hellingly redevelopment visit august 2010

In total contrast to last month's fantastic trip to Hellingly, the weather this time was pants.

Although we managed to avoid the rain, the grey crapness didn't do much to raise our spirits. Neither did the fact that the demolition crew had really put a bit of a spurt on.

 Obviously, we expected some more bits to have disappeared in the month since our last visit, but they really had pulled their finger out and it wasn't just 4 Jamaicans chipping concrete off bricks any more!

A lot more of the central nucleus of the site had been removed and levelled and a lot of the blocks had had their rooves removed. We don't just mean the tiles had been stripped, the whole timber structure of the rooves had been taken away and either recycled or burnt. We found this quite surprising, as one of the things that had always seemed to be most impressive about hellingly was the state of the rooves - they always appeared to be exceptional given the 15 years of neglect the site had faced in general.

Thankfully, the key features of the site remained intact - The Hall and The Water Tower still stood proudly, but the vast majority of the remaining covered corridors had now gone and it realy was going to be awkward navigating our way around the site. We were going to have to get cunning.

Mission Operatives: Ghost & Skyframe.

Mission date: 26th August 2010.


ABOVE: Silly action shot starring Agent Skyframe. Honestly, he's like a big mad dog sometimes... too much energy for his own good. You'd think kayaking,running, exploring, building a coracle, a recumbent bicycle, a 48 hour week driving buses, a very noisy cat and thrashing 7 shades of shit out of an electronic drumkit most day would tire him out, but it seems not.

BELOW: Someone had been looking after the woodlands on the way into Hellingly recently, which is always a good thing in our books. We are always intrigued to find ad-hoc shelters and things on our way through the woods. I don't think this one was ever fully finished, but it's always interesting to see how they're put together.

BELOW: We emerged from the woodland, field and grounds slap bang in the middle of the frontage., slightly further along than we usually did. We were slightly perterbed by the sudden total absence of windows in the frontage - they'd now moved a lot further around the site rather than just the South-Westerly corner. The inevitable scrub clearence had also expanded around this side of the building as well. This wasn't as much of a problem as we first envisaged, as rather than having to clamber over the new mounds of felled tree, we were able to follow the tyre tracks straight up to the gap cleared around the windows of the frontage. Agent Skyframe in best sporting gentleman pose.

BELOW: We haven't been able to fathom what was going on here: suspended ceiling and inlenook fireplace. Very odd. It's even stranger when you consider that it isn't even a chimney, but an inglenook erm.... pointless thingy. Still, it was necessary to dive through this room and out through the double doors into what was left of the Main Corridor, from whence we could sneak off and find some stairs up to the first floor.

BELOW: Beyond the double doors seen above, a short corridor connects to the Main Corridor. This runs left to right, just beyond the next doorway, visible just to the left of the centre of the photo.

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ABOVE: This view shows the Eastern end of The Hall. The covered Corridor and it's collapsing roof have been removed and the block to the left of the Corridor is halfway through demolition.

LEFT: This link shows the same view a month ago, prior to clearence.

BELOW: This view shows the same buildings from slightly further round to the left, looking due North-East.

BELOW: Whilst the area around th base of the Water Tower hasn't really changed much, a vast mound of felled trees and scrub has suddenly appeared, where the site clearence has begun to spread into the (until recently) relatively untouched Eastern side of the site. It is now apparent to us why the old Reservoir has been kept so long and not filled in: it is being used as an enormous impromptu fire pit to reduce the trees down to ash, which is a lot less bulky and can be used for infill.

BELOW: Another lovely big vertical pan of the Water Tower and the site beyond, looking across towards the Nurses' Accomodation Block. Note that, although not incredibly clear in this photo, the rest of the Laundry has been cleared.

BELOW: Whilst redevelopment of any site is never a good thing for us Explorers, it does have the unexpected bonus of opening up rooms and locations that were previously locked down and thoroughly boarded up.  This is one such room - we had never seen this dentist's chair before. Agent Skyframe checks out the site panorama looking due East, from the next room along.

BELOW: The builders' Yard, looking due North. This area is immediately adjacent to The Drive, the main road coming into the Hellingly Campus.

BELOW: This view looking East across the site shows how much things have moved on in the Eastern half of the site. The remnants of the Heating Plant and Boiler House have been dismantled and only the oil tanks remain. All traces of The Mortuary have gone (would have stood on the bank just behind the blue Portaloo next to the excavator). The Laundry and surrounding buildings have gone and the vast pile of broken concrete that filled the former courtyard in front of the Nurses' Accomodation Block has gone. There was a massive amount of concrete and the pile stood 8 feet deep in some places, so this is no mean feat, especially as there is no evidence of a crusher on site at the present time.

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ABOVE: Nothing at all remains of The Main Corridor, but the path still shines through the surrounding destruction. Just beyond the facing blocks, the tunnel has clearly been breached and is in the process of being filled in with rubble.

ABOVE: Site panorama looking due West from the Nurses' Accomodation Block. The links shown on the RIGHT are of the same view on previous occasions to show how it has changed:

From the top:

May 2009, April 2010, June 2010, July 2010.

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BELOW: The Admissions Block, despite having been gutted by fire and sadly boarded up and behind fences, still manages an air of quiet menace against the brooding sky. This is the only part of the site that's listed, so we hope it will be kept and pressed into an alternative use - it does have some fantastic architectural features.

BELOW: This view shows the builders' yard compound looking due South. This is just off The Drive, on the North-Western site perimeter.

BELOW: The future - Hellingly gentrified. Horrid, generic, androgenous homes for overpaid middle men. A character development?  Pffft.