Todays adventure takes place in the wild Shropshire wilderness, where everyones talking about some hot new band called The Beatles, and if you make a telephone call (assuming you can get a signal) they'll burn you for witchcraft.
I didn't have phone signal, or a black cat, broomstick or vagina, but if someone accuses me of witchcraft I'll deny nothing.
But times like this really make me reflect on where the blog was just over a year ago. I used to hop on a train or a bus to the nearest drop off point and then walk to a location praying that my phones battery would be sufficient by the time I got there so that I could take terrible low quality snapshots. And if you know the places I blog about, like Calcott Hall and the Christmas House, and Pitchford, you'll understand why I have the best legs in Shropshire. But now, people often offer to drive me places, and it's pretty awesome. And the blogs popularity spawns from the acquisition of an actual camera, the purchase of which was made by donations to the blog, and has since led to me photographing weddings and in a bizarre twist, nude modeling earlier in the year. None of which would have happened had I not attended a social gathering of bloggers last year and listened to a no-longer stranger named Chelsea and put a donate button on my blog. An idea I have to admit, I didn't think would work and was proven wrong within months. And now look. Sometimes to make things happen, one just needs to take a chance and go with the flow. It's a bizarre journey but a fun one.
On this adventure, I was all set to drag Tree Surgeon out into the Shropshire wilderness based on a tip from someone I met only once. The lead is a so-called "urban explorer." It's a title I personally avoid because far too many "urban explorers" are somewhat unpleasant, and if I'm to choose a term to describe myself, it needs to be one that people can't google and see people bragging about stealing cans of stella from their local spar. Thats bad association, you know. I hate to sound arrogant, but you end up with what you're willing to put up with, and I deserve better association simply because I am not unpleasant company.
But thats not a dig at my lead. He's free to call himself whatever he wants. But he knows what I'm talking about because he's also requested that I'm nice to this place, and keep the location secret. It is one of the most well preserved ROC posts I have ever seen. And I've seen a few now. Tree Surgeon and I did find that really clean one once, but it had been broken into shortly before and it's been sealed up again now. Whereas the ones that remain open to the public, such as Nesscliffe, Church Stretton and Cockshutt, are pretty trashed. This was different. This was still mostly intact. I really don't blame my lead for being cautious with telling me.
I often refer to places that I explore as "Sandcastles" and the ROC posts are an excellent meaning behind the metaphor in their temporariness. Everything is temporary. And once abandoned, its temporariority is only increased. This is the best kept bunker I've found so far, but I bet Church Strettons was beautiful before someone set fire to it. Church Stretton ROC is also another good reason behind why I make fun of the Urbex Community a lot.
To my delight, Tree Surgeons wife, Ms K, offered to drive us out there. Ms K has driven us to various places before but often she's content to sit in the car and wait for us. This bothers me somewhat because I'm uncomfortable with someone doing me a favour at their own expense. Ms K could be staring out at the Shropshire wilderness for anything from thirty minutes to several hours, depending on whether the ROC post was accessible and depending on how much was in it to photograph. Luckily, Tree Surgeon was able to persuade her to come with us, and experience her first abandoned military bunker.
Big ominous hole in the ground. *Cue dramatic music!*
As a little exposition, the term "bunker" is slightly inaccurate with these places, although they were built to serve as mini bunkers if the need arose. In actual fact these were nuclear monitoring posts. During the Cold War, the Royal Observer Corps were given the task of monitoring nuclear blasts. 1,563 subterranean posts were set up across the UK, the majority of which have the same basic layout, consisting of a fifteen foot ladder, a cubicle with a makeshift toilet, and a main room which would have had desks, monitoring equipment, communication equipment to maintain contact with other posts, and bunk beds, so that in the event of a nuclear blast, those stationed here would be safe.
Of course, living in a tiny underground office with two other people during nuclear fallout is hardly idyllic, and the communication equipment was linked to telegraph poles, which obviously would be torn down in a nuclear blast. So there were some flaws there, but this was a time when a lot of people were panicking about nuclear weapons. Unlike today, where we're born in a world knowing that these things exist, there was a time when nuclear weapons were new and the world was wetting its collective knickers. The government had to look like it was doing something, even if the people in the government didn't quite know what to do.
Most of the posts were decommissioned in 1968 but some stayed active as late as 1991. Most of the ones in Shropshire are either locked up tight, demolished or trashed, so this one is a real treat. Of course, it's been several decades since this facility, accessible only by a fifteen foot ladder into the ground, has had any sort of maintenance. Only an idiot would go down it.
Well, why be boring when I can be me?
Let's check this place out!
At the bottom of the ladder there's a drainage grate plus a water pump.
The pump would have removed water to the surface to prevent flooding.
Curiously, the toilet cupboard in this place had been modified in a way that is somewhat unique to this particular post. At least from what I've seen so far! Although I'm a poor judge. There's 1,563 of these things and this is the fifth I've actually been in. But the layout is always the same, so I was expecting the toilet to be in this cupboard. Instead it had been removed and shelves had been put in. Presumably at some point prior to it being decommissioned, its usage changed and it no longer needed toilet facilities. But the best part is this little makeshift lamp thats been added.
The lamp is on a flexible cord that connects to a switch on the doorframe. The flexible cord means it can be adjusted to point into the cupboard or into the main room.It was a nice added touch.
Moving onto the main living quarters, the sign was still on the door.
Beyond the door... Holy Annefrank, this place is great!
Although now that I think about it, it sure is strange that there's an exit sign above the only door in the building.
I mean, did this really need spelling out for someone?
Taking a look at some of the leftovers...
A vintage dustpan. But whats this bundled up white fabric?
It's some kind of hazmat suit! What an awesome find!
An ashtray, still with old fag ash in there. I imagine smoking in such a confined space wouldn't be popular with the non-smokers, and probably not allowed in the facility if it were active today.
Batteries, all of which were coated in dried battery acid, due to it having leaked out ages ago.
This map was pretty awesome. It lists numerous others of places like this in the west midlands, some of which I've been to, some of which I havent and some of which I know to be demolished or sealed.
The beds were no longer here, but the mattresses were. Like the other well-conditioned nuclear monitoring post, these weren't the comfiest of mattresses, but they'd do the trick. It would be possible, and pretty cool, to camp out in one of these outposts.
Unless you've seen The Hole, in which case it would be pretty scary.
And speaking of The Hole, whats with these messages I've been getting saying that I ruined the movie by pointing out that Thora Birch dials 911 even though the film is set in the UK? Movie bloopers are always hilarious.
Very little of the communication equipment remains. I imagine when this place was decommissioned, all of the expensive equipment was removed, but taking things out via a narrow ladder would be tedious business, so people only took what they absolutely had to.
The posts have ceiling vents that were sealable in the event of a nuclear blast. It makes me wonder how survivors of a nuclear blast were meant to breathe down here, but I'm sure they thought that through, right?
An old health and safety notice.
This exact same cupboard design has been in every nuclear monitoring post I've seen so far, except for Church Stretton. Although I'm sure its remains were among the rubble.
On top was a solitary battery that had leaked beautifully all over the leftover paperwork.
The cupboards are usually full of supplies. I imagine back in the day there was food in here too, but all thats left now is toilet paper.
And just in case you were ever curious about wiping your bottom with tracing paper, that pesky government has clearly stamped this as Government Property, so you can't have it.
I think this padlock may have originally been on the cupboard door, since there is a latch for it.
Moving over to the desk, we have three chairs, and loads of paper work! There's still a coat draped over one of the seats too, which is truly creepy.
The book had entries up to 1990 but had last been signed in 2015 by an "urban explorer." Upon inspection I realised that this is the person who told me about this place, and asked me to be nice to it. And because I get a torrent of mail every blog post asking how I get to places, in spite of the disclaimer, I censored their name so that the same doesn't happen to them.
On this desk is this circular thing which is labeled post trangulation calculator. It appears to be a device for measuring the size of a nuclear blast.
I did giggle at the label on the walls filing system labeled "Informal bomb messages."
I mean, in the event of a nuclear strike, one could be forgiven for dispensing with formalities and getting right down to the swearing like a wounded pirate, right?
Here we have cooking instructions and a breakdown of supplies which gives an insight into what it would be like to be stationed here.
This is the toilet, judging by its similarity with designs in other posts. At some point it was moved nto the main room and used as a bin.
And at the back is an openable air vent. It's a standard feature in these places.
These installations are noticable from the surface by their ventilation points, but otherwise they resemble trap doors in the ground, and many, many people probably walk past them all the time and never realise. Indeed, when I do stumble across the ones that are locked up tight, I get really quite sadnened by the knowledge of whats fifteen feet below my feet, closed off from the world.
But nothing is permanent. The photographs I take of any location only capture how it looks after it was last next looted and trashed, and before it happens again. And just as there will be a time when the places I've photographed no longer exist, so too will there be a time when neither do the barriers that stop my adventures in their tracks.
In the meantime, follow me on Instagram and Twitter. And if you can spare the pennies to the blog fund, click the big donate button at the top and enter the number of your choice. All earnings go to keeping the blog going and hopefully getting some better equipment in the future. But don't feel pressured. This is just me trying to get a little extra when I work for barely minimum wage and struggle daily for my dignity. Wealth should be measured in happiness, and believe me, I'm smiling. And so should we all be. Go make someone happy. Turn a day around, compliment a stranger, defrown a miserable git. Bonus points if you get a hug out of it.
Thanks for reading. Stay awesome!