It was six in the evening and I was hanging, I’d been awake for 2 days and no amount of Red Bull or caffeine was going to improve the situation. My synapses were popping slowly and muffled, as if in the distance….in my brain everything was going 5 frames a second instead of 40 and I think I piloted the ExploreMobile the 30 miles to the final site using Jedi Power alone.
We parked up in a layby carpeted with broken glass waiting for Newage’s crew to arrive, eating anything and everything we had left to try and boost the energy reserves. I really really needed to go home and sleep but we were here and home was a solid 4-5 hour drive. ‘Here’ was RNCF Holton Heath with the sole purpose of exploring the 3.5 million gallon underground reservoir in the middle of this vast complex. The RNCF was setup during WW1 to manufacture cordite for the Royal Navy, it then closed briefly but was brought back into service during WW2 and then after the war the explosives manufacturing areas were shut down and the remainder of the site used by the Admiralty Research Establishment in the 1980’s. The Admiralty Research Establishment (ARE) then became the DRA (Defence Research Agency) and eventually in the late 1990’s the entire site closed down.
Unrelated for this site but of possible interest is that the DRA, which also contained the RAE, A&AEE, RARDE, RSRE became the Defense Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) in 1995 (with other agencies) who in turn evolved into DSTL (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory) and Qinetiq.
A massive amount of the RNCF site still survives with many interesting structures still standing but this visit was just a quickie, maybe one day we will return.
We fought our way through gorse and other thick undergrowth to spend and hour shooting the pair of resi’s, both curiously of slightly different design before staggering back to the ExploreMobile and pointing it north, finally getting home just before midnight.
Already cold and pissed off watching seagulls and early morning dog walkers I waited for Winch and the rest of the world to wake up before meeting upwithNewage, Fluffy and Godzilla for a look inanR1 ROTOR Bunker.Portland CEWR1 ROTOR wasbuilt in 1951 and operational by 1953 and was a single story operation block accessed by an unusual guardhouse. In later years the site was taken over by the USAF who added a microwave relay station (to form part ofTroposcotter relay). In 1969 the underground bunker was badly damaged by fire and in 2001 the MoD stripped out the lift and (for some unknown reason) all the wooden flooring prior to the site going to sale by auction.As a result of the MoD ‘work’ and the fire this ROTOR bunker is in a very trashed state and as a result not a particularly inspiring place to explore. These days its in poor state suffering from serious damp problems and the Kelvin Hughes Projector room is flooded virtually to the top.
I didn’t bother getting very many pictures as my enthusiasm was running low and the shots I got are quite lame if I’m honest:
After leaving the R1 we dragged our tired asses up to Ridgeway Hill 3 Group AAOR stopping to cram copious amounts of food, Red Bull and Coffee before entering.
The AAOR looks fantastic from the outside, a nice two story blockhouse, semi-sunken in places and in great condition. Inside too its in excellent condition with lots of original features from both its RAF and Royal Navy days BUT sadly 95% of it cannot be seen due to thousands of boxes of cheap chinese toys (modern day use is a ‘warehouse’).
I’ll be honest, I’m not good when I’ve been awake for 30 hours so lets just say I didn’t stay long and the camera didn’t even come out of my bag so I sat outside sucking on caffeine waiting for Winch.
The day then started to get more interesting with Newage trying to tempt me with another juicy underground site that had potential to be better than all the previous locations (all I really wanted though was more food and loads of sleep). Seeing as we were in the area, everyone else was ganging up on me and the ExploreMobile still had good fuel stocks what was the harm in visiting one more place?
Gotta love agoodroadtrip and this certainly fell into that category. Already having not slept for 24 hours I collect Winch at 03:00am driving through a town full of pissedup18 yearoldnubiles sprawled across the streets in their own piss and vomit on the way before hitting the motorways for a 4 hour non stop blast to the South Coast and the Isle Of Portland where we hit one place after another before a 4 hour return journey eventually getting home at 23:30 on the following day.Winch’s estimations of ‘loads of holiday traffic’ proved unfounded and we rocked up at some stupid time of the morning when only the gulls were awake. He managed to catch someZZZ’s but I couldn’t so went for a mooch around Verne High Angle Battery.For those that don’t know its a derelict fort built in 1892 as part of our coastal defences. Originally it had six gun pits for 9″ RML guns (Mk VI high-angle muzzle loading gun) set at 70 degree angles but not long after two more pits were built. The guns could spin through 360 degrees and the shells were stored in two tunnel magazines fed by rail.
During WW2 it was used as an Anti-Aircraft Battery and to store ammo in preparation for D-Day. It’s very tucked away and easily missed being down in the base of an old Portland Stone quarry and at stupid O’Clock in the morning was nice and chilled.
I’ll be brutally honest though and say it didn’t really do it for me, as historically significant as it is and it being the best preserved Battery of its type in the UK I just can’t get excited about this sort of stuff so feel free to call me a neophyte or even a heathen…
Later on we fought through thick undergrowth and comedy pallisade squeezes, past the many rumoured (non-existant) ‘CCTV cameras’ reported by some paranoid explorers we came across, to visit the curiously named Forbidden City AKA East Weare Battery.
It’s not Forbidden and its not a City, both of which set you up for a serious anticlimax.
East Weare Battery to use it’s correct name is another Coastal Battery built between 1862 and 1869 on the west of Portland Harbour. Unlike Verne High Angle Battery this one is virtually at sea level at the base of the Verne cliffs. It was designed with six batteries (A-F) mounting an intended total of 27 guns which were a mixture of 9 and 10 inch Breach Loaders. Amongst the battery’s are a mixture of other buildings – Detention Barracks, Gunners House, Artillery Stores, a redoubt, Battery Observation Post, Lamp Room etc. In 1915 the disused Battery D was handed over to the Navy for explosives storage in the magazine and much later during WW2 some of the gun pits were roofed over. In recent times both A and B Battery were used for Fire Training by the Navy and as a result are very damaged.
Playing catch up with pix as I’m running out of year, these are from March 2013, think it was an official SubBrit thing run by KURG from memory (but that’s not important).
What is important is to tell the story nobody else chose to tell (i.e. they would rather people didn’t know it happened so they didn’t get mugged off…) I quite like the truth though, especially when people try to cover it up so lets tell the story shall we? 🙂
As stated earlier this was an official/invite trip to Shorts Brothers Seaplane Factory as opposed to the DiY visits that will soon get it permanently sealed.
Some people seem to think if you go on an organised trip then its not cool and you run the risk of getting laughed at on some of the ‘narcissist/look at me’ forums out there, they fear criticism by their peers and long for praise. To me this smacks of low self esteem and a need to feel loved by someone…a bit like a dog who feels happy and accepted if he gets a nice stroke and who feels over the moon if someone tosses him a bone. Me? I couldn’t care less how I get into places as long as I get to see them and as a result of this probably 15% of what I do is ‘official’…who cares!
Getting back to the story…there’s two guys on this trip from a well known forum (actually one of them is now a Moderator), but they try to keep this quiet because:
A) They would almost certainly have been denied access and B) They would be the laughing stock of their forum. Their plan fails spectacularly on Option B as word got out on this forum and a few members did a DiY visit the night before and left a ‘calling card’ for these two guys to show them they were ‘busted’ by their forum buddies. When I say ‘calling card’ what I actually meant was strategically placed piles of fresh, glistening, human turds along with spray painted arrows pointing to their actual real world names (also spray painted) on the floor at various point in the tunnels. Naturally this shocked some members on the visit and enraged others and very quickly there was a guessing game (in pitch darkness) to eliminate the two Turd Targets.
Me and Winch found this hilarious but the organisers didn’t (understandably) but for me it goes to show the duplicity of this lot, they’ll hide in plain sight to get on trips like this, then rip and slate the hand that feeds them when in the company of others, alas this is the world we live in these days.
Here’s a few pix anyway, I did get some turd shots but I don’t want to name names, how would you feel if there was a picture of your name next to a steaming pile of turd?
Playing with the Quark RGB 🙂
‘That’ damn junction (again)
No turds were harmed during the making of this blog post…
And so it came to pass that God gave Winch and me a day off, so we climbed aboard the trusty ExplorMobile and headed out into the countryside of middle England to look for Morlocks in the Time Machine…
We never did see a Morlock in the drain but we did find Mountain Bikes, Monster energy cans, big fish (including a laid back Pike who was over 2 feet long), fanny plasters, Golden Nuggets (of the turd variety) and some nice brick porn.In the 1850’s they drained the local Holme Fen which dropped the water levels locally and in 1852 they started work on the culverts to divert Bury Brook under the town, finally finishing in 1854. At the outfall Bury Brook joins High Lode which forms part of the Middle Level Navigation which eventually joins the OldRiverNene after a mile.The main reason for the trip was the actual junction of the tunnels and the remaining underground workings of the water powered town clock. The clock is still there but in 1920 was converted to run on electricity.The main tunnel carries Bury Brook (clean-ish) water and the side tunnels are stinky CSO’s. For anyone who says otherwise then don’t believe them!
If you are planning on doing the whole culvert and reaching the outfall (approx 700m) then be a smart boy like Winch was and wear Chest Waders, lazy boy here wore Thigh Waders and suffered wad0r breach halfway through, never a good thing when you are surrounded by floaters and are over 1000 meters from dry land. I poured several gallons of shitty/pissy water out each wader when we got back to the car, much to the amusement of the bemused locals who were probably wondering why two blokes were walking down the high street in 26 degree heat dressed in black rubber ;-p
I’d like to go back when there’s a LOT more water going through, the shots would be better and all the turds will have been flushed out…
Props to Dsankt, Otter & Loops for finding this place back in 2008
The ‘Money Shot’, in fact there’s two angles here cos I can’t decide which one I like the most, the first one is neat because of the water and the second one neat because of the arches.
I guess its as easy to lose 93 photo’s as it to lose one (and I’m still looking for my West Norwood Cemetery Catacombs shots from 3 years ago…one day they will show up on a backup drive I’d forgotten about…)
So, I stumbled across 93 pix I shot at Drakelow RGHQ 9.2 several years ago and thought I’d post up a very small selection here, mainly cos I thought I already had already blogged them.
They were all shot on the little Lumix T76 backup camera so are not that great but they still have an interest all the same.
I’m not sure what I’ve done to upset the cosmic balance in my world but the tides of karma have washed up nothing but trouble for several months now….so far 2012 sucks 🙂
My tripod is still broken (nowatVelbon HQ getting repaired) but we thought we would take a look at a bunch of stuff the other week we had been meaning to do for some time…bunkers, storm drains, culverts, an underground reservoir and a couple of water towers.First on the list was thederpresi but it was soon obvious that the site was very much live after being met with ass ripping8ft palisade and security camera’s…never mind, we cracked on regardless. Sadly the10ft deep reservoir had over5ft of water in both sides and someone was definitely ‘at home’ so to speak. Shame really as it was quite a big boy and would have made for some nice shots…time to move on.The Water Tower and Pumping Station were similar in that they looked derp from a distance but the humming of pumps and scattering of CCTV said otherwise. We setup anyway and started shooting, the light was pretty lame and I was packing a shagged tripod but we got on with it, avoiding the camera’s and generally trying not to get pinged. Out of nowhere a white van came speeding towards us, we must have been spotted somehow? It parked right on top of our hiding place and just sat there, there was no way we could have gotten out without being seen as a climb up a very steep bank was the only exit and this would have out us right on the radar and the vehicle could have easily cut us off before we could climb the palisade. There wasn’t really any options as we had lots of other places to go that day and I didn’t fancy sitting there until nightfall just to extract quietly and if we sat there any longer another van would soon be along and we would be proper busted so we went for the unconventional option….take the ‘fight’ to them rather than sit there like mugs.
We strode out of our hiding place and walked straight towards the waiting van, then in an instant I realised something was not right, the driver was sat with his head down, not looking at us (or anything else for that matter), shit, no turning back now, we were in open ground and committed so carried on. At the last second the driver looked up shocked and said “Where the hell did you come from?”
I knew in an instant he wasn’t secca so it was blag time…fast…
“Er, well, I’ll be straight with you mate, we came over the fence cos we like photographing derp stuff, especially water towers, I’ll tell you what, we’ll just vanish and you pretend you never saw us yeah?”
“No mate this isn’t derelict you’re on **** property and if security catch you there’ll be all sorts of bother so yeah, you best disappear (he said, smiling).Although we had effectively busted ourselves for no reason he was cool so we got chatting about some operational details regarding the site before we GTFO and moved onto other stuff on the day’s list.
Not as many shots as I’ve had liked from here but then we did get rudely interrupted 😉