Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Farewell Forlorn Lady

A late tribute to the once pristine beauty of St. Mary's Mental Hospital, Stannington (Gateshead Borough Lunatic Asylum). Now under development, peripheral parts have been torn down, and internal walls exposed to the light for the first time since their windows were boarded up. Most of the original main buildings have grade II listed status, so it can at least be hoped that any development will be at least sympathetic in part to the imposing architecture. When I paid my last visit and last respects back in March, it was to the eerie sound of chainsaws clearing the way. In every other respect though, the cool stillness of the place, the traces of it's history, the unbroken legacy remained the same as they ever were.

For more pictures, see the Flickr set here:
St. Mary's Hospital / Gateshead Borough Asylum, Stannington, Northumberland

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Industrial Decline: Salthouse Mills, Barrow, A Before and After Set

Industrial Decline: Salthouse Mills, Barrow-in-Furness
A 'Before and After' Set (Well, the 'Before' anyway... watch this space)

(For the Flickr set click here)

A look around Barrow's abandoned Salthouse Mills, wondering whether or not their future may be bright and how much resemble it will bear, in years to come, to its former self.

It cuts a lonely and slightly ominous looking figure, even from a sunlit grassy approach.

Although the best view, in my opinion, is the one you get from the train into Barrow station. Although shot with a mobile phone, from a moving train, I think even this picture captures the ghostly eptiness:

The red brick buildings by the docks are a shadow of their former selves, forming only a shell in places, but their chimneys still proudly standing.

Since closing as a paper mill, the buildings have more recently been occupied by auto repair and vehicle dismantlers and the site also encompassed the Roosecote Raceway Stock Car track. Now however, it stands empty, its condition dangerously deteriorating following a series of fires since its abandonment.

Perhaps it will make a grand waterfront appartment building one day? Or perhaps continue its decline into dust. Time will tell.

Thanks and respect are duely paid to the young lad I met down there, who was doing his best to keep an eye on the place, and on satisfying himself I wasn't a reporter even provided an impromptu guided tour.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Swimming Abandoned at Grange-over-Sands

Frozen Water at Grange-Over-Sands' Abandoned Lido
Part of a the Flickr set 'Swimming Abandoned in Grange-Over_Sands'

Some pictures from a badly timed and under-prepared visit to a freezing cold Grange-Over-Sands! (Where swimming has been largely abandoned).

The title shot above is from part of the frozen and abandoned coastal lido.

The site, formerly a filtered sea water outdoor swimming pool or lido, was constructed in 1932, but has been closed since 1993.

Looking down the tracks at Grange.

Formerly a model boat pool, now empty.

The tree-lined approach along the Esplanade towards the old lido.

Left of centre is the derelict entrance building and changing rooms. Far left, against the sea wall is the diving platform, where waves once broke alongside scores of swimmers.

Close up of the remains of two of the diving boards, the water below, partly frozen. A number of these diving boards were removed in stages prior to the pool's closure, for safety reasons.

The Esplanade side of the pool, with depth markings visible.

A view of the diving board and elevated walkway.

The mini pool at the side.

Cold, sad and strewn with debris.

An eerie depth sign still peers up from beneath the freezing waters.

No change.

View across the boating pool to sea.

No time for swimming.

Directly opposite the derelict lido, just across the Esplanade, lies the indoor pool, built to replace it. Located uphill and across the railway track, the award-winning glass-fronted building afforded swimmers a view past the old site, right out into Morecambe bay.

Despite prestigious accolades for it's architecture and design, the pool closed in 2006, just three years after opening.

Boarded up and secured with metal sheeting, the abandoned building looms ominously over the crumbling wreck of the lido a few feet below on the seafront.

Both are soon to demolished and redeveloped, hopefully breathing much needed new life into this end of the Esplanade.

Below is an approximation of provisional plans for the future of the site.

Fort Walney Searchlight Emplacement

Fort Walney Searchlight Emplacement
Part of a set uploaded to Flickr by Silver*Rose

Walney Island in Cumbria, the eighth largest island off the English coast, is linked to the mainland of Barrow-in-Furness by a direct road bridge, ‘Jubilee Bridge’. Although both now a part of Cumbria, Barrow-in-Furness and Walney fell within the boundaries of Lancashire until 1974. Although over ten miles long, it is no more than a mile wide at any point across.

Fort Walney dates back to 1880 as a battery post, with costal defences constructed for the Lancashire and Cheshire Royal Garrison Artillery in 1911. The site was later modified for use during the Second World War. Surviving structures include the modified searchlight emplacement, pictured in this set, and the observation tower, last used by the Walney Coastguard. Nearby are air-vents for the subterranean shelters, two pill-boxes and a 29mm 'Blacker Bombard' spigot-mortar post. (For an excellent informative article, see this link to an item by R.W. Barnes

Not far away is Walney airfield. First used as an airship station during the First World War, it opened as an airfield during WWII and left disused for some time thereafter. The air force base gunnery school provided training for RAF personnel until its closure. The airfield now belongs to BAE Systems, current owners of the shipyard, having been acquired by former owners Vickers after several years of closure.

For further detailed information on the airfield’s history see the cumbria industries website.

Other interesting features include the bunker or decoy sites, dotted around the area. Possible Special Fire (SF) or ‘Starfish’ / QL decoys may have been intended to protect the nearby docks and shipyard in the event of an aerial attack. A structure at Wylock Marsh is pictured further below and in this set on Flickr.

The title picture in this post (above) shows the approach to the emplacement from the beach below.

Apparently the shape and structure of this searchlight emplacement are more refined than the typical WWII designs, attesting that it is, in fact, a modified structure from the original battery.

Steps lead down into the space you can see in the followinging pictures, with the roof lying to the right.

The sloped roof over the opening, designed to ricochet connecting shells, is one of the identifying features giving away the true vintage of this emplacement.

Above is the position occupied by the lamp and its operators for defensive illumination of target vessels / craft.

Inside the emplacement, besides a welcome relief from the sea gusts, part of the steel door and sliding shuttering remains, and it can be seen where the rheostat and switchgear were attached to the wall. Not in great condition though it has to be said.

Steps from outside the back of the emplacement enter down inside.

The modified WWII bunker above may have been used as a decoy site, in the protection of Barrow's docks and shipyard from potential aerial attack. Suggestions imply this may have been a Special Fire (SF) or 'Starfish' / QL decoy site. Unusually, it appears to have a loophole, suggesting it may have been manned / armed.

The air raid shelter exit from the front. Securely closed.

The entrance pictured in the previous photo can be seen further most in the distance here. In the foreground is the emergency exit.

A very fine gate stands as a reminder of the industry that gave Vickerstown its name.

Monday, 9 March 2009

A Bleak View at Broughton Moor

Broughton Moor
Part of a Flickr set

The tip of a rather vast and bleak iceberg at the former RNAD site at Broughton Moor.

Old Frontiers at Morecambe's Disused Theme Park

On Reflection
Uploaded to Flickr by Silver*Rose

Remains of the log flume ride at the former Frontierland theme park site in Morecambe.

Overgrown and enclosed by trees, the log flume's empty track is slowly reclaimed by nature.

A brightly coloured, tiny, train wreck.

Another toy train, gone off the rails.

Not waving, not drowning. A lonely and folorn minature train, sad and semi-submerged beneath the old log flume ride.