Friday, 31 January 2014

Shrewsbury's abandoned gym

The majority of people never even knew this place existed. For years I kept the location and method of access a secret, due to the fact that it was relatively easy to get to and I did not want the place to end up contaminated and vandalized, and turned into a drug den. However, times have changed. It can no longer be accessed, which means it's safe to blog about.

If one heads down to KFC, and crosses the street and the carpark behind Claremont Church, looking up at the back of Argos one should see a terrifyingly rotten wooden staircase. One day, we decided that we were going to find a way there. But to get there, we had to poke around a construction site, that has since been completed and blocked off access to the staircase completely.

Construction site pictures (Taken with a phone, so low quality)-

(Note- Construction sites are dangerous. Even if you do explore without the intentions of vandalism, going through a construction site is stupid. Workers at construction sites wear special clothing for a reason. Buildings are unsafe, and cables and wires may be exposed, and there may even be big gigantic holes that you'll never get out of. I explored this construction site with knowledge of these risks and therefore I was responsible for any harm that could have come to me. If you want to poke around a construction site at night, do so under the same mindset. Don't blame anyone but yourself if something bad should happen.)

 Pictured here, one of those holes I mentioned people could fall down, and next to it a nice pile of loose bricks one could instinctively grab for while falling, causing the lot to topple on ones head. Seriously, don't mess around in construction sites.

Once this has been navigated through, we emerged beneath the wooden staircase, with a certain feeling of elation. The part where we could have been caught was now behind us. Ahead of us stood the rickety old staircase. Which didn't make the situation any less dangerous than when we were in the construction site. This thing was ready to collapse, and if it had we would have plummeted down to the floor below and never been found.

But once that was over with, we found ourselves on the roof of Argos, and that was actually okay. It wasn't too challenging to get to and it wasn't high up. But it was pleasant.

The adventure didn't stop here though. Next door to Argos is Bodycare, and that building is actually taller than Argos, so we could see inside it. And to our delight, the upper stories above Bodycare were empty and abandoned. There was an open window, but that was on the story below. So we did the craziest thing we could think of, which was to go home and build a rope ladder. It was utterly bonkers and not recommended. Rope ladders are not how people imagine them. Even against the wall we were dangling it over, it still swung under the weight of people on it. This caused a natural adrenaline rush and panic that just made it worse. It also twisted in places and was incredibly difficult to climb down.
However, it did hold our weight. We never used it again though, due to the fact that being anywhere with a rope ladder is suspicious and hints at far more malicious intentions. This area did remain a treasure for urban explorers in Shrewsbury though, as once in we made sure to open a window on the upper level, to allow access without the rope ladder.

Pictures of the Abandoned Gym-

So that's the abandoned gym. At least I assume it was a gym based on the fact that Future Physique was written on things.  No doubt the big hook hanging from the upper floor was used to lift  gym equipment up and the shower room hints at an abundance of sweat. And yet nobody seems to recall it being here. I don't know how long it's been empty for but what it was remains a big mystery.

A staircase led down to a door next to Bodycare that led onto the street. And from that I learned quite swiftly that one could come and go as he pleased from doorways that led onto the street, just as long as one looked like he knew what he was doing. Nobody questions it and simply assumed we were meant to be there. This came in very useful for later exploring where I hid in plain sight. But that's another story.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Shrewsbury Flag Tower

Last blog I documented how this addiction started. It opened my eyes somewhat. The small hometown that I live in was transformed into a vast expanse of possibilities. A shift of perspective, of sorts. All I saw now when I looked at Shrewsbury was opportunity for adventure, and in my over-ambitious glory I set my sights on the deep end, and took to the rooftops, far outside of my skill level at the time.

If one heads down Pride Hill in Shrewsbury, one should see a flag pole on top of a building. I've always looked at it and admitted that given the chance I'd like to be able to get there, having always admired Shrewsbury's architecture. In the past it has shocked me to say that I have been there now, and be met with the response "I never noticed that was there."
People do not look up, you see. And this benefited me greatly in getting onto this rooftop. We tend to avoid daytime rooftopping, but as mentioned, I was feeling over ambitious.

This is a very popular rooftop due to the view, and due to the challenge. Thanks to the change of perspective, I was seeing handholds and footholds everywhere, but this was still one of the trickiest and dangerous climbs I have ever taken part in. Nevertheless, the reward justifies the challenge.

 Note- The group I explore with have a strict policy of leaving everything as it was, not vandalizing or stealing, and not exploring or violating any residential properties, nor do we force entry, merely utilize existing openings. Any entry on the blog that does detail a means of access does so under the assumption that the means of access can no longer be reached. Never would we reveal an existing opening over the internet, for fear of negative consequences against the property, and the person going in.

Click a picture to see it big.

What bugs me is that the flagpole itself retains its functionality. That is, it still has the rope attached to the pole and is still fully capable of waving a flag from. Why doesn't it? That would look truly epic on the Shrewsbury skyline.
One nifty feature is that the base of the flagpole is covered in signatures, dating back quite a few decades. Some state professions such as "roofer" or "painter" but some are more open, one saying "Just fucking about on the roof." It's nice to think that other people have made the journey.

Chance for expansion?

From this rooftop it is possible to make it to the rooftop of the pub called the Hole in the Wall. But that kind of venture is best kept for night time/early morning since those buildings are much less abandoned than the empty former bank that the flag tower is situated above. The view is fairly similar though.

As you can see, we did the expansion around the time that the Market Hall was covered in scaffolding, while the older photos were from the pre-scaffolding days. Back when I first made the journey to the flag pole tower I was feeling lucky to be alive, and never dreamed that I would eventually scale the Market Hall tower, but that's another story...