Thursday, 18 September 2014

A holiday in Liverpool

Today I'll be blogging about some exploring I've done further away from Shropshire. That's not to say Shrewsbury doesn't have some juicy secrets yet to be revealed! My partner and I just went on holiday in July and took my hobby with us. So I'd like to take a moment to talk about that- the views on this blog and the publicity I've been receiving have been very uplifting.
Yesterday I was approached by a chap who knew me by reputation and doing what I do, and expressed his own keen desire to dig into Shrewsbury's secrets. It was fascinating. Through him I also learned of another Shrewsbury rooftopper, calling himself Ninja. Ninja was known to my contact via a friend of his who worked at the hospital who was apparently always patching up "Ninja" after his accidents while rooftopping.

Now I'm not going to assume I'm the first to do what I do. That would be arrogant.  But if I have inspired anyone then my words still stand- be careful. I'm by no means an ideal role model. I could have died numerous times through my own silly antics. Sure, I'll continue those silly antics, but this just furthers the point that I am an insufficient role model.

And with that out of the way, let's look at my holiday in Liverpool! Click pictures to see them big.

For those of you who don't know, Liverpool is the location of a magnificent bombed-out church. It was built between 1811 and 1832 and is actually officially named St Luke's Church, but in 1941 it was bombed by the Germans and remains a hollowed out shell better known as the Bombed Out Church.
I must admit, I didn't even know it was there. It was simply on the route from the place we were staying and the city center. But a quick glance at the church instantly put it on my list of things to do. From the outside it seems to be a hollowed out church overgrown with plant life.

And I spent a ridiculous amount of time scouting the exterior to find a way inside only to learn that it was having an open day. I'm not one for using legitimate means to get to places but there was still opportunity to be naughty... but we'll get to that!

Armed with my partners camera, I ventured in...

It's strange to think that what now looks more like a well maintained walled-off garden was once a place to worship, filled frequently with people for over a century. It seems remarkable that the walls would survive while the blitz hollowed out the building.

Not content with seeing only the parts open to public, I spoke to the man at the door and asked to see the tower. He was not swaying on that- the tower was unsafe. Now that is understandable! However I saw another door with some stairs leading downward. That wasn't open to the public either, he told me. But I'm an explorer, I explained to him. I'm beyond familiar with health and safety violations, trained in emergency first aid, and look at this- I can wear a hard hat if you want!

And my persuasive words earned us a trip down under the church. It was very exciting. I'd never been in a church crypt before. It was a lovely little tunnel system connecting rooms- one of which was slept in my monks a century ago! How fascinating.

I often find myself looking at walls and seeing bricked up archways that hint at a deeper complex at one point, now lost forever.

The underground bit was very cool and emerged at last in a secret room, removed from the rest of the bombed out church. There we saw the last window that the building had to offer- the only piece of glass in the building to survive the second world war!

This room was very intriguing, showing archways in the tower that indicated that the upper levels were still present, just unsafe. But I was still happy with what we had seen.

And that concludes the Bombed Out Church.

We also went legitimately to the top of Liverpool Cathedral, and while going up there really has nothing to do with urban exploring, the view was still amazing, and we had some magnificent photos of the tower interior, in particular a look down at the massive cathedrals bell from one of their epic walkways that lead up the side of the tower walls. Look at the picture below, and notice the door in the corner, for an idea of scale. This building is gigantic.

Special thanks to my partner for letting me borrow her camera and joining me on yet another epic adventure.

Next time we'll be back in Shrewsbury, and we have something brilliant.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Under Shrewsbury

The subject of underground secrets has been popping up since my blogs about Burger King and Barclays, finally reaching conclusive evidence when I got under Castle Street and discovered that the library, Castle and train station were once connected.

Since then I'd been researching, which generally involved a lot of scribbling on maps, noting down openings to tunnels that I actually knew to be true, and those which were just rumoured.
The sad thing about many confirmed underground tunnels is often one can see them but not access them. Like these interesting tidbits that I can see and photograph but not get to-

Interestingly I found that when mapped out, it was easy to dismiss the right tunnels as rumours. For example, a tunnel from the bottom of Pride Hill to the Abbey would have to be huge, traveling under buildings and a river.
However, a lot of rumours correspond with confirmed access points. For example, one rumoured tunnel might point in the direction of the opening of a tunnel I can see but not get to, therefore hinting at a connection.

During this investigation I found that business owners are delighted when I take an interest in the history of their property, and have been very helpful, so thank you Shrewsbury.

But it was by following hearsay and rumour that I found a real treasure. An actual tunnel that began on one of the outer parts of the town center and made its way in, gradually, separated by small room -like segments, but no means of accessing higher ground. This wasn't a cellar, this was a real subterranean, corresponding with rumour, and definitely has a mysterious past.
Let's take a look...

Note- I do not force entry, steal, vandalise, explore residential properties or disclose locations.
Click a picture to see it big.

Keep in mind that this was entirely pitch black. The lights on our cameras were the only means of knowing where we were going and some details weren't seen until after we'd left. The picture below shows us a great example of the tunnel and secrets I missed- a sharp downwards slope that went down and down, deep below Shrewsbury before turning sharply into the flat tunnel. There's a small square panel on the floor that I missed entirely. Was there another level to this? It certainly deserves a return look.

 The first room had a doorway and brick walls, with numerous pipes and stuff around the ceiling. The door was ajar, so easily openable, and leading to a long passageway.

 On the right is an old ceiling window that would once have let light into this dismal area. It was blocked off though, and I have no idea where it would have once come up. Presumably one of Shrewsburys lost alleyways.

As you can see, there are more archways than doors. Highly indicative of freedom of passage at some point, and the drainpipes around gave it a very "alleyway" vibe, rather than a cellar.

 The second room was the oddest. It seemed to have been decorated like an ordinary room, once long ago. Although keep in mind, this didn't connect to any of the buildings it was beneath, and the length of the tunnel made me believe me might well be under a street by this point.

Among its curiousities was the wallpaper, definitely child-like. Too far away from Pride Hill to be part of the underground nursery there. It was very old and worn wallpaper and the floor had some sand, oddly enough.

But the best part of this deep subterranean room was a Victorian cash register! Just look at this marvelous antique casually abandoned and covered in dust, left alone in the room. My strict policy of not disturbing what I find is what keeps me from disclosing the location of this tunnel. I'd feel awful if this was stolen and plonked on Ebay.

Also present were some strange little hooks on one high up pipe, and an imprint in the wall that indicates that something was once standing against it, like a bookcase or something?

This shadow on one wall of this room is again indicative that something was once there.

But once we started looking, we found this sort of thing everywhere. What had once been here???

Look at this old fashioned light switch- Evidently it was all wired up at some point.

The tunnel came to a dead end, but passing noises above us indicated that we were under the street above, which means it must have emerged in the building across the street- a big modern monstrosity which couldn't possibly still connect to an old tunnel of possible Victorian origin, right?
And so the secrets of this tunnels history are lost behind this brick wall.

A disappointing ending? Not at all! Tunnels do exist beneath Shrewsbury. These things are the stuff of local legend, and I have found them.

Surely there are more...