It was a nice experience, to delve into dereliction again. After months of construction, sewers, tunnels, trains and cranes, the prospect of a day of derelict places was starting to appeal and as such, the derpmaster general of the group put together a list of musty places to go in The Midlands.
Nebula accompanied us, driving in his own unique way, while myself, Mike and Gina sat in the passenger seats eating sweets and generally acting like hyperactive children.
About 7 hours later we arrived at the ‘Hoarders House’, a place that apparently used to hold the greatest collection of everything ever, until it was looted. All that’s left is some trashed old cars in some sheds. Shame.
It all reminded me of a story about my uncle. He lived in Westminster and there was an old car out on his street, that had been there for years. He wrote to his local council and asked if he could have it, and when they agreed, he requested the registration from the DVLA. After a lot of work chasing the original owner, and a lot of work doing it up, the car was good and he sold it, making a nice fat profit.
The house itself was boarded up, with a hilariously hand painted, unconvincing sign insisting that we were being watched on CCTV, despite there being no signs of it, or electricity. Yeah right.
We moved on. St Something’s Hospital and St Somebody else’s Hospital were next to each other and had some assorted medical paraphenalia, peeling paint, lonely chairs and broken toilets. All good so far. The other hospital was boarded up and really quite empty, reminiscient of the sites we’ve trekked across in Germany, looking for something to bring tales home about. Room after room of nothing in particular, but the one you don’t check is the one with something interesting in.
Disused hospitals tend to come in 3 different types. There’s the modern, recently closed places like Haslar and HH1, the empty shells like Hellingly and Severalls, and then there’s the ancient places with loads of stuff left inside, like Cane Hill and West Park.
This hospital was none of these. It was small, old with things left inside. It had a distinct style with barn doors next to each bed, accommodating those who wanted some beautiful Warwickshire air.
Into Birmingham we ventured, climbing over some fences and past several part-built mosques to arrive at this out of town cinema. The downstairs was a bit meh, but upstairs you had rows and rows of seats left from when the cinema turned into a bingo hall in the 1970s.
I cut my exploring teeth on derelict places, assuming that was all there was to it. Cutting back the years and stepping into a place frozen in time is always emotive, whatever the connection. Of course, a shell is a shell, but the context is what gives it identity and the identity is what brings the emotion. In St Gerrard’s hospital I found this photograph of a visit to Disneyland, assumedly in California. (it was the only one open when the hospital closed). Nebula found Medical magazines from the years that his Aunt used to be the editor.
Although time cuts us away from these places and spaces where the identity and meaning would have flown in bucketloads, everywhere I go it seems that there’s often a small piece of something that connects us to the people that used these buildings and facilities. I guess that’s why we keep going back?