hellingly redevelopment visit july 2010

BELOW: It was an absolutely gorgeous summers day when we returned to Hellingly for our July 2010 redevelopment visit and as we walked through the bluebell woods on our usual way onto the site, we just had to stop for a mess about in the stream. Being engineering types, the natural thing to do with a stream is to try and dam it... so, we all had a great time "arsing" around in the mud before someone suggested that we "crack" on...!

BELOW: The winning entry!

BELOW: We didn't take our usual way in, as so much more of the frontage of the building had been opened up by the developers. This in turn bought about a complete new set of dangers in that in some locations, they had started taking up and recycling the floorboards. They hadn't really done it to any logical plan and the locations were totally random, which didn't help much.

BELOW: Through the day room and into the main carridor adjacent to the Hall.  Work had started on the job of removing the Corridors between the various parts of the site. As has been said before, the ultimate plan is to split the site into small blocks and then turn thos blocks into viable spaces for 3, 4 or 5 bedroom houses over however many floors available. (NB: In later visits we were totally shocked by how little of the original buildings would be kept. Ed.)

As the place was absolutely crawling with builders, we had to proceed with great caution and extreme Ninja skills. An additional hazard was that many of the Corridors now had big chunks missing at the ends, which made us very visible to anyone watching out for visitors.

BELOW: As usual and now with the added dangers of missing floors, we ventured up the stairs to the first floor wherever possible, because there are concrete floors throughout, for the upper stories.

BELOW: Any developers have to take great care to ensure that as much of the original building material of a site is reused or recycled, so there were a lot of builders sat on the rooves removing the tiles. This has been the case for the last couple of visits.

BELOW: The Chief Medical Superintendent's Lodge remains thankfully untouched for the moment, despite the commencement of scrub clearence around the perimeter of the site frontage. Note that the halved oil tank was originally at the rear of the site, near the Morgue and the Heating Plant. They are very handy for dumping wood into for burning...

BELOW: More scrub clearence... This building looks even more imposing now that we can actually see it without the shroud of brambles.

ABOVE: The Eastern end of the Hall - this part of the site, particularly the South-Eastern corner remains pretty untouched to date, with the exception of a few rooves stripped. This view is looking due North-East, towards the Nurses' Accomodation Block, which is just visible to the right of the connifer tree, I think.

BELOW: This is the roofscape between the frontage of the site and the Hall, with the hall on the left, looking due East. A year later and all of these buildings are now gone.

ABOVE: Very tidily burnt chair, which made us rethink our theories about spontaneous combustion! 

TOP RIGHT: Agent Rick reflects on better days for Hellingly...

BOTTOM LEFT: Interesting graffitti.

BOTTOM RIGHT: Shite graffitti.

LEFT: Fantastic old ceramic light switches, fascinating in their simplicity. They'd only have been mercilessly crushed under the caterpillar tracks of huge excavators, but I'm pleased to say they have been cleaned up, polished and now live in my bedroom, albeit just for decoration :o) 

BELOW: Deconstruction of roofing in some areas made it quite challenging to get around via our usual paths. Our route around Hellingly over the next few months was to change subtly every time we visited as bits were gradually removed or blocked up. This is the Western end of The Hall, looking due North. The Chapel is just visible through the gap above the roof.

BELOW: The same location as the last photo, taken from downstairs, as we tried to navigate our way into The Hall to make sure ti was still okay inside.

BELOW: Nearly got spotted! I wanted a nice view of the Water Tower with the trees in front and was so busy lining up the shot, I didn't notice the group of builders working in front of it. Luckily they all had their backs to me, but were a little too close for comfort so I scaled it back a bit.

A little way back along this Corridor was the access to the Hall. There were a lot of people milling about on the far side, but we really wanted to make sure it was okay. The wooden floor has been taken up and the brick piers that provided the gap for the under-floor heating have been demolished. It was a treacherous climb from the void under The Stage, but worth it for the pictures. Luckily Skyframe managed to snap a few good ones without getting spotted!

BELOW: The understage void. We hung around here for a minute or two as some of the builders were a little too close to comfort. When we first visited hellingly, this area was pitch black,. However, with the removal of all the doors, the light levels down here are much improved. The front of the stage has been partly disassembled, probably for safety.

BELOW: So, back upstairs for a couple of decent views across the site. The Water Tower looks remarkably lonely without the surrounding buildings and corridors and we're guessing that the space being cleared around it is in order to allow it to fall once brought down with dynamite.

BELOW: The big square hole in the ground used to be the reservoir area. It's very strange seeing it like this, because when we originally found it, it was covered with saplings andit was only the vents sticking up from the ground that gave it away. The clarity of this part of the site belies the serious amount of scrub clearence that has been going on - it was almost impossible to look out of any window without trees being a predominant feature on the horizon. A lot of foliage has been removed. The Admissions Block is visible centre of the photo. The view is very roughly North-East from just South of The Water Tower.

 BELOW: The block in this photo is just to the right of the position from which the last photo was taken. The view is looking roughly North.

BELOW: The Northern end of the Main Corridor, looking due East. The Hall is visible just to the right of the centre of the photo. Note the lightwell next to the floor of the corridor, there's a lovely big tunnel running directly under the corridor, being gradually filled in with rubble...

BELOW: We wanted a closer look at the lack of corridors, but were perilously close to the builders at the base of the Water Tower. A bit of extreme ninjering was required here - Skyframe and Rick check the coast is clear. 

BELOW: When we first came to Hellingly, we found a very eerie boarded up room full of bonfire effigies. A year later we find the other side of the door. Woohoo!

BELOW: We stealthily navigated our way right through the middle of the "live" section of the site using a bizarre combination of tomfoolery and extreme sneakiness and ninjering.

BELOW: Hellingly is as famous for its incredible graffitti as it is for its huge corridors and astounding atmosphere. I'm guessing someone wanted to leave a lasting tribute, but had to leave in a hurry. Unless they were used by the demolition crew to mark things out? Nah, not nearly so romantic.

BELOW: An uncovered open end of a service Tunnel sits forlornly in the razed environment. There is still a fair distance of the tunnel network left at the present time, but it is being split up and filled in very quickly and I wouldn't advise anyone to check it out now.

BELOW: Another breach of an underground Service Tunnel can be seen centre of the photo. Just above the visible section of tunnel is the junction with the main corridor. The floor of the Main Corridor can be seen in the cente of the photo running left to right, just in front of the Western end of The Hall (the tallest visible roof just left of the centre of the photo).

BELOW: Our beloved Water Tower, now severed from the corridors around it. Although not incredibly clear in this photo, the Water Tower sits at the junction of the Main and Western Diagonal Corridors and the roof of the corridor, the floor, walls and Service Tunnels have been cut through at this point. The flashing for the corridor roof can be seen on the front wall of the Tower. Bricks fill the trench of the newly exposed tunnel in the foreground.

BELOW: The Corridor and Tunnel breach mentioned above is a little more visible in this photo.

BELOW: The lure of the remaining tunnel proved too much for us - we had to go in them for one last time, just so say goodbye. We ducked out of view near to an easily accessible staircase and went to pay our last respects.

ABOVE & BELOW: The beginning of the end for the Service Tunnels. Whilst odd sections of them were accessible, quite frequently, hte accessible bits only go a few tens of metres in any direction before the encroachment of brilliant sunlight or vast heaps of brickwork. The end of an era.

BELOW: Ghost thought it would be a good idea, as the Tunnel network may no longer be accessible after this visit, to mark the last visit to the tunnels by a photo of our members looking sad and upset at the loss of a legend etc etc. Proof, if any were needed that here at ghost-of, we never take ourselves too seriously. We did get a photo to mark the auspicious occasion a little later in the set, thankfully.

BELOW: It did feel quite sad to be exitting the awesome network of Tunnels for the last time and I still wonder to this day just how thorough the demolition crew have been at filling them in. Hopefully one day in 20 years time, someone might try to investigate a romour about tunnels under their house and find our humble website...

BELOW: Your author, in one of his favourite places on the planet, for the last time ever.

BELOW: The ghost-of crew commemorate their last ever trip in Hellingly's Service Tunnels. It was quite strange to know that we'd never ever get down here again and we feel very priveleged to have been able to see them first hand.

ABOVE: With heavy heart, we trapsed back up the stairs from the tunnels and into the remains of the Main Corridor at the Western end of the Hall.

BELOW: The Central Corridor, which ran East to West at the rear (North side) of the Hall, encompassing the Exercise Courts and Reservoir area and the Telephone Exchange..

BELOW: Downstairs Day Room at the Western End of the site, with the floorboards removed and stacked ready for recycling.

BELOW: We took the staircase at the end of the Day Room back to slightly more stable ground on the first floor once again. The team leave their calling card on a fallen storage heater...

ABOVE & BELOW: Time for some more luvverly Water Tower shots. We usually photograph the site looking in the other direction - these are looking due East  across the central nucleus of the site. In the picture BELOW (from extreme left to right): The Admission Block, The 3 storey Nurses' Accomodation Block (from which we usually take our pictures looking across the site), immediately infront of the Nurses' Accomodation is the remains of the Laundry and Kitchens coming down. The Maintenance Depot and Engineering Centre stood between the oil tanks and The Water Tower in this photo.

BELOW: What remains of the old Mortuary building and Heating Plant / Boiler House. TheMortuary would have stood in the gap on the extreme left of the picture, but after it was gutted by arsonists, was one of the easier buildings to remove.

BELOW: Changing our vantage point by moving along the corridor on the first floor. We were, once again, a little too close to the workers for comfort.

BELOW: We worked our way back round to this part of the site, the famous Blue Room. This room has some fantastic graffitti in the adjoining areas, all positioned to achieve maximum effect as you walk through it. On the left through the door is an incredibly detailed Enigma machine, through the central doorway is a work I affectionally call Chip in her Shoulder - depicting a girl in victorian clothing with a scary looking dark shape holding a knife behind her - the chip bit comes from the way part of her face and shoulder has disapperaed as the plaster of the wall has crumbled. The right hand dor is the home of The Bath Lady, visible in some later pictures. I see some total NED has sprayed green tits and a fanny onto Chip in her Shoulder....

BELOW: Closer view of the graffitti mentioned above. Also note the glass observation windows above the two smaller doors to the left and right of the main door respectively.

BELOW: One of the observation windows above the doors. It must have taken an immense amount of effort to break the glass, as it is at least 7 feet up the wall and an inch thick glass. Some people have altogether too much time on their hands.

BELOW: Back down stairs into the Corridors. I think this is one of the Diagonal Corridors, possibly the Eastern Diagonal corridor.

BELOW: We made our way cautiously Northward across the site to the Nurses' Accomodation Block on the North Eastern corner of the site. This, as I have mentioned previously, is our main vantage point for our views across the site.

BELOW: Last remnants of the Laundry and Canteen area, with the Admissions Block in the background.

ABOVE & BELOW: Demolition crew moving gradually North-East, removing ancillary buildings. The floors of corridors are just descernible around the piles of bricks,just to the right of the cente of the photo.

BELOW: The courtyard we found previosly filled will concrete rubble is still untouched, but the buildings at the far end that used to bound it in, are being torn down in this shot. The direction is roughly South-West, looking towards The Main Hall. The little tower on top of the hall can be seen on the horizon.

BELOW: Parting shot of the central stairwell in the Nurses' Accomodation Block - 3 floors and no bannisters any more - quite a test for anyone who doesn't have a good head for heights, but worth it to get  good photos.