Urbex in Cuba: Havana Train Wrecking Yard

Posted by thirtyfootscrew On October - 4 - 2009

Cuba Street View I just got back from a trip to Cuba where I spent a couple of nights in Havana before going to a beach resort for a much more traditional holiday and I thought I’d share my mini-urbex outing I had in the city.  Aside from trying to get a feel for the place and doing the touristy-type things I also took a little walk with my camera during which I came across a corrugated iron enclosure, my urbex-based 6th sense made me think “hmmm… I wonder what’s in there?” and I navigated round to the entrance (FYI, it’s on Dragones between Amistad and Industria – near the Capitolio).

It turned out that the yard was full of wrecked, rusted and derelict trains, most (if not all) having been made in America in Philadelphia’s Baldwin Locomotive Works or the Vulcan Iron Works in Wilkes-Barre, PA.  After I spent a little while wandering around the yard the owner (or at least keeper) of the place turned up, a lovely old man who rents out the space not filled by trains for use as a car park.  The man (whose name I couldn’t quite understand) spoke no English but proceeded to show me around the yard pointing our the ages on the trains, most of them seemed to have been made around 1920 but one was as old as 1873.

Here are a handful of shots that I took in the yard…

train1

train2

train3

train4

train5

train6

train7

train8

train9

Top 5 Derelict Industrial Sites

Posted by sickbritain On September - 5 - 2009

Following up on my Top 10 Abandoned Asylums post I decided to start looking at other ‘genres’ of urban exploration, in this week’s post it’s going to be industrial sites.  When I started researching the list I had a few obvious sites in mind but for the rest it was really tough to build a good solid list, industrial urbex seems to be much more diverse and localised than asylums.  It seems that explorers will travel great distances to visit an abandoned asylum but there are seem to be enough derelict warehouses, mills, factories, etc. on a local basis so people tend to visit places close to their homes.

As before, I have selected a top ten list based on the number of Flickr photos I found for each site in a single search, doubtlessly I will have missed important sites and got the ranking wrong but please feel free to point them out by leaving a comment. All of the photos used below were taken by other photographers and are used under a Creative Commons license (click through to Flickr for attribution), if you think you’ve got a better photo and it’s not CC – get your licensing sorted!


1. Pyestock NGTE

2. Inverkip Power Station

3. Nottinghamshire Colliery Group

Annesley, Clipstone, Pleasley


4. Steetley Magnesite

5. Thorpe Marsh Power Station

American Adventure Theme Park, July-2009

Posted by thirtyfootscrew On August - 11 - 2009

I spent many happy days of my childhood at the American Adventure theme park and when I read recently (on an urbex forum) that it had shut down I decided that I must visit.  The park opened in 1987 and was open for almost 20 years, closing in January 2007.  My personal favourites were the Rocky Mountain Rapids and The Missile which, in its day, had been the voted the #1 rollercoaster in the UK.  You can read about the sad decline in the Wikipedia article as well as getting some nostalgic kicks from the American Adventure fan site and browsing the original American Adventure website on the Internet Archive.

This was one of my quick visits in between places so I stowed the car in the first possible place I could find by Googling “american adventure theme park postcode” and slinging the result (DE7 5SX) into my sat-nav, and went for a walk into the site. Despite the fact that it was a miserable day there were plenty of people walking dogs and riding bikes around the perimeter of the place which is a little disconcerting when you’re trying to work out how to subvert a fence! In the end I spotted a clear and easy hole in a metal gate and slipped through unnoticed, there were several spots though so access isn’t an issue.

I didn’t make it around the entire site but what I could see was fairly barren, there are some admin buildings left and there was clear evidence of fire in certain places…

American Adventure: Fire Damage 1 American Adventure: Fire Damage 2

… and some other commercial detritus…

American Adventure: BT Meridan

Occasionally you’d spot some clear and definitive evidence that the site had been a theme park, such as bits of rides…

American Adventure: Old Ride

Points where rides had been anchored…

American Adventure: Anchor Point

You could also see where the old railway line had been, carting people around on a little model steam train…

American Adventure: Railway Sign

I know that there’s a lot more see but the rain and time constraints really stopped me from going much further, it didn’t help that I’d neglected to put on my wellies (see this post) so my feet were beginning to get a bit squelchy and I couldn’t venture into the muddier bits, next time I’m buzzing up the M1 I’ll try and make sure I’ve got some more spare time on my hands and go back for a more thorough explore.

Sick Britain Interview: Simon Cornwell of urbex|uk

Posted by simoncornwell On August - 5 - 2009

[Sick Britain] I'd like to thank Simon for the interview, his site urbex|uk is one that inspired me to start taking photos of abandoned buildings.  Please note that all links in the interview were added by us here at Sick Britain to help readers follow-up and were not supplied by Simon.

Q1: Who are you?

Simon Cornwell and I run the urbex|uk (www.simoncornwell.com/urbex) website. I’m also one of the moderators on Derelict Places (www.derelictplaces.co.uk). I’m also known in the community as “Simon Cornwell”. It was a conscious decision from the start that I would use my real name for all my urban exploration; I feel it adds integrity to my writings and explorations.

Q2: Why do you do Urban Exploration?

I was always in-and-out of derelict houses, old bomb shelters, river culverts and tunnels as a child and never really grew out of it. When I discovered various urban exploration sites on the Internet in the late 1990s, I realised it was something I missed and started sneaking in and out of derelict buildings again.

I’m driven by mainly by curiosity. What’s in that old building? What was it built for? Who worked there? Why was it designed in this form? Why did it close? I turn these transitional sites into temporary museums where the price of admission is guile, agility and courage. Therefore I’ve experienced being in various locations which I would never have been able to: anything from old lunatic asylums through to top-secret military installations.

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

Cane Hill, 13th July 2002. There had been various pictures of some of the interiors of the buildings (mainly the laundry, corridors and water tower) on Andrew Tierney’s “the_one” website but this was the first time I’d been deep in the bowels of Cane Hill itself. The main hall had been burnt down a month before, but the Chapel was still fully fitted with its pews, pulpit, organ and other furniture.

There’s always something special about going in a building and not knowing what to expect. But that day in Cane Hill was superb. (It was later written up as “Grand Tour” on my website).  Cracking the water tower six years later was also memorable and it felt like finally finishing the site off.

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

St Lawrence’s, Bodmin in January 2007. We drove all the way to Cornwall (from Royston) only to get busted within five minutes of reaching the Fosters building. We were really unlucky: the alarm system was malfunctioning, the security guard was therefore on the prowl looking for people, and we turned up at the same time.

Another memorable experience (for all the wrong reasons) took place at an asylum with a film crew. It was decided that we wouldn’t go up the water tower, but everyone was so fired up by the day’s filming that they all shot up the water tower stairs like rats up a pipe. The director pointed out a missing slat on the way up but forgot about it whilst climbing down. He fell the last step, scraping his shin on the jagged edge of the rusted metal slat, before slamming down on the concrete floor. We thought he’d bust his leg, but he managed to hobble out with help.

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

Area 51 is top of the fantasy list followed by the wreck of the Titanic.

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

Heavy boots, multiple torches, mobile phone, water and food.

Also get the best camera you can afford. I wish I had a better camera for my first forays into Cane Hill. I was halfway through formatting the “Grand Tour” when I realised that the quality of the photographs I’d taken were crap. It was the early days of digital photography, and the early tours on urbex|uk reflect that, but I wish I’d got a conventional camera or a digital camera with better resolution.

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

Remember the motto: “Take only photographs, leave only footprints.” Keep to that rule and you’ll stay on the right side of the law. And that’s for newbies and experienced explorers.

Never delay exploring a site. Always seize the day and get out there. These places are in transition and they won’t stay derelict for ever; they could be demolished tomorrow.

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

The 1,000 chickens would swarm all over the 1 giant one and gradually destroy it.

West Park Asylum, Jul-2009

Posted by thirtyfootscrew On July - 26 - 2009

The fact that there’s so many abandoned asylums across the country mystifies me, why did they all close? Where are all the former and/or expected residents? Are we all collectively more well-adjusted these days to the point where asylums are no longer needed? I think this mystery along with the general mystery of the mind and its maladies is what makes exploring abandoned asylums a particular favourite of mine, they have odd layouts and structures – nothing quite like an industrial or commercial site.  West Park has been on my ‘to do’ list for a while, it’s one of the more popular destinations on the urbex ‘circuit’ and I assumed that because of this and the wealth of Flickr photos of the place that it was completely uninhabited and extremely easy to get into but only one of my assumptions was true. On arrival I followed my sat-nav right up into the complex, right past the security/construction hut and up to a place with at least 20-odd cars dotted about – not the abandoned site I was expecting! Whilst I was driving up the main internal road I did spot what appeared to be a derelict area in the background so I knew I was in the right place but I just hadn’t approached it in the best way, as it goes I’d have probably gotten away with parking amongst (what I assume are) the staff cars because there were enough of them that I probably wouldn’t have looked out of place.  Instead I just stuck the car around the corner in a less obtrusive place though I did park it on its own so perhaps it would’ve stood out more. Rather than walking right back through the main gate I wandered up a footpath alongside the complex and came across one of several holes in the fence that was a doddle to step through, still I ended up behind a building that looked like it might be in use so I was getting a little concerned but a short walk around the back of this building (and the accompanying van parked outside) led to an area that was clearly abandoned and a massive area it is! I wasn’t really limited by time during my explore at West Park but I knew that I’d only be there a few hours, I find that explores lasting much longer are more likely to result in detection so I don’t like to push my luck, with that in mind I treated the day as extended reconnaissance and tried to get a good feel for the place with a view to returning in the future. Once into the derelict area of the site I came across building after building, most of them sealed which I presume were wards though I couldn’t get into them to see what the layout was like, each of the buildings had an accompanying green hut that was half way between a summer house and a bus shelter. After coming across so many sealed buildings I eventually got to an area where there were lots of smashed windows, this allowed me to grab a couple of shots by putting the camera through the window and shooting with the flash on, the photos didn’t always turn out but it’s interesting to see what was in there. After the smashed-window building I found a door that had been sealed but subequently ripped open, I clambered in and found what is probably the grubbiest and most rotten room I’ve ever seen during an explore…

Whilst I was positioning my camera to take shots of this room I did have a feeling that there was someone nearby, I even saw a shadow (of what looked like a man) flick across one of the windows at the far end of the building which got my heart pumping a little bit! After staying still for a while I carried on taking photos but for at least fifteen minutes I had a definite sense that I wasn’t alone and sure enough when I clambered back out of the doorway I was confronted by a deer, yes – a deer! There seemed to be quite a lot of them in this area of the complex and whilst they were a bit jumpy they were very curious and in some cases approached me for a better look, only the babies ran away through fear – the adults just stood there stating at me. After the ‘Caution Wet Floor’ room I came across a boarded up prefab right next to what looked like an entrance to the site next to a large car parking area, I think this may be one of the boundaries between the derelict site and the live site, there was a van parked in the near distance as well but I couldn’t see any signs of activity so I carried on. The prefab’s lock was smashed off so I had a look around, the place was completely boarded up so it was pitch black inside but with my trusty head torch I could see that the place was in a derelict but not completely ruined state, I managed to get the chair shot below on a 30s exposure, at f/14 on ISO 1000 and that was with the aid of the head torch! Other than having a couple more face-offs with the local wildlife I didn’t stick around too much longer, I identified a few areas that warrant further exploration so no doubt I’ll be back at some point. I’m not sure exactly how to get into the main corridor network but judging by Flickr plenty have done so – if anyone who knows the place can offer some pointers please let me know.

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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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    Fruit ExchangeFruit ExchangeBridlington Sunshine and EnergyA time of innocenceRiver Swale RichmondRiver Swale Richmond Waterfall"Euston Station Reconstruction"Queens Stores CompanyToward the C&SLR Island PlatformFlying blind"Brushwave"Queens Stores CompanyToward the CCE&HR Booking HallBritish Rail PostersGrass roots patriotismToward the L&NWR Booking Hall