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Monthly Archives: July 2010

I approached with fellow explorer Laura in the pouring rain. “Sure you know where your going?” i anxiously queried. This huge industrial site is amazingly hidden in the woods, much like alot of mental hospitals were. This always adds a great excitement to any explore, seeing the giant blue pipes appear, twisting and winding above your head like flumes. NGTE Pyestock is a dissused turbine testing facility located in Fleet, Hampshire. After 5 visits, in which i have covered just about the whole site, i have to rate it as one of the best indutrial locations i have visited. I fortunately never had to deal with the security apart from being seen at the end of one visit where the gaurd asked us if our pictures were good and let us out the gate! They have gone through a whole range of comical transport methods to try and cover the acres of ground. Ex-Ghurkas on bicycles, pairs on foot, and driving round the site in a 4×4 so fast that you had at least 20 seconds to find a hiding place! On my most recent visit, myself, Daz and Rich heard the screeching of tyres on tarmac and hit the deck. We lay comically in the short grass right next to the path about to be driven on. The 4×4 bombed past completely unaware that Rich had to lie literally atop of me to hide successfully. Limp wrist. Lets take a look at the real meat of the site. The “test cells” where various jets/turbines/engines were played about with by the big kid scientists…

“Cell 4” is the monster… the massive cell where Concord’s engines were once fired up…

“Cell 3” was a smaller more confined test cell. This was also used as the set for scenes in the crap action film “Sahara”…

“Cell 3 West”…

The “Airhouse” is perhaps one of the most atmospheric rooms. This was literally devoted to housing generators for powering the test cells themselves. The first area i visited of the site with Laura when it was raining, very creepy!

“Cells 1 & 2” are more long pipes you can stand in that anything else, but amazing all the same. Ticked these off when visiting in the baking heat with Daz and Rich…

The “Planthouse” is one of my favorites. The main generator station for power to the site…

The power station, with a cool phone, and nature’s new office cubicle…

Finally, the external pictures of the site. I always grabbed these on the way out as hanging about taking pics of the buildings makes you a sitting duck for the security to spot. The pipes curl and twist throughout the whole place. Mini ladders/stairs take you over each one which makes the journey a great big industrial assault course…

A truly mind blowing site in terms of scale, content and fun to explore. I will have fond memories from here… 10/10.

Isleworth, London. The “Golden Mile” stretches for, funnily enough, a mile. Home to mucho industry, this area houses  a rather prominent and proud building, perhaps one of my favorites architecturally; the Gillette Factory. Its been closed a few years now, slowly undergoing development into a proposed hotel complex. The awesome Neon clock burns into the face of the brick tower, the part of this large razor shaped building that represents a handle. Its a chunky, stylish but tasteful thing which despite no longer holding any machinery or interesting artifacts, offers nice roofs, huge atmospheric open floors and the clock tower/turret itself. To appreciate the different aspects of the site, 1 day visit and 1 night visit were required. Having seen only 1 explorer conquer it 2 years ago, i deemed it either too far along the redevelopment proccess, or watertight with security. I was happy to find that it was laughably easy! I visited with Danny and Brad in the day, and at the time new explorer on the scene Gina (a woman shock horror – we all become excited) for the night time expedition.

My section of the building that does it for me is the central roof…

…as you can see there is a sudden contrast between the brick building surrounding it, and the geometric metal prisms. These were meant to represent the blades of a razor according to our good friend and architect Sir Banister F. Fletcher.

Climbing the clock tower takes you through a series of small rooms and stairs, including the clock mechanism room and then the clock turret itself…

The internal situation is to some degree an urbex exception. There is nothing exciting about a room in an abandoned building that is stripped bare. However the sheer size of the empty floor space in this building is incredible, something worth investing a photo or 2 in…

This finally left our day expedition lacking one more section. The actual production centre, a more modern seperate building towards the back of the site. We darted across and with a pull of a metal cover we found ourselves here…

After 2 shots around here, a light turns on behind me. Uh oh. 2 voices from a small room behind. People were coming in! I knew this was unused as all the machinery was removed (the reason for closure was that production moved to Poland) but it still had a live feel to it. i managed to dart round the corner, grab the others and we took refuge in a small closet type space. We returned when the coast was clear, to move upstairs to the canteen. Spotless, and very eerie…

Top exploring, and good work team.

The dark winter of 2010 offered little light in the day. Perfect for scaling towers, old and new – and cranes! There is nothing quite like being far above the bustle of the ‘don on a clear crisp night. The first exprerience for me of exploring construction sites, and its always a more edgy one. You’re fully aware that the rules of tresspass don’t change, but the flickering lights, fresh equipment and odd beep are all constituents of one big nerve pie. the big daddy was , and is (until completion) Heron Tower. Situated next to both the Gherkin and Tower 42, it will is and will be the highest building in London until the Shard comes along. I visited a few times. Once very misty and rainy, another a beautifully crisp and clear but freezing night. Accompanied on this occasion by Edd from Manchester and Urbanity, we attempted the fitness test that is ascending 40+ flights of stairs. Dang… the fry up diet displayed in all its glory right there. With eyes closed, I could have mistaken my adventure for a siberian mountain climb. When open I was met with these sights…

Taking refuge a couple of floors down on my second visit…

The clearer nights exploits…

The stairs…

Inside a floor, construction city…

Later in the month, I met back up with Edd, and we had a new site in mind. This night we spied the Athena tower in Stratford. It had a nice big crane for starters, and in a different area of London for some alternative views. This was a funny one, a week after publishing the photos, a rather popular breast fond tabloid decided to slap one of the shots in a YOUTH VANDALS classic article! £50 compensation later, im smiling.

Athena tower, in all its steel and glass glory…

The crane was first on the list, after searching the freshly fitted apartment rooms inside for the window leading to the crane, we got it. Couple of paranoid scares as light sensors flick on. Shit! PIR? nah says Edd with a cool tone. Phew.

On the way down from the crane, we pass the roof access, lower than the crane, but it would have been rude not to (a common phrase for greedy explorers). see Canary Wharf?…

Finally, me being a dangerous twat. But the Daily Star enjoyed it, so you should as well…

Finally, lets take another trip up high, not as much so as the last 2 monsters, but a different area once again, and equally cracking views. Temple court is a building by St Pauls, under demolition. Around 14 storeys it offers some nice views of the cathedral and surrounding area. The ease of access here has led to it becoming a favorite for picnics and  more relaxed occasions. I visited on a foggy night with my then recently aquainted partner Brad, and by the end of the session there was 8 of us!

View absorption…

Couple of panoramics, my favorite of all photo techniques…

Finally, another develpment just opposite (ish) Temple Court above, is New Court (funny eh?). Myself and my main exploring pal Winch (he’ll be popping up a fair bit, I shall link you to his blog soon) hit this one up with Brad (also shall pop up a fair bit, a far greater writer and documenter than myself, watch out for a link to his blog also). The site itself during our visit wasn’t particularly exciting. There were however a couple of nice big red cranes. I think the fire truck red colour made the kids in us take over. Also i didn’t mention, this was me and Brad’s first crane climb.

Looming above…

I most enjoy the concrete counterweights on the back of tower cranes. I have a belief that everyone has a fear of heights, however some channel that slight fear into adrenalin filled pleasure by forcing themsleves into doing stuff they know is rather dangerous. First thing i did on top?

The panoramic from the same place…

There is a certain element of raw excitement from contruction sites and cranes. They are playgrounds in the true sense, ones where there are no limits, no parents watching out, or soft chippings to cushion your fall. Real cold steel and the wind in your face…

Its passed everyday by hundreds of commuters, its seen in movies, on albums, and is a great symbol of the city of London. But how many sneak in unnoticed, avoid the security patrols, navigate 3 rows of fence and manage to climb all 4 chimneys? Or what about the 2 intact art deco control rooms? Like with all of the best sites in the UK, it warrants many visits. This said, nothing ever quite matches the nerves and adrenalin experienced from the first visit, the looming chimneys before you in the night sky walking from Victoria station.

While architects have squabbled and planning applications failed, Battersea power station has remained in solid ground; a defiant urban monolith thats been chopped up, rained on, snowed on and baked in the sun sinced the 1930’s. It was the second “proper” explore for me (after Spillers mills the same day), and what a way to start! Joining and meeting my now good friends Danny and Alex, we headed for the station at midnight on an August night in 2009. Extremely anxious with the rain beating down, over the fence we popped one after the other. After a gutsy sprint for it, we were in. Since then i have visited a handful of times, and i still plan to see the great place again in the future.

The view from the courtyard. This is currently holding a VIP marquee which spoils the wasteland that was once an internal turbine hall. Hopefully its only temporary…

On B-Side roof, perhaps the best view of the great place…

The control rooms in Battersea are arguably the best bits, and quite interestingly always remain lit. Nobody is really sure why, no tours are open or given at night, and as far as the security are aware, not accessible (cheeky wink). Either way, its very kind of them as it means the urban explorers of this world can take pictures with ease (another cheeky wink?). Control room B…

Control room A is the older and more grand of the 2. This was technically the only control room, as B was the switch room…

Over the course of my visits so far, my cohorts and I have conquered all 4 chimneys. Scaffolding has remained from the roofs of the building on all 4 corners up to the base of each chimneys. The southern chimney on the A side roof has an extra bit of scaff which allows you to go 1/4 of the way up the chimney. Here you can appreciate the age, but also the structural masterpiece that these chimneys are. Its cracked yellowish concrete now, but the stuff was layered all the way up during construction. The chimneys offer a feeling of not only being on top of the city, but one of power and excitement as you can peek down at the oblivious security gaurds doing their hourly rounds (we got pretty good at  monitoring these) A view from one of the B side chimney…

Perhaps the greatest of explores in the UK, Battersea will always be a memorable one; action filled and offering some truly unique sights. I’ll be back!

Hi. Welcome to my blog. My name is Alastair, but due to a decent chunk of my fellow explorer companions sharing the name with me, we call me Gary. A hybrid of this… Garystair.

I am an explorer and photographer of abandoned, derelict, closed and non-public/under contruction urban space and structures. I have only followed this pastime for a bit over a year, which has come and gone quicker than a…insert funny similie here. The year has given me no choice but to persue the hobby to new levels, pushing the limits. Taller skyscrapers, deeper tunnels and further abroad. This does come with its risks, but thats all part of the fun.

I will try and back-date the most memorable and exciting trips in the last year before starting on the latest stuff, so in until then ciao!