Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Urban Exploration

NOTE: I added two more images at the end the day after I posted this entry, I forgot them yesterday.

Hello, This post is later than I intended, sorry. I've been busy with photographing the nature reserve (see the link to Cromwell Bottom on this page). As it's spring all the plants and insects burst in to life all of a sudden. I've had other things getting in my way as well, but I'll not bore you all with those.

Before I go any further, I'd like to say hello and thank you to all my visitors and to welcome those from outside of the UK. I notice there are several from the USA, and it looks as if I have a couple of regulars from the Ukraine, also Germany, France and Sweden. Sorry if I have forgotten to mention any of you, but thank you most sincerely for the interest and taking the time to look at my site.

This is quite a long post, I have so many photos of these sites I wanted to show you, this is only a small selection.

This post is about Urban Exploration. For those that don't know the phrase, it means visiting abandoned industrial sites and taking photographs. There are a lot of definitions on the Net and Urban Exploration sites, so take a look around. Abandoned industrial sites like this are getting harder to find in the UK, at least in my area of England. This is partly because land is at a premium, as soon as a (say) factory or mill closes down, property developers grab it for building. Also, they get fenced off to protect the public from the dangers inherent in run down, crumbling buildings. If you decide to take a look at a building like this, be warned, many of them are very dangerous. A GOOD torch, with fresh batteries is often vital too. It's best to go with experienced people on the first few trips, and be careful not to trespass, or at least don't get caught. Don't break in and enter buildings, just look for an open entrance and don't take anything away from them  with you either. Take nothing but pictures,  leave nothing but footprints.

OK, time for a few photos.

The first location is the disused Dye House Mill on old lane in Halifax. The National Grid Reference is:
SE 0860 2635 .

It was built 1852-58 as a a steam-powered integrated worsted mill. I believe it was the first fire proof mill ever built and had arched, cast iron roof trusses, which are still there. It is six stories high and 15 bays long. The polygonal tower at the back of the building was the toilet block. The mill had an engine room in it's own shed at the rear of the the building. In later years it became a dye house. It is a listed building, so can not be destroyed, but as with so many listed building it has been left to rot. A few years ago vandals set it on fire.
I only examined the ground floor for three very good reasons. 1) This building is dangerous and one person has already died in it. 2) I was on my own and no-one knew where I was that day. 3) I have to use a walking stick to get about with. I was not about to risk climbing six floors of a dodgy building, I'm not that stupid.

The photos:

The front of the mill

The back of the mill showing the toilet tower and engine room

Looking up the tower from the ground floor

Showing the ceiling supports and signs of fire damage

Iron ladder to basement  (at the front of the mill)

The next building was built in the late 1890s as Allen's Brick Works, in Hipperholm near Brighouse. Eventually, it became a plastics recycling factory.  It is a large site and I was there for three hours one January in the bitter cold and ice, taking photos. Like quite a few of these abandoned sites, it's quite eerie. After I'd been in the place for about two hours, I heard two voices talking some distance away. The works is on a public footpath, well away from the road. Urban explorers are always wary of being caught, even in places like this one. I went outside to see if I could spot the men I'd heard. I looked around and listened, I couldn't see them, but could still hear them. I went back inside and carried on exploring. Then I heard a chair being dragged across the floor in the office I had just left, next door. I went to look, the chair was there, but there was no one about. It is a very unnerving experience and not easy to explain. I have spoken to another person who had the same experience at that site and have read one or two disturbing reports on Urban Exploration web sites which made me go cold.

So now the photos of Allen Brick Works/ Plastic Recycling plant.

A small section of this sprawling site.

The ovens and controllers, along with most of the metal 
had been taken by scrap metal dealers the last time I was there.

These full drums of styrene had also gone 
when I went back a second time

A connecting passage. The corrugated iron roof 
had gone on my second visit. The scrap men
must have had a wonderful time.

Archimedes Screw.

Hot air conduits.

This was the wages office, it was a wonderful, 
graphic image. I was so pleased when I found this.

Now the last building in my post. It was also a brick works converted to a plastic recycling plant. The company who owned the Allen site, moved to Blackley, about one mile from where I live, near the M62 Motorway and took over this site. This one had been set on fire a few years ago, I could see the thick, black clouds of smoke, which burned for quite a long time. When plastic burns, it makes a lot of smoke and releases toxic fumes, The fire brigade must have had a hard time with it. They had dragged many sacks of plastic chippings away from the fire, some were partly burned. The colours were very bright and were ready made abstract art photos. I took several, some all blues, some red, or white, some mixed colours. I've included a red one as an example. This year, the site was pulled down and a lot of expensive looking houses built there. I'm so glad I got the photos first. In one or two of these, you can clearly see how dangerous the place could be, with large sections of roof falling in sometimes.

The main buildings, the entrance was at the front
left of the photo. A large red brick, square chimney was
about thiry meters inside the grounds.

 Plastic chipping storage bays.

Storage bays.

Part of a huge pile of "dead" plastic chairs.

It lookes like a grand piano to me.

Cave in.

Another view of the storage bays.

Rear veiw of some of the buildings.

Nature fighting back.

Below are the two extra images I said I'd include which looked like ready made abstracts. I remebered at 4 a.m. this morning. One was the red plasic chips I mentioned in the text. For good measure, I've added a blue one as well.


Blue Landscape.

So, thats all folks. My next post in a few weeks will be on Post Industrial Art. This is where I've taken photos like the ones in this post, then I've manipulated them in Photoshop, to give them a new life.

Keep popping back, and please, please, if you like the post, leave a comment for me or I'll start to feel neglected. *smile*

Until next time, be safe and be kind to each other. Gordon



  1. What an alluring post Great Images the last site a boil on the backside of calderdale re palstics and waste

  2. Thank you! That's a lovely comment. Sadly, it's a nation wide problem. Factories which are closed, really are abandoned, usually with all the machinary in. The Rover car factory left serveral new, working Rovers behind along with the ignition keys. The world need steel and countless tons are left to rot. I can take you to a field in Halifax with several tons of farm gear and girders rotting in it, they've been there years.