If you read my blog post in March about Chaos Manor, you'll have heard mention of a little something we were cooking up at the time called Operation Cobra. Operation Cobra was something special. It was something precious. It was a magical mixture of the two, which I call... specious.
It's something I've never done before. It's an entire road trip of various abandoned locations, starting out here in Shropshire and then stabbing Wales right in its hilly little belly.
How did this come about?
Well, an abandoned house came to my attention years ago, around the same time as Calcott Hall. Calcott Hall made national papers as the infamous "Red Dress Manor." When I got there, the red dress was stolen, if it had ever been there for long at all. Part of me wonders if it was gimmick placement to get a good story. Shortly after, another abandoned house of equal creepiness popped up, this one further afield, in Wales, lost in the hills, and unlike Calcott Hall, this actually required some effort into figuring out where it was.
And to justify the effort, and the traveling such a distance, let me tell you this abandoned house looked beautiful in its time-capsule creepiness. It was seemingly frozen in time for decades. Just the fact that it had made national papers fueled my interests and eagerness because places like this, the Calcott Halls of the forbidden tourism world, don't last long. They get plundered, trashed, and rearranged, by urban explorers.
While researching, I noticed that some urban explorers on the internet, perhaps to protect it, claimed that it was sealed up. Some claimed that it was even demolished. But they said exactly the same things about Pitchford Hall and Brogyntyn, and Calcott Hall, so the only thing we can truly ascertain is that we should ignore urban explorers, and see for ourselves.
But just to be on the safe side, Tree Surgeon and I spent a lot of time looking into what else might be between here and there, so that if the rumours were true that it was sealed tight or demolished, we could still check out a few other places. There were bound to be a few ROC bunkers that we could check out.
But to our amazement, there were actually A LOT of places to see between here and this house. And a few of them were in this beautiful stretch of road in Shropshire. It was totally worth a road trip and a multi-part blog saga! This was before I'd ended my last relationship, so my ex was still in my inner circle, and she named the entire thing Operation Cobra as some reference to some movie that I forget. Fearing that we may cross paths with hostility once we got to Wales, from the likes of the Welsh Mafia or something, we picked our posse carefully. We contacted a couple of urban explorers from Ellesmere who, as far as I'm aware, are okay folks, and then we invited Riggy of the Rabbit House adventure, so that we had someone to feed to any cannibals we stumbled across in the hills. And then we hit the road.
Today I'll go over the Shropshire houses that were involved in Operation Cobra.
And to start with, there's the Chainsaw House!
It's worth noting that with abandoned houses, I show complete and total respect. The majority of houses like this end up this way because the occupier passes away and has no direct relatives to inherit anything. It's actually really sad. So houses like this are, in a way, a gravestone for the former occupant. This is their life, here for us to see. So I don't change anything, I don't force entry, and I don't vandalise.
As I snuck in, I had to admit that I was surprised by the number of things that had been left behind. The house itself is structurally unsafe. It's a few good thunderstorms away from being a pile of rubble, as we'll see.
I'm not sure how long this place has been abandoned but everything certainly seems old fashioned.
In the hallway I did find this calendar hanging on the wall, dated 1989. Has this house really been undisturbed for 28 years?
Here's the chainsaw, from which we derived the nickname of the house. I doubt it's still functional.
There was a second exterior door, leading into the kitchen. Due to the fact that the doors are just wide open, nature has slowly crept in to replace this building.
Everything here has an old fashioned quality to it, which I guess you'd expect if that calendar is an accurate idea of when the place was left. What we essentially have is an incredibly battered time capsule. Welcome to the 1980s. No internet connection ever graced these walls. They probably didn't have mobile phones, unless I'm mistaking one for chunky kitchen appliances, which is altogether possible given the size of mobile phones at the time.
It's kind of bizarre to imagine anyone living so remotely and cut off from technology, which is sad because it means that the 21st Century has well and truly assimilated me.
Now where's my bionic arm?
The washing up was left undone.
And here we have the lounge, with two sofas, and a central table cluttered with old belongings.
This calendar is from 1991, which is a little off from the last calendar, but not unreasonably so. It's perfectly feasible to me that someone elderly and alone, may have simply not gotten around to taking an old calendar down for a couple of years. I remember at the height of my "depressed days," my calendar didn't change months for about six of them. These things happen.
That still means that the house has been abandoned for more than two decades.
The coats hanging up are an eerie touch. Very Mary Celeste.
These flowers are quite obviously a new addition though. Evidently I'm not the first visitor. Was someone paying respects or did an urban explorer leave them here to create some hype, like whoever left the Christmas decorations in Christmas House?
Some old fashioned glasses.
And look at this! It's a record player!
I did find this book, which appears to be a school book from 1984.
Someone has written on it "Nemesis is Coming Soon."
Is that meant to be intimidating? Everyone from 1984 KNOWS that the Nemesis is the name of Megatrons ship, and it's at the bottom of the ocean.
The contents of the book talk about playmobil, but it's in a very informative way, discussing the prioritization of having educational activities for children, a potential hint at a former occupant studying childcare?
As you can see, this room at the back has recently had a ceiling collapse, so I didn't venture any firther in. But I pointed my camera around to see what could be observed in the clutter.
Here are the stairs, but as we saw from the last room, only a fool would dare venture up.
At the top of the stairs is this little stairgate.
And really intriguingly, someone has taken the time to barricade the door leading to the room with the collapsed ceiling. Now, who would do that? Urban explorers might do it to stop other urban explorers falling in, but that would imply that they're capable of empathy. Could this really be the work of the former occupant? And if thats the case then why havent they just cleared the house out and boarded it up?
Beyond this door is the bathroom. I didn't venture in because the floor felt unstable, but I'm sure it's in better condition than some of the toilets in some pubs and clubs. Lets just leave it to the imagination.
The bedroom is where the intrigue is at. Given the fact that a lot of the stuff is pink and feminine, I'll assume a girl lived here. And yes, I know thats a horrible gender stereotype, but this is 1991 we're talking about! The world wasn't that open minded yet. We were still coming to terms with the shocking revelation that two adults, with matching reproductive organs having consensual sex in the privacy of their own homes where nobody else could see, was not going to destroy the world.
While I'm sure there was probably a huge amount to find up here, I didn't rummage.
Another record player casually left on the bed.
The cars are a stereotypically more boyish toy, so I might be about to eat my previous words.
Here's a box of abandoned make up.
But by far the best discovery was this classroom photo of childten from 1983. I've censored the name of the primary school even though we can safely assume that any child from 1983 isn't a child anymore. Does anyone recognise themselves?
There's another picture here, this time of an actual portrait. But who is this? And if the occupier was a child in 1983, they can't have been elderly by 1991 unless they went time traveling or something. So why was this house abandoned?
I think the eeriest part of any abandoned house is the mystery.
While the Chainsaw house is the most prominent of the Shropshire stretch of Operation Cobra, there are a multitude of abandoned houses in the vicinity. Some of them are unfortunately sealed up, but I was able to get into three more.
HOUSE NUMBER 1
Hidden away in some trees, this appears to be the gatehouse to a larger house that is still in use. The gatehouse, however, is derelict.
It has a rather Greek Revival look going on, with these support pillars. However one pillar has fallen and is lying next to the building, growing its own mini-forest. Someone has since come and replaced the pillar with a wooden post, so I guess in spite of how it looks, someone somewhere doesn't want this place to collapse.
The interior was stripped of furniture but not of character. It was clearly once quite refined in here.
It has two main rooms around a central fireplace, with a small kitchen at the back, and the remains of stairs leading upwards.
It's not possible to get up these stairs.
Well, it probably is, but there's not much point. At some point it led to a room above the kitchen.
Here's the kitchen. There's not a lot left. Looking up, however, one can see the top of the staircase.
The holes where the ceiling beams used to be are clear and visible, implying that the timber was removed manually instead of just collapsing through decay.
In regards to this gatehouse, there's not much else to say.
HOUSE NUMBER 2-
This farmhouse in Shropshire is very familiar to me, purely because it's visible from the road and for the past three years I've had readers send me photos of it, asking me to blog about it. Well here it is. Isn't that great of me? It sure is.
Again, this house has been stripped of everything. In fact I think it's probably been abandoned longer than the others. It's definitely a Victorian farm house, but I don't know much about its history at all.
Now, I'm no detective but I'm guessing that the diagonal brickwork on that wall is where the staircase used to be. As with the last place, one cannot get upstairs.
Someone has randomly drawn a pentagram here.
The upstairs doorways are still visible.
The exterior buildings are pretty samey, with some Victorian appliances.
By far my favourite part of this house is the privy. Now, I hoped that this could give a date for when the house was last lived in, purely because at some point toilets became internalized. However in rural areas, these things were used well into the late 20th Century. What is intriguing is this-
This privy accomodates two people. Now you can make conversation and even race each other.
And yes, it is in better condition than the toilets in some pubs and clubs. Onto House Three.
HOUSE NUMBER 3-
This is actually one of my favourites. Again, it's stripped of furniture with the exception of a big wheel in the cellar, but I like the layout, I like the architecture, and I felt a very spooky vibe in this one. Make of that what you will.
It seems to have more character than the last one. And yet its not accessible via any driveway.
Unlike the last two houses, this one had stairs. And I daresay it was more structurally sound than any of the other houses on this blog post today. In fact a little TLC could make this place habitable.
I'm loving these windows. I'm loving the way the stairs cut the window off.
Upstairs had a very eerie vibe. I honestly felt like I'd interupted something.
There's some modern brickwork there, indicative that someone has put money and time towards making this place stay standing.
Onto the cellar!
Who knows how this wheel got down here!
The cellar is somehow less creepier than upstairs, but there wasn't a lot to see.
And that's it for the first part of Operation Cobra. I plan on spreading our road trip out over five or six blog posts, unapologetically making the blogs title more and more inaccurate as we venture further away from the titular town of Shrewsbury. I do have some creepy and exciting destinations to show, so make sure you pay attention. Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and like my Facebook. If you like the blog post, share it on your social media of choice. If you can spare the pennies for the blog fund please hit the donate button up at the top. Money goes towards other adventures and equipment for the blog, and recently as a result I was able to get all the way out to the house where they filmed the classic kids TV show, Tots TV. But thats a blog post for the future. Obviously, donations to the blog are at your discretion, and don't feel that you have to because, even though its for pittance, I do work for a living, so its cheeky to ask for extra. And obviously happiness is far more important to me than money. Making someone else smile will add a little more happiness to the world. Because if we have any power at all, it's to decide whether someone has a good or bad day. Now, to make someone have a bad day just because you have the power to do so is a misuse of power. And you know who else misused their power? That's right, Hitler. Don't be a Hitler. Make someone smile.
Thanks for reading. Stay awesome!