This weekend's explore in my home town. Garnetts Cabinet works, built by the Northern benefactor Robert Garnett in 1906. In its current state the factory has been swallowed up by the growth of the town around it since its doors closed some 40 years ago. Despite having travelled all over the country I've never attempted this place that's effectively on my doorstep, mostly because of its central location but also because it's no secret that the words 'death trap' are an understatement. The place is genuinely falling apart - weather has not been kind to her! The majority of the site is sealed so well that even the owners would have to drill through concrete to get in, but we did get to explore some of the lower sections that could support our weight which is a bonus since its demolition plans have recently been discussed in the local paper. It's Italian designed tower has stood proud above the Warrington skyline for over a century but soon this will all be gone.
This year I've truly hit the ground running with my abandoned project. Some astonishing places visited, and some of my favourite photos yet have come to fruition as a result. A whole bunch of articles & albums will be coming to the site very soon.
Preview 1. The Orphanage:
Situated in north west England, this victorian orphanage is an absolute spectacle. Primarily built as an institute for the 'sick poor', run by the sisters of the diocese it had heavy religious foundations throughout it's service and was most recently used as a hospital and a care home having had numerous new buildings extended within its grounds. My visit marked the 30th anniversary of it's subsequent closure in 1986.
Preview 2. The Infirmary
The colossal campus in west yorkshire. Spanning over ten connected buildings constructed over several eras, the infirmary had so many layers of history hidden within it's walls. Founded in 1831 the original structure included Turkish and Russian medicated baths and even had an electro-medical department. The Infirmary was also approved for the treatment of Veneral Diseases. After relocating to a new hospital, the infirmary buildings were sold to the towns leading college in the late 60's who thoroughly extended upon the existing site and by 1978 there were 8,000 Students in attendance until the college received a grant to relocate to a new £70m waterfront development in 2012. The site they left behind is littered with empty science classrooms and beauty therapy training equipment. One section of the college was even used by Yorkshire police for training and the main building with it's grand sandstone collumns was used to film psychological thriller "Extremis", starring David O’Hara. I was lucky enough to photograph the set that the crew left behind.
These are just a few of the places set to appear on the site - Watch this space!
Since the beginning of the year I have started to venture outwards from my planned trips towards embracing a more spontaneous approach to my abandoned project as another means of viewing our abandoned landscape. My archive displays my milestone explores but sometimes your research will only get you so far, as there are hidden places that people rarely talk about that you might never have noticed before. In my free time I keep my camera with me at all times regardless of my daily routine, and keep an ever-watching eye out for hidden gems of derelict places that hold long forgotten stories. From December through to January, here are just a few of the places I found on my travels:
Cheshire county constabulary, Oakmere UK. Built in 1892. Originally containing a courthouse, police station and rows of cells. Closed down in 1987, it has been derelict longer than I have been alive! Time has taken its toll and there is nothing left inside. Now surrounded by new build properties it serves only as a reminder of the more isolated community that once existed here.
The Great British Red phone box. Disconnected but with the lights still working, these can now only be found littered across rural areas of the country where they were never replaced. Edale, Peak District UK.
The denied treasure that is Boothes farm. A small family of static home dwellers, gypsies, travellers, or scumbags (choose one) moved onto the land of this abandoned farmhouse and made themselves comfortable at some point over the last few years, making this a permanently unlikely explore. Not unless you fancy getting wilfully chased by rottweilers.
An abandoned restaurant lying dormant along the road to Wincham, UK.
Gullivers World theme park, out of season. The old western quarter is due to be replaced and refurbished at some point in the near future, so it is likely to stay looking this way for quite a while now.
Last summer the council gave planning permission for 300 homes to be built on the site of the old Barnes Hospital near Cheadle, Stockport. Another historical site lost and replaced with what now defines our suburban landscape; cheap nasty housing.
A newly derelict chinese restaurant in Northwich, UK. Another business venture fallen victim to financial misfortune.
Warrington transporter bridge, built in 1915 and abandoned since 1964, it is one of only three remaining examples in the UK and was used to carry large loads from the industrial areas on one side of the river Mersey directly onto what was once the railway line on the opposite side heading to Manchester. The bridge is now protected as a 'scheduled ancient monument'.
The Lewis Carroll ward unit. Once holding the authors name dear, the building now joins the rest of Daresbury estate in utter abandonment.
Abandoned government offices. Runcorn, UK. Plans surfaced to convert these buildings into flats after they were emptied almost a decade ago but strong objection from the public followed by detections of ultra high levels of asbestos eventually led to the entire area being locked up and forgotten.
Abandoned sports recreation club, Widnes. Once a common sight among working class communities in the UK.
Abandoned playground behind a closed pub in Nantwich, Cheshire.
Old town Edinburgh. At a glance there doesn't seem to be a single indication of modern society in this photo, and when you look at the numbers it's clear to see why. The capital has a staggering 4500 listed buildings, which makes up more than 25% of the numbers for the entire country. Some of these buildings are more than 400 years old, and are empty but protected for their historical importance.
Lowton farm cottage. The history of this place remains a mystery to me, all that I do know is that it was built in 1920 and was the home of the family who previously owned this land, but it must have been abandoned a long time ago.
The forgotten greenhouses at Walton Hall, England. These Victorian structures were once some of the most grand in the country, but with the hall itself consuming funds in the late 80s the greenhouses were cordened off and locked away and haven't been entered since. What small plants were left there have by now completely taken over. In 2014 the heritage lottery fund finally accepted the ambitious bid to restore them to their original form, and they are now resting on steel supports ready to be taken down and rebuilt one peice at a time. The process will take more than three years to complete.
Fog lying over a derelict graveyard in rural England. The church here burnt down in the late 50's but the rights to burial in the UK lasts for a minimum of 100 years, meaning that nobody can touch the space until the most recent grave reaches that age. The oldest grave I could find was 1792, and the most recent was 1956, therefore it's highly unlikely that any immediate family members still visit this site, but the law is the law! Unfortunately no zombies.
Anfield Road Hotel, a relic of the old Liverpool. The municipal Stanley Park is the only space dividing the two Merseyside stadiums, where buildings like this once thrived on the new revenue the clubs brought to the area. Yet as the sport has evolved, just as with all major cities the area has sacrificed itself to allow the grounds to expand. Rows of houses now owned by Liverpool and Everton fc either lie empty or have been demolished to make room for decades worth of expansion. More than 70% of buildings within a 1 mile radius of the stadiums are now empty, and while some businesses have survived, this hotel, once a luxury home backing on to Stanley park, holds no value in comparison to its size. Only the very cheapest houses sell on the market here now, with the wealth having moved to the further districts of Merseyside where the footballers ironically live.
2015 was probably my busiest ever year in terms of my personal photography; so many places explored yet I wouldn't even say the project is even half way finished. This is going to make one sizeable book when it's done. I keep a daily diary on instagram so have put them all together to make a small preview of some of the places I've documented over the past 12 months.
n. The eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that’s usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet.
Revisiting Daresbury Hall (original gallery: http://www.rikcotterill.com/albums/daresbury-hall/)
In early 2015 I visited Daresbury Hall estate for the first time. Built in 1759 the manor was and still is lying derelict within the Cheshire countryside, and my first encounter with the buildings concentrated mostly on its degraded outbuildings and the state that it was left in following its use as an apocalyptic paint-balling exercise. At the time this was the most striking thing about the estate compared to my other explores.
However, recent events have shaped the site into something quite different altogether. Following my first visit I noticed on numerous occasions a glowing light in the groundskeepers bungalow as I drove past at night. Situated next to the manor, I often wondered why an abandoned estate would still have power and furthermore why anyone would be using it. In April the headlines confirmed my suspicions and a dozen police cars were found at the gates scouring the estate for what became the largest Cannabis seizing operation the town has ever seen. Over 600 plants were being maintained as part of a drug operation worth around £1 million.
Police activity was maintained on the site well into the autumn, and once the site had been reclosed I decided to document how the events had effected the site. The area that I decided to avoid on my list visit was ironically the annexed building that the drugs were being grown in. Hundreds of reflective, high power lighting units hooked up to the power lines. The main area had been locked up by the police but evidence of the dwellers could be found in almost every room. The publicity from the events had also caused more vandalism and changes were easy to notice across the estate. The lease car and garage that feature in my previous gallery had been burnt to the ground, and the swimming pool had been scoured for scrap metal. The manor itself is still intact and it is unlikely that it was compromised as it has been locked up for many years.
The future of Daresbury Hall is still up in the air; every year that passes brings its foundations closer to collapse but it would still be a wonderful sight to see the manor restored to its former glory. Especially given the unfortunate circumstances it has unwillingly endured.
The master bedroom balcony at Winstanley Hall. In 1855 scandal hit the estate when a Mrs Shortrede was found drowned in the courtyard well. It was later discovered that Mr Shortrede had been having an affair, his wife found out and threw herself into the well. Mrs Atherton, Mr Shortrede's extra marital interest, unable to deal with the guilt subsequently hung herself from the balcony of the master bedroom. Mr Shortrede, being unable to cope with the loss of both his women, shot himself in the head whilst sat on the privy. The rest is history, so to speak.
TSS Duke of Lancaster, the railway steamer passenger ship that operated between 1956 and 1979. Now permanently beached on the river Dee near Holywell in North Wales.
The ship has become a canvas for wall art of a different kind. The 'DuDug Collective' are an international group of artists who are part of the small team that fight to keep the ship upright and against the constant efforts to have it dismantled and taken away.
The duke is guarded 24/7, but luckily you can get close enough when the tide goes out to sneak a few shots in before security come running. Once you get chatting to them, however they are more than happy to let you know a bit about the history of the place before reminding you to get on your way.
A market once stood here once a week both on the shop and adjacent to it along the water before the council shut it down due to lack of emergency service routes. Hopefully the Duke will be here for many years to come, and one day they'll let us see inside what is apparently an untouched cabin..
Alan Ginet displays his pride and joy Saturn Jeepney that has travelled all the way from the Phillipines where it was once hand-made and custom built out of aluminium in the decades following the American occupation of the islands after ww2, when the salvaged and imported American parts were used, put together then reinvented as ‘Jeepneys’, and have been iconic symbols of Filipino transport ever since. Alan tells me this is one of the finest remaining original examples from the post war era.
One of the proudest derelict buildings in the country. Built in 1883 the college served the entire North of England and was purposefully situated in Upholland, the geographic centre of the Diocese of Liverpool. Whilst the seminary flourished in the post war era, there was a sharp drop in enrollment due to a rapidly changing social climate towards the end of the century. The vast scale of this 150 acre site meant that financial instability during the 1980s resulted in its closure in 1992 and subsequent deconsecration soon after (removal of religious blessing by a priest).
This is not an easy site to access; full time security, alarm systems and cctv operation make it a somewhat covert exploration but I had a little help from a fellow urbexer and bumped into a few lads on the roof who pointed out where to avoid whilst exploring.
The stained glass windows of the prayer room were the cream of the crop. Very nearly missed this room towards the end of the day as it was one of the last we managed to find and it was in the back of my mind during the whole visit having seen images of it before. It was every bit as beautiful as I had imagined. I must make it one of my goals for the future to witness the sun rising through the glass.
The empty and abandoned main sanctuary hall inside the most important 20th-century synagogue in England and without doubt the finest surviving in Europe dating from the inter-war period.
Constructed in 1936 and used by an active congregation until 2007, it gained its listed status in 1983 however this was upgraded to Grade II status shortly after its closure in 2008 and has been on the ‘at risk’ register since 2010. It is hoped the repairs will secure its long-term future and help find a new use for it however until then the building sits empty in a derelict state.
The art deco design directly reflects Swedish architectural influences, both in the exterior of the building, which is clearly inspired by the late fruition of the Swedish national romantic style, and in its interior, which draws on contemporary Swedish functionalism. In consequence, it stands alone as a synagogue which is really significant in terms of the progressive architecture of its time. Although clearly not ‘international modern’, it was a genuine attempt at a new architecture appropriate for a modern synagogue.
Given its hugely significant representation as a last great cultural expression of European Jewish culture before the holocaust, this is one of the most important cultural grounds I've ever explored and yet it felt almost entirely forgotten among it's surrounding urban landscape. In all honesty I never expected to get inside. Full gallery and interior exploration detail coming soon.
The Grange Lido, built in in 1932, sits on the edge of the Lake District National Park looking over Morecambe Bay. Whilst remaining unknown to most in the modern age, it is one of only 5 or 6 seaside Lidos still surviving. During the mid 20th century, the lidos reflected the importance of fresh air, fitness and mass leisure to the inter-war generation.
Following a decline in domestic holiday-goers in the early 90's, finance troubles hit the Lido hard and it was closed in 1993 and has remained unopened since. However, the preservation of the site thanks to the local borough has kept it nicely intact and hidden from vandals, and It has since been identified as the most important coastal building in the North. The entire site became grade II listed in 2011 as it is the last remaining Art Deco Lido in the North of England.
From a distance, the lido appears to be something similar to a concrete bunker, greeted by the tide before the water sinks away again leaving it stranded on the coastline with nothing but reeds and flat land for miles. The appeal of the location is without doubt as strong as it ever was, but the demand for a british holiday just isn't part of our culture as it once was.. therefore the lido remains a monument for times gone by.
Poolside at an abandoned health club in Merseyside, UK that has fallen into disrepair since the owner was forced to close in January this year when maintenance costs to the roof structure became too high and unsafe for employees and members to use the facility.
The pool has boomed with algae in the summer sun but for the most part everything else appears as though people have simply vanished making it unusually quiet. This place is still a secret so things are still left as they were, a rare thing in this hobby!
I'm not usually one for entering competitions but since it was local to me I thought I'd get some of my photographs out there for people to see at Stockton Heath Architecture photo competition. I won first prize for both the judges competition and the public vote for my photographs of camelot abandoned theme park and the derelict soda ash works in winnington. Thanks to anyone who voted!
Of all the rooms I've ever discovered, this has to be one of the most awe-inspiring. Inside an abandoned manor in rural Wales, 40 years have passed since this family home was properly lived in. Following the death of Mrs Jones, the farmers widow, the house has become a time portal into the 1970s. Whilst it's unlikely this is exactly how the room was left, (other explorers have clearly come and gone) it truly feels as if time has stopped in this room. Here's hoping it stays this way for many more years to come.
The last of us video game title screen. Re-imagined. Abandoned electronic gateway archive building, Stockport UK. Alot of the places I visit remind me of video game sets in apocalyptic scenarios. There's a certain appeal to an unmaintained landscape that's probably why they're so enjoyable to discover amongst all the polished concrete offices and glass shopping centres wherever else we go.
Abandoned car in Bewsey. May 2015. Apparently the Hungarian family in the terraced home opposite got up and left one day leaving all of their possessions behind. Surprisingly nobody has come to claim the vehicle yet the house has been ransacked.