(DISCLAIMER: As an overall nice human being, I do not force entry, vandalize, steal, or disclose means of entry or location if it isn't obvious. I do this to protect locations and respect them. 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 )
Someday most houses will be subjected to adventurers like me, picking
through what was once the human experience. We'll all be plugging our
brains into computers, chasing anything they put in front of us with a
pretty logo on it. And then your world really will be my playground.
Welcome to the internet.
I had the sudden urge to see what that person I barely spoke to in college had eaten for lunch today, so I logged into Facebook. Shortly after I did some sly infiltration of some of those "Keep Britain British" groups, and sure enough, I have tragic news. The rumours are true. There IS a plot to deport ginger people under the bizarre and slightly illogical belief that they're all descended from the rape victims of vikings. And while this is a non-consenting line of descent, these Keep Britain British groups are also mostly pro-rape, so it doesn't matter. In fact the belief that a lot of crimes aren't actually crimes if they happen to anyone other than a white heterosexual hypermasculine male, is the founding logic behind another Keep Britain British plot to invade Australia and liberate the descendants of British convicts who were sent there back in the day, and bring the entire citizenship of Australia home to our much smaller island, which is why it's doubly important that we remove all the immigrants so that the Australians can have all the jobs that these pesky immigrants have somehow managed to steal from us simulateously to claiming our benefits.
I did blow my cover by suggesting that to Keep Britain British, we should really be handing the entire island back to the Celts. I was then banned from the group. Some of them then noticed that I had long hair AND a penis, and started calling me Jesus. But that's okay, just don't ask me to try to juggle.
But onto the real adventure! Recently in Shrewsbury I was rooftopping on Claremont Hill. Thats the street that runs from the market hall up to St Chads Church and the quarry park. As far as rooftopping goes, this was new territory for me. It didn't end there though! As is often the case, abandoned or unused buildings are rarely defended from rooftop intrusion and so when I noticed an upstairs window was left open on a building that was clearly unoccupied, I took a peek and found myself inside the old Pooks building!
The Pooks building was actually difficult to pinpoint from street level because since this letting agent merged with Cooper Green, and consequentially moved properties, the massive ground floor window that used to to display the lettings has since been bricked up and converted into two smaller windows. The only telling sign that this was ever a letting agents is the fact that the brickwork is obviously new. From my vantage point on the rooftops in the night, I had no idea what I was sneaking into. As you can see, the building is attached to every building on the street, which makes for great rooftopping opportunities but it can be tricky to know whose roof I'm on.
The photos came out a bit grainy.
In the background of this picture are the three churches, St Julians, St Alkmunds and St Marys. St Julians was my most recent climb, but I have snuck up the interior of St Alkmunds and climbed up onto the roof of St Marys prior to my blogging days.
This view faces towards the sixth form college, Monty's Tower and waaaaaay in the background is Theatre Severn. I did get to the roof of that once. If anyone who works there reads this and can pull some strings, I'd love to do it again.
This is St Chads church. Of course you know I've been to the top of that. I brag about it daily!
And lastly here's the not-as-popular clocktower, which I've also been on top of. Fun times!
Rooftopping continues to be a growing sport in Shrewsbury, and I've still got mixed feelings on it. However I do get a steady flow of messages saying "I keep looking up to see if I can spot you" and it's kinda nice. When I first started rooftopping, I was quite amazed at how few people did look up. I could see someone I recognised and scream their names from the rooftops to get their attention, and they'd look in every direction possible, except up. Now I'm frequently spotted and waved at, and photographed, every time I do it, even if I'm just eating a sandwich while watching over you ground dwellers. There have been times when people have caught me in the act of climbing and said "Oh it's you. Be careful." People actually send me photos of me that they have taken of me from ground level, and it's pretty cool. Shrewsbury is becoming a town where people do look up, and that's a good thing. Theres loads of cool architecture for them to see.
Upon discovering that it was possible to get into this empty building, I found myself in this cute little attic area with rooms I could barely stand in.
I actually looked at a place like this when I was flat hunting in Shrewsbury all those years ago. I do like the slanted ceiling but I imagine it would be quite problematic for bookshelves. I imagine sofas lining these walls would be quite comfy.
This owl statue is identical to the one on the roof of Theatre Severn.
In the middle of this top floor all the rooms led to a landing and stairs that led deeper into the building. But first, check out the ceiling!
The glass is covered in really intricate details. In the dark, I very nearly missed it.
Moving on downstairs... The architecture of this place is really stunning. And from the street level it looks like just a generic building. It made me wonder the history of this place, because surely it was the home to someone rich long before it became a letting agents. I mean what would a letting agents need all this for?
The floor below did have furniture in it, but all laid around in a random clutter as if it was being prepared to be moved out, or moved in.
I mentioned that Pooks moved from here when it merged with Cooper Green but at the time of exploring I didn't know this, having never had dealings with either company. While the merge happened at some point in the 1990s, this building only ceased being the Pooks building in 2013 and has supposedly sat here empty until now. The new building is pretty much right around the corner. I didn't understand why they hadn't taken all their furniture with them.
There's this really intriguing wall safe, containing two keys.
Things like this always fascinate me, and give the adventure a little more flavour, as if I'm playing a puzzle game and may come across some locked doors later. Does anyone remember those command-based Atari and Amiga games where players were given a description of the area and had to type commands in? It reminds me of those. I had a horror-themed one on my old Atari that had a pesky werewolf in it.
Upon the sight of all this stuff I realised that this building was actually undergoing some kind of restoration.
Places like these, just so you know, are among the most dangerous places to poke around. There may be exposed cables, exposed wires, a complete lack of floorboards, exposed equipment, and other hazzards. After all, there's a reason why the people who are supposed to be here wear protective clothing. I'd be a fool for venturing around these places even if it wasn't pitch black inside. I don't condone it.
Moving on to the lower floor...
Judging by the level of dust on the kitchen stuff, this was used by Pooks staff and not by the builders currently working on the place.
I'm really curious about this peculiar chessboard slab of flooring. I assume that there was once a door here and this floor is the last surviving indicator.
The name on this door indicated that I was about to enter the former office of Pooks big cheese. It was surprisingly well furnished. Had all this really just been left here since 2013?
I have absolutely no idea what this weird box is.
It's pretty shocking. There are thousands of pounds worth of furniture in this one office! Obviously I'm not one for touching anything and I'm only blogging about this location now because a future visit revealed that it was no longer explorable. It was the map that drew my attention.
It's a surprisingly detailed map of Shropshire addressed to Edward, Earl of Powys. I did some research, and there's actually been more than one Earl of Powys called Edward, the first one being born in 1754 and dying in 1839. I was quite surprised to find out he's actually the son of Robert Clive, the man whose statue stands in the square in Shrewsbury.
The second earl of Powys named Edward was the son of the first, born in 1785 and dying in 1848, after being accidentally shot by his own son during a pheasant hunt.
The third Earl of Powys named Edward was the eldest son of the second Edward, being born in 1818 and dying in 1891, living to the age of 72.
This map was created by Robert Baugh in 1808, only a few years after the first Edward became Earl of Powys, so it's likely for him. But during my research of this, I found out that this map is actually pretty famous! In fact its known to be the finest visual record of the industrial revolution in Shropshire. Unfortunately I also found out that this one I photographed is also just a copy and not the original.
Still, attached to the map was a note specifying that it was to go to the Shropshire Archaological team, so while it may not be the original, it's still pretty impressive.
Finally onto the ground floor, where the work being done to the building was obvious. Again, I dont recommend this sort of thing to anyone. I had no idea what was being done to the property, whether it was electrical, structural, or what. And I couldn't exactly assess the situation because it was dark. I'm a terrible role model.
On an architectural level I do love this building though.
I was uncomfortable with this bunch of keys being casually left out. One of them reads "Main Entrance, Cooper Green, Barker Street."
Thats the premises that Pooks has moved to having merged with Cooper Green. And using this key I could have quite easily entered their offices after hours. Very scary.Another reason why I've waited until the building was secure before blogging about it.
The ground floor being bleak, there was one place left to see. The cellar!
As you can see, the stairs were deliciously cluttered, and something of a health and safety nightmare. Not that that's ever stopped me.
Long time readers of the blog will know why I fixate on cellars. It's because of the somewhat common belief that Shrewsbury had interconnected cellars forming tunnels beneath the town back in the day. For what purpose, it's not known. Some of the tunnels that have been proven to exist were for priests to access their local pubs and brothels, so for this reason there tends to be a lot of the remains of tunnels around churches and their neighbouring pubs. Some people also speculate that the tunnels may have been used to evacuation and fortification back when Shrewsbury was a fortress. In my experience, whats left of the tunnels has been built on and reused for various things so often throughout history and due to being out of the public view, lacks any need to look particularly tidy, and therefore often results in a mishmash of different architectural styles. The Castle Street tunnels are a good example of this.
I have to admit I wasn't expecting anything underground to be of interest in this part of Shrewsbury, but I was happily surprised!
The cellar was divided into various rooms, and the construction crew had kindly left the light on for me! At the back of this curiously arched cellar is an obvious attempt at blocking its expansion. Interestingly this would have just expanded under more of the exact same building so I'm curious about why they blocked it off.
Facing the other way, you can see how this arched bit connects to the rest of the cellar through this beautifully ancient door.
Another curiosity is the cobbled floor of this bit. You see, floor cobbles tend to be outdoors. But this isn't the first time I've seen cobbles beneath Shrewsbury. The Crown Inn near the Abbey, which I definitely recommend, also has cobbled flooring in a labyrinthian cellar that almost certainly used to connect to the Abbey.
This doorway was bricked up at a much earlier date, but would run paralel with the arched area.
Behind another ancient door was a simple room. This one actually felt like a cellar in that it had no architectural tidbits that really made me curious.
Loads of keys.
And don't get too excited by this archway. It's directly beneath the fireplace on the ground floor, so was just part of that.
But tunnel enthusiasts out there, by all means get excited by this archway. This room protrudes in the direction of, and beneath, the actual street. If there is anything tunnel related in this cellar, it is behind this brickwork.
And finally, in the part of the building that does protrude beneath the street, there appears to be a very worn down set of steps that get blocked off directly ahead by newer, but still old, brickwork, but there's also a blocked turning on the right that, if you go with tunnel logic, would point up towards St Chads. But the stairs ascend, which is the curious part. It's more indicative of an entrance to the building from the street, a delivery hatch maybe. But that right hand turn there would conceivably continue underground due to the ascension of the sloped street. In fact for a tunnel from this building to lead anywhere at all, there would need to be some form of stairway because all the other buildings in that direction are higher up.
But it is all speculation. I'm no archaologist or architect. I just take the photos and tell you what it looks like to me. It's up to you if you want to trust the opinions of someone crazy enough to sneak into abandoned, derelict, or otherwise unsafe buildings after climbing on their roofs.
It is surprising to see such an expansive cellar under such an unassuming building though.
It is probably worth mentioning that just up the road is a print shop that used to be the Turf Hotel up until 1930. The landlord, in 1936, went on to become the landlord of what is now called The Vaults.
I'm not sure if the presence of a hotel in the vicinity would have anything to do with this, but I do know that a lot of the buildings around St Marys church were connected via the cellars so maybe this is more of the same sort of thing. Going back to the fact that priests and monks would often use underground tunnels to access pubs and brothels from their churches covertly, it's also interesting to note that this cellar is right between what was once the Turf Hotel and what was once Claremont Church.
But it's all speculation.
That's it for the Pooks building. While I am comfortable in my Shrewsbury dwelling, and won't have any dealings with Pooks in the foreseeable future, I'd recommend them for affordability if you are looking for property in Shrewsbury.
Before I conclude, I want to make a little mention of a few other places I've featured here at Shrewsbury From Where You Are Not. Firstly, Pitchford Hall has recently been fixed up and to my knowledge is now being lived in. For me that is excellent news! When I explored that building, I fell in love with it and to know that it's not just being left to rot makes me super happy.
And to my surprise the same can now be said for Calcott Hall. Apparently the inheritors didn't realise that they'd inherited it, and they're allegedly a little bit peeved because if they'd known sooner, it would have been a lot easier given the decay that the building has suffered. It probably would have saved them a lot of pillaging from the urbex community too. At present, Calcott Hall is apparently being cleared out ready to be put up for sale. It will probably cost thousands to fix that place up, but I definitely think it would be worth it if anyone was rich enough and fancied turning the famous "Red dress manor" back into a home. But at least with it becoming off limits, the local urbex community will be forced to add a little variety to their "reports." Although who was the "first" to get there? It sure wasn't me.
And lastly, sad news. One chunk of Brogyntyn Hall, another mansion I love, is facing imminent demolition. I have to say, for the chance to have a mansion that pretty within walking distance of Oswestry, if I had the money and the desire to live in Oswestry, I'd buy the place and stop it. It's amazing!
But thats all I got today. If you like the blog, please follow my Instagram and Twitter too. But as always it's far more important to me that you make each other happy. No number of followers or likes on social media is as valuable as a smile on a face. Compliment strangers, cheer people up, turn someones day around. Bonus points if you get a hug out of it.
Thanks for reading!