hellingly redevelopment visit, nov 2010

So... 2 months since our last visit.

It was with some trepidation that we entered the hallowed turf (or muddy catastrophe) of Hellingly to observe the changes that had befallen this once incredible building.

On the one hand, we knew that some of the larger parts of the site had to be done away with as they didn't appear on any architectural plans of the site, but at the same time, a hopeful little voice told us that the weather hadn't been good recently and that there was still a huge amount of little fiddly bits such as ancilliary buildings, sheds and the remnants of Corridors that had to be removed thoroughly before anything big could come down.

Even so, we were still braced for shocks.

Agents present: Ghost, Skyframe, Shades & The Missus.

Infiltration date: 20th November 2010.


ABOVE & BELOW: Well, this is the first thing that really pissed us off.

We knew that the Medical Superintendent's Lodge looked as though it would be taken down as last time, the scrub had been cleared all round it and one corner of it had been ripped out upstairs, possibly due to instability. We did wonder, with a glimmer of hope, whether the rest of the building would be kept? It was a very characterful little building and would make a wonderful detached house if redeveloped. So we were all a tad doomy when we found half of it chewed off and just left. They didn't even afford the old place the dignity of totally razing it to the ground.


RIGHT: If we had seen this view 3 months earlier, it might have given us the false hope that the Medical Superintendent's Lodge might be kept, but now we know that the only reason the adjoining section of corridor had been removed was to make it easier for the excavators to get to the top floor.

RIGHT: Thank God the Water Tower is still with us. We have been told that it will be "demolished with a controlled detonation" (read 'blown to fuck'), but as yet no date has been mentioned anywhere.

BELOW: The combination of weather, calm, sadness and destruction made us all very thoughtful on this visit. So many memories, so many fantastic days out. None of us fancied a birds eye view of the site from here, so the ladder remained untouched.

RIGHT: This view shows the exact path of the Southern Main Corridor, which ran immediately behind the building's southern frontage. A lovely big service tunnel lurks beneath and one of the skylights can bee seen minus a grille at the bottom right hand corner of the photo.

BELOW: This is a favourite dirty trick with property developers - they take the tiles off the roof, leave it for a few months and hope that water ingress will make the property uneconomical to repair, so that they can tear it down, amend their design brief and push through tat lovely new-build they had always promised themselves, instead. Cynical? Us?

BELOW: The process of stripping out had started to progress to other, previously untouched parts of the site.

One of the key parameters of any demolition or redevelopment is that as much of the original material of a development must be recycled as possible. To this end, the developers strip all wood out and either recycle it or burn anything that's not good enough to keep. Or they could leave it heaped up inside, in the hope that arsonists will torch the place so they can then demolish it and push through tat lovely new-build they had always promised themselves, instead.

LEFT:The corridor from the Medical Super-intendent's Lodge intersects 2 main corridors along the southern frontage of the building and would have lead northwards to more buildings that were the main bulk of the central Nucleus of the site.

In this photo, any remaining structures in this part of the site have been cleared - that is, The Laundry, The Kitchens, Canteen, The Telephone Exchange, Airing Courts, The Reservoir and the Engineering and Maintenance Department.



BELOW: A quick look, just to make sure the Nurses Accommodation Block was still there.

BELOW: Another view of the Nurses Accommodation Block. Hmmm. The roof's gone, so that won't be staying, then...

LEFT: The Hall is now totally isolated from any surrounding structures and we suspect demolition won't be far off now.


NEXT 4 IMAGES: Although not incredibly easy to see in these pictures, just around the threshold of the doorway, there are impressions of hobnails, which would have been on the bottom of workers' boots, imprinted in the concrete of the floor. This is quite an incredible find.

ABOVE: Keys on last picture give an idea of scale.



ABOVE: Stripping out has begun in the Nurses Accommodation Block. This block is possibly the most complete and most convertible block on the site and if it's not being kept, this is just sheer laziness on the part of the developers

BELOW: The bathroom blocks are being removed from the rear of the southern frontage, leaving some scary drops...


ABOVE & BELOW LEFT + RIGHT: Some of the piles of rubble that blighted the site are starting to disappear. It seems that a lot of the recycled brickwork has now been shifted and a lot of the unusable stuff is being used to level the site and fill in the service tunnels.

BELOW: No roof? Then it's probably not staying...

BELOW: Even in its current sorry state, Hellingly Lunatic Asylum still remains a veritable Mecca for explorers.


ABOVE: The vast majority of the flooring inside the Admin Block was mosaic and would have extended to the back of the building and a short way along the central corridor. Not one square inch of it is going to be saved... 

BELOW: Remember this image, this is the last time it will ever be seen in one piece.