All Clear

Prior to its sale to a property developer, teachers have been trained at this site since the late 1960’s by an organisation that was founded in 1888. Its brutalist architecture by William Toomath won architectural awards in 1972 and 2005. On a fresh spring morning under a clear blue sky, we found it all but cleared out.

I’ll Send You A Postcard

A comparison between Budludzha monument in Bulgaria as pictured in 1970’s publications and its abandoned state in 2015. The Getty Foundation’s investment of $185,000 in July 2019 to support the creation of a conservation and management plan for the monument hopes to reverse its sharp decline.

Circuit Breakers

While we’re on the topic of immaculately-preserved power stations . . . Here’s a tweaked edit of our four explores in 2014 and 2015 of a 600 MW thermal power station which has dominated its landscape since its construction in 1972, with a 198m high chimney – the second tallest structure in New Zealand – made from 16,400 tonnes of concrete, 1200 tonnes of reinforcing steel and almost 1,000,000 bricks. After its decommissioning in 2007 all access was prohibited and it was lit and guarded 24/7, making for some tension but also creating ideal conditions for shooting video and stills in the dead of night. Despite our anxiety at potentially exposing ourselves, we simply couldn’t resist firing up power to the control room, lighting it up like a Christmas tree.

Sterile Utility

In a sense every hospital is a sterile and utilitarian place. But the heartwarming efforts of staff to create a welcoming and warm environment for children and their parents are still very much evident in this now-closed hospital. It must be said that the discarded x-rays – which we could see from the outside prominently stuck to windows on the stairwell – were incongruently grim.

Man With Short Arms

A tweaked edit from our 2019 explore. Perhaps there was some kind of neuroscience at play in this choice of images – SpongeBob SquarePants meets the lost city of Atlantis – for a mural painted along the back corridor of the isolation cells of this now-abandoned prison. Presumably intended to calm disruptive prisoners, and engage painterly ones, further intriguing murals adorn the cold cell walls: a man pruning the limb of a tree so anatomically uniform that he might just as likely be an electrician working on wires strung from a lamp post; a Māori wahine wearing a pounamu and a kākahu feather cloak – barefoot on a pedestal – turning her face to the light; a man surveying his upcoming twisting traverse into a landscape crowned by an active volcano, with only a briefcase to sustain him; and the man with short arms – seemingly ill-equipped to utilise the key to freedom that lies beside his truncated frame with its enormous feet.

Gorgeous

A unique explore for us. This gorge used to be the main link from Manawatu to Hawke’s Bay until the rocks came falling from the Tararua Range on April 24, 2017, littering the state highway with debris. An intended few weeks closure turned into months, before the road was ultimately condemned after it was determined that the hillside could collapse at any moment.

Inclinations

Since the late 1960’s these coal tubs on the Millerton Incline in the northwest of the South Island of New Zealand have sat unmoving on their tracks. The Millerton Incline was built in 1891 and the mine it serviced began production five years later. The tubs would transport coal to Granity, which boasted at the time the largest wooden coal loading bins in the country. For the past half century coal production has shifted to the nearby Stockton coalfield.

Tracey Basher

We’ve never met former Relieving Secretarial / Support Officer Tracey Basher. But thought if we were her it would be intriguing to see what had become of our past workplace at a former “lunatic asylum”, which is now a place in which an interior waterfall nurses ferns and kawakawa.

A Lush Apocalypse

We take a walk through offices at a former “lunatic asylum”. Greenery is steadily reclaiming the site, but hasn’t yet reached a prurient temple to the sexualised female form we were surprised to find in one office that had been repurposed into a home. It didn’t even matter that tripping a security alarm curtailed our fun.

The Power of Being Thankful

Multiple layers of history are present at this site, including a New Zealand residence for a USA-based Christian study abroad organisation, a B&B and a religious convent. These layers were violently disordered by an earthquake and now are piled in a heap in a now-condemned structure soon to be demolished. Perhaps the evacuated students learnt in that one singular event more about “God and Nature” than was promised in their curriculum.

The Sun Kissed My Laundry

It wasn’t until we were inside this 1970’s social housing apartment block in Wellington that we realised what we imagined were sun-kissed, north-facing conservatories were in fact laundries. It seems unfortunate that children were not permitted to enter the most sunny interior spaces in the entire building. This is Part Two of a two-part series. Part One.

Ath’s Place

This Wellington apartment block was built in the 1970s to provide community housing. A progressive place for its time, it was situated within a campus that has the feel of a post-modernist reinterpretation of a medieval village. It is soon to be demolished to be replaced by a mixture of public and affordable housing. This is Part One of a two-part series. Part Two.

The Oyster As An Animal

This research facility in the South Island of New Zealand used to offer accomodation for researchers close to sites of scientific interest. The region offers breathtaking geological features due to its situation atop the boundary between the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates, and attracts a wide array of marine life.

Longburner

The sun was setting over the Manawatu, New Zealand. The first stop-off on an Easter road trip that remains vivid in the memory. Below the chimney was a former meat factory slowly being demolished.

I See You

This 17-hectare hospital site features nine buildings including a three-storey main hospital, maternity ward, maintenance and laundry. It was closed in 2006 when it was forecast $20 million of upgrades would be required over the next two decades to meet minimum legal and operational requirements. New hospital facilities constructed nextdoor have encountered their own issues, with $845,000 in earthquake strengthening completed in 2019 with more to come following.

An interesting entry to this main building revealed the fate of the Community Health Services library, unrealised architectural plans, a post-apocalyptic maintenance space adorned with menacing messages left by prior intruders – one of whom urged us to DIE – and altogether TMI about infectious skin diseases. This is Part Three of a three-part series. Part OnePart Two.

Pooh Corner

This 17-hectare hospital site features nine buildings including a three-storey main hospital, maternity ward, maintenance and laundry. It was closed in 2006 when it was forecast $20 million of upgrades would be required over the next two decades to meet minimum legal and operational requirements. New hospital facilities constructed nextdoor have encountered their own issues, with $845,000 in earthquake strengthening completed in 2019 with more to come following.

This former children’s ward with its heart-warmingly cheerful Winnie The Pooh murals appears to have been temporarily repurposed as a repository for books donated to charity. It must have been a large enterprise judging by the amount of rooms involved, each dedicated to some area of the Dewey Decimal System. This is Part Two of a three-part series. Part OnePart Three.

To Serve You Better Through Science

This 17-hectare hospital site features nine buildings including a three-storey main hospital, maternity ward, maintenance and laundry. It was closed in 2006 when it was forecast $20 million of upgrades would be required over the next two decades to meet minimum legal and operational requirements. New hospital facilities constructed nextdoor have encountered their own issues, with $845,000 in earthquake strengthening completed in 2019 with more to come following.

These laundry and maintenance spaces were quirky spaces to explore, from the brightness of large glass-ceilinged spaces down to the darkness of subterranean utility tunnels. This is Part One of a three-part series. Part TwoPart Three.

The Abandoned Masonic Lodge

Located in Brooklyn, Wellington this Freemason’s lodge was the largest lodge in the Wellington region.

The secretive Freemason’s had left a lot of treasures to be found when they abandoned the lodge, we looked through numerous documents such as a detailed explanation of the initiation ceremony members must go through to become a lodge member. We felt a certain eeriness to the place as we explored and photographed the lodge but also felt a little sad for the members of the lodge and what the future of the Freemasons may be.

We hope you enjoy the pictures and video.

Check out https://urbexcentral.com/category/freemasonry/

 

So Mote It Be

Among the many artefacts left behind at the closure of this masonic centre, one of the more interesting was a typed script for a masonic ceremony. Attempting to decode the script with its mysterious redactions and abbreviations was a fun challenge. It appears that a candidate for a degree of freemasonry is given the role of Third Sojourner in a play acted out over the chessboard-tiled floor. Three sojourners have recently come out of captivity in Babylon, and offer their masonry skills acquired during forced labour to the Sanhedrin – an assembly of Jewish rabbis – to assist with building the second temple of Solomon. After convincing the Sanhedrin of their genuine intentions, they are employed and dispatched to the site of the build. They are given rudimentary tools – a pickaxe, shovel and crowbar, safety ropes and explicit instructions to keep secret any artefacts they uncover from Solomon’s first temple, which according to Jewish tradition was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar II in 587 BCE. Unsurprisingly, they do make a string of discoveries in a plot as preordained as an episode of CSI: a pickaxe loosens up the earth and reveals a hollow sound beneath; a shovel clears away the earth to uncover the crown of a stone arch; its central keystone has a ring attached; a crowbar happens to perfectly fit that ring and allows the keystone to be lifted to reveal an engraving on it signposting a path to hidden treasure; lots are drawn to determine which sojourner descends into the dark cavity with the rope “cable tow” around his waist in case he meets danger and needs to be hauled up by his companions; the air he finds below is indeed poisonous and the dark is pervasive, so they wait for the illumination of the rising sun and the dissipation of the foul air; the second sojourner descends and retrieves a scroll (which according to another online source is the last remaining copy of a book of holy law hidden during Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Jerusalem); the three sojourners bind themselves to secrecy, and led by the third sojourner they make one final descent as the sun reaches its high meridian; they find a beautiful subterranean chamber and another arch made of marble, banners bearing names, and other peculiar “signs”.

As the three sojourners close up the vault, obscure its point of entry, and resolve to return the scroll, a hand drawing of the underground chamber and word of their other discoveries to the Sanhedrin, they demonstrate values and practices considered worthy of a freemason. In many respects these values and practices are not dissimilar to the ways of urban explorers. We understand the thrill of discoveries made while fossicking through the forgotten, dark cavities of the modern city. We too make sure the whole crew gets out safe. Like freemasons we swear each other to secrecy, albeit somewhat less formally. And we can also exhibit a similar tribalism founded on knowledge mindfully shared and withheld.

But They Can Die

It was the pigs of George Orwell’s Animal Farm who proclaimed that “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”. Pigs are similarly the object of resentment in under-the-mattress graffiti in Cell #26 of this former prison.

The poem began burnt into the wood:

Pigs CAN’T FLY

and continued in blue pen:

BUT THEY CAN DIE

NEXT FINE DAY

BLOW A Pig away

IF YOU KILL A Pig a day

it WILL Keep the doctor away

Nowhere more clearly did we find articulated the smoldering frustration of incarceration, channeled into the kind of blind hatred that negates any opportunity for insight.

Elsewhere was a mixture of light and shade. In the kitchen the relative gentleness of a rainbow framing the extractor fan was juxtaposed with murals depicting fearsome hyper-masculine muscularity. No such diverting decor was provided for prisoners in solitary confinement, who were required to surrender their tobacco products and were issued with fresh water, a chamber pot, one mattress, one pillow, one pillow slip, one sheet, and blankets or duvet “in accordance with climactic conditions”. How some of them obtained implements sharp enough to partially chisel their gang names and insignia into the stone walls and into the paint of their cell bars and doors is anyone’s guess.

Puzzling at what we had experienced, and all the more aware of our own freedom of movement and expression, we walked for ninety minutes back down the road through pine forests to where we’d parked our car.

This is Part Four of a four part video series. Part OnePart TwoPart Three.

 

Traces of Time

From the window of #55, an informed eye studies the moody skies above the central courtyard.  Glenn’s 1972 Christmas present – The World Encyclopedia of the Film – languishes in #11, its front cover torn off but not yet discarded. #18 plays host to a brown crayoned face, mouth agape as if inviting the throwing of ping pong balls at a fairground amusement. In another piece of art nearby, a grey-bearded pig farmer and an athletic woman carrying groceries seem to be missing an opportunity to converse at the fence line. Monied wanderlust is palpable in #16, where a shrine to cars, boats and exotic getaways gleams under fluorescent light. Outside Sunday church services advertise the promise of personal transformation via belief in a higher power, while inside #37 another route to growth is being chosen. The number of 5 – denoting maximum difficulty – is written into every column associated with expressing affection towards anyone from an intimate partner to a shop assistant.

This is Part Three of a four part video series. Part OnePart TwoPart Four.

 

Above The Glass

A couple of old chimneys tower over an abandoned glass factory near the village of Krushevo, in the municipality of Sevlievo, in Gabrovo Province, northern central Bulgaria. Gunner thanks his generous and kind hosts, Nicola Miller and Jonathan Taylor.

 

Abandoned Aquarium

 

Located in a sleepy town that has had its fair share of earthquakes lies this little aquarium on the wharf, abandoned and closed down due to earthquake damage. In operation, it seems the aquarium was well loved and although small was full of interactive activities for children who visited.

Due to an injury this explore posed a little bit of a challenge to UC but thanks to fellow explorer DerelictNZ we were able to successfully explore this place and enjoy its wonder; such as an inflatable shark, not quite the infamous Melbourne shark but close enough.

 

 

Good Night, Nurse

In 1973, under the watch of Matron Grattan, this now-demolished former nurses’ home at Wellington Hospital operated by “standards of conduct . . . akin to those of personal freedom, co-operation and responsibility which are acceptable in a private home, yet with the extra consideration necessary due to the number of residents under one roof.” Lunch was served daily in the dining room between the hours of 12 midday until 1:15pm, and dinner from 5-6:30pm. Suitable frocks, skirts and slacks, and a scarf to cover any hair rollers in use, were required while dining, and nurses were directed “not to linger about in the front foyer in a dressing-gown”. By the end of the first decade of the 2000’s, several floors had been converted to hostel accommodation. Residents cooked their own meals in tiny kitchens on each floor, warnings were prominently displayed about cleaning up cooking messes and theft of food from the communal fridges, and the reception office appeared to have been equipped with a cricket bat for self-defence.

Demolition was swiftly carried out in February, 2019, with signs on the perimeter fence indicating a children’s hospital is to come.

 

 

Waterpark

Late last year we explored the abandoned waterpark “Ho Thuy Tien” near Hue, Vietnam. This place has been fairly well documented by UE and backpackers before, so to mix things up a bit we decided to predominately explore the park via bicycle- and we’re talking about the old school one speed bicycle variety with a basket on the handle bars.

It took 30-40 minutes in the heat & humidity to bike there from Hue city, courtesy of Google Maps. At the main gate we were surprisingly waved through by a guard. We were expecting a “fee” like all other locals and visitors alike. Perhaps he felt because we’d biked all the way out there we deserved the “free” entry- what ever the case it was good karma.  Locals we spoke to later just could not believe we’d been given “free” entry.

Closed a decade ago- probably because of the high priced tickets and lack of attractions- the park has over the years become a hang out for local youth, urban explorers, backpackers, and on weekends (in this case) a bus load of students. Apart from getting the neck slit gesture after outstaying our welcome at some local lads bbq on top of the waterslide section- it was a safe and surreal experience- and then we had to bike all the way back to town…

The Abandoned Supreme Court House, West Coast, New Zealand.

 

This abandoned courthouse was built in 1913. It was designed to reflect New Zealand’s ties to the British Empire. The building was only used until 1970 as a courthouse and was continued to be used for government buildings till the 1990’s.

Since then it was laid unoccupied and fallen into disrepair although meant to be restored, it is far from that. Hope you enjoy the pictures, it was a solid explore and one of urbex centrals’ most desired locations along the West Coast of New Zealand.

Rest in peace Erskine College.

Erskine college built in 1905 is due for demolition this year and any day now the demolition crews will move in. Urbex Central decided to take one more visit back before it is gone forever, come say goodbye to one of Wellington’s most famous abandoned, ‘haunted’ whatever you want to call it, buildings.

 

Abandoned Great Wall, China.

The great wall in China, one of the great wonders of the world.

Although seen as a tourist destination that is well kept and maintained by the Chinese government, the great wall spans for 8,851.8 kilometers. Of this 8000 Kilometers much of the great wall has fallen into disrepair and is subsequently abandoned and falling apart.

It takes about two hours of walking past the vast amounts of tourists before you get to the abandoned and what is arguably most representative version of the huge spanning great wall, we hope you enjoy the shots!

Abandoned Cement Works, South Island, New Zealand.

 

Having had this closed down and dilapidated cement works on the radar for a couple of years, the urbexcentral crew alongside wildboyzue (UK) finally got to take a visit!

As we drove the long drive to this location, we had mixed feelings of defeat and curiosity from earlier exploration attempts but we were determined to finally do something epic this road trip.

Now, with our target in sight we quickly worked out the best way to photograph the place and we were soon basking in an oasis of abandonment, from coming across remnants of a past busy workplace, to huge machinery and infrastructure, including a decommissioned coal run power plant!

 

Abandoned Cement works, South Island, New Zealand - Urbex Central

Abandoned Cement Works - Urbexcentral.com

Abandoned Cement Works - Urbexcentral

Abandoned Cement Works, New Zealand - urbexcentral

Abandoned Cement - Urbexcentral

Abandoned cement urbexcentral

Urbex Central, Abandoned Cement Works New Zealand.