Friday, 28 February 2014

Views from Oswestry

Oswestry, a teeny town north-ish of Shrewsbury. While it takes only thirty minutes to drive to Oswestry, the over-priced bus routes to anywhere, and the closure of the train station means that to anyone from Oswestry who doesn't drive, Oswestry is The Universe. I used to live there, and now granted the insight of my escapades in Shrewsbury, I took a break from Shrewsbury, and went to see the world of opportunity that I had missed out on when I lived in Oswestry. Oswestry indeed had many rooftop access points and we would find them.

And where better to start than the tallest accessible part- Santander. Please note- we don't vandalize, steal, force entry or harm property, or disclose means of access.

See? Oswestry's a lovely town. Of course the above picture was taken on Christmas day, so because this building is a bank, albeit slightly incompetent as far as banks go, usually it's only climbable at night.

One thing we did find was that, unlike Shrewsbury, Oswestry's rooftops were a lot more connected, and often the view we had was actually nowhere near the means of access, and the route in question required a lot more skill and imagination.

The roof of this clothes shop is a great example:

You get your pretty standard view, but the way of getting to the means of access is nowhere near the actual building, and in addition, we found that there was imaginative room for expansion, onto the sloped rooftop of HSBC.

Now, we'd gotten down whole streets by straddling pointed rooftops before, but nothing this big- HSBC has lethal drops on either side, and is pretty high up, and the period of time we'd be shuffling along precariously was quite lengthy. But it was worth it. Sure, we could have fallen to our deaths, but it was a lot of fun.

Ultimately we found ourselves on one of my favourite rooftops, Halifax, and a view of Bailey Street, which is fairly similar to Pride Hill in Shrewsbury.

Worryingly, Halifax had a ladder that led from the rooftop down to a portion behind the building. And what did we find? A stairway that went beneath the bank! It was an interesting find, but worrying because the door at the bottom of the stairs was wide open. And what did we find?

Bank details! Hundreds of them!

I mean, part of me is ecstatic that my adventures have taken me into something as unique a find, but at the same time, had we not been benevolent explorers, this could be a huge can of worms opened. These files contained details on many, many people, and it seemed to have all been untouched for years. Rooms like this shouldn't just be open to the public, even if said public has to scramble over rooftops to get to it. Luckily, our last visit to Halifax revealed the door was now locked, but how long had it been open for?

More shots of the cellar-

Anyway, that's it for our first batch of Oswestry photos. I would return to my old hometown for more pictures at a later date, but seeing as this blog has "Shrewsbury" in the title, I should probably make it more focused on that town instead.

More Shrewsbury photos next blog.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Random chunks of Shrewsbury

There are, in urban exploring and rooftopping, those bits and bobs that do not warrant a blog page all to their own. When one is strolling along observing his or her hometown, having already had their imagination blown wide open simply by learning to see ladders and stairs in any vertical surface that isn't 100% smooth, every drainpipe, railing, TV aerial, and wall represents an opportunity. In cases like this, often we have returned at night, and found maybe a small amount of explorability or a good view, photographed it and then left. There isn't much there to fill a blog entry on one single area, but there are enough of these to do it together, so here are a few of the more intriguing and photogenic nooks and crannies of Shrewsbury.

  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.


The entire building above the Drayton restaurant was empty, and an open window on the first floor was wide open at all hours just begging for a group of explorers to wander on inside. This was early in our adventures, and we had yet to realize that one can never have too many photos.
But we still got a few, and I had watched the Drayton intently ever since. However, the window was locked and they have now been converted into flats. Ideally this would have had its own page to itself if we had more pictures, and of better quality. It remains a wasted opportunity, and a mistake we'll never make again.

An awful picture of the alleyway.

View of the Market Hall from the upstairs

Upstairs was the grim discovery of a dead pigeon. The attic was spacious, and accessible via a foldable trapdoor staircase. The window had been smashed and boarded up. While the lower part of the building had a huge pigeon infestation due to all the open windows, the pigeon in the attic had no means of escape and so starved to death. Along with all the pigeon poop from the rest of the building, this was one of the messier explorations.

But next to this building was an ancient storehouse of some kind, full of dumpsters on the ground floor but should one push past them to the stairs, or (and this was easier) pull themselves up the opening in the floor that went all the way up to the top of the building, one had a vast empty space that had been long since forgotten.


The church was seen under reconstruction in the KFC rooftop photos and today is a very ugly building. During the reconstruction period we were able to explore it, during the Argos/Abandoned Gym escapades.
This was via an open window but as always I need to emphasize, exploring construction sites is silly. Cables are exposed, wires may not be properly covered, nobody knows you're in there and the stability of walls and floors cannot be guaranteed. There is a reason construction workers wear protective gear. Anyone who goes exploring a construction site at night should be prepared to take responsibility for anything that happens to them.


There were a lot of security measures to keep people off the roof of Cineworld, but luckily none of them had taken me into consideration when they were put there. It was an awesome spot to chill out.


This spot took some serious struggling, given my dyspraxia. For people who aren't from Shrewsbury this huge building is a library, although it was once a school. It has a statue of Charles Darwin out front because he was born in Shrewsbury, and even though he hated it here and left in adulthood never to return, the town likes to milk the tourist-attracting teat of Charlie Dee.

There's another view of Castle Street from this spot.


Ugh... Someone who knew of our adventures told us of an entire rooftop complex accessible from the roof of the girls school. As such we got all the way up there one night and found out this story was false. But we still got a picture.


Allegedly once, explorers got into the swimming pool at night via an open window but they got arrested. Now, the window is shut and the rooftop is accessible easily. There are plans to rip this building down and building a hotel so this view is quite unique.

But while these finds were small, bigger treasures still lay around the corner... Shrewsbury was not done giving me its secrets.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Oddities in Shrewsbury- abandoned shuts

As probably gathered by numerous mysteries put forward so far- The crest in the tunnel near Barclays, the creche under Pride Hill, and the jail cells that eluded me in the Music Hall, Shrewsbury is a web of secret worlds whose remains have been left behind, waiting to be discovered. Rather than destroy these remains, it's far less costly to simply build over and around them, and thus what we end up with is a wide range of secrets only visible to those who do see a drainpipe as a ladder more so than a device for channeling water.

Shrewsbury is notorious for its passageways, alleyways, or "shuts" as they are known. Most of these alleyways have odd names such as Gullet Passage (named for the passage of water rather than the spillage of blood) and Grope Lane (allegedly named for the prositutes that used to frequent it), and many, many more were simply bricked up and left. Due to my unique vantage points, I've found my fair share of these (and during the Burger King expansion almost fell in one behind Superdrug), and while some have been curiosities, one in particular has been completely baffling.

Check this out-

Click the picture to see it big, and don't worry about its ugly visage ruining your day out in Shrewsbury- It's visible only by going over a building and dropping down the other side into a courtyard with no doorways leading to it. There is no way you can just stroll up to it. And yet at some point in history someone took great measures to ensure that nobody went down this alleyway. The fencing is actually cemented over the opening, after being wrapped crudely in barbed wire. The overhead board possibly had a sign for whatever business this alleyway once led to... maybe. If that brick wall wasn't at the bottom (thus making the entire point of cementing a fence over the alleyway pointless), one would be able to walk down this alleyway into the back of Cafe Nero.

In 1880, the building that stood where Cafe Nero now stands was a pub, so maybe this is a remnant from that.

Oddly enough, this is one of two parallel passageways, the second not having the barbed wire, but still being bricked up at the bottom, and was narrow enough to squeeze up by pushing my feet against the one wall and my back against the other- an excellent technique and one I absolutely love.

But I don't recommend this. Cafe Neros roof may as well be made out of paper. But it is possible to see into the barbed wire alleyway from above. Not that there is any point.

If you do want to see this alleyway, albeit from a less exciting angle, go into that cat rescue charity shop in the alleyway next to Cafe Nero and look out one of the back windows. I forget if the window in question is on the stairs or upstairs, but the alleyway is just about visible.

Another curious alleyway runs near the library- a historic treasure chest of hidden mysteries that I'll cover eventually.
But this particular alleyway is blocked at both ends, although one end has a doorway, but this can only be opened from the inside, whereas the alleyway itself is walled up at the other end.The only way into this alleyway is by scaling its walls and dropping in. And then what? It passes under a house, and exits via the doorway. Why was it blocked up?

There will be others, no doubt, scattered around Shrewsbury. There are always others. And if anyone wants to contact me about the Cafe Nero mystery, should they have information, I will appreciate it.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

The view from KFC

One of the smallest but coolest rooftops that I've ever managed to scramble up onto was KFC. I won't be disclosing the means of getting up there, but I will say this- it's tricky and my dyspraxia does not help. But once up there it's so peaceful, and removed from the rest of the world. I've watched drunks fight, and I've watched the sun set with a drink and a book in my hand, all from this rooftop, which isn't actually KFC alone, as we can get down the entire street. But I refer to it as the KFC rooftop simply because it's the most prominent and memorable business.

 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.

Here's the view from KFC-

 This bird statue goes completely unnoticed above Shrewsbury. In the background is the construction of Claremont Church.

And from here you can see the sloped rooftop of Shrewsbury Sixth Form College. And since THAT roof isn't much, I'll include it on this blog because it's so much fun.

The plastic slope of the sixth form roof is actually incredibly slippery when wet or frozen, and therefore in the winter months it makes for an incredibly fun slide.At the bottom of the slope is an upward slope, so falling off is not an issue either.

The view is pretty basic though. It's a two-storey building.

But it's still high enough for me to make fun of the security measures.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

The View from Maplin

Maplin, sadly, used to be so much more explorable according to local rumour. Rooftop access was fairly simple back in the day, and is only slightly more tricky today. But apparently the two floors of empty offices above Maplin were once fully explorable until they became overrun by students doing drugs.

Similarly, once the offices were locked up, the rooftop itself became the place to go. Sure, I like it because it's a nice place to just chill out and relax, but it was too easy to get up there. One embarrassing incident springs to mind when I was up there taking pictures and a million college students sprung out of nowhere and acted shocked to see me already in their secret spot. They were even more shocked when the over-numerous group caught the attention of people in the area and they got into trouble, leaving me to convince people of my lack of association with them.

The rooftop of Maplins is nice, but ruined by an influx of visitors. Luckily they've made it more challenging to get up, but not too much to stop someone like me. It remains yet another example of why we strictly do not disclose the means of access, and we definitely do not vandalize, steal or force entry.
Here is the view from Maplin- click a picture to see it big.

In the last photo the Music Hall is visible on the right. Whereas the other two face different directions down the same street, while dead ahead is the Market Hall and that clock tower that features so prominently in my photos from other rooftops. Somehow I don't seem to have a daytime photo of the tower itself though.

It's a small roof but definitely and while we've dreamed and attempted to venture further down the street, it has yet to be done. But it remains a little treasure for anyone interested in photography or just chilling out above the town.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Shrewsbury Music Hall

Last time I showed you the view from the ugly modern building in the square in Shrewsbury named Princess House. In it was a view of the Shrewsbury Music Hall, wrapped up in cuddly scaffolding. Well now in early 2014 the scaffolding has been taken down, and the building looks awesome, but it was kept covered in scaffolding from as far back as 2008. What were they doing there? Turning it into a museum, apparently, that still has yet to open...

We could see it was covered in scaffolding but typically we did not exploit scaffolding to get to places. At least, not then. Rooftopping was done purely using natural hand holds, and exploring was done with ready available openings. To actually trespass on scaffolding was a whole new direction.
At least it was back then.

The Shrewsbury Music Hall is actually a very interesting building, historically, being one of the last remaining medieval defensive halls in the UK. So I'm going to fill this blog with historical nuggets as well as photos.

 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 or people.
 And on top of that, exploring a construction site was a very stupid thing to do! Click on a picture to see it big, and celebrate our continued existence as we navigated and escaped this death trap.

 A view of the square, and the courthouse (central) and Princess House on the right. In the distance is Halifax, gateway to the rooftop maze.

 A large portion of it is built on the 13th Century remains of the courtyard of William Vaughn's Mansion. In fact, I think the remains of the mansion were amalgamated into the newer construction. The passageway in from the front door is even situated above the actual pathway that led to the original mansion. It was made into the Music Hall in 1835. So it's quite ancient. It is also situated next to a medieval alleyway, or "shut" as they are known. (Someone write in and tell me the difference between a shut and an alleyway).

A view of the clocktower and St Chads Church, also deliciously half-covered in scaffolding.

What is also known is that the old court house, that was also visible from the Princess House shots and central in the square, was allegedly connected underground to the music hall. The Music Hall houses some 18th Century jail cells and these were used to detain prisoners until they were led to the courtroom in the square.

 This was awesome- the roof of the Music Hall was covered in scaffolding all over, making it feel like it was indoors. Part of the fun of repeat visits was seeing how this developed.

Part of the Music Halls transformation into a museum includes restoring old things, such as a roof from the 1600s that was destroyed in a fire in 1917, and a 13th Century archway. It also includes the removing of a 1960s boiler that's considered ugly, proving that Shropshire Council are selective about which aspects of history are worth preserving. Due to the fact that it is an amalgamated building made up of several over some 750 years means that restoration is very complex and they've come across a lot of structural problems, but the awesome thing about the Music Hall is so much of it was blocked off over the years that as they worked on restoring it, they found all kinds of fun new things too.

While we were able to get rooftop photos easily, towering over the Music Hall itself due to the raised scaffolding, getting in was another question. We found the upstairs windows easily openable from the outside and so we explored. We foolishly assumed it would be as easy as past abandoned buildings, but we were wrong.

We got to the main hall, with its awesome red ceiling. Back in the 1960s the Beatles allegedly played here and the room itself was one of Shrewsbury's most popular places to be from 1835 to 2008 (although the original rules said that children under 14, smokers, drunks, spitters, swearers and dirty folk would be removed from the premises).

As we explored this amazing room, I accidentally set off an alarm. And I'll be honest, I froze in my tracks. The shock of the situation erased the instinct to run. I was with two other explorers- one of which I'd never seen move fast in  my whole entire life, and I still didn't get the chance because he was long gone. I didn't even see him leave. My other friend grabbed me, which was nice as I had ventured in further than they had and it would be easy for him to just dive out of the window. My friend and I ended up lying flat on the scaffolding, too late to make it down in time before the security car pulled up.

Amazingly, the security guy who poked around the building never found us. Perhaps he saw our other friend running away and thought he'd just check for damage rather than for extra people. If he did see our friend running, then he's seen something I've never seen. Good for him.

However, the Music Hall was revisited at a later date, when our local newspaper, the Shropshire Star, revealed that the restoration team had recovered the jail cells and also a cold war bunker beneath the building. But by this point my team had spread to the winds, pursuing their own destinies in other parts of the world. I was on my own.

It's so weird to think that these rooms were once lived in and/or partied in by wealthy folks in the past, for surely there's the mansion aspect to consider as well as the bar where the folks would gather during intervals and pre-parties before shows. This was the place to be for all the rich folks. Back in the 1800s it would have looked amazing.

On the return visit this room had changed significantly, but I knew better than to stroll on into it this time.

One oddity was the small room with pictures of fish on the walls.

Alas the stairway above led to the ground floor and that was alarmed. None of the higher floors, just the ground floor. How infuriating. So only the upper floors were explorable and the jail cells and bunker remained elusive.

It was years later that I finally had my chance to get to the jail cells and bunker...