Urbex: RNTR Arrochar

History, Uncategorized

RNTR Arroachar was a torpedo testing centre opened in 1912 with the bulk of its activity occurring during WWII when approximately 12,565 torpedoes were launched into loch long.

Arrochar torpedo base

The centre did not test ‘live’ rounds and was used solely to test the range of torpedos. Seven recovery boats were in action each day to recover the torpedos launched into the loch. Working torpedos were then transported to RNAD Coulport for war heading.

Arrochar torpedo base

Arrochar torpedo base

Submarines would often be pulled up alongside the jetty to conduct Discharge Weapon System Trials. RNTR Arroachar supplied torpedos required for the Submarine Commanders’ Course, on these days over 40 torpedos would be fired into the loch.

Arrochar torpedo base

For more history and some great archive photos see here.

Want more urbex – see my adventures in Urbex: AEI Cable Works.

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Adventures in Ukraine: Pripyat.

History, landscape, Ruins, Travel, urbex

Pripyat was home to around 50,000 residents when the Chernobyl reactor exploded on the 26 April 1986 causing radiation levels in the town to skyrocket to 200,000 times normal. The evacuation order wasn’t given until 14:00 on 27 April 1986 leaving the residents exposed to deadly levels of radiation. Told to pack for 3 days the residents had no idea they would never be returning….

What is now left of the town is an urban exploration dream; a whole town abandoned and left to rot. All that is needed is a permit from the Ukrainian government and you’re in. Current day radiation levels are fairly safe in most parts of the town not exposing you to any higher levels of radiation than you would receive on a transatlantic flight.

I spent two days on a guided tour where we were shown the highlights and given freedom to explore all sorts of parts of the town.

We weren’t officially supposed to be up here; a 15 minute pit stop gave us enough time to sprint to the roof of the hotel in Pripyat town square.

Hotel

Pripyat town square

The boatyardJunk boatyard

The funfare
Fun at the fare!

Vehicle junkyard

School bus

Fire truck

The recreation centre; amazingly the stained glass hasn’t been broken.Recreation centre

Recreation centre

The hospital waiting room.The hospital waiting room.

Time to take your seat..Take you seat...

Out of tune.A little out of tune.

Conference centreConference Centre

One of many abandoned apartment blocks. These places have been totally looted. Its crazy considering the amount of possessions that would have been left behind after being told you were only going to be gone 3 days

Abandoned soviet aparment

View over Pripyat to Chernobyl

View to Chernobyl

Public Swimming poolThe council need to clean this up...

Schools out for…..ever!

Schools out for...winter..

Time for sports.Gym practice

Cooling tower.Eye in the sky

Adventures in Ukraine: Duga-3 Radar

History, Ruins, Travel, urbex

The Duga-3 radar is found within the 30km exclusion zone surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Originally the first functional Soviet over-the-horizon radar in operation from 1976 to 1989. This radar array was used as an early warning network to alert the Soviets if the USA where to launch ballistic missiles against them.

Duga-3 Radar

 

Unlike a traditional radar which uses microwaves and can only see to the horizon c8 miles an over-the-horizon radar uses shortwave systems that reflect their signals off the ionosphere for very long-range detection. The Duga-3 was apparently able to cover distances as far as the central states of the US.

 

Duga-3 Radar

The signal was so strong it interrupted commercial signals as far as Europe causing issues with radios and televisions!

 

 

Adventures in Ukraine: Odessa Catacombs

History, Ruins, Travel, urbex

Have you ever been somewhere and had the realisation that this could be the end? That current events could be the most dangerous and idiotic thing you have ever done? Welcome to Odessa Catacombs.

We set off at 8am meeting our Guide Egor and his friends (thanks to Darmom at www.thebohemianblog.com for the recommendation)  in the centre of Odessa. From there it was short 30 min drive to small town where part of the catacomb entrances had been turned into a museum. A section of the catacombs had been gated and a few signs erected describing their history. It is  a misnomer calling them catacombs as they haven’t generally been used to bury bodies; the main purpose of their creation was to mine limestone and other building materials. However over the years given the expanse of the system, nearly 2,500km (no-one has actually managed to map them all!), they have had various other uses over the years e.g. smuggling, storage, bomb shelter.

After reaching the official entrance we headed up the road for our unofficial tour. Greeted by a small cave-like hole we entered the abyss. img_7542

The first 2 hours of the tour was easy going; large tunnels and chambers which were clearly easily accessible due to the large amount of graffiti and signs all over the walls. Egor was a good guide providing commentary on the history of some of the older graffiti; including old poems and scripture written by the Ukrainian partisans during WWII.

This section of the catacombs had many rest spots, where makeshift dinner tables had been constructed out of the rock quarried from the tunnels themselves. Interestingly Egor explained how his friends had conducted unofficial wedding ceremonies and other celebrations in these locations.
Odessa Catacomb

Odessa Catacomb

Odessa Catacomb
After a couple of hours we arrive outside again (at a different location). Now is where the real “fun” begins. Egor leaves us with his friend Vannay to explore another large complex of tunnels, side note: Vannay speaks broken English which makes communication tricky.

We re-enter the tunnels and take a different route. Onwards from this point the terrain is totally different. Smaller, more compact tunnels requiring a lot more crouching and crawling. Graffiti on the walls becomes more sporadic and soon the only signs of previous life is the few scribbles on the walls when you arrive at a crossroads.

Odessa Catacomb

Within an hour I had lost all sense of direction, these tunnels are definitely a labyrinth. We continue on for another hour before we come across our first hurdle. Egor had previously informed me there would be no water in the tunnels. Little did we know at this point that he hadn’t been in the tunnels for 2 years and a lot can change in that time!

We turn a corner and are faced with a pool of stagnant water stretching into darkness.

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“We’ll have to build a bridge” Vannay announces.

“Out of what?” We reply.

We start to pull rocks out of the floor, walls and wherever we can find them. Extreme care is taken as the roof of the tunnel feels like it could give at any moment. Standing underneath layers of limestone, sandstone and clay probably isn’t the most stable roof you could ask for.

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The “bridge” is completed and we stepping stone across in an attempt to avoid contact with the stagnant pool. Nobody wants to go home with legionnaires disease (it has a 6 day incubation period..I think I’m ok).

Crisis 1 over, we continue our trek. It gets worse, lower, more cramped and damper. To me this is one of the best adventures yet but I can tell the rest of the group is flagging. We walk for another hour or so, its hard to tell in the darkness. By now none of us are clear where we are what direction we’ve come from or even how far underground we are.

We struggle through a very cramp tunnel squatting through a tiny space for about half an hour. Good job no-one in my group is claustrophobic. And then a smell reaches us, the worst thing I’ve ever smelt! We stop, ahead is a whole through the roof, clearly we’re under a village and this is their dumping ground, literally! Ahead a pool of thick swampy mud, sewage to be exact blocks our path…..

We find ourselves planking across this rancid lake of sewage and human waste trying to avoid contact at all cost. Two of my group lag behind. Once we regroup I find one-off them has slipped and is covered from the feet to thighs in this disgusting black sludge. Impressively everyone is still fairly good natured.

The trip continues uneventful for another hour or so, by now we’ve been underground about 4 hours. As we arrive at crossroads our guide starts asking us to wait and he ventures off for 10 mins at a time returning to then explore alternative routes. After one of these events we ask him if anything is wrong. This is when he confesses. “I haven’t been down here for two years, I don’t recognise everything it looks different”. He was lost, we were lost, how would we ever find our way out!

Odessa Catacomb

Odessa Catacomb

Our guide explains the markings he thinks we should try and follow we continue for another 2 hours. All the time we are trying to decipher any of the Russian text on the walls and follow the signs which apparently lead us to an exit. Mutliple times we re-trace our steps after not losing the trail we are supposed to be following and eventually we fear we will never find our way out. At one point we arrive at a large caved in area where the roof has collapsed, here we rest and wait for the guide to find our next route.

A piece of string was found on the floor this we followed whilst we waited for our guide at one of the crossroads. Upon the route we found an empty rucksack, would a body be next? We continue following the string it but it cuts off with no apparent route that was followed next, probably for the best. At this point we stop and consider how ridiculous the situation is, its pitch black (except for our torches), the caves are silent nothing can be heard no even the scratching of a rodent or traffic from above. If we were left here this would be the end!

Odessa Catacomb

Eventually our guide returns and he has found the next route. Our journey continues for another solid hour before we reach sunlight, the phrase “the light at the end of the tunnel” has never felt so right. We exit into the sunlight, exhausted and relieved. I wouldn’t have liked to imagine the smell as we embarked on our bus journey home.

 

 

Urbex: AEI Cable Works

urbex

My urbex career has peaked….way too early!

The AEI Cable works doesn’t have much left standing apart from this solitary building but this isn’t what we came here for.

Henley/AEI Cable Works

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Henley Cable Factory

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Finding something underground has been on the list since I started exploring. This specific trip was one of the most difficult entries with all of the main entrances being welded shut.

Sealed Tight

Welded Shut

The shelter was built for the Henley/AEI Cable work employees and to avoid confusion there were six separate entrances with clearly marked corridors to keep track of everyone and help employees find their way during a raid.

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Navigation

Toilet break?
Toilet Break

<-- First aid this way

254

A lone man's terror

The shelter was pitch black so playing around with torches was fun to expose the photos.
These were all taken in-camera using different torches/lights and only small elements of cropping to achieve the final result.

Keep this side clear.

Tunnel 4

Ground Level

G4

Tunnel 4

Playing with torches.

Pathway..

The Looming Shadow

Fun with bike lights.

Whisps.

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Urbex: West Ham Courthouse

urbex

Mission Log: Captured with no escape, SEND HELP!

DESPAIR...

Another trip and another great find. Grade II listed courthouse built in 1884 saddening to see all of the fire damage especially as this made the third floor untouchable for fear of falling through the floor! This was also the first time I’ve found myself in jail on one of these trips (See above).

A nice easy access point again.

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This place was trashed, very cautious on the upper floor.
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The third floor was inaccessible.

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Concrete floor provided some much needed security.

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The basement was pitch black..not much of interest down here though.

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1880s style ventilation system

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Retro garbage..I wonder what year these cans were from.

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People never seem to take safes with them but they are always locked, I wonder if they ever have anything left in them?

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Main Court room has seen heavy fire damage.
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Better safe than sorry or this could have happened again.

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Pretty sure this place might be haunted, the Docks were the only things intact.

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The Jail Cells.

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States of disrepair.

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End of Transmission.

Urbex: Silverlands Manor, Chertsey

urbex

Sky's the limit

Once an orphanage, then a Nursing School and now left to rot since the 1990s after plans for a pedophile rehab centre were rejected.

Insidious

The security around this place looked tight with CCTV on all angles and a large spiked fence…this proved easier than expected to slip through the front gate.

Silverlands Exterior

High Security

The extent of the security was soon dismissed once we found the control room! Weirdly all the power was still on.

We're watching you!

Secure.....

The impressive foyer/hallway reminded me of the Resident Evil mansion!

Banister Beauty

Engraved

Mahogany

Abandoned Elegance

Beauty Remains

4 floors to explore including the roof.

Roof View

Decay

Interior

Endless

Broken Beauty

Retro metal grilled lift shaft leading to a brand new looking generator room.

A piece of history

Need a shovel?

Weight a minute, what are you doing here.

Boiler Room

Fully Operational

There were a lot of toilets…this by far was the weirdest

Desperate Times

Urbex: St Peter’s Mortuary, Chertsey

B&W, urbex

A nice sunny Sunday afternoon stroll in Chertsey brought us upon this morbid gem.

St Peter’s mortuary was built in the 1940’s and is a small building on the outskirts of the main (currently active) Hospital site. It closed in April 2009 when the mortuary relocated to the main building.

Much of the insides have already been stripped out but a few gems remain and for some reason the water is still on; the place is slightly flooded!

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The entrance greeted us with a couple of comforting warnings.

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The previous visitors also proved welcoming.

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The main operating room.

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Cold Storage.

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Don’t worry it’s all going to be ok.

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Obligatory switch photo.

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God watches over us all…even in death…. I’m surprised they managed to fit a chapel in such a small building. It’s weird how religion creeps into every walk of life.

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I’m slightly concerned this may happen in future: