in the sticks! You’ve got to assume its closure had a profound impact on the local villages!?

FederalMogul-14The Weyburn Works near Elstead developed during the first half of last century, and by 1937 employed 300 people manufacturing lifeboat engines and parts for cars and planes. Later it merged to become Weyburn Bartel, before being bought by global car component manufacturer Federal-Mogul and trading as Federal-Mogul Camshafts Ltd. As part of their growth strategy Federal-Mogul had also acquired another UK company who was one of the world’s largest manufacturers of asbestos-based products. That acquisition rather bit them back courtesy of liabilities for asbestos-related claims, driving the main USA-based Federal-Mogul company into Chapter 11 bankruptcy between 2002 and 2008, with its UK subsidiaries similarly under management by administrators. Whilst the company overall weathered the storm, sadly the impact on the Weyburn Works was more serious. About half its 140 strong workforce were made redundant in 2007, and despite the site continuing to supply customers including Perkins and BMW, the remainder followed with the closure of the site in late 2008.

I’ve not been out and about for ages, and with a trip up the A3 needed for other reasons, decided to get up early and pop into a couple of small sites on the way. Also I’ve a new bargain Canon EF-S 10-18mm wide angled lens that I bought last month and wanted to try it out properly!

FederalMogul-60I’ll be totally honest … if you’re passing and have an hour to kill do take a look, but don’t go out of your way for Federal-Mogul! A frankly empty and smashed up site, and most of the few bits and pieces that appeared interesting in early reports from several years ago have now gone. In particular there was a piano, that apparently moved around site, that has now definitely met its maker! The site had its own social club, and the space above that was clearly let out as a trading unit, latterly for “Love Stone” selling expensive marble floor tiles. Ironically mounted samples of those are some of the few things that aren’t smashed up!

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Micheldever fuel reserve/depot

Retro post from : Autumn 2013

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The railway goes under a tunnel; the A303 goes over the top of the hill.

Micheldever fuel reserve was built just prior to the start of WWII to store fuel for the RAF, most likely for Farnborough which is about 15 mins up the railway from it. Basically a set of 30 large tanks built in a former chalk pit and covered with a huge sloping concrete outward face. The fuel was moved by rail to/from the reserve which has its own siding, and the mainline to London runs straight past it. Thus as a kid I always used to look out and wonder what the huge military looking concrete hill/bunker was. At some point it started being used commercially and the depot was in more recently times labelled as being operated by Elf. Crack on *cough* a couple of decades from those childhood years, and I’ve travelled past the fuel depot innumerable times to/from town for work and always kept a keen eye on it. Over the years it was apparent it wasn’t active anymore with the largest building ultimately being breeze blocked up, and things increasingly looking derelict.

Micheldever-79
Waiting to have the tracking done, with the fuel depot in the distance.

I had to go and get new tyres on the Vee, and so that meant a trip to the “world’s busiest tyre site” … Micheldever Tyres. Hence, I decided it was time to finally go and take a peak at a site that I’ve literally looked at with interest all my life from the train. A quick search showed others had been there, and with summer undergrowth giving more cover and making scrambling down the chalk face where the concrete meets the hill feasible, I dusted off my exploring bag.

The resulting pictures are far from my finest work. My used and abused 18-55mm kit lens I’ve always used for exploring started playing up a few months prior to this visit whilst on holiday. It focussed when it felt like it, and even then wasn’t particularly accurate. Cue on-and-off manual focusing and fuzzy pictures.

Micheldever-24
One of the longer tunnels into the hill.

The site had been stripped of much of its wiring by metal thieves and smashed up a bit by local kids, but it was great to final have a look around after so many years of wondering about it. Disappointingly not many of the entrances go any distance into the hill. There are a few work rooms, a cross cutting tunnel between a couple of the entrances, along with a couple of longer tunnels. The tanks are marked as having been cleaned out in 1995, so it seems like it really was a couple of decades since it was last used. It hasn’t been noticeable as long as that – strange how some things fall into dereliction quickly, but others appear to be in use for longer than they are, taking years until their desertion becomes totally apparent!

As a present day update, it seems that National Rail are in the process of disposing of part the site. That surplus land appears to consist of the large flat area atop the tanks/hill, which had already been cleared of the few remaining concrete structures when I visited, which will be used for a bio-energy power facility with recyclable waste being brought via the railway. Also it appears that the freight yard/sidings, that have been similarly unused for some years, will be improved for use as a new freight interchange. There’ve been some heavily graffitied car transporter wagons “parked” in the sidings since 21st August 2009, a date clearly documented since seemingly it was an arrival of some excitement for local train enthusiasts as per this thrilling video.

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