west park tunnels

West Park Episode4:

The Tunnels Tour.

After 6 months of concentrating on the redevelopment of Hellingly Lunatic Asylum in Sussex, the ghost-of crew were very much saddened to learn of the impending demolition of West Park Lunatic Asylum.

On checking up with various other Urbex forums, we were even more horrified to discover that demolition had already begun and was progressing at an alarming rate. However, we had also been told that there was still a huge amount available to see and that the demolition process had opened up a lot of places previously totally inaccessible to us. It was high time for a revisit to one of our favourite haunts.

We had decided to dive up on a weekend, thinking that this would be the best time to avoid any demolition crew or security personnel. Our hunch proved totally correct and we found more than we could possibly have expected.

Mission Date: 15th January 2011

Mission Operatives: ghost, skyframe & nissan man

New Operatives: Jas, Dreads & MissusJas.

It was an honour and privelege to finally meet and explore with you! See you all soon.

ABOVE: After arriving at our usual access point, we were amazed at how much the place had appeared to have changed in just a few months. Rather than the usual vista of buildings peeping over the (incerdibly ineffectual and massively breached) outer security fence, we could see that a lot of the buildings were without rooves, some were without windows, but more worrying was the sudden appearence of an impenetrable looking security fence, seemingly all around the perimeter of the site. Still, we are not easily deterred, so we went for a closer look and found that all we had to do was to walk around the end of the fence and over the barbed wire, so it was more of a visual deterrent.

ABOVE: So, into the grounds we went. after a couple of steps into the site, we saw movement around one of the buildings on the perimeter of the site. At first we thought we had been rumbled by security, but thankfully, security don't tend to wear such trendy specs and we were very happy that we had just walked into Nissan Man and friends. After initial introductions, he had brought with him a group of individuals that I had only ever spoken to via E-mail and I have to say that it was fantastic to finally meet Jason and co. Soo now twice as strong in number, we set off for the nearest open looking window! (BELOW) WARNING! The rumours of PIR sensors in the grounds are TRUE! There is one just under the tree next to the water tower in this photo.

ABOVE: Checking the floors: The team very gingerly check out the stability of the floors in this ward - as they are largely wooden on the ground floor and due to the massive amount of water ingress and damp over the years, they are not very solid, as Nissan Man found when he went through the floor to the right of the left hand door minutes later. Thankfully it was only a 3foot drop and he assures us he wasn't badly hurt. If there is a carpeted area at all, this is immensely helpful as if the floor does go, it will spread your weight and dramatically slow your descent. Some of the underfloor voids in these wards can be as much as 9ft, which is easily enough to break ankles.

LEFT: Part of the first ward we managed to find our way into was, as usual, given over to individual cubicles, but these were a little different from ones that we had previously observed because the doors weren't quite as heavily constructed and had a much larger vertical viewing glass than on previously found examples within the building. Maybe whoever lived in these rooms were more of a danger to themselves than anyone else...

ABOVE: MissusJas makes like a tree, ever aware that security could be just behind us. We spent the first half of the tour constantly moving and being very wary that we had just breached a PIR, so some of the photos are a little blurry as taken whilst running backwards! After a while we relaxed, as it didn't seem like anyone was going to find us once we were a long way in and extremely hazardous to get to.

ABOVE: Although a lot of the wards are now "un-boarded", some are still very well sealed up and at this point we had to get across one of the little quads to get to the next ward along. Having negotiated our way through a little window, it was nice to see another of the little shelters in the exercise areas. They appear to have stood the test of time remarkably well and I hope that if the site is to be redeveloped, at least one of them is retained - they have a great deal of character. Maybe as a little cafe or an ice cream shop? 

ABOVE: Aha, now we recognised this bit - this stairwell lead up to the burnt out upstairs bit which we had seen previously in our second visit to West Park. We went up and had a look to see if anything had changed, but as it had all been photographed in a previous explore, I didn't feel it necessary to take any more pictures.

ABOVE: The ward downstairs was worth another look, though. It is always interesting to see how various Urbexers rearrange the exhibits for arty photo shots. Again, the floor  here wasn't brilliant, but felt a lot better than in the first ward. We proceeded with caution.

ABOVE LEFT & ABOVE RIGHT: Plenty of nicely posed shots here! Thankfully there wasn't anything of historical importance left in the comode.

LEFT: This room must have stunk to high heaven whilst in use. There was no extractor fan inside.

BELOW: This is an overall pan of this particular ward.It is in surprisingly good condition seeing how long it has been out of use for. It is nice that the curtains around the cubicles are still there and the beds arestill in place: quite often these are some of the first things that non-urbexers will smash up. A lot of the light fittings even had bulbs left in them.

ABOVE: Back out into the corridors and onto pastures new (or something like that). It's good to see that all the original corridors were untouched at the time of our visiting, but for how long we aren't sure. Note the huge pile of rubble on the right of the corridor: we believe this used to be the old social block with the hairdressers in it - we'd often end up somewhere near it on the way into the site.

ABOVE LEFT: This is the point where most people would stop and think about what lay ahead, but any asbestos work is subject to such stringent safety standards that things are pretty safe up until you reach the polythene sealed sections (ABOVE RIGHT).

ABOVE RIGHT: I'd hate to be the person to empty this little hoover!! We did not go into this area.

BELOW: This section had been previously burnt out  by arsonists and along with the Asbestos containment screen at the end, gave the corridor a particularly evil feel. We didn't stop in here for very long.

ABOVE: Back in the slightly less lethal areas of West Park, we found that some of the areas that had been boarded up and inaccessible for years had yeilded some interesting little finds. It is aways interesting when looking around these places to find little insights into the lives of the people who live here. We have left the name and address of the individual purposefully unfocussed to protect his or her identity. Any dates have been Photoshopped out of the image.  

ABOVE: Back in the slightly less lethal areas of West Park, we found that some of the areas that had been boarded up and inaccessible for years had yeilded some interesting little finds. It is aways interesting when looking around these places to find little insights into the lives of the people who live here. We have left the name and address of the individual purposefully unfocussed to protect his or her identity. Any dates have been Photoshopped out of the image.  

BELOW LEFT & RIGHT: After a short while, we found a way down into the tunnels and it just happened to be that we were suddenly in the eeriest part of the site again. This room, as has been commented on before, has a large manmade ad-hoc containment structure in the middle of it, as partially seen in the right-hand photo. It is roughly 10 foot by 30 foot and about 12 to 18 inches high. We are guessing that it was built to contain dogs as there has been documented history of illegal dog fighting on the site. Some people have speculate that because the structure has roofing acros on top of the structure, it has been used simply to prop the roof up, but the roof is very solid at this point and the acros are braced on top of the structure, so appear to be to keep the roof pinned down and thus, whatever was contained inside - in. The room has a very oppresive feel and a faint smell of something quite evil. It was here that we split into 2 groups. Sensibly, Agents Jas and MissusJas were a bit cagey about going into the service tunnels due to the presence of large amounts of dust in the air and the possibility of asbestos particles, but for some of us, the tunnels are what we came for. Agents Ghost, Skyframe, Nissanman and Dreads braved the tunnels: we may not be able to get into them again and there's no time like the present. Our access way into the tunnels is in the far right hand corner of the room in the right hand photo, BELOW.

BELOW: Once we had ducked under the pipework in the corner of the room and weaved our way round a few tight corners, we found one of the main service tunnels. There are tunnels interlacing the site in all directions and as the place is so spread out, we could easily walk quarter of a mile in a straight line for some of them.

ABOVE: After taking the tunnel for a few hundred yards, we branched off into one of the smaller side tunnels out of sheer curiosity and  into what appeared to be an enormous boiler room.  This room opened up into a large, well lit area containing 4 huge tanks.

RIGHT: A raised walkway at the far end of the room looked very intriguing. A ladder lead up to it, so we went and had a look. Sadly, whilst they lead to some more underground rooms of sorts, they appeared only to be store rooms, so we went back on ourselves in search of more tunnels.

BELOW: This is the raised walkway, looking back out towards the main boiler room, which would be on the left hand side of the photo.

RIGHT: Once we were back in the service tunnels, we took another side tunel after a little while and suddenly, we found ourselves at the foot of what looked like a tall chimney. There is, however, no evidence of soot anywhere and we can only assume that this would have been used to allow air to rise from the underground heating system. The site was heated largely byunderfloor heating as well as by conventional radiators.  As we continued along our path, the feel of the tunnel changed dramatically. Instead of the square cross section of the rest of the tunnels, the walls were now oval brickwork. Curious.

ABOVE: For those among us who are into the Paranormal, we have been unable to ascertain what the white shape is, seen streaking across this picture. Under high magnification, it bears no resemblance to dirt on the lense, reflection or any kind of flying insect. We can only assume it is an "Orb", or part manifestation of a spirit entity whilst we were down here. The tunnels didn't feel at all threatening until we got to one particular point, which was a pressure door (seen RIGHT).

The tunnels were blocked off after a certain point, so we were not able to go any further - there has been some speculation amongst the group that thias may have been some kind of access to an air raid shelter, as they were available in some of the asylums of this period.

ABOVE & LEFT: On reaching the pressure door, I felt very panicky and wanted to leave the area quite quickly, but I'm not sure whether this is because I was last out of the area or for any other reason. t felt as though something had brushed past behind me whilst taking a photo. It resulted in the blurry picture seen LEFT, as I tried to capture whatever it was. Nothing distinguishable came out on the picture.

ABOVE: We were more than a little intrigued by the small recesses in the wals of these tunnels at odd intervals. They indicated to us that they may have been used to provide light or ventilation into bigger rooms beyond. Sadly, those rooms were beyond where the tunnel had been bricked up and sealed up, so we could only guess as to their purpose. One is seen in this shot, just mid / right of the centre of the picture.

ABOVE: Some parts of the West Park site are still live and in use at the present time (January 2011) and in some places extra power lines have been installed to aid with asbestos removal, lighting and demolition power. We could have followed them and figured out where the source of the power was, but didn't.

ABOVE: After awhat seemed like a lot of walking in a straight line, we finally came to a corner. Note the still live power lines on this wall: Judging by the corner and the power lines disappearing upwards through a duct in the ceiling, we guessed that this tunnel was under a part of the site that was still in use. As the tunnel network is absolutely immense, there is no surefire way of telling where abouts they are in relation to the buildings on the surface.

ABOVE: This section of tunnel was a bit tricky. The tunnel narrowed down here and had a lot of pipwork on either side, so it had to be negotiated crabwise. Several of us had to take rucksacks off here. Any disturbance of thpipework could have caused problems, as they are encased in asbestos containing material. Thankfully, we managed not to touch or damage them in any way.

ABOVE LEFT & RIGHT: We have yet to work out what this actually is. It appears to be a Well. It is a vertical shaft which continues down about 60ft under the service tunnels. However, f it were a Well, there would be access from the surface. Very strange and a bit odd. Ghost and Skyframe discovered it on a previous visit and were quite unnerved by it: we had brought torches with us, but had stupidly left them in the car, so wee navigating by the light of 2 mobile phone screens when they  found it.

ABOVE: There was a lot of water down here in some places.

BELOW: These two photos are of the same view: the one on the left is with 3 million candle power of illumination, the one on the right is with just the camera flash on. Without either, it is absolute pitch black and quite spooky. There is no sound from the world above at all. On a previous trip, Ghost and Skyframe were in the tunnels whilst security were happily nailing their access way shut. Neither ofthem heard the hammering whilst in the tunnels. You are totally isolated from the outside world.

BELOW: Eventually we found a stairwell which took us back to the land of the living and another previously undiscovered ward. We were amazed by howmuch of the original material and items were prevalent here. The screens are in surprisingly good condition having stood idle for 15 years.

ABOVE: It's quite clear that a lot of the things we saw in here had been repositioned for maximum effect by generations of previous Urbexers for photographic effect.

BELOW: After climbing out of a handy window, we made our way along to the next block around. Ghost was quite impressed at this point by what appeared to be the remains of quite an ornate Ornamental Garden. There were some quite interesting plants in this area that wouldn't have been just native specimens which had grown up over the course of abandonment. There were a few which were actually quite unusual on closer inspection: a badly overgrown Japanese Acer stands in one corner, but ithas been strangled in places by Ivy.

BELOW: Panaramic view of the little ornamental garden.

BELOW: It's nice to be able to see the Hall from a previously unseen direction. We had never previously been able to get into this part of the site and the thoroughfare of the demolition contractors had opened up a lot of new locations. I think it's incredible that after 4 visits to this enormous place and over 28 hours under our belts, we are still finding new and previously unseen areas of the site.

ABOVE: Back in the maze of corridors, we spotted another previously boarded up and inaccessible building. It looked way too tantalising not to have a quick look.

ABOVE: Skyframe, Dreads and Nissan Man negotiate a previously unexplored part of the site.

ABOVE: A new and previously unseen horrible purple corridor - at least for us, anyway. It looks pretty good condition so has obviously been boarded up and inaccessible for a long time to be in such good condition.

ABOVE: Just off the horrid purple corridor, we found this room, which appears to be an Impromptu Dental Surgery. The chair has obviously added to complete a scene at a later date, but the rest of the equipment appears to be in the position in which it was left when the site was last used for purpose. On the little table to the left of the chair, moulds of dental plates can be clearly seen. There were tools in the drawers by the window and some X-ray dental slides on the bench to the right, along with some other long discarded paraphenalia. I'm not keen on dentists.

ABOVE: We found this interesting little...thingy.....in the impromptu dental room. It appears to be used for handling specimens without the risk of contamination. I'm wondering if they would have been either radioactive or involving X-rays. Whatever it was inside the unit, it's a bit freaky.

ABOVE: It appears that someone didn't like the idea of having Speech Therapy and booted the door down...

ABOVE: As we made our way off the site, we walked past this building, The Admin Block, on the way out. I have wanted to find this building every time we have visited so far and it is beautiful. I have been told that this could be one of the only parts of the site that will be saves from demolition.


Do you have any tales, anecdotes or comments on what you have seen here, that you would like to share with us?

Then get in touch - we'd love to hear from you!

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