hellingly visit september 2010

We're back!

So what's changed?

Well, the leveling of the central nucleus of the site has now gathered momentum and the insidious approach of demolition has now reached the Main Hall. The buildings around the hall have now gone, along with the last vestiges of Corridors around this side of the site.

Around the perimeter of the southern frontage, scrub clearance has given the building a much more defined and more dominant appearance now that there is a definite break between natural and man-made.

In the centre of the site, levelled areas are now starting to appear where there were previously glimpses of tunnels, the remains of corridors and vast piles of broken concrete and stacks of bricks...

BELOW: The miriad of holes in the security fence for access by huge machines of destruction gave us quick and easy access to the building and the systematic removal of the vast majority of boards and windows meant we didn't have to look very far for a quick and easy way in. It was good o see that a lot of the debris had been cleared from the lean-to conservatories - in previous reports I had been saddened by the contractors methods of removing  fabric from the top floors by throwing it out of the upstairs windows, frequently without opening them first.

BELOW: The removal of the vast majority of foliage around the Chief Medical Superintendant's Lodge meant that at last we were able to admire the remains of the fantastic architecture of this little block. We were also quite upset at a large chunk missing from one corner. We had always thought that this would make a nice little block, possibly of 2 or 3 two bedroom flats - the shell appeared to be in a good condition despite being burnt out. Oh well, it appears we could be wrong on that, then...

BELOW: A slightly more detailed shot of the Chief Medical Superintendant's Lodge. 

BELOW: We next moved around to the South-Western corner of the site, as this was the furthest point from the part of the site that was being redeveloped. It was also apparent quite quickly that this part of the site hadn't come to the attention of the developers yet: it still had a reasonable compliment of windows, roof and boarded up windows. This view changes very subtly every time we come here.


ABOVE: Although the perimeter of the site has had a vast amount of scrub cleared, the structure itself has been left alone for the moment. This view shows the extreme western end of the site, looking due west.  

BELOW: At the extreme western end of the site, it was as though redevelopment hadn't even started. Trees and vegetation are still abundant and the hospital and nature co-exist comfortably together.


BELOW: Aha! A way in.

LEFT: Once inside the block, it was pretty much untouched as we expected. However, once inside, there were a few doors and windows which opened onto the central nucleus of the site and we could see the diggers and piles of rubble were a lot closer than we remember from previous trips....


BELOW: It wasn't long before we had made our way through the outer eastern edge of the building and into the central nucleus. The huge pile of uprooted and battered trees has reduced somewhat, as the contractors have been burning it gradually in half of an oil tank.

This view shows the path of the main corridor which ran along behind the Main Hall between the Hall and the Kitchens & Laundry. The Service Tunnel underneath ha yet to be ripped up, but there are no longer any ways into the Tunnels that we could see. The buildings visible here are the Nurses Accommodation Block and Eastern End of the site.

The site has been split up into more definite blocks and we hope that now this has been done, the majority of them will be kept and converted.

BELOW: One of the blocks in the central nucleus of the site comes down gradually, to be turned into pallets of recycled bricks. Note the Admin Block and Boiler House on the left hand side of the photo: no changes have been made to the Admin Block and we wonder if it may be kept as part of a character restoration? The shell is largely intact, but the centre is burnt out.

BELOW: This is the end wall of what was The Kitchens. The Laundry block can be seen just behind with the little tower on the roof.

BELOW: As has been mentioned previously, the South-Eastern corner of the site is relatively untouched thus far and has managed to retain a good deal of the tranquility for which it is so well known (but for how long?)

BELOW: Room containing the graffitti we refer to as "Chip in her Shoulder", still intact but devoid of windows! It appears that some parts of this block (at least) will be kept, hence the "Retain" markings on the walls.

On subsequent later visits, we would find that this room has been cleaved in half, more or less down the middle, as it is dead centre of the Southern Frontage and will eventually represent a gateway into the site from that side. In March 2012, we find that the room is completely open at one end, at the level of the line running down the wall next to the 2nd window on the right hand side of this photo. The end of the building has been abruptly and cleanly truncated and we hope will be walled up in due course.

See the attached link below for future views of this location (seen on  30th April 2011 & 13th February 2012).

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BELOW: The famous Blue Room, home to the graffitti of the woman in the bath. A mere shadow of its former self, but still here for the moment.

BELOW: The Central Nucleus, viewed from the North-Eastern side. The Hall is now looking a lot more isolated and increasingly more vulnerable. I suspect its days are very sadly numbered, as there is no sign of it being retained in any plans I have seen for the site redevelopment. It's a great shame as it would represent scope for some incredibly characterful property conversions.

Imagine 6 3 floor properties with those fantastic stained glass windows reinstated? What about some full duplex loft apartments nestled beneath that incredible roof? Sadly, such character developments cost a great deal of money to create and I suspect that the developers are neither this creative nor likely to pour such finances into such a project.


ABOVE & BELOW: As the villas and blocks are gradually pulled down, these mournful little piles of landfill spring up in their place. It is difficult to imagine that anything constructive could rise from such a mess.


ABOVE: Looking from one of the 2 remaining buildings which make up the Nurses Accomodation Block. These two buildings, along with The Admin Block appear to have lasted the longest on the site without any massive modifications or scars so far. We hope that they will be kept and reused.

BELOW: Agent Skyframe is so shocked by the carnage that he needs to skin up.

BELOW: Parting shot of the Admin Block with The Hall poking out from behind the left hand end. Little did we suspect, but this would be one of the last times we would ever see The Hall intact.