Stories tagged with disused

April 2012

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Maximum security
/ Australia
Recently I teamed up with some friends to have a closer look at Melbourne's old Pentridge Prison, once home to the infamous Ned Kelly. Our challenge then was to breach the security of this (admittedly no longer active) prison so that we could see what it was like on the inside.

March 2012

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A day out with the Sydney Cave Clan
/ Australia
Australia, land of the 'urban exploration' expo. Siologen hastily conjured up a plan and fed it into the top-secret Cave Clan expo-organising machine. We would journey southward, hit the coast road and see some sights. Beer, sun and beach-tanned honeys were all but guaranteed.

September 2011

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The German invasion - Part 2
/ Germany, Luxembourg, France
The last stop on the trail was Luxembourg with a night camped out in sleeping bags on a grass verge, much to the amazement of the morning commuters. From down here below the southern tip of Belgium it was a long old way back to Dunkirk, deviating once more only so that Larey could go nuts in the hypermarket. And go nuts he did...

April 2011

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Echoes of a Soviet occupation - Part 3
/ Latvia, Estonia
Plans to stay in Riga had been ditched in favour of putting in a few hundred miles overnight. The Estonian leg was a long one and the only way to get round it all in time to make flights home was to keep going. I don't think there was total agreement in the car about this option, but it was the one chosen nonetheless.
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Echoes of a Soviet occupation - Part 2
/ Latvia
ith the sun going down at the end of our second full day we rolled into Ventspils on the western coast of Latvia. Our encampment for the night would be amongst the smashed remains of gun emplacements, block-houses and bunkers. There's something very satisfying about finding a good spot to bivvy down.
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Echoes of a Soviet occupation - Part 1
/ Latvia, Lithuania
Not a good idea. In Lithuania are many bad people. You have gun?" I laughed - I think we all did. "No. No guns." Was he serious? Apparently so, because when I shot the question back at him he answered by going into the room next door and coming back with a .38. It was loaded, and we were drunk.

February 2011

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BCN
/ Spain
Never let siologen choose your accomodation. What he'll probably do is arrive at the hostel, settle himself into a 6-bed dorm with 5 teenage girls before welcoming you into your room by shoving the door open. The Asian girl inside will almost definitely fly off the handle and proceed to go nuts about the lack of manners.

November 2010

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Taking The Subway - Part 2
/ USA
Despite the fact that we weren't dressed as MTA staff this time it paid to be on our guard, especially when there were active platforms not so far away. It wouldn't surprise me if some of the locked doors on the platform passed directly into maintenance areas still in use.

October 2010

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The Balkans - Part 6
/ Hungary, Slovakia, Austria
This was one built not around known locations and guaranteed photo opportunities but instead just that basic curiosity of wondering what's around the next corner. Each country had been different, both as a nation and as a stage on which to survey some of the lesser-visited parts.
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The Balkans - Part 5
/ Romania, Hungary
By now we were comfortably into our first full day in Romania having arrived the previous evening, checked into a hostel in Bucharest and chalked-up our first Romanian bust. The manhole was wide open, you see, but we never expected there to be anyone down there...
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The Balkans - Part 4
/ Bulgaria, Romania
Disbanding as we did with bags and cameras only seemed to enthrall the residents even more. By now they looked bemused about the whole thing but made no effort to stop us. They re-appeared en force, one presenting us with a mobile phone. Siologen put the phone to his ear to be met with the expected question.
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The Balkans - Part 3
/ Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Bulgaria
Bosnia. If you're old enough to remember the news coverage then the very name is enough to conjure up images of burning buildings and cars, weathered soldiers, UN vehicles and refugees. Indiscreet in our red Seat we passed through the border controls with no issue and continued our course towards Sarajevo.
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The Balkans - Part 1
/ Hungary, Austria, Croatia
Five minutes later an attendant arrived and showed us out to the carpark where a gleaming red Seat was waiting. I'm sure the car cowered away as siologen dumped his trademark blue rucksack into the boot, but it was too bad - bitch was ours now. Forty minutes later blue flashing lights appeared in the rearview mirror...

September 2010

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En el vientre de la bestia
/ Spain
There's an amazing feeling being down in the workings of a hydro plant, knowing that there's all that water potential above your head, held back by a man-made wall and a few valves. And of course, hand controls and levers attached to those valves are always going to provide temptation to mischievous intruders...

August 2010

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Those dark satanic mills
/ England
And there they were, indeed looking dark (at least the windows were) and satanic. Neither myself nor DLB were, however, among them. We were instead being summoned towards a pick-up truck, the driver of which had spotted us as we scampered from one bush to another. For us, the war was over. For the second time.

April 2010

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London to Latvia (and everything in between) - Part 8
/ Belgium
Once more we were shepherded off to the side and instructed to park next to another vehicle. Beside the other car stood two worried looking men, roughly the same age as us. Inside the front of their car several customs guys were busy pulling the centre console apart. Wires and plastic were going everywhere.
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London to Latvia (and everything in between) - Part 6
/ Sweden, Denmark
One dull clunk produced no results, as did the second. The third produced more fascinating results: the fans sparked into life, enveloping me in a cloud of rust. At this point, annoyed and covered in dust, I descended the ladder and barked at siologen to stop messing about. And then he threw the fourth lever...
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London to Latvia (and everything in between) - Part 4
/ Lithuania, Latvia
As we moved through the place we found some recognisable buildings: a vehicle garage (empty), a sports hall with various murals on the walls and in one corner an oily looking substation building was literally wrapped in barbed wire and wooden shuttering. One can only imagine just how nasty it was in there.
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London to Latvia (and everything in between) - Part 2
/ Germany
The first night in the car produced two stiff necks and a bemused stare from an elderly lady hobbling past the car. The windows were misted up and siologen lolled to one side in a grey sleeping bag that generally made him resemble a vast slug. I climbed out of the car, had a stretch and grinned at the old bag.
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London to Latvia (and everything in between) - Part 1
/ Belgium
A good while before I ever took the kind of photos that appear on these pages I spent a lot of time riding various kinds of bicycle in places I shouldnt, which is how I came to feel so comfortable with the idea of trespassing, and the realisation that a good majority of the better places to spend ones time are, officially, off limits.

January 2010

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Completing the square
/ England
Quietly the two of us crept across the open wasteland, not far from a perimeter cast by bright floodlights that had been dotted here and there amongst the weeds and the dirt. Before us shone the bright white stacks of that giant cathedral to British Industry, Battersea Power Station.
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La centrale electrique
/ France
Our particular point of entry into the power station's compound meant clinging to icy barbed wire before dropping down onto smashed concrete and rubble, all the while beneath a battered looking security camera. It was hard to imagine anybody would be watching.

November 2009

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Slaying a black widow
/ England
The inky black of the Medway swirled menacingly. Out there moored in the current was the dark silhouette of an abandoned submarine, listing dangerously to one side. Beyond the vessel the river pushed out to the Thames Estuary and the opportunity for a lonely night upon the waves.

October 2009

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A trip to the seaside
/ USA
Unlike the two rabbits I can see from the window, which stop now and then and look around, we no longer need to live in fear of our lives. And in fact, you and I never did, not like our distant ancestors for whom hunting, gathering and staying alive was a daily operation. But for us with all this time and money on our hands, what are we to do?
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Slinging the Red Hook
/ USA
Many had been there to explore the various floors and loading bays; many had taken photos. Eric though had other ideas for the Red Hook grain terminal, voiced with intermittent laughter as he threw various rope equipment onto his apartment floor. Crucially there was a 200ft rope, a harness, some slings and then ascenders.
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Only in Detroit
/ USA
As I shivered and tried to draw my blanket ever-closer, Shane slept like a baby, nestled in his makeshift incubator. In all fairness he had suggested I move nearer to the center of the room but had neglected to mention the three electric heaters he'd dragged over there and fired up in preparation.
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Paint it black
/ USA
Looking up and around I contemplated the massive open space before me like the cathedral to modern manufacturing that it is. Here within these vast halls Henry Ford conceived the snaking mechanical monster that would shape industrialisation in the 20th Century, radically changing the way of life in the West.
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Welcome to The D
/ USA
In one simple yet alarming movement an arm swooped in through the open window and the keys to the van were gone. The blur of a second officer shot around behind the vehicle, coming to a stop on the other side of the window which for a good few hours now had been my pillow.
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No alarms and no surprises
/ Canada
Opting instead to shove past the barrier at the end of the platform and descend onto the line, we hurriedly completed our manoeuvre and took off down the tunnel, following the shiny rails until they veered off chaotically through complicated pointwork: this was our junction.
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The Canada Malting plant is dead
/ Canada
Standing forlorn on the Toronto Harbourfront, the old Canada Malting silos were no strangers to intruders. For the several decades after they fell into disuse countless people breached the somewhat-fortified exterior. On a bright day in October 2009 a small band of us risked our necks to clamber up and into the remains of its workings.
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Into the belly of the beast
/ Canada
A vertical ladder took me up beneath a hinged steel lid, apparently devoid of locks. Shoulder to the cool metalwork I pushed, swinging the grill upwards and then letting it fall open. Stepping upwards one last time I clambered out of the misty darkness and emerged onto the main turbine hall floor. The method had worked.
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Confluence
/ Canada
Standing near the top of Horseshoe Falls, for the time being just another tourist, I watched the waters never-ending procession with unease. A gigantic cloud of mist and a terrifying persistent rumble completed an experience like no other I can think of, but one that would later that night be completely surpassed.

September 2009

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Through the supply line
/ USA
Through the trees we could see the shape of the High Bridge. This mass of steelwork was built to ferry the old Croton Aqueduct across the river, carrying millions of gallons of water down into Manhattan from the Croton River. Long since disused, we sought a way in to investigate this curiosity.
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The Jet Lab
/ USA
Surrounded by broken fencing and barbed wire, the nature of the enclosure was clear: signs declared it a Restricted Area. And naturally photography was completely forbidden. We picked our bags from their heap on the back seat, said goodbye to Yaggy and dashed for a hole in the fence.
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The rotting carcass of Glenwood Powerplant
/ USA
The years have been anything but kind, and after the salvage of turbines and generators, the shell has been left to the elements. On rainy days water pours in, rotting wood and metalwork alike. The two chimneys stand tall, but for how much longer?
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The audacious City Hall infiltration plot
/ USA
For the hundredth time that night Shane's laughter reverberated across the room. With Johnny Cash thundering from the jukebox as her soundtrack the vivacious barmaid, dressed in questionable attire, shimmied along the bar top in her cowboy boots deftly stepping over glasses and bottles balancing two cans of Coors on her head.
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Things fall apart
/ USA
To enter Yaggy's Eagle River Power Station we had to cross some exposed wasteland watched-over by a man in a portacabin. Once inside all of us relaxed and toured this mighty ruin. Water ingress has hastened it's destruction, with the beautiful roof above the turbine hall on par with those at the grandest of railway stations

August 2009

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Sur la route - Part 4
/ Belgium
On the morning of the last full day in Belgium we awoke on scaffolding attached to a church tower. Daylight had found us and so we reluctantly took this as a cue to get moving. As we climbed down onto the pavement the caretaker turned up and scowled at us but she was too stunned to actually say anything coherent.
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Sur la route - Part 2
/ Belgium
The bus ride from Paris meant that ropes and the necessary kit to rope into a hole as big as this had had to be left behind. And now there was nothing but frustration peering down forlornly at the base of the shaft where unfinished metro tunnels disappeared in two directions.

April 2009

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The abandoned station of Porte Molitor
/ France
Whether the driver had seen any of us or not we weren't sure, but the train was slowing to a halt. Naturally we ran, meeting q-x as the three of us dashed in the direction the train had come from, q-x yelling as we regrouped that he'd seen the driver get out of the cab.
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Reaching Haxo
/ France
Whether they'd seen us or not we weren't going to be reaching the station that night. "Sorry man, just the way it goes with this one..." qx commented as we hurried back along the tunnel. In this fashion Haxo was proving herself, plain in appearance as she was, to be an unrelenting tease.

January 2009

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Robbing the money train (and other short stories) - Part 2
/ France
Yet again moving with all the stealth of a pack of petrified banshee the three of us clanged down the stairs and into the concrete tunnel, passing beneath heavy duty roof supports and alongside various robotically controlled diggers. This side entrance was obviously in its infancy.

December 2008

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Robbing the money train (and other short stories) - Part 1
/ France
Later with cider consumed and bored on a ride all the way to the extremities of the city we decided to open a door we shouldn't have and clamber about on the moving train. Somehow the staff got wind of our activities and at the next station RATP security guards boarded the train.

September 2008

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The Chamber of Horrors
/ Wales
Coming shortly was what the passage is more-or-less famous for: 'the bridges'. And 'bridges' is in inverted commas for the simple reason that most of the 'bridges' aren't really bridges anymore. It's at times like this that you have to keep your brain in gear. If you become lazy, complacent or slack then mistakes will be made.

July 2008

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Paris Souterrain
/ France
The heavy iron door opened silently. Eyes adjusted to the darkness, inevitably the path ahead was downwards by way of ladders. The clunking sound ceased - quantum-x had reached the bottom. Trying not to breath in the sparkling shards of fibreglass that were now airbourne thanks to our disturbance, I followed.
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Standing on the shoulder of a giant
/ England
Pushing the pain in my leg from my head I began working my way upward, shutting out also, as much as I could, the fear. This wasn't like the ladder-climbed chimneys of earlier adventures: here it was faith only in the woven nylon and the aged and weary concrete to which it was attached.

May 2008

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Anarchy at Moss Side
/ England
Despite an assumed 14 years of neglect, the place didn't seem to be doing too badly. The ward blocks looked sinister: barred windows and little observation slots in the doors. Ultimately we gained entry to both floors of both blocks, but that first time was the most exciting, for we had no idea what was to be found inside.

December 2007

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The death of a swan
/ England
The cranes had been condemned to exile, along with the other parts of the Swan Hunter shipyard that hadn't been earmarked for scrap. Ultimately most of the metalwork would end up in India, China or Singapore, but not before being given a late-night winter send-off.

October 2007

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So long, Inverkip!
/ Scotland
Back then in 2007 imminent demolition was speculated and so it was reasoned that any exploration of the plant should be undertaken sooner rather than later. As it happens - and as is so often the way - the fatal blow has only just been dealt, half a decade later.

August 2006

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Nothing lasts but nothing is lost
/ England
It's hard to believe that it's over six years since I first explored the semi-abandoned Tate & Lyle sugar silo, and harder still to think that it's three and a half years since I climbed amongst the debris and severed steelwork to photograph the demolition of the conveyor tower.