[Sick Britain] I'd like to say thanks to Gibbo for the interview and wherever you live I definitely recommend you check out Northwest Exploration as it's probably the friendliest Urbex community out there.
Northwest Exploration

Q1: Who are you?

Gibbo (real name Andy). A Yorkshire born but North-West based fella who now co-administers WWW.NWEX.CO.UK

Q2: Why do you do Urban Exploration?

Like every young lad, I was fascinated by empty and abandoned buildings, probably for the thrill / ghost aspect :-) I was lucky enough to see the old Victoria Station, and parts of the old Orgreave Coking Plant (scene of the bloody miners battle on June 18th, 1984). The complex was huge and had it’s own sidings and an engine shed full of coal wagons and a couple of diesel engines. I just wish cameras weren’t so expensive to operate back then.

Q3: What's the best explore you've been on?

Without a doubt, St Joseph’s Seminary near Wigan.

Q4: What's worst explore you've been on?

Burtonwood Services. An interesting building, pretty much intact inside, but we stupidly lingered after the explore and got arrested in an extremely heavy-handed two police force operation.

Q5: If you could explore any site/facility in the world, what would it be?

It would be nice to see if Area 51 is actually everything it’s hyped up to be. In the UK it would have to be the Fun Ship the Duke of Lancaster over at Flint, North Wales.

Q6: Are there any pieces of kit that you'd recommend to others?

The trusty Maglite with an LED conversion. You lose the warm incandescence when light painting, but it gives an amazing throw. I’m also a big fan of clockwork torches. They’re cheap and always worth carrying as an emergency spare.

Q7: If you could give any tips to newbies or experienced explorers, what would they be?

For noobs: Don’t hang around a site after an explore!

For experienced explorers: Never forget your beginnings. You were a noob once and probably left in the cold and shunned by those more experienced. So give the noobs a chance. Over at NWEX that’s our philosophy and have certainly reaped the rewards – trips underground to some fantastic mines that you would never otherwise see, they’re not even listed on the internet and you’d never find the access! We even have a member who gives us trips in his plane!

Urbex isn’t a way of life, it’s a hobby – albeit a very unusual one. It’s also a hobby that is forever changing.

Q8: What would win in a fight: 1,000 chickens or 1 giant chicken the size of a thousand chickens?

1 giant chicken. It would just stand on the 1000 chickens.

Urbex Community: Pretty Vacant

Posted by sickbritain On June - 14 - 20091 COMMENT

Pretty Vacant is the personal site of prolific explorer and well-known forum community member Rookinella, containing site reports and a massive amount of photos.  The site is great for finding inspiration or if you want to get a good taster of what Urban Exploration is all about…

http://www.prettyvacant.fotopic.net/


Failed Explores: You Don’t Always Have a Good Day

Posted by sickbritain On June - 9 - 2009ADD COMMENTS

Despite what you may think, Urban Exploration isn’t all about the glitz and the glamour – sometimes you’ll hit a brick wall (literally as well as metaphorically) and you can’t carry out the explore as planned or perhaps you can’t carry out the explore at all. There are many reasons why things go wrong, the most common in my experience tend to be:

Site Inaccessible

Sometimes you turn up at a site hoping for a good day out and you just end up frustrated because you can’t gain access, this might be because there’s no obvious route in (hole in the fence, easy wall to jump, etc.) or it might be because the site has been demolished. Obviously there’s nothing that can be done about the latter but in terms of access but be persistent – if you try hard enough you might find a way. I’m not talking about causing physical damage here though, that’s not my bag and it’ll land you in serious trouble if you’re caught – try to think laterally and it usually pays off. Perhaps try going around the back of the site, approaching from a different angle or look for signs that someone else has been around and see if you can figure how they got in (gap in a hedge, footprint on a wall, etc.).

Sometimes other people’s photos might contain hints whether they intended to or not, look at someone’s photos in order of the time they were taken – the first photos will probably be closest to their entrance and the last closest to their exit.

Security

This is a big issue for urban explorers, we all know that in most cases we’re going to be somewhere we shouldn’t be and so security can be a problem but there are ways to minimise your ‘footprint’ and avoid detection. That said, sometimes the presence of security at all may be the issue – some people aren’t comfortable exploring sites with an active security presence (e.g. guards on patrol) and that’s fair enough, you should only ever do what you’re comfortable with if that’s the way you feel. I think most of us feel that if a site has no active security and is truly disused and derelict that our presence isn’t causing any harm since we don’t do any damage but you still have to worry about being spotted and either security turning up or even worse – the police.

If you run-up against unexpected activity on a site the first thing to do is try and figure out who they are, it’s key not to panic and worth remembering that they’re probably not expecting to find you there either so if you’ve spotted them first you’ve got the advantage. Often the unexpected individual(s) end up being other explorers, in this case you could introduce yourself or just carry on with what you’re doing – most explorers tend to be friendly if not slightly suspicious. Another class of unexpected site presence could be thieves or vandals, it’s easy to think that there’s a kind of kinship in this case because you’re both present in a place that you’re not meant to be but don’t fall into this trap. These people are committing criminal offences and even if they’re happy to continue their ‘business’ with your presence you should still leave, if the police turn up you will be implicated in their crimes whether you like it or not, there’s also a risk that they might be upset by your presence and respond with physical violence.

If it doesn’t look like other explorers or thieves/vandals then it’s either going to be security or other people that have genuine business there (e.g. builders or surveyors), though sometimes it can be hard to tell them apart as people on derelict sites all tend to wear high-viz jackets and hard-hats. Once you’ve established that you’ve come across unexpected site personnel you’re faced with the choice of what to do next, you might decide to stay and avoid the occupants or leave and I’ve done both in different circumstances. If you do stay you’ll need to actively avoid being spotted, this is best achieved by stealth and you should take everything slowly and quietly from this point on and you need to think about everything you do – the easiest ways to give away your presence are by making noise or by using a camera flash. It may also be worth limiting your explore, you might have to avoid certain buildings or areas where security seems to be higher (patrol routes, CCTV) or any areas where you’re exposed in plain sight. The other option you have once you’ve spotted an ‘official’ presence is to leave, there’s no shame in this at all and as long as you leave carefully and avoid detection you’re guaranteed not to get caught – if you stay there’s always a risk.

You might end up running into the police even after you’ve exited the site (many will not enter unless asked by security due to health & safety concerns). I once made the mistake of parking right next to the entrance to a derelict site and a local dog-walker called the cops, assuming either that the car had been dumped or that I was up to no good (in my case I think the former because the cop was more concerned with the car than me). If you encounter the police you should cooperate completely, remember that as long as you’ve not caused physical damage or taken any ‘souvenirs’ (which amounts to theft whatever you think) then you’ve not committed a criminal offence and you should be fine. Being obstructive is the easiest way to get yourself arrested, even though you’ve not done anything wrong all the police need is to suspect that you have and they’re faced with no choice but to arrest you. My advice is to explain that you’re there taking photos, just having a look around and that you’re sorry for causing an inconvenience, answer their questions, be polite and you’ll be on your way soon enough.


Urbex Community: Subterranea Britannica

Posted by sickbritain On June - 6 - 2009ADD COMMENTS

The very first time I heard of Urban Exploration, although not under that name, was a news story I saw on the local BBC channel mentioning Subterranea Britannica. SubBrit is a society that has been around since 1974 and represents people who are interested in exploring anything underground, you can even join up as a member for £17 per annum which gets you information, a thrice-yearly magazine and access to training, special events, etc. The site also has a breakout section on cold war underground sites which contains a massive amount of information on ROC posts, including a clickable map of the UK split by county.

http://www.subbrit.org.uk/



A5 Furniture – Flamstead, May-2009

Posted by thirtyfootscrew On June - 1 - 20091 COMMENT

A5 Furniture Exterior PanoFinding this place was essentially an accident, spotted from a car window whilst travelling down the A5 a few weeks prior to my visit. It was pretty easy to find/remember the location as it’s very close to the M1, Junction 9 and right between a Shell garage and a pub called The Waggon & Horses (please note that this is a strip-pub and not a family establishment). I thought it’d be a bit weird to park on the main road so I took the road up the side of the garage and parked in a layby right at the back of the site.

The WarehouseFor some reason I decided to make my entrance with a crazy head on my shoulders, I proceeded to scrabble through undergrowth alongside the building, being barked at by the pub dog to find an un-openable door and a massive patch of nettles. I made it back up the slope easier than I’d gotten down there only to find a nice set of concrete stairs down to the building on the opposite side of the layby where I’d parked. This was a classic example of the both-feet-first approach gone wrong and save for the pair of inquisitive bikers watching me from afar (I waited them out) the access was easy in the end.

A Rose Among ThornsThe site consists of a single large warehouse-like building in which I imagine the furniture was both built and sold, the place is pretty-much gutted including the the offices although there’s not much to give away the original purpose of the site, save for the giant sign still intact on the main-road side. There’s a lot of graffiti in the place and I recognised both styles and names from previous visits to Harperbury Hospital – the main artists being Phor, Nomad, Adept and Demographix, a couple of bits are quite artful and I managed to make a couple of panoramas from the walls…

Short Graffiti Wall

A5 Furniture Small Graffiti Wall

Long Grafiti Wall

A5 Furniture Large Graffiti Wall

Burnt Out Offices Trying to EscapeAs there weren’t so many artefacts left and the place is essentially one giant empty room the explore didn’t last too long, the offices were a bit wrecked and have clearly been involved in some sort of fire (arson or otherwise) that didn’t seem to have spread to the main building.  There wasn’t much graffiti in this part either save for the red bloody handprints on the wall which could be quite disturbing in the half-light but they’re more obviously paint in the daylight.  Outside the back of the office is the road-side with the still intact sign (picture at top), other than that I didn’t really see much to stay for so I jumped back in the car and headed off – navigating the easy way, not via the dog+nettles side!


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About Me

If youre into Urbex or youre trying to find out what its all about you may find yourself needing some help finding out about the art of Urban Exploration.  Here at Sick Britain Im planning to put up original content like my What is Urbex? and Urbex Safety articles as well as posting links to other community sites such as 28 Days Later or Derelicte.

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    BarEnjoy the View...awaiting the surgeon..9047 Get Out.....admiring the view..Vale of ClwydAbandoned Textile FactoryJust Another Manic Monday.inspiral...RestaurantThe Pheasant & OrganistMinffordd Cottage Hospitalcafeteria..Reception CorridorMethodist Church UptonWard A