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!

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