Hello readers. And hello Schurkettes. (some of my readers started calling themselves Schurkettes and I'm rolling with it because I'm quite possibly a gigantic egomaniac)
Today I have a rooftopping blog!
As some of you may know, this blog started out showing my adventures on the rooftops of Shrewsbury. It was very nearly named "Shrewsbury from higher up than you," but this proved inaccurate due to my exploring of places like Burger King and Future Physique, which took the blog beyond rooftopping. The current title was a lot more accurate, until I went and explored everywhere else in Shropshire too. Oopsie.
While this blog started in 2014, the photos used in the old rooftopping blogs date back to 2010 and 2011, and on a recent coffee date with my close friend and confident, Ouija LeMay, she pointed out that some of these could be considered historical photos of Shrewsbury. Anyone who was, say, ten in 2010 will be in their eighteenth year in a matter of months. An entire generation has grown up since these photos were taken, and that gives them a nostalgic value of sorts to the locals. At least that's what Ouija LeMay says, as she sips her coffee.
I searched over my old photos and sure enough, there are things going on that have changed significantly since the photos were taken, and in the past I have revisited these rooftops to capture the present view. In December 2015 I published "Shrewsbury from higher up than you" as a stand alone blog post that showed the modern day view from older blog posts. On it is the view from the roof of KFC, with a link to the original blog post published a year earlier but depicting photos from 2011, when Claremont Church was still under redesign.
Also featured on the revisit article was the view from Princess House, the original article showing the Music Hall wrapped in scaffolding, and the square as it looked in 2010. And of course there was the view from the flag pole at the bottom of Pride Hill.
Places like Future Physique and Waitrose, which were previously documented here and here, were redocumented here and here.
But then Ouija LeMay asked me why I hadn't redone the Rat Run yet? The Rat Run is an old name for the route from the top of Castle Street to the bottom of Pride Hill via rooftop. My original article depicts Waitrose empty and derelict, among other things. So the photos were out of date.
And Ouija LeMay was right. It was time to revisit my roots, take to the rooftops of Shrewsbury, and show everyone what the town currently looks like from the rooftops of Pride Hill.
Over in the distance is St Nics, and just poking up beyond that is Laura's Tower.
And you're being treated too, because I almost NEVER go up during the day, due to the amount of CCTV and security presence up there. The majority of my shots are night time shots, so excuse me while we switch between day and night at my whim.
All the scaffolding has been taken off the old Natwest building now.
This view is actually behind Castle Street. These little rooftop courtyards are for the flats above the shops, which lead off from Castle Court, the alleyway from Castle Street to the bus station. The building with the blocked windows is the old police station.
Regarding what I said about my total enjoyment of rooftopping giving it a sense of worth, there was a study into human happiness by a chap whose name I forget because it was seventeen syllables long but somewhat lacking vowels in between letters that really could have benefited from vowels in between them. But he wrote "The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times. The best moments usually occur if a persons body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile."
Translation- Lose yourself in something that you're passionate about and you will be happy.
It's important to me, because my blog brings me happiness. Comparing these new photos to the old ones has made me realise that photographs are a time stamp on reality. 100 years from now, nobody will care how these photos were taken, only that they were taken. 100 years from now, nobody will care that I sat on a corporate roof without permission, but 60 years from now, when I'm old and decrepit, it will mean the world to me that this is how I spent my youth. It's important to think bigger picture with the world. Will the "you" that's lying on their death bed look back on life fondly and think "That was pretty awesome?" If the answer is no then now is the time to do something about it.
When on these rooftops, one can venture away from street view and see the modern shopping centres contrast with the older architecture. The churches in particular stand out here, with the modern shopping centre roof sprawled out in the foreground, and the slightly less modern Barclays and Waitrose there too.
Here's a nice shot of the library, with the casle on the left of it, and Lauras Tower protruding on the right.
And once again, there's St Nics. But seriously, this would be taken from the roof of what is currently Burger King, and look how grey it is.
There is security presence up here on the roof, seeing as there are doors that connect directly to the shopping centres, so I always proceed with caution and have a plan of where to run to if things get hairy.
One of the more curious features of the roof is this tower. It looks like brick but it isn't brick. I did hear a rumour that there's a military radar dish hidden in there, but I highly doubt I'd be able to get this close to one of those.
But apparently this rumour was false. This fake brickwork is hiding a huge electric fan, and the walls are special soundproofing panels designed to blend into the surrounding brickwork.
From around here, it is possible to carry on and get a view of the bus station.
And look how high we are compared to the multistory car park!
There are glass pyramid windows on the roof, which let light in to the Darwin Shopping Centre. Peering down, one can see inside.
This photo was taken at night to avoid alarming the shoppers. I'm a considerate villain.
Moving back to street view, it is possible to get on top of W H Smiths and Tesco Express, which are two halves of an older building, previously Morris Cafe and Stores. It's actually modeled after Blickling Hall in Norfolk, although it's tiny in comparison. Morris obtained the building in 1926, whereas before that it was a popular ladies clothes store. I've heard people lament about how a lot of older buildings were destroyed in the process of creating Shrewsburys shopping centres. The Raven Hotel is most notable, currently the site of Marks & Spencers. But W H Smith survives, albeit modified to be an entrance to the shopping centre.
Rumour has it there's a disused ballroom underneath this building, and some say that it had a rotating floor. I have seen one photo of a group in this ballroom in 1933, and it looks pretty incredible. If it still exists I would love to see it. I've also seen photos of the cafe portion of this building, which was on ground level, and now destroyed for its retail purpose. But it sure looked like a great place to dine!
While the underground ballroom escapes me today, it was still great to get a view from the roof.
I only have a night photo of the front of Barclays.
Hey, is that pigeon trying to start a fight?
Pigeons and I have a long standing rivalry since I was trapped in an abandoned brothel with eight of the bastards.
Whats interesting is that behind the WH Smiths building is a little staff chillout spot, with some attempt at decorating, to add some green to the dull grey.
And it is pretty bleak up here. Check this out.
From the tallest point of the roof it is possible to get a view of the landscape, only recognisable as Shrewsbury because of those towers in the background, St Chads and the Market Tower. The market tower is considered hideous compared to its predecessor but right now it's comparatively pretty.
Of course, this isn't a view that the general public has to look at, so it doesn't really matter if its pretty. I just love the contrast of street level to here. It's the same town but completely different.
In the distance is the Welsh Bridge.
Next to this is the theatre and the disused antiques market.
And here's the footbridge from the Riverside Centre to Frankwell carpark.
Its quite surprising really because on ground level Shrewsbury is a really pretty town. Up here is such a contrast, and it covers such a vast space.
At the very end of the shopping centre is a pretty good view over the carpark, with a pretty huge drop. But the Rat Run doesn't end there!
There's a view over Seventy Steps, the alleyway that connects Pride Hill to Raven Meadows. Anyone who cares to count the steps on this alleyway will count a lot more than seventy, and that's because it was extended during the construction of the shopping centres. Someone even suggested that this isn't the real Seventy Steps, and that the original stairway was incorporated into the cellar of McDonalds, and this alleyway between the shopping centres was built as a replacement, with the old Seventy Steps signage put over the entrances. But of course, that's just a rumour.
Access further down the street is achievable via the entrance to the shopping centre, returning once again to the street view.
Intriguingly, there's a circle on the floor next to those benches over there, noticable by the colour change on the floor. I never notice it from ground level, but it marks the spot where big circular flowerbeds used to stand. I actually miss them. They gave Pride Hill some character.
The last time I got a photo from this angle, Cotswold was a boarded up Burton, and Waitrose was a walled off former Burger King, ready to be made into its current incarnation.
Incidentally, this part of the Rat Run was the easiest part to get to due to a ladder thats now been blocked off. Being a completist, I usually ignored this route, prefer to start at the top or bottom of Pride Hill and work my way to the end. However this half-way point did come in useful when there are street performances.
Here's the police station. Needless to say, I proceed with caution at this point.
At this point one can see the top of the Pride Hill Shopping Centre! Doesn't it look cool? I actually prefer the top of it to the Darwin Shopping Centre. It just looks a lot prettier and more modern.
This chair has been here for as long as I've been doing rooftopping in Shrewsbury. I wonder who put it here.
As you can see, we're approaching the end of Pride Hill. There are a few good vantage points along the way.
Hey, look, its Greggs. The store on the left used to be Virgin, back when CDs were a more relevant music format.
From here there's another circle on the floor of Pride Hill visible, where another large brick garden once stood.
At the end of Pride Hill, we have this view of other rooftops I've sat on. This grey tower is part of what we called the Rooftop Maze back in the day, for its endless paths, and I've done photoshoots with models on it, which I'm dying to show you all in a future blog post.
In the distance is St Julians church, which I had the opportunity to sneak up a little while ago.
Here we see the flag pole that sits on top of the Royal Insurance Company, which currently isn't that, but still carries the engraving of its former title. The flag has long since stopped being hung here but the rope did remain for as late as 2011. The little dome is covered in the signatures of anyone who has managed to get to it.
From here it's possible to see Montys and various businesses over in that general area.
Here's the market tower and St Chads, both of which I've been right to the top of. This photo is taken from the bank at the bottom of Pride Hill, where the Rat Run ends. It is possible to run and leap the alleyway onto the roof of Cafe Nero. In fact I did this back in 2010.
I can't do it now though, and it's not a physical thing, but a psychological thing. I did it then because I was depressed, although it wasn't that I wanted to die, I just didn't care whether or not I survived. And in not caring, I discovered a new love for life. Funny how things work, isn't it?
Depression is an odd one. I don't like to say that I have depression, because it feels a bit like I'm putting a cap on my potential. People aren't fixed, they're forever growing and learning, and I think that once I start defining myself by what would be considered "wrong" with me, it's just a downward spiral from there. I want to learn through challenge and through struggle, and become a happier, more productive person simply because that is who I want to be.
No wallowing in self pity here! No blaming other people either. And certainly no excuses. I like to think I'm responsible for my own happiness, and right now in 2017, if wealth was measured in happiness, I'd be a millionaire.
And I'm not saying anything like this to mock anyone. I guess I'd like my personal thoughts on the whole thing to maybe inspire someone.
And here's a nice parting shot from the bottom of Pride Hill. That's about all I have. It sure was nice to return to the rooftops. I do believe that simply doing what you love is the best kind of therapy, and the rooftops, as well as this blog, have been somewhat neglected of late.
When priorities in life start to get a little on top, its easy to feel like one is in a boat filling up with water, and one is struggling in vain to empty the water out. I dislike the analogy because it implies that my priorities are bad and that the objective in life is to get to a point where I have nothing to do.
I read in a book recently that a fun activity for managing priorities is to imagine my priorities as characters, coming to visit me in my office. This is not only good for managing ones workload but it's also great fun to think up characters that fit a metaphor of what they represent.
This blog, of course, is a fairly consistent priority, as are the adventures that sustain it. So Blog Guy and Adventure Guy are there in my office. They're two minds in the same body. Job Guy comes in sometimes when its time to earn a living. He's featureless. Social Media Guy has really bad acne, and I imagine each pimple as an independent face talking to me all at once, and yes, I must treat this guys acne because I like talking to people too. And the metaphor continues so on and so forth, and its quite fun to play with and come up with characterisations for my priorities. My home, for example, would be an attractive but dominant woman, who comes into the office to demand an explanation for why I haven't done the walls yet. Its a new flat, it needs work, and right after I publish this blog post I will proceed to obey my homes requirements. My relationships also fit into this analogy too. I like to picture my last relationship as having someone hanging out in my office who is pretty good company, but if I take my eyes off them for five minutes, I'll look back and find them photocopying their ass, sticking a fork in a plug socket, or pissing on my Japanese Peace Lily. I can turn being cheated on into a fun analogy if I want. Metaphors can be hilarious.
That's it for today. Next blog post I'm heading out to another abandoned house. In the meantime if you like my blog, follow me on Twitter, Instagram and like my Facebook page. And if you really like it, share the blog on your social media of choice.
A final thing I want to raise awareness for is a group in the West Midlands called Riders Battling Bullying, a group of bikers who try to raise awareness about bullying by visiting schools and also going out to meet and support victims. They want to hold events as well, but require awareness, so check out their website to see how you can help out.
And always remember to be nice to each other, guys. The world can be a shitty place, and we each have the power to make someones day better. Compliment a stranger, and tell your loved ones how much you love them. Give someone a hug while you still can, because someday we'll all be minds uploaded onto a computer.
Have a great day.
Thanks for reading. Stay awesome!