A return and a farewell to this heritage-listed maternity hospital and it’s sprawling arts and crafts 1920’s styled grounds. Demolition machines arrived at the former Maternity Hospital on Nov 30th (2020)- the 1927 building was rubble by the afternoon. Heritage NZ confirmed they had not been aware of the coming demolition and were “saddened to hear” that this important part of New Zealand’s medical and social history had been demolished.
Welcome to the complete video document of Gunner’s adventures with Urbex Central at Erskine College in Island Bay, Wellington, New Zealand, in the years after its closure in 2012.
Part One: Rage Against The Dying Of The Light [0:00]
Several years ago now, we visited Erskine College at night. We found our way into its pristine Gothic chapel, which was added to the college in 1929-30. It had at that time recently been operating as a wedding venue before being declared earthquake prone. We lit up the chapel once more, first with candlelight and then with halogen flood lights powered by a petrol generator. Over the course of the next three years we revisited the college and documented it as best we could, while the destruction from vandalism seemed to be advancing mercilessly towards the chapel. Today most of the college has been demolished to make way for a housing development, while the chapel remains, albeit emptied out and boarded up. We’re happy to bring you the chapel as we first found it.
Part Two: Ascension Day [5:59]
In the year following our first visit to Erskine College, tagging had visibly advanced to the choir loft at the back of the chapel. Hung high out of reach of taggers’ sharpies are the stations of the cross, the closest of which to us depict scenes where Jesus is “aided by Simon” and “stripped of his garments”. By this time Urbex Central had evolved into a highly active and — more importantly — a warm collective, as evident in moments of playful cooperation captured on video. Thankfully one of the organs was foot-powered.
Part Three: Walk Towards The Falling Water, I Will Meet You There [10:36]
In 2009, a poetic arts student wrote in chalk on top of a set of wooden shelves: “Walk towards the falling water / I will meet you there”. Construction began on Erskine College, a former Catholic girls’ school, in 1905, with a chapel added in 1929-30. In 1985 it ceased operating as a college, and in 1992 a trust was formed and given responsibility for its heritage protection. Between 1997 and 2009 it was tenanted by a tertiary art school. The chapel then reopened as a wedding venue until being declared earthquake prone in 2012.
Part Four: Acts of The Apostle [17:47]
Another year has passed, and once more the chapel is inviting exploration. We know the space well enough now to relax in the moment and capture details hitherto unseen. With explorers almost entirely absent from the frame, the gentle zooming in and out of the camera seems to capture an aspect of human experience deeper than adventure: our cyclical approaching and withdrawing from faith and/or artistry of many kinds as we navigate our lives.
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.
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.
We came across this dilapidated, soon to be demolished house recently after having it on our radar for quite some. After a shall we say, tight crawl we found ourselves surrounded in forgotten belongings and hoardings.
As we crept through the house we came across many memories of the old house owners past and it was quite sad to think that most of the amazing stuff in this place would soon be in the landfill, what a waste!
This medical centre located in Wellington, New Zealand suffered an extensive fire recently under suspicious circumstances, everything was still left here like the day of the fire. Inside it felt like the longer we stayed to document the place, the more odd medical supplies we found – needles, vaginal speculums and feces pots.
This building was originally the forensic’s unit of an abandoned lunatic asylum which closed for good in 2007.
The decay and mold were immense in this building, the place is falling apart. Nature has began taking over this place and it almost seems like there is more vegetation than structure left.
Throughout its years of operation the asylum has had many accounts of violent patients, patient abuse and treatments used such as electric shock treatment.
This cricket grandstand and its surrounds, built in 1925 were originally built by prison labour and they were a popular recreational spot for colonial settlers.
Ninety one years later the grandstand has been declared ‘earthquake prone’ and has visible damage on its facade of earthquake damage. Due to it’s earthquake prone status the grandstand is closed to the public while assessment on its future continues, hopefully it can be preserved as it holds some of Wellington’s small amount of heritage.
This large (by NZ standards) purpose built former tertiary institute expired at around the same time this Kodak Ektar 64T film did. And just like this 35mm expired film, it is apparently getting another lease of life. There are new owners and supposedly new occupants- but the only life we saw were some homies running their dogs (who tried to have a go at us); an alleged owner who asked what we were taking photos of (selfies of course) & told us to leave; and an elderly security guard who said- just leave. One of UC have a particular connection to this place, having kind of studied (sic) here when it was still a place of education- not stagnation.
Exploring a century old shipwreck near Wellington recently…
Sitting unused and idle for the last 14 years after closing in 2001 and sitting next to an active military base, this old polytech has been a joy to explore and take photos.
Throughout our many visits to this location over the years we have found ourselves discovering different classrooms and lecture theatres each time, this old polytech used to host courses in dental, engineering, telecommunications and radiation therapy.
Enjoy the photos, this derelict campus has recently been sold by the ministry of education and is about to be redeveloped.
Inside an abandoned former catholic girls school/farm/’rehabilitation unit’ we visited in mid 2013. Founded by a French sisterhood in 1953 -“the girls who came into the care of the sisters often had problems that could not be resolved in their normal environment and needed the loving care of others to restore their sense of self-worth.” The first residents stayed at the ’13’-room Manor built by its previous owner; and over the years the Catholic order embarked on a building program that included a 25-girl dormitory, two-story working/training block, visitor accommodation and sports facility. The last building was an expanded convent for the growing number of sisters at the facility. At it’s peak there were apparently up to 50 nuns in the house, and at least 70 girls. The farm/school/borstal/convent finally closed down in the early 1980’s.
Getting all religious at an historic abandoned chapel recently…
Urbex Central found this abandoned bar situated in Wellington a couple of years ago, on a recent revisit we noticed the location had been trashed and tagged by the ‘devils angils’. Which were some kind of nazi loving, intimidation gang that can’t spell very well, they were trying to spread hatred with a message they most probably don’t understand themselves.
The explore of this bar was obviously quite intimidating and we kept it brief, the entry to the bar was now rigged up with a rope and some sort of warning system to warn whoever trashed and took over this place that someone was coming.
This has to be one of our most memorable and equally shocking explores of 2015 so far.
Hiding down a Wellington side street lies this abandoned doctors clinic, declared ‘earthquake prone’ in 2012, the fate of this building is undecided.
Most things were stripped from this clinic but there was still the odd lamp and drug signs, this was a quick in and out explore, avoiding the sensors for the alarm.
There were fireworks in town and we knew the best spot to catch them 🙂
Until finding this place, I had no idea there was any kind of undercity in Wellington (drains notwithstanding).
It seems this hulking highrise luxury hotel has been built directly on top of an old house which is accessible from a dank ledge perched beneath the overhead colossus. Supporting columns sprout from the floors and pigeons seem to have taken up residence in this old home. Given Wellington’s tectonic nature, this was somewhat of an uneasy location to explore – but a very cool one nonetheless.
I’m not sure what the motivation was here in not demolishing the house, perhaps it was impossible to do so given some heritage protection – so the developers may have just worked “around” the problem…
Some old hotel paperwork hint at the house being previously accessible from the hotel above – but now any such route has been sealed over and the only access is via a a climb through a trash, rat and sewage filled dead space between buildings.
This former quarantine station was first opened in 1872 for people arriving New Zealand with contagious diseases. The facilities were refurbished and extended in 1918-19 and were maintained in readiness until World War II (1939-45) but were little used. The accommodation blocks were used in both World War I and World War II to house interned “enemy aliens”. For over 100 years, beginning in the early 1880s, it also served as an animal quarantine station. Animals arriving in New Zealand from other countries were quarantined on the island for 30–60 days to check they were free of disease. Blood samples were taken regularly and tested. Each animal was also treated for internal and external parasites.
In 1971 this particular facility, a maximum security animal quarantine station was completed. Until then, New Zealand had only ever imported livestock from Britain, Australia and Canada. The idea of a maximum security animal station was to enable scientists and geneticists to study new exotic breeds from outside of these ‘safe’ countries. When the station received its first shipment of animals in March 1972, it was the most sophisticated facility of its kind in the world. This allowed for the importation of a more diverse range of exotic animals such as elk, red deer, alpaca and llama, and capacity to hold more of the traditional imported livestock. In 1985 a scheme was introduced to import ova and embryos of cattle, sheep, and goats for implantation into New Zealand livestock. This inadvertently lessened the need for quarantine stations. It meant that existing livestock lines could be diversified rather than relying on importing. The quarantine station was closed in 1995.
We explored this former Italian restaurant two years ago, just prior to demolition. Remiro Bresolin, a flamboyant pioneer of Italian cuisine in New Zealand and legend of Wellington’s social scene, took drab Wellington and gave it a splash of Italian colour. For nearly 30 years his Il Casino restaurant was a capital icon and a mecca for food lovers everywhere. The restaurant closed just prior to his death in 2007 and in it’s place now stands another inner city apartment block.
This former conference and accommodation complex- closed due to being “earthquake prone”- is still very, very vacant…
At the fringe of this neglected community garden area, there was a strange, landscaped new-age prayer circle thing. It wasn’t peaceful, inspirational, meditative etc… just a bit weird, kitsch, humorous, tacky and kinda creepy. The amphitheatre, inspired by something called the Vortrovia Vision, is apparently called an “Amphenium”. Wow, if it’s got a cool name like that it’s got to be pretty impressive, right? Wrong!
More quotes from the beautifully presented(sic) informational details onsite: “This local/universal, sacred/secular, aesthetic/functional built & landscaped environment, called the “Amphenium,“will serve some of the following purposes; a spiritual-cultural arts centre, a solar power generator & multi functional performance venue, a kinetic work of art and tourist attraction, a 24/7 online multi-media experience, a showcase for new environmentally friendly technology, a planetarium, a site for celebrating seasonal and astronomical events (eg. solstices/equinoxes), a sculpted park featuring medicinal flora & works of art reflecting spiritual, mythical, astrological & cosmological themes: the wellspring generator, portal to & birthplace of a sustainable new world. Access to the apex of the dome would be catered for by an egg shaped capsule. As it ascends it will revolve & open up like a flower into 8 horizontal segments.” Hmm- that’s one helluva multi-functional venue… the UFO landing dock was missing though 😉
A re-posted video of Petone College from early 2013. This former high school- abandoned, vandalized and the victim of numerous arson attacks- has finally been euthanized to make way for a retirement village. Escuela Mala loosely translates as “bad school” in Spanish.
One of our old haunts has finally been demolished. Hutt Valley High School (formerly Petone Technical College) was closed in 1998, but partially used up until 2002. The site had been heavily vandalized over the years and targeted on a number of occasions by arsonists- most recently this past January. This last fire was the nail in the coffin for the former school. The remaining buildings were demolished last month to make way for (ironically) a retirement village.
We explored a drain that runs underneath the edge of a cemetery, this video documents our journey into hell and back.
Exploring one of our favourite abandonments early in 2013; a companion/sequel to “Don’t Be In The Dark“. Regards to all our fans up north – Don’t Be Light…
We visited this infamous Wellington suburb two years ago, just as the demolition of 88 state houses had begun. The area had gained national attention due to Mongrel Mob gang members terrorising other residents, and their ensuing refusal to abide by eviction notices. As of last visit the proposed new state houses were still not there- but the gang was…
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for Urbex Central. Thanks for watching and stay tuned for 2014…
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 25,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 9 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
This 1930′s era totalisator building was a real joy to explore and document, thousands of people used to attend the race courses of New Zealand commuting by train for the big day. Now one of the last untouched buildings of its kind in New Zealand and sitting idle as a pioneer of New Zealand’s computing history.
For the video of our explore : Excitation
This coastal artillery battery (one of many) was built to defend New Zealand’s capital Wellington against a Naval attack. Work began in 1908 on constructing a 2 gun battery using 6″MkVII guns. By 1912 these 6″ guns were manned by the Wellington Naval Artillery Volunteers. At its prime at the beginning of World War II, this fort had a total of no less than four different batteries of guns, and became the HQ for the heavy artillery regiment that manned the various coastal defence batteries in and around Wellington.
This 253 meter long former railway tunnel- constructed in the 1870′s- came to the end of it’s working life in 1955 when a replacement tunnel was opened. Apart from a bit of water seeping in through the cracks, it still seems in pretty sound order after all these years.
Now that Wellington’s violent (some reaching 200km/hr winds) spring storms are finally ebbing away we can get back down into the slippery drains running through the city.
We recently explored an urban stream running through an industrial area – and found a drain, complete with concrete slipways in the process.
After traveling down the long tunnel we reached an impasse, a slippery slope into a deep pool of turbulent water – this is definitely a drain we will check out at the end of summer when we can progress further.
This purpose built institute- and accommodation halls- is now largely vacant and abandoned… Constructed in the early 1970s in typical Brutalist style- the imposing, totalitarian and fortress like qualities are not exactly an architecture form for aspiring students…
Once upon a time this complex housed New Zealand’s largest hospital complex, catering primarily towards those of an unsteady state of mind. The site now houses a modern hospital, together with a modern psychiatric facility. Many of the older buildings of the complexes former life still litter the grounds, we stopped by to have a look at some of the remains.
Little is known about this location other than it may have once been operated by a religious organization. The former occupants seemed to have left in a hurry, leaving furniture, clothing and other daily detritus behind. They appear to have been Indian, going by the strong smell of curry and the Hindi word for silence (ilent) scribbled on the walls. We didn’t hang around long to investigate as there was a weird vibe to the place…