Saturday, 19 September 2015

Church Stretton ROC

Following the explore of the Nesscliffe ROC post, I became aware of a multitude more in the surrounding area, and set off for the closest one, which was in walking distance but unfortunately padlocked. From an explorers perspective this is infuriating, but from a historian standpoint it's a relief. It means someone still cares for some of these sites. Someone doesn't want them trashed, and therefore they probably are not. And while there is a certain degree of trespass in what I do, I'm exceedingly proud to have gotten "Shrewsbury from where you are not" to a point where I have been able to get permission to see certain things, the view from Shrewsbury Library springing to mind as the most recent. So in spite of the padlocks I am optimistic.

My friend and cohort, the Oswestry Rooftopper, who joined me on my early rooftopping adventures and on the explore of Brogyntyn Hall, has recently informed me that October 3rd 2015 will mark the five year anniversary of our first ever adventure, which was the exploration of the ruined Burger King turned Waitrose, and I do indeed plan on celebrating this somehow. It is, after all, the event that led to the creation of Shrewsbury From Where You Are Not, which will have its two year birthday in January. Meanwhile though, returning to the ROC posts, while I have yet to achieve permission or access to the locked ones, I did indeed find another that was casually left open. This was in the absolutely stunning land of Church Stretton.

*Cue dramatic music*

 (LEGAL DISCLAIMER: As an explorer, I do not force entry, vandalize, steal, or condone the repetition of my actions. Often I will not disclose means of entry or location although in this case it's fairly obvious. Trespass without forced entry is a civil offence rather than a criminal one, which isn't worth acting on unless one causes damage, steals, has ill intent, etc. I simply photograph and leave everything as I find it. I do not condone breaking and entering, and I do not condone what I do. I'm a danger to myself and a terrible role model.)

 As a little piece of exposition, ROC stands for Royal Observer Corps, and the ROC posts are subterranean nuclear monitoring posts. In the 1950s 1,563 of these were built around the UK with the objective of monitoring and recording the details of a nuclear blast, such as the force, proximity, etc. However while the little underground offices were equipped with toilets, beds, and looked very homely in their day, the equipment they used is said to have been so primitive it couldn't even detect radiation from Chernobyl.

The Church Stretton ROC post opened in 1965, closed in 1991, and was one heck of a trek to get to. But the view? That was worth it. Click a picture to see it big.

Isn't that awesome? I think even if the ROC post had been padlocked, it would have been worth the walk just for the view. But lucky for me, the ROC post itself was missing its hatch entirely, and its opening was just a gaping hole.

Here it is, on top of a great big hill, exposed to the elements and therefore undoubtably exposed to a lot more decay than the Nesscliffe post. And if that ladder breaks, that's it, I'm trapped forever. I mean there's no way I'd get a phone signal underground, right? Only a fool would go down there.

Goddamn it.

The ladder was indeed not the sturdiest means of descension I've ever used. It was only connected to the wall at the top, meaning that the rest of it was just hanging there, which made things slightly problematic as I approached the bottom of the ladder, and felt it strain under fourteen stone of gorgeous explorer, gorgeousness that the world would never see again if that upper connection was to snap.

But in spite of this, I stepped relatively safely off the ladder onto a nice solid floor in the pitch black expanse, switched on the torch and surveyed the area. As you can see, it wasn't pretty.

At the bottom of the ladder were bags of cans and food wrappers, as if teenagers had come down here to picnic and had made the effort to clean up after themselves, which is pretty ironic given that this place was beyond help in regards to cleanliness. It seems someone at some point set fire to this place. All the old furnishings were left in a burned out mess, the mangled metal chair legs being some of the only identifiable features.

Some of the wall fixtures and equipment was still around, although I can't identify any of it. But that's not saying much. I couldn't identify any of the things in the Nesscliffe post, and that was all still intact!

The remains of the fire blanket box were on the floor by the door, and in this picture there are actually a few insects in a little cluster, which I didn't notice until after I looked at the photos. I didn't really rummage through the floor wreckage. No doubt I was standing in a whole nest of these bugs.

In spite of the poor condition due to fire damage and being exposed to the elements, there's actually something appealing about artefacts like this, poking around and finding recognisable features amongst the ruins.

The emergency poster was a real treat to find still attached to the wall. How this endured is anyones guess. At the back of the room was the air vent, which was crammed full of rubbish.

And of course, another surviving feature was the toilet, still in better shape than some of the toilets in some Shrewsbury pubs.

As I climbed back out of the ROC post, I felt the ladder tug worryingly under my weight. Someday someone could climb down here and never get out. And to think, it was just left unguarded.

The interior of the tiny place was in complete contrast to the the exterior, which looks like your average stroll up a massive hill to take in a gorgeous view. But in many ways thats why I love it. I love the fact that secrets are everywhere, and many are hiding in plain sight.

If you've never been to Church Stretton, you should. It's probably the most attractive part of Shropshire.  

If you have any information regarding the ROC posts, if you happen to be one of the lucky folk who own any land that has a padlocked one on, and wouldn't mind letting me check it out, or if you just have any information about anything featured on this website ever, please get in touch. You can follow me on Instagram and Twitter, and also add me on Facebook. I'm always up with making new friends and talking, but don't ask me how to get into places, because I ensure my secrecy every time by obtaining head injuries immediately after an adventure. If it wasn't for the photo evidence I wouldn't remember a thing!

But thanks for reading, and remember, the fun is in the explore as much as it is in the discovery itself.

Stay awesome!

Friday, 11 September 2015

Joeys House

I did have a post planned for a brilliant little chunk of Shrewsbury. but it seems to be very exposed at the moment and I'd prefer not to write about it just yet. Instead, we're taking a little excursion today.

You may remember I did a post in Oswestry on Brogyntyn Hall. According to current blog stats it's my third most popular post, and it did get me a lot of attention. One reader and friend contacted me and we discussed a completely alien-to-me opportunity to have my photographs in art galleries, and while I don't want to go into full details now(We'll have more news we progress), one thing was clear- I need more photos from Welsh places.

This might not be so difficult! All I had to do was raise a mighty army of Welshfolk and conquer Shrewsbury!!! And then all my images would be Welsh!
And that's just what I did! Except while I was communicating my diabolical scheme to the Welshfolk in the Welsh language (I'm not fluent but I know enough to incite a war), I forgot to refer to Shrewsbury by its Welsh name, "Amwythig." And because of my blunder, (and possibly because I got them all drunk because that's the easiest way to convince people to go to war for you when you're not a politician) the entire army I raised assumed I was refering to the Shrewsbury that doesn't have a Welsh name, and flew off to conquer Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.

If anyone from Shrewsbury Massachusetts is reading this, I am very, very sorry.

So I fell back on the much more simpler Plan B, which was to nip over the border into Wales and snap a few pictures there.

Now I know this website is called "Shrewsbury from where you are not" and while that is what it literally used to be, I've since made the name inaccurate by frequent trips to the rest of Shropshire, and not to mention Liverpool and Lancashire. I'm a terrible, terrible blogger.
But prior to moving to Shrewsbury in 2010 the majority of my days were spent in Oswestry. Oswestry is so close to the border, you can practically spit at Wales from Oswestry, and vice versa, and I'm sure this happened a lot throughout history. If Wales was chopped off, Oswestry would be a seaside town. So naturally having lived in Oswestry, certain parts of Wales feel like home to me too. But where in Wales was abandoned and photogenic???

Well because people just love what I do, my contact already had a house in mind. And I can't think of a better way to repay my friend for providing me with the means to fuel my addiction of  shamelessly putting my life in danger than by naming the article full of incriminating evidence after him! This is Joeys House!

 (LEGAL DISCLAIMER: As an explorer, I do not force entry, vandalize, steal, or in this case, disclose location. Trespass without forced entry is a civil offence rather than a criminal one, which isn't worth acting on unless one causes damage, steals, has ill intent, etc. I simply photograph and leave everything as I find it. I do not condone breaking and entering, and I do not condone what I do. I'm a danger to myself and a terrible role model.)

 The "Cellar" was the first part I came across, as it was actually accessible from the exterior due to the sloped land that the building was standing on. The overgrown garden was littered with pieces of toilets, and there was a bath in the cellar. So it seemed to me at first that this place had already been emptied out, but having spotted a means of entry I was not about to dismiss this place.

It turns out a surprising amount was left behind. A lot of it was cluttered, but nevertheless what I had found was a typical time capsule house, like Vanity House. However I don't know the history of this place. I don't know why it's abandoned or what happened to the owners.

 I think this little kitchen/dining room area looks like it would have been quite homely. Dishes and cutlery still sat in the draining board, cans still sat on the shelves. If it wasn't for the strange collection of tools on the table there, and all the dirt and decay, it would look almost as if the owners had just nipped out.

Moving on, there were other rooms which were full of clutter, but also gave me the owners name, and numerous clues about his life.

For example, his name was Paul and according to this certificate he was a member of a radio amateur satelite organisation. This may explain all the tools and electronic equipment that cluttered the house.

Paul had a mobility scooter. This indicates he was either old, disabled, playing GTA in Wales, or had a relative who was any of those things. It also indicates that this place was abandoned due to the death of the owners, because these aren't the kind of things you leave behind.

Down by the chair legs are some boxes of Lodosorp. This is a gel that is applied to wounds and ulcers. 

There was a "lounge" area with a locked exit to the side of the house. It had clearly been forced open and suffered repeated attempts to reopen it.

It looks almost like the lounge was being used partially as a kitchen, which might have something to do with Paul or his family members or housemates having difficulty walking. 

At the back of this room was small room with nothing in it but a narrow staircase and a bed.

Wow. What happened here??? It looks like someone set it on fire! This was by far the grimmest room in the house, but purely because my imagination ran rampant with scenarios of an old disabled person being set on fire in their bed. Somehow I doubt that's the case though. But wow.

There was also a downstairs toilet.

In spite of the living arrangements made for someone with a disability, there was still a lot of stuff upstairs and it was a lot more photogenic due to its natural light sources.

At the top of the stairs was a small bathroom.

And there were three bedrooms up here, each still full of posessions.

There's a very interesting note in one bedroom, addressed to Paul, explaining why the note writer cannot go somewhere due to their ties to the local area. Was this an event? A house move? Why are there holes in places? I find this note to Paul very intriguing.

And why is their a toaster in the bedroom???

Interestingly the staircase next to the burnt out bed should be emerging right behind that fireplace. It doesn't. What a curious house. The access point from the stairs must have been blocked off, which would make their presence in that bedroom quite confusing, especially given that it added clutter to a room lived in by someone with mobility issues. The mystery adds up. Maybe my sense of direction was thrown off somehow.

I seriously didn't want to leave this place, and the intrigue hasn't worn off. I'd love to know what happened to this mysterious Paul fellow. The eerie part of time capsule houses is that one is literally stepping in to the remnants of an entire life that is likely no longer with us. One cannot walk through a time capsule house without becoming very aware of their own mortality.

And you know what? Sometimes I don't think that's a bad thing. I mean, I know it sounds morbid and when people say to me "You could die doing what you do," my response of "But I'll die eventually anyway" is usually unpopular. But hear me out.
Awareness of my own mortality has been liberating. I live each day like it's my first, and act like everything I'm experiencing is amazing and new. I'm enjoying life by doing what I want to be doing. The entire world is just one massive playground.

Ah, but playgrounds are for children, right? I don't think so. The reason people say that this eye opening, awareness of mortality is morbid, negative and bad and choose not to think about it is because to accept it means to go against their basic societal indoctrination, that our only motivation should be financial, and that anyone who just wants to have fun needs to grow up. Because to accept death as inevitable means a complete reversal of these priorities, where fun becomes the top priority, and money becomes meaningless.
I mean, we all secretly want fun. But from a very young age we're sucked into this educational system that rather than teach us the values of fun, and other useful things like ethics, morals, law, and things that will benefit our day-to-day lives, it spews us out into the world with this silly belief that our lives will only be given meaning through financial success. The human organism is not designed to sit in a classroom or office and waste our days with inactivity. We're biologically equipped to run and climb and jump, and enjoy the world we're in. Play is natural. All animals do it. Humans are the only animals that say it's childish to do so. And it's a very scary, unnatural subversion of the human animal. And I can't help but wonder if maybe this is the reason why so many people are unhappy, because on some primal level we know that we're not doing what we're supposed to be doing, but we can't see any other option because it's all we know.

Of course, I'm just talking crazy. I'm bonkers. But I'm happy so I guess I'm doing something right. If you're still reading, you can have some lovely links to various social media places where you can follow me. Instagram and Twitter, and also Facebook. Find me, add me, we'll be buddies!

If there's anywhere secret, forgotten, or abandoned that I have no desire to see, it's only because I've already seen it. Thanks for reading. Stay Awesome!