Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Parveen Balti

(DISCLAIMER: As an relatively 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 offense 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, and I have extreme flatulence issues.)

At the bottom of Wyle Cop is a restaurant, slowly giving way to nature. The damp has gotten in, it's rotting away, and there's an adorable little tree growing out of the roof.
A glance through the window reveals that everything is as it was, with the tables laid as if it's due to reopen tomorrow. Except it's not. This time capsule has stood silent for roughly a decade, and those doors are locked tight.
Land registry doesn't know who owns it, and even though there's a sign on the side advertising that it's for sale, the company have no record of the premises on their website, and don't seem to know anything about it.

Well, that's just begging for my attention, isn't it? And with the ground floor access points sealed, I had to get creative. In fact I very nearly died, but can that be attributed more to a challenging climb, or to my dyspraxia? I'll never know. Some would say I probably have the most inappropriate hobby for someone with dyspraxia, but who cares? I was never one to settle for what I got. What is life if one doesn't reach beyond their grasp? I feel this terrifying sense that the human races leisure activities are becoming just as autonomous as our work life, and I'm very lucky to have a life where that isn't the case. So yeah, I got in, eventually.
Welcome to the itch that's long overdue a scratch, Parveen Fucking Balti.


This place was already closed when I moved to Shrewsbury and started my rooftop galivanting in 2010, so I have no personal knowledge of this place to go by. However, thanks to the wonders of the internet, I was able to research this place using the very awesome ability to simply go into Facebook groups and ask about it. That's one of the things I love about the internet- Information is right at everyones fingertips. There's no excuse for ignorance anymore. If we don't know something, we can find it.

My research into this place is hindered somewhat by the fact that a lot of people I spoke to about it confused it with another Indian restaurant on the same street, and my map of 1880s Shrewsbury cuts off at the bottom of Dogpole, so unfortunately I cannot trace the history of this place too far back. However, it's said to have been a bakery in the 1950s, and a Cafe called Rendezvous in the 1960s.


As you can see, I snuck in at night, and was instantly reminded of the Abbey Forgate Brothel, as I found myself in the dark, with a bunch of roosting pigeons, disturbed by my presence. Unlike the brothel, they were able to escape and didn't just flap around the same confined space, so I didn't have to deal with them for very long.


People have informed me that this place was an Indian restaurant as far back as the 1970s, when it was called the Taj Mahal.
Accounts on when it closed vary from mid 1990s to as late as 2008, but this discrepancy is perhaps due to the fact that it once closed temporarily for a refurb, only to reopen. Although some people say it closed for the refurb, and then nothing happened, and it's just been left like this ever since. However, the last planning application prior to closing was in 1999, which would suggest that this was the period in which is was refurbished. I'm inclined to think it was open for some time after that though.


As for the reasons behind the places closure, it was allegedly due to health and safety concerns regarding the food. Now in cases like this, rumours often become exagerated, so how much of this is true, I don't know. But rumour has it, numerous cats went missing around Shrewsbury, only to be found in the back of the Parveen, allegedly alongside a dead swan, and some dogs.
Personally, I'm rather curious about what swan tastes like, and if there's any truth to this place serving swan, then hats off to them for being able to catch one! Those things are vicious! I'd rather watch Fifty Shades of Gray than fight a swan, and that's saying something because I'd rather catch Syphilis than watch Fifty Shades of Gray.

Interestingly, up until 1998, killing or hurting a swan was considered Treason under British law. I find this peculiar, especially if one compares it to laws regarding humans. Up until the 1980s, it was still considered a mental illness if one was homosexual. Less than fifty years ago, a goddamn swan was treated with more respect than a gay person. What a country I live in. 

But allegedly such stories of unconventional meat products being used date back to the Parveens days as the Taj Mahal, with a delivery person even claiming that there were animals he didn't even recognise strung up out back.


Look at this place! All the tables are still laid out.



 Check out behind the bar! Everythings still here!


 So yeah, regarding the food complaints, former customers at the Parveen have made numerous complaints of food poisoning, and its reputation earned it the somewhat unflattering nickname "The Rat Trap."

However, it's not all negativity. A lot of people said that they enjoyed the food here, and I think it's important to note that there were loads of people who lamented its closure. Parveen also rather curiously allowed people to bring their own alcohol, and this often made it a hang out spot for underage kids who couldn't get served at the bar. They'd get alcohol some other way, as kids will always do, and they came here to drink socially.




 The menu is still here to check out, years later, although I only got unfocused shots of it because I was stupid and didn't check my camera screen before moving on.


Regardless of whether the stories regarding the cats, dogs, and swans are true, I was able to ascertain that there genuinely were health and safety issues regarding the kitchen, and possibly also a court case. Allegedly this caused it to close and reopen a lot over the years, with the Parveen being only its more recent, and seemingly final, incarnation. Whatever precise reasons caused the closure, we can only speculate. Personally I'm reluctant to believe the stories about the cats and dogs, because that sort of rumour has been said about just about every eatery in Shrewsbury with foreign owners, and if they were all true, there would be no cats left in Shrewsbury.
I mean sure, some countries have different delecacies to Britain, but that doesn't make them all petnappers, does it?



 Through this archway is the kitchen. Rumours aside, I'm mindboggled by the immaculate layout, disrupted only by time and natural decay. I'm likely not the first to find my way in, but it's still largely undisturbed, not looted, not trashed, not yet urinated on by urban explorers. It's very rare to get something like this. Most of my undisturbed and unvandalised finds tend to be below ground.


The kitchen is messier, and significantly dirtier, but still nothing that a little TLC couldn't fix.




These dishes are comparatively immaculate, as if they were washed up on the last day, stacked here, and left.


Okay, so this bit might need a little more than some TLC.


I wish I'd stopped to get a better photo of this text, but I think the language here is Urdu or Sindhi. I am quite happy to be corrected though, so if anyone knows differently, do let me know. Linguistically, I know enough Welsh to tell someone that I dislike them, and why. I could maybe do okay in France and Germany, and maybe Russia, and I'm familiar enough with the American vernacular to know not to tell them that I'm going out to smoke a fag. But stuff like Urdu is a little outside my knowledge.


The calendar gives us an accurate idea of when the place was last open. It's on July and August, 2008.


Moving upstairs, I found more tables all laid out. Now allegedly there was an all-you-can-eat buffet up here, which people have described as okay, but not great.






Upstairs is more of the same. Each table is laid out, as if ready to reopen in the morning.


I guess that table in the middle there was once for people to get their dishes and cutlery for their buffet, but since this places closure predates me living in Shrewsbury, I honestly don't know.





Behind the bar were numerous glasses, all waiting for an influx of customers that weren't coming.



 This would have been the area where one would get all their food from the buffet.



I guess this lift was used to transport the food from the kitchen to the buffet area to be served up.

Beyond this point were the toilets, and they were oddly clean. I guess this is what happens when a place hasn't had a steady stream of trespassers yet.




There's absolutely no vandalism, no graffiti, no smashed porcelain, no unflushed faeces. There's an ongoing joke on this blog that I make every time I find a disgusting abandoned toilet, and that's that it's still in better condition than some of the toilets in pubs and clubs. But that's not a joke here! These toilets actually are cleaner than most toilets in some pubs and clubs.


 The ladies toilets are pink, and they also seem to have a massive damp problem. Look at that all up the cubicle doors! This ones also lacking a seat, but the way that it's propped up against the cubicle wall would indicate that it was placed there due to requiring maintenance rather than being damaged in an act of vandalism post-closure. But going by the damp here, one can tell that this is the part of the building sucumbing to nature the most, rotting away slowly. It will require some work if the place ever reopens.



I guess one could argue that having the ladies toilets be pink is kinda sexist, but Transformers has taught me that pastel pink is totally redeemable! It seemed to be a move they made to make the pink fembots less sexist, by pointing out that these blood-thirsty warriors are the colour of energon, which is Transformer fuel, and the equivalent of their blood. I guess that was the 21st Century way of making female characters from the 1980s cartoon seem more fearsome. But let's be honest, we'd all laugh if Megatron was pink...
But what the Anne Frank am I even on about? These toilets would be considered morbidly badass on Cybertron? My ability to digress into the realms of pointlessness shocks me sometimes.

That's all from the once publically accessible portion of Parveen Balti. There are still rooms upstairs, similarly abandoned. However, before we venture beyond the nostalgia portion of the blog, there's a final part to the story of Parveen Balti, and that's a planning application put through in 2017. It was proposing that a cash machine be installed in the front of the Parveen Balti to give some life to the old building and also because this end of town could do with one.
However, this development was denied, because it could impair any future considerations by people wanting to buy the place, by making the building less attractive. It seems as though finding a use for the entire building was of greater priority, and the introduction of a cash machine wouldn't do that. However, nobody else is doing that either. It was also said that the cash machine wouldn't look right among the older buildings, which are considered a heritage conservation area. The historically protected parts of Shrewsbury have all kinds of red tape, apparently.

Now onto the final floor!


 This is where things get even weirder. I can understand a restaurant being abandoned, but it seemed that those who ran the place were living above it, and they have just abandoned their home. Now, it needs to be stated that I take trespass into abandoned homes very seriously. This could be all that remains of someones entire life, and it's important to respect it.


 However, while this place is clearly intended to be a two-bedroom flat, the lounge, which connects to the kitchen/dining area has a bed in it, which is peculiar. It makes for inconvenient living, if anything.


However, the fact that the hallway appears to be used as some kind of waiting area was pretty mysterious, and made my filthy mind jump to Brothel.
But I did ask around if anyone knew of any brothels above the Parveen, and everyone just assumed I was getting it confused with the one in Abbey Forgate, so I'm probably wrong.


 This would have been intended to be a lounge, as is indicated by the fact that it leads on into the kitchen, but as you can see, it's been used as a bedroom.
I'm just going to assume that the family that lived here, and ran Parveen Balti, was too large for the flat.


 There are still items of clothing up here.




 The kitchen was tiny, with a small table in the corner, which was presumably the dining area.


 The chairs up here are the same chairs from the restaurant portion of the building.



Onto the bedrooms...


 The bed isn't made but there's still bedding here. The headboard of the bed is made out of another bed.


 And in the same room there's another single mattress propped up against the wall. So I assume that two people occupied this room.


 Lots of cassettes.


Onto the final bedroom, which was shockingly more decayed than the rest of the flat.


 Damps gotten in, there's mold growing in places, and the curtain rail has collapsed, but I have reason to believe that this is where the Big Cheese of Parveen Balti lived.



 This book, dated 2004, seems to have been used for business purposes, but what really confuses me is that it spells the name of the restaurant differently to the sign at the front of the building.


 Perveen, not Parveen. What's going on? Were they trying to appeal to the locals by referencing the Shrewsbury / Shrowsbury thing? (For non-locals reading this, the correct pronounciation of Shrewsbury has been passionately debated by the locals for decades, something to do with the vowels in Olde English being interchangeable. It's very silly, and hilarious.)


 The same spelling is used here too, on an old pamphlet. They refer to it as Perveen Balti, rather than Parveen. I thought for a moment that all this time I'd been reading the sign wrong outside, but when I double checked, it was still Parveen. So whats going on?
Was one of the names just a spelling mistake that didn't get noticed?

I ran a quick Google search of the two individual names, Perveen and Parveen, and I discovered that Perveen is a girls name, meaning "Name of the stars."
Parveen is, according to the internet, a unisex variant of the same name. So essentially, it's the same word no matter how it's spelled. Why the sign displays the unisex variant could well be a business decision, caused by setting up a business in England, where "perv" makes people think of the word "pervert." Rather than subject themselves to rude nicknames, a simple change of vowels saved the day.

 It was then nicknamed the Rat Trap, and people still question the meat that was being served here, so it was a nice try, but futile.



 I guess the TV is indicative that the person who lived here primarily watched it in his bedroom rather than the lounge, what with there being a bed in there.



There's a prayer time table on the wall, which I'm quite surprised to see has been left behind. If someone is so devoted to their religion that they actually have a prayer timetable, then this sort of thing must mean a lot to them. The timetable is dated July 2008, just like the calendar downstairs. There's a spider corpse hanging at Wednesday the 9th, at 6:54pm.

The names of the prayers in the vertical columns would suggest that this person was a Muslim, but I don't know much beyond that.


 One final room remains at the back of the building. There's a stack of spare chairs here, and then we have the weirdly immaculate bathroom.



And that's it for Parveen Balti. Or Perveen Balti... whatever you want to call it. Will debate over the correct spelling dither on for centuries, like the pronounciation of Shrewsbury / Shrowsbury?
Probably not.
In all honesty, Parveen Balti seems to have been forgotten about. The former owners, wherever they are, make no effort to slow or halt its slow deterioration, and the fact that it's in a heritage conservation zone has denied it the minor use of providing a cash machine for the townsfolk. Currently there are roadworks on this street, and to make sure the street isn't an eyesore, the council have decorated the road works with giant zoo animals, as you do, and they're a massive hit with the locals. Social media is full of people getting their pictures taken there, and as such the street has a lot of attention right now, with Parveen Balti protruding from it like a gangrenous leg. 

Whoever sets up business in the building next will already have to splash out on restoration and the longer it takes to find a new occupant, the worse it will get.

But that's all I have for today. As always, follow me on Instagram, Twitter and like my Facebook page, and share the blog post wherever you want.
And as always, just try to be there for each other. The recent shooting in America is another reminder than we never know if the time spent with people we care about might be our last, so be good to each other. And because I'm passionate about mental health, if someone is alone, be there for them too. You might save someones life.

Anyway that's all I got.
Thanks for reading!

9 comments:

  1. Well darn jealous . I’d of loved a nose round here. Fabulous to see. Love it ⭐️⭐️⭐️

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  2. Fascinating! Thanks for sharing.

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  3. A cracking blog !!! Love it keep them coming.

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  4. Remember going to the Parveen mid 2000's,the food was not the best! Good read though, wonder what happened to them?

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  5. Genuinely fascinating thanks, your like homes under the hammer but less cheesy and better production values. Great read I remember the place well

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  6. Ate there many times when it was open and really enjoyed the food too, the buffet was really cheap and convenient if you fancied eating out but didn’t want to spend a lot. I’m a bit young to remember the Taj Mahal clearly but I remember seeing it and heard some stories about it from some friends who are a generation above me.

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  7. This Indian restaurant was formally called the Taj Mahal in the 1980's
    The waiter's were lovely people I knew their name's (once upon a time).

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  8. I LIVE IN SHREWSBURY AND USED THIS RESTAURANT THEN CALLED THE.. Taj Mahal.. REGULARLY BACK IN THE 70..ES AND 80..ES BACK THEN THE OWNER WAS A FRIEND OF MINE HIS NAME IS ASSAD KHAN HE LIVES IN BIRMINGHAM WITH HIS FAMILY HE TRAVELED DAILY TO SHREWSBURY... HE DIDN'T LIVE AT THE TOP OF THE RESTAURANT SOME OF HIS STAFF LIVED THERE THEY WAS A NIGHT CLUB DIRECTLY OPPOSITE CALLED THE CASCADE CLUB..NOW STAN JONES BICYCLE SHOP...THE CASCADE SHUT AT THE END OF THE SEVENTIES...I THINK 78 79...THE RESTAURANT WAS STILL GOING INTO THE 80..AND 90..ES...WERE IS MR ASSAD KHAN NOW...PROB STILL IN BIRMINGHAM...I THINK HE SOLD THE BUSINESS THE NEW OWNER JUST LEFT IT..TO RUN DOWN PROBABLY HAD MONEY PROBLEMS AS WE SUDDENLY HAD LOTS OF INDIAN RESTAURANTS OPENING ALL OVER SHREWSBURY...AND BUSINESS FOR HIM WENT DOWN...

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