Schools out for Summer

So yesterday me and M had a free afternoon with a few hours to kill before everyone came home so with both of us been off work at the weekend (which is a novelty for us) and the weather been glorious we decided to go and have a peek around M’s old primary school which is due to be demolished to make way for a ethnic food supermarket in the near future. We have driven past it dozens of times but never seemed to have a camera with us so after snapping a nearby country park we made our way to the school.

school 10The School was built in 1853 and functioned as a mixed age school until 1865 when it separated into infant and juniors. Its closed in 2002 when the school was relocated to a new site and the building which has become a target for vandals and arsonists has been left derelict ever since.

school 3Completely ruined inside many of the walls are still covered with the children’s school work which I found quite strange, although stripped and crumbling inside with every window broken the presence of children was felt all around.

school 2One of the only pieces of furniture in the school left was this lone piano surrounded by the debris and broken glass. Edited into black and white this photograph really emphasises “The Lonely World” for me it puts the reason we chose the name for our blog into a photo, even after the years of neglect the piano is still there abandoned and forgotten.

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The other piece we found inside the school was this plastic stool left in the middle of an empty classroom, I’ve shot it from a ground level to bring the stool into the main focus but still keeping a good depth to the frame.

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Wandering round we found the school toilets and while the cubicles are still intact all the sinks and basins had been smashed to pieces. One thing that always sits in my mind when we photograph places like this is why people feel the need to create such damaged and destruction to old buildings and to vandalise them they way they do. Almost every site we’ve visited with our hobby has either been set alight at some point or smashed to pieces.

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M was quite excited about visiting and always one for nostalgia he was happy snapping away while we walked round his old school. However, he seems to leave disheartened with a sense of sadness at the state of place and what its future holds.

 

 

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Stallington Hall psychiatric hospital, Part 2

After many weeks of turning the house upside down hunting for the AWOL memory card I have finally found it hiding away upstairs enabling me to complete our Stallington Hall post part 2. I have done this post in 2 parts because we took so many photos on 2 different cameras and couldn’t possibly put it all in one without it becoming  a task and half so my photos were all in part 1 and all of M’s in part 2. They have all been chosen and edited by him for the blog.

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This is a ground level shot looking up the length of the external stairwell at the back of the building. The stairs are quite overgrown and have been left to the mercy of the elements however I think this gives them a nice effect for photographing and fits in nicely with the buildings style as well as adding character to the image.

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This is a shot of inside the main hall and as you can see it has been quite badly fire damaged by an recent arson attack. The large ornate columns are an original feature from when the hospital was a private home and although boxed in when it was converted they have been exposed again by photographers and urban explorers over the  recent years.

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Another photograph of inside the hall along one of the abandoned corridors. The paint and wallpaper peeling off the wall gives an extremely creepy feeling to this picture along with the doors left ajar with the daylight peeking through.

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This one was shot through the empty window frame from inside one of the rooms upstairs, M was using the Nikon D1300 with the standard lens and was trying to capture a large portion of the room into the frame.

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Another ground level one taken sitting in the rubble shooting down through the door way catching the natural daylight in the background of the shot. The wood and debris are in prominent focus as well as all the other features in this shot giving a good depth and texture to the photo.

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A shot gazing up at one of the windows allowing the light to flood into the scene, I’m not really sure what this room was used for as it had been completely stripped and was virtually rotting away.

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It was while we were taking these shots in the basement that we got the feeling we needed to go, the corridor continued as far we could see but as we only had the light from the flash to guide us we decided not to continue down the corridor just in case. We had no idea what was down there so decided leave it there but to make a return visit in the near future and bring torches!

To be continued………..

Another place, Crosby beach

Today we visited “Another place” by Antony Gormley, just outside of Liverpool on Crosby beach it consists of 100 cast iron life size sculptures of the artist spread 3 kilometres across the beach and almost 1 kilometre out into the sea.

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Each figure is over 6ft tall and weighs around 650kg, they are constantly facing out to sea being submerged under water as the tide comes in. Having being previously shown in Germany, Norway and Belgium the statues are now permanently sited at Crosby beach.

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Unfortunately for us the tide was completely out when we arrived so we didn’t manage to capture any of the figure in the water but it was still worth the visit as we took some great photographs.

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These are shot by me on the good old  Fuji Finepix, I have had to use the zoom to catch another figure in the frame as they are quite far apart and the sand was very soft and wet causing me to lose my shoes on the way back up to the beach.

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This individual figure standing alone in one of the small pools left on the sand makes an lonely focal point with the beach blending into the background. The sun was absolutely blinding with not a cloud in the sky which made it difficult to see never mind get the lighting for the photos right so in a lot of the shots I have used the camera in the aperture priority mode in order for me to adjust the light to the scene.

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A large landscape view of the figures taken from a side on the beach. More statues are visible from this angle with outlines of others being picked up near the receding tides edge.

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This was taken from up on the promenade looking out over Crosby beach. I have used the metal railings as my main focal point but shot the figure in the foreground through the gap for an interesting view point while the others can be seen in the distance.

 

Stallington Hall Psychiatric hospital, Staffordshire, Part 1

We went to visit Stallington Hall yesterday after a tip off from a friend and were quite surprised at what we found. Although badly fire damaged on the ground floor a large part of the interior is still in tact. I have been searching the internet all afternoon for a bit of background history but it all seems to be a bit hush hush in regards to Stallington Halls more recent use as a psychiatric hospital.

Built in the late 18th century and originally called Stallington grange the 3 storey building is grade II listed and has been left abandoned since the hospitals  closure in 1997. Once a private home to Staffordshire MP Bart Smith Child, his wife Sarah, his daughter Elizabeth and eleven staff in 1881, he left the house to his grandson Sir Hill Child upon his death who later sold it to the city of Stoke-On-Trent in 1924.

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Stallington Hospital was then created as a home for both adults and children with disabilities and those considered at the time “mentally subnormal”.  Local rumours surrounding the hospitals reputation suggest that patients were mistreated and with a patient dying in 1992 after been chained round a toilet bend this seemed to have possibly been the case.

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The ward complex was knocked down and a housing estate now stands on the grounds with the hall fenced off in the middle. There have been a few conflicting stories regarding the use of the remaining building while it seems clear that the building was used as offices some ex employees haves confirmed that some wards were located in the building possibly in the basement for some of the more extreme cases. Several applications have been put forward to develop it into an apartment complex with one being successful, However not long after the hall was set alight with the cause unknown fuelling local speculations and conspiracy theories.

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I was using the Fuji Finepix again and M was using the Nikon D3100 as we wandered round to get some shots. We have got so many photos again I’ve decided to do this post in 2 parts again.

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We’ve started to have a play with Photoshop recently and these photographs seemed to be the perfect opportunity to try and get a bit of atmosphere into the frames with editing . I took this one in the main entrance hall from a low ground level with the foreground in a larger focus and sliding off into the background. I have dropped the saturation on Photoshop and added extra contrasting layers to bring out certain colour elements of the photo.

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This was located in the front outer porch by the main front door, I zoomed in on this sign to give a dramatic impact to the frame whilst picking out all of the creepy detail of the decay in the wood. I have edited it in Photoshop to make the black lettering more prominent against the white background with the cobwebs and dust contrasting against it too.

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This scene caught really caught my eye when we were inside, the wooden shutters have been pulled back from the shattered glass window with the chipboard cover knocked through both side allowing the natural daylight to peek through from outside. The saturation has been scaled down with a duplicate layer added on Photoshop to allow small aspects of the original colours to come through but still giving a sense of the sadness of the room.

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This is the frontal view of the window, the contrasts of the shadows can be clearly seen with the natural daylight glare shining between the metal window frame.

 

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This one is my favourite photographs that we took, it was taken just inside the main porch of the building. The door just left half open sets the tone of the derelict building completely forgotten and abandoned with decay covering more or less every corner.

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This is the view from the opposite side of the door, the shadows have been highlighted in this shot and a lot of the finer details blurred out. The red brick walls are prominent in the foreground with the fire destruction becoming visible in the background.

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A tunnel view frame stretching the length of the room and into the next, I have not focused on anything specific giving a good depth of field and allowing a lot of the fire damage to be captured in detail in the photograph.

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This was on of the shots of a cupboard we discovered in one of the bathrooms, everything had been completely stripped from the room with the floor covered in rubble. This was the only focal point in the room but the way the doors have just been left thrown open makes a striking image and an interesting shot.

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In this frame I have focused on the open door to the left while still trying to fit a good proportion of the corridor trailing off into the background in as well. The light wasn’t brilliant in the corridor so I have used the flash to make sure I got everything in I was after.

We did venture down into the basement but as we crept further into the depths the daylight started to disappear and we didn’t have a torch. As the light from the flash gave us a quick glimpse of objects in the darkness we got the feeling it was time to go. I didn’t really feel spooked wandering round until this point so we decided to head back and make our escape. M photographed more of the basement than me so I will be publishing some of his more artistic shots in part 2 of this post and as much as I enjoyed shooting here I was frustrated that I couldn’t quite get the atmosphere into the photograph as I saw it.

 

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W.H Goss Falcon works pottery.

This site has been on my hit list for a month or so now after discovering it on the Internet. Etched with industrial and local history it was begging me to go and take a look and with M out on his travels and an drizzly afternoon spare I took my trusty partner in crime who for this post we shall call Superbear, grabbed my camera and off we went.

Apologises if this post come across with more of an Urban Explorer vibe but it would be a shame to not gives the pictures the justice they deserve by explaining the history of the site along the way.

W.H Goss dates back to 1870 when it was one of the several large manufacturers of ceramics in the potteries. The remaining buildings are the 1902 extension of the of larger 1858 factory. The sites pottery production ceased in 1944 and the site was sold on to Portmerion in 1961.

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This is a front facing shot of the large remaining factory building, as you can see it has 3 large floors and windows situated all the way along each floor and although they are boarded up you can still get a sense of the scale of the building and its heritage . I was using the Fuji Finepix again and Superbear was using her Samsung compact. We took these on a miserably drizzly afternoon so I’ve shot them in black and white to emphasize the melancholy tones that surrounds the disused site.

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On this side of the building the metal outside stairwell leading to the first floor is still intact unlike the rear of the building where the stairwell has collapsed. I zoomed in on this shot in order to capture some of the light peeking through the holes in the roof which can be seen through the left hand window.

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A ground level shot along the length of the building, the overgrowth can be seen creeping up the walls in this frame whilst the older part of the factory can be seen contrasting against the blank skyline.

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A detailed shot of the Falcon moulding located  on the far end of the remaining building. It was quite high up so I had to use the Fuji’s 24x zoom to pick up some of the finer details for the photograph.

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The depth of which the zoom has had to cover can be seen here as this frame puts the scale of the photo in to a better perspective. I’m shooting from ground level focusing up the length of the building and the falcon moulding can clearly be seen quite a way up toward the top point of the roof.

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I’ve been waiting ages to get this photograph as I’ve seen several urban explorers posting reports on this location. Its a great image to represent the potteries heritage and to capture it timelessly before it disappears forever with the continual movement into modern developments.

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In August 1979 these 2 remaining glost kilns and workshop were registered a listed buildings preventing any alterations or demolition from taking place.  In 2002 Portmerion applied for listed building consent to part demolish areas of falcon works whilst preserving and refurbishing the remaining kiln areas within a residential area. This method of preservation has been successfully used at several other pottery site around Stoke-on-Trent however these plans were later abandoned. Portmerion sold the site to a company called Connexa in 2011 thus presenting the site with an uncertain future.

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I took this one from the side of the main building trying to capture the kilns and workshop in the frame to  show a comparison in size as they are both are ground level. The neutral tones of the sky make the dark features of the kiln more prominent in this photograph.

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One shot from along the wall of the workshop with a single large glost kilns featured in the skyline.

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This photograph is view from the back of the factory which backs on to a wooded area. I wanted to catch the trees clashing against the brickwork to try and portray the  sense of abandonment that I felt while visiting Falcon works.

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What struck me the most was all around the surrounding woodland was littered with broken ceramics, hundreds of tiny pieces lay nestled into the dirt, a part of the factories history forgotten and left to disappear into the past.

Beech Caves, Staffordshire.

Beech Caves have been on our hit list for a while now and seen as we only live down the road from them it would of rude not to go and pay them a visit. I was shooting with the Fuji Film finepix S, while M was using our Nikon D3100 with the standard lens.

Beech caves are man made caves nestled in the heart of Staffordshire woodlands. Originally used for quarrying sandstone for building material they are rumoured to have also been used as a bomb store for The Royal Ordinance Factory at Swynnerton during  WW2.

Now strewn with litter and covered in graffiti the caves are a notorious spot for illegal raves and other undesirable  nocturnal goings on, rumour has it that the land owner and council are trying to have them filled in to prevent such further activities from taking place.

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This reassuring sign looms over the entrance but all seems good and after spending nearly an hour trying to find the caves and a scenic  trek through the woods we chance it and go inside.

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This is one of M’s photos shooting with the Nikon, he was trying to get as much of the caves into the frame as possible to give a sense of the size and scale.

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As we ventured inside the marks of graffiti artists past and present covered every wall and with the huge stone ceilings looming down on us it was seriously eyrie and touch claustrophobic. The caves continued quite far back although a few small side entrances provide some gratefully received light giving us the opportunity to explore further into the caves depths.

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The caves were quite dark and M’s flash on the Nikon was a bit more powerful than mine on the Fuji although we both took a lot of similar shots I’ve used these two to give a feeling of how low and imposing the ceilings were.

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This is another one of M’s photos on the Nikon, we’ve started dabbling into shutter speeds something we are both novices at, However he did seem  to catch the sunlight nicely that was coming in through the exposed side areas and was  not too bad for his first attempt

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Some very original and creative art work here.

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These shots were taken from the side view of the caves exposing the alternate entrances and featuring a lot of the natural woodland that the caves are situated in. The bottom shot was taken at ground  level to show all natural aspects of the environment  with the fern in focus and a slight blur to the caves in the back drop.

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Finally this is one of my photos with the Fuji, I tried to get a good focus on the flowers but still manage to catch some of the vandalism in the background of the frame. I liked the contrast between the two environments with the natural white flowers set against the harsh graffiti and tried to capture this in the shot.