Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Shropshires war ruins

(Disclaimer: This project is purely for the victimless documentation of history. We fully understand the risks/dangers involved in these adventures and do so in the full knowledge of what could happen. We don't encourage or accept responsibility for anyone else following in our footsteps. No location is ever forcefully broken into. We utilise existing openings only. No criminal offence is committed in the making of this blog.No location is ever occupied. No location is ever vandalised. Nothing from any location is ever taken or destroyed.
No location is ever disclosed. If it's obvious where it is, means of entry is not disclosed. We accept no responsibility if you dislike the blog. Nothing is stopping you from just clicking away. 

Hello everyone! Given that on my international blog, I've been focusing a lot on war-related stuff, like a first world war German airfield, a second world war Nazi base and a Cold war Soviet tank barracks, I wanted to do one back in England! Here in England, it occasionally stops raining, and I decided to use one of those ten minute intervals to dash out to some old airfield ruins. Shropshire actually had over thirty airfields back in the day, and I've only been to a few. And while some would say that it's rather depressing to think that the world is littered with in the remnants of two successive world wars, I do think that they deserve documenting while they're still here.

Lets get stuck in! Adventure awaits! Starting with my personal favourite of the bunch, a World War 2 Battle Headquarters quietly tucked away in the Shropshire hills!

For those who don't know, a Battle Headquarters was a mostly subterranean structure, with an external room on the surface, which is in the above picture. That was the "Observation Room" which is why it has a horizontal slit to peep out of.

The rest of this structure is visible, sticking out through the dirt, but back in the 1940s it would have been completely subterranean. It was from this little facility that an airfields Defence Officer could co-ordinate his team and defend the airfield in the event of an attack. They were thought up in 1941, initially above ground but later underground as the war escalated.
These can actually be found all over the country, and their design mostly carries a sort of uniformity. In that sense, I see them in the same way that I see the ROC bunkers of the 1960s. However the Battle HQs have had a couple more decades left to rot.

This here would have been a stairway leading down into the facility, and serving as its primary entrance. It's been filled in, which is a little disappointing, unless you're a plant that's always aspired to have a staircase-shaped pot to grow in. Fortunately, we're in luck! There's always an escape hatch!

In spite of being considerably older and even more neglected than ROC posts, the escape hatch of a Battle HQ is slightly less intimidating, because it's smaller. It leads to the observation room, the floor of which is only a few feet deep. One can stand up straight in an observation room, even though it doesn't look it on the outside, and so anyone with good upper body strength can pull themselves out of the escape hatch if the ladder happens to not be there. To the right of the ladder, you'll notice that stairs continue to descend into the rest of the facility.

The observation room is surprisingly spacious, but I couldn't go in straight away because of a fucking bat flapping around that I'd somehow disturbed on my entry. I decided to photograph this room last, and continue on with the rest of the facility. I like bats. I don't like disturbing them.

Here's the stairway leading down. It doesn't look like a stairway because there's loads of dirt over it, and I'm fairly certain that the slab there likely once covered the hatch to stop people getting in.

The stairs lead down to the defence officers office, and quite frankly it felt wonderful to be here. Unlike ROC bunkers, I've only been to a grand total of three Battle HQs prior to this, and they've all been flooded! Sometimes I can at least access the observation room, but sometimes I can't even get down the hatch. Somehow this one is still dry.

So the airfields defence officer worked here. Every decision regarding the defence of the airfield would have been made right here in this room, and relayed to the Messengers room and the PBX room via the hatches in the far corner.

Here's the exit out into the Battle HQs main hallway.

Here's the filled in "main entrance" at the end of the hallway. To the right are the two doors, the closest being the defence officers room and the furthest being the messenger and runners room. Behind me would have been the toilet. It's not there now, but the vacant, underground, neglected-for-70 years space is still in better condition than the toilets in some pubs and clubs.

In some design variations, another doorway on the left would lead to a small bedroom for the defence officers men. 

This is the PBX room, which is situated at the back of the Messengers and Runners room. The Runner was responsible for relaying messages to the defence units stationed around the airfield that couldn't be reached by telephone. Those that could be reached by the telephone were contacted via the telephone equipment in the PBX room.

This is all that remains of the communications equipment.

From what I understand, Battle HQs never really made it out of the just-in-case phase of the early war when there was still fear of the Germans actually invading and setting foot on British soil. That never actually happened, and many Battle HQs actually fell out of use while the war was still on. While I'm sure it was good practice to run drills, just in case, many Battle HQs are found without fixtures or decor because they simply were never actually used.

 The thing about Battle HQs is that to the unknowing, this just looks like rubble. Someone might walk their dog past here and think "A building once stood here." Little do they realise, the building does still stand here!

Just down from this Battle HQ is something else that I love...

This is a seagull trench! They're a defence facility, pretty similar to Pillboxes. But unlike pillboxes, these are pretty much a reinforced trench, set low down, giving the folks inside an ankle-level view of the landscape and any approaching enemy. This meant that they could open fire on any enemy with relative safety, although the Germans never put them to the test. The roof would likely have been camouflaged with grass too.

They're called Seagull trenches because from the sky they look like a bird with its wings spread. Why the Larus Marinus was chosen to be the namesake, I have no idea. They're possibly the most irritating avian on the planet. What sort of message does that send? "Guess what, Hitler? Not only are we going to gun down your men, but we're also going to poo on your head and steal your chips!"

There are definitely more fearsome birds out there. Owls send a nice message "Strike at night, shoot some Nazis." Buzzards, too. Even the noble Robin would make Hitler stop and think "Scheisse, now Father Christmas knows I'm a naughty boy."

Why Seagulls???

The metal squares are where machine guns would have been mounted to fire through. In some rare cases, seagull trenches actually still have more of the frame left over, but I've only ever come across that once.

I'll throw a photo in just to show what the contraption looked like, but it's not from this particular Seagull Trench.

Seagull trenches also have a degree of uniformity to them, but rather depressingly there are allegedly now only 21 of these left in the entire country. This is my fourth.

Onto something else entirely, we have this curious contraption rusting away in a Shropshire field...

Now I've never seen one of these before, but allegedly it's a decoy airfield control bunker.

There would have been a generator in this room that would have allegedly powered some lights that were strung along the field to look like an airfield. The Nazis would often bomb the UK at night, which is what led to the blackouts. The dummy airfields were an attempt at tricking the Nazis into wasting their bombs on the wrong place. But while the preservation of the actual airfield was the priority, this facility was apparently manned too, which must have been a pretty intense job. 

It's only small, but after nipping here I swung by a couple of pillboxes.

Pillboxes are basically little structures with openings in them for the folks inside to fire through at advancing enemies. They tend to be found in fields around old airfields, and some that are still active, although given that you're more likely to see a nun wearing a strap-on than a hostile military invasion on UK soil, all remaining pillboxes are either derelict or converted into sheds and other uses by the landowners. This is one that watches a bridge over a river, and on the other side of the road is a second identical one.

They're rather simplistic in design, but I like them anyway. Years ago, I actually found a decapitated sex doll in a Pillbox. It was in the night, too, so I literally just saw it illuminated by torch light. Its head was right next to my foot, staring up at me! It sure made me jump! Has Ouija LeMay been hiding bodies of the Welsh Mafia again? She'll get no Christmas card from me if my blog is used for such nefarious purposes. But I digress. The point is, Pillboxes are samey but it's always worth taking a look. I think it's pretty cool of the landowner to preserve them, too.

Here's the second pillbox. It's pretty much identical.

Check it out! I might as well have used the exact same two interior shots!

So that's it for now, but I'll almost certainly cover military ruins again at some point. The thing is, a single pillbox doesn't, in my opinion, inspire a blog post. It's pointless going out to one of these and then writing about it here. So when they do pop up, it'll be in an accumulation of other military stuff, like today. I really like Pillboxes, and Seagull Trenches too. The real treasure for me was the Battle HQ.

Anyway, my next couple of posts are going to be on my international blog. I need to dot the I's and cross the T's in Berlin, tieing off some loose ends, and then I'll be writing about a derelict mansion in Wales, two articles which don't really have a place on a blog about hidden places in Shropshire.
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Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 16 November 2019

The House with the Apologetic Caravan

(Disclaimer: Joking aside, I fully understand the risks/dangers involved in these adventures and do so in the full knowledge of what could happen. I don't encourage or condone and I accept no responsibility for anyone else following in my footsteps. Under UK law, trespass without force is a civil offence. I never break into a place, I never photograph a place that is currently occupied, as this would be morally wrong and intrusive, I never take any items and I never cause any damage, as such no criminal offences have been committed in the making of this blog. I will not disclose locationI leave the building as I find it and only enter to take photographs for my own pleasure and to document the building.

Todays blog is a small one. It's just a derelict house in the Shropshire countryside, although it was the titular caravan that interested me the most. I wasn't particularly enthusiastic about it, but that's probably because my last article was about an abandoned Nazi base on my international blog, which you can read here. As you can imagine, it's difficult to beat an abandoned Nazi base, so I wasn't going to even try. Those holiday blues hit me like a speeding freight train.

However, for me the journey is often more fun than the destination, and while this is no Calcott Hall, it was good just to get out of the house with a destination in mind. It's also quite important to take breaks from all that war stuff that I've been covering in Germany. I try to stay positive, and a huge part of that is taking light-hearted breaks from gloomy topics.

Don't let the car fool you. It's about as unwanted as the house. Nobody lives here.
The problem with abandoned residential houses is that they offer very little in regards to research. At least in comparison to my recent adventures.
What I do know is that it was still being lived in back in 2009, and the building shows up on maps from the late 1800s.

Around the back we have the titular caravan, with "Sorry" written across it in blue lettering. Sorry for what, exactly? How intriguing. The caravan is actually my favourite part of this entire location. It's dilapidated and smashed, but it has a lot more going for it than the actual house.

For some reason I find abandoned caravans creepier than houses. Perhaps it's the thought of someone living off the grid being potentially more harmful than someone who isn't.

Why did someone bring chairs into an area with sofas?

The flowers and clock being so neatly arranged is in an odd contrast to the rest of the mess.

Looking in the cupboard, I found three astrology mugs. By amusing coincidence, of all the zodiac signs out there, the only mugs here are me and my siblings. I'm a Leo. People expect the stereotypical Leo to be extroverted and arrogant but I'm nothing like that. I'm just quietly arrogant. If someone has lived through shit, and other people think that any shit they give that person is remotely original, the confident introvert usually just thinks "You're really boring. Now let me get on with my thing," and people think they're a doormat but really they just don't give a shit because they've already conquered all their demons and worked for the things that make them happy. Confident Introversion explained.

Maybe it's the fact that I've recently marathoned both seasons of "End of the fxxxing world," or maybe it's my morbid imagination, but I look at this caravan and think "Murder."

 Murder weapon.

Murder clean-up.

Morbid imagination or too much TV? Too many morbid locations on my other blog, and not enough whimsical posts about trains? Either way, if I'm going to let any form of media influence my head, I'd rather this than the Daily Mail or The Sun.

The bathroom is fairly non-descript. Caravans tend to have a rather samey layout, so it's not really anything new.

The cars have seen better days.

I ran a check on this cars number plate, and found that its MOT expired in 2014.

This caravan was locked, but even from the outside there was a smell of mould, so I'm kinda grateful.

Here's an old pool table.

Looking at the house itself, it's covered in the same blue graffiti as the caravan, but instead of a curious apology we have the standard graffiti penis.

The graffiti continues into the house, but there isn't much to see in here. It looks as if someone has tried to renovate the house, and then given up.

Archways are interesting. The brickwork tells the houses history, and usually it's all covered up.

The lounge still has a homely vibe, no doubt due to the bright red curtains. 

Upstairs it looks very much like renovation started but the graffiti gives away the neglect of the place. If renovations were continuing, surely it would have been removed. Instead we just have lots of blue wall scrawling that disturbingly refers to this place as a shag den.
See, if someone said "Shall we fornicate?" and then took me here, when theres a perfectly good caravan outside, I would probably consider castrating myself with a cheese grater to be a more favourable alternative than risking breeding with that person.

No offence folks.

Someones written "Fuck Off" on the floor.

Theres loads of old records too.

I have a theory that the music was listened to by the folks working on the place, who were staying at the caravan while work commenced. However for some reason work stopped, and the kids came here with their spray cans and poor art skills. Maybe the apology on the caravan is aimed at whoever was working here, just in case they ever come back.

There's a garage area too but this is full of clutter that was presumably moved in here from the house when renovations started.

Now onto the best part of any abandoned house- the toilets! In this case, it's part of the house, but doesn't lead into the house. One has to exit the premises, and re-enter. Have fun waking up desperate for a shit at 4am in the middle of November.

There's no door or glass in the window, but there's a radiator so it's not all bad.

It's still in better condition than the toilets in some pubs and clubs.

That's all I've got for this location. It's not a particularly interesting abandoned house compared to others that I've been to, but the caravan was quite nice, and the trip out here was rather pleasant. It got me out, doing things. Thats the main thing.

Share the blog wherever you want. Next time, I'm looking at an old Soviet tank facility on my other blog, and then I'm going to post about one of Shropshires lost train stations on this one. In the meantime, like the Facebook page, follow the instagram and the twitter, so that you'll get updates whenever there's something new.

You can probably stop paying attention now!