Life through my myopic eyes.

Urban Exploration and Industrial Estates: The New Ghost Towns?

All painted up and no where to go.

My daughter has had a fascination with old dilapidated buildings since college. I remember taking her out on photo shoots of the many Industrial Estates around the area that had lost a lot of business to a continuing economic downturn.

Considering that I used to patrol a lot of these estates when I worked in Security, it felt strange to pass these same buildings that only a few years previously had been bustling businesses.

Only the weeds are growing.

A lot of these places I’d delivered office supplies to in a previous job. At no time during my office supply days did any of these thriving places seem close to financial ruin. I remember smiling faces at the reception desk and helpful hands taking the supplies from the back of my van. A cup of tea or coffee would be offered and if I had time, I’d accept. Coffee, biscuits and gossip then on my way.

No cars, no security.

My daughter would always ask what building housed what business. When was the last time I’d been there. Did I know anyone who still had access to the buildings so we could take pictures inside. The answers varied, but, in each case I knew of no-one who could let us inside. It seemed a shame then and does now. I would have liked to have seen if they all resembled the deserted place I’d been in before.

Not down yet.

I remember when my daughter (Meg) finished her last year at University, we collected all her things from her shared house and put them in the handy HomeStore Self Storage warehouse in Ipswich. It sat at the end of Ransomes Europark and we had to drive past a lot of ‘dead’ businesses to get there. Because of the ease involved with entering and leaving the place we went there a lot.

We passed the old business where I had collected old office furniture years before. The one that was so disquieting and surrealistic. Each time we drove past I wondered who, if anyone, ever went into the building now.

Still empty after all these years.

As times continue to force more and more businesses under the hammer. Industrial Estates are becoming the new ghost towns of this millennium. All that’s missing are the rolling tumbleweeds and the lonely blowing wind.

Tumbling tumbleweed.

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Categorised in: Autobiography, Entertainment, Personal, Philosophical, Reflective, Social, Urban Exploration

10 Responses »

  1. Excellent. I’m also pretty fascinated by abandoned buildings, especially factories and amusement parks.

  2. Indeed, an abandoned amusement park would be absolutely incredible! :D I’m with you guys completely on that. The last year or so I’ve become kind of crazy about filming. My grandfather, who passed away last year, was a big time photographer, and I’d never really picked up a camera until a month or so after his death. Having since become unexpectedly smitten with filming, I can easily say that I’d be recording every square-inch of a place like that!

    In my hometown, where my father, his father, and even his father grew up, there used to be a really old paper mill on the Schroon River. I would say it was back in the 50s to 60s that my grandfather, the photographer, worked there. The ‘complex’, in those days was a collection of old wooden buildings practically right on the water. The road passing by ran higher than the river, so you had to look down to see the mill. My father also worked there, though only very briefly when he was about my age, and by that time the mill had long been rebuilt with concrete and storehouses. Well, when I was really little, we would sometimes drive by the old mill, after it had eventually shut down altogether, and I remember it really freaked me out seeing it. (Buildings or vessels coming out of, or beneath, the water have always weirded me out. lol) It was completely abandoned and garbage littered the place. The windows were smashed and the expected graffiti lined the walls. I hated seeing the place back then.

    Then just this Spring, Dad and I were up north visiting my Grandma back in town, and I mentioned the mill to him. I’d brought my camcorder, and told him we had to go see the mill. One, I had to face my fears of the place, and two, I’d grown to love old, abandoned sites. Well, we drove by the place, I looked down at the river, and discovered that only a few large concrete blocks, some stacks of rotten wood, and a fairly new dam were all that remained at the site. The mill had apparently been torn down after the river had flooded substantially a few years back. I have what I saw that day on film, but only the old tiretracks leading up from the mill to the road are actually creepy to look at. It’s a weird feeling knowing those tracks actually led to something at one time, other than the river itself. What’s more, it’s eerie to think that if you wound back the clock, those buildings would just materialize before your eyes, and my father and his father could be found working inside.

    Sometimes it’s the buildings we don’t see anymore, but that we know once existed, that are the most haunting and intriguing. I just wish I could find a photo of the place somewhere. I’ve looked all over the net. :/

    Great read, Mike! You know I love these ‘Urban Exploration’ articles! :)

    • Cheers mate! Great story about the mill. When Meg and I were stateside last year, we drove through Texas towards Dallas. I read somewhere that a lake we had driven by was man-made and that an entire town had been covered up by the lake and quite few houses. This sort of thing has always fascinated me. It makes me think of when we used to drive through the desert and see the old adobe ruins scattered throughout the countryside and their fallen corrals which had to be hard as rock from the elements. You pause for a moment and try to imagine who lived there and why they had to leave. Sad but reflective and a chance for your imagintion to run wild. Again great story, thanks for sharing it! :-D

  3. Seeing the adobe ruins would have been incredible. The fact that you’ve been able to makes me jealous! :) And passing by that lake, knowing that a town used to be there, would just be awesome and incredibly eerie at the same time. I’ll have to look it up now! :) This sort of thing has become a very old love of mine as well. My Dad and I used to play the Myst games on the PC, way back, and they’re probably the reason I love old ruins and abandoned sites, because every location you visit in that series is completely abandoned, and you’re left to puzzle out what happened there, who the people were that lived there, and why they’re all long gone. Great stuff, Mike! :D

  4. Excellent! We DO get shirts, right!? ;)

  5. I too love taking photos of old and abandoned buildings. There’s something so intriguing about them.

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