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Report - Cane Hill mega archive.

Discussion in 'Asylums and Hospitals' started by mr_bones, Sep 11, 2007.

  1. mr_bones

    mr_bones 28DL Full Member
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    My own personal discovery of Cane Hill asylum in Surrey begun one evening in March 2003. A small group of friends and i walked round the massive perimeter fence in awe at what we could see on the other side. Not knowing anything about the building, access, or even the possibility of security we were enticed under the fence and in through a wide open window, in actual fact there wasn't even a frame! The first thing we noticed was how 'springy' it felt underfoot, un-deterred we carried on out of the ward we had entered through and into the seemingly never ending corridor network. It was damp, there was glass on the floor, creepers and ivy weaving in through the windows and doors - even under the plasterwork. What was this place all about......and why was it just sat rotting away in deadly silence. In the next week or two we had returned to see more. This time it was bright sunshine and i was armed with my brand new digital camera - 'look at this lads it's got 1.3million pixels!!!'

    16th March 2003: First daytime trip.

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    Not only had we got a real feel for the sheer scale, layout, condition and decaying grandeur of the place but also we had an eventful day bumping into other explorers and soaking in the sunshine. I still wasn't hooked but we all posessed the desire to come back and see more. We had also seen the swimming pool but unfortunately my camera batteries hadn't lasted. It was still in tact and full of very mouldy water.

    2nd Visit: Approximately a week later

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    On this trip we had progressed through Faraday ward, across to 'Guy'. This was our first experience of a totally ruined floor. We were gradually getting a feel for what we could stand on, and what was unsafe. We had also seen the Mortuary, which at this time was almost immaculate. You can't always be serious when exploring!

    Eventually we made our way towards the Male wards of the hospital with significance placed on Vincent/Vanbrugh - a full sized ward block that was 1 of the first to close, as a result it was very spongey underfoot and we were a bit unsure. As a friend pointed out (looking through a gaping hole) 'it's only a foot to the mud underneath'. We carried on and headed to the top floor where i spotted a mysterious octagonal tower with no feasible way to get to it. I made a mental note and moved on - we saw the admin block for the first time and it seemed like it was a million miles away from the hospital. Pristine wood panelling and immaculate interiors.

    3rd Visit: April 2003

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    On this trip we had encountered our first cautious moments, suspecting that security was present on-site. Although cautious i split from the group as they left. I stayed and photographed some exteriors. After i had finished my rounds i noticed two people walking slowly round the perimeter - they had cameras and they were about my age so i said hello. The very trusting girl then asked me if i could show her the mortuary! Why the heck not!!!! After saying goodbye to the two i had met on the perimeter i met back up with the rest of my group and we went back in. We had a nosey down a tunnel entrance we had spotted in a courtyard adjacent with the laundry. To our surprise it had led us to a huge underground room with 4 or 5 sectioned off rooms, some of them had chutes leading to ground level.

    Some time later and via an urbex website i had got in contact with the two people we had met previously and arranged a trip back!
     
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  2. mr_bones

    mr_bones 28DL Full Member
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    Re: Cane Hill mega archive. Picture heavy.

    Throughout April and may, my usual exploring friends had lost some of their initial interest in Cane Hill, however i had since become good friends with a group that i had met previously. They wanted to explore more of the grounds of Cane Hill, and in particular the modern staff hostel, tennis courts, weighbridge, garden house and greenhouses.
    We had also made our first night-time trip, where we got as far as the mortuary and left in quite a hurry!

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    I stayed away from the building for quite some time, shaken up at the newly reported prospect of security, but on hearing the news via Simons site that there had been a huge fire at Cane Hill, i rushed back to see what the damage was.

    Next visit, late October 2003:

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    Vincent and Vanbrugh ward had been set alight and from what we could see, had destroyed the entire roof. The fence had been taken down to let fire crews in and i snuck up for a closer look - peering in through the windows everything looked in tact. The fire must have been concentrated in 1 section of the building, yet taken the sntire roofline with it. I was at least pleased to see that my mysterious octagonal tower had survived the fire, a small token after the tragic loss of 1 of the least explored and largest wards.

    Still underconfident about going inside the main building, i returned to cane hill just once more that year. This time to restore a huge hospital sign, totally unreadable thanks to years of grime and mould. It was as simple as the fact i wanted to read it!

    Late December 2003:

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  3. mr_bones

    mr_bones 28DL Full Member
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    Re: Cane Hill mega archive. Picture heavy.

    2004

    At the start of 2004 I finally plucked up the courage to go back inside the main building. If i'm honest i was getting fed up with my camera by this point though!

    January 2004:

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    One of my own personal goals was to inpect the damage caused in November 2003 to Vincent / Vanbrugh ward. We headed towards the male side of the hospital and after passing Wren / Wesley and Zachary / Unwin we came to Vincent / Vanbrugh. The doors were misted over, as we opened them we could see the start of the devastation. The smell hit us immediately and as we walked down the springy corridor we came across the total devastation. The photo's didn't pick it up at all but all three floors had been burnt out of the ward, only the 4 walls and concrete top floor ceiling remained. It was a shell. We didn't venture too much further this trip.

    Something amazing happened before my next trip! I had saved up all my pennies and bought a Fuji S5000 digital camera (later a S5500)! Needless to say i needed some practice

    Late february 2004:

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    A perimeter walk was topped off with our first venture to the roof of the nurses block. We sat up there and soaked up the busy view, then had a poke around the garden house. Garden house was wide open and in a very poor state of repair. Upstairs, floors sagged precariously upstairs.

    Guess what? The next day i was back. This time with ANOTHER group i had met walking the perimeter.


    Late february 2004:

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    We had been back to the chapel, through to admin and following this down into the bunker. Security turned up so we had left!

    April 2004:

    Went for a solo stroll and tried to get some pictures from the pedestrian side of the fence.

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    ...of admin!
     
  4. mr_bones

    mr_bones 28DL Full Member
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    Re: Cane Hill mega archive. Picture heavy.

    Mid April 2004:

    An explore with some respected figures of UK urban exploration - and i was honoured to be showing them around!

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    We had managed to cover a large area of the hospital, some was new to me and some felt familar. What puzzled me was the rubble and bricks everywhere? what had been going on? I had also managed to get my first decipherable pictures of the fire damage in Vincent / Vanbrugh


    Early June 2004:

    Met up with Simons exploring friend Laurence, we wanted to explore from a new starting point! a hatch outside Vanbrugh / Vincent ward.

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    With our original target being that we wanted to find a new way into the buildings, we hadn't felt dissapointed in not succeeding as there were so many artifacts down there. This included what we can only guess would have been a converyor system for collecting ash from the ground floor fire places and outside.
     
  5. mr_bones

    mr_bones 28DL Full Member
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    Re: Cane Hill mega archive. Picture heavy.

    Early September 2004:

    First solo visit, and a short one at that! combined with a quick night time recce i had discovered the use of the octagonal tower

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    as you can see, after all the mystery of the 'octagonal tower' it turned out to be a stairway!
     
  6. mr_bones

    mr_bones 28DL Full Member
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    December 04: 3 visits in total

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    We had begun to see some new perspectives, clambering into the projection booth, seeing the un-burned bits of Vincent / Vanbrugh, revisted the mysterious underground room, been into wards close to admin and ventured into the courtyards.

    what you don't see is a trip made earlier that year where i didnt have a camera, showing a canadian explorer around cane hill. Instead he had caught it on tape instead.
     
  7. mr_bones

    mr_bones 28DL Full Member
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    Re: Cane Hill mega archive. Picture heavy.

    2005

    Cane Hill was left alone for nearly three months. I returned with a few missions in mind

    March:

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    Between me and others, we had found our way into the pharmacy - progress was distracted by what we could see of the admin block. Mysteriously, a few months before, a small section of corridor had been boarded off. We could now see why, someone had blown a whopping great hole in Admin! We went to investigate!

    April:

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    We had re-visited the pharmacy and taken better photos, explored un-documented floors of Donne and Dickens ward which were a total contrast to the decay and destruction of the rest of the hopsital. The clocktower was also finally conquered!
     
  8. mr_bones

    mr_bones 28DL Full Member
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    Then, my eternal thanks to a prominent explorer for showing me what i saw on my next visit.....

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    It started with a sharp ascent to the roof of Vincent / Vanbrugh lift shaft. The view was absolutely stunning, although looking down - especially to the hollow ward we'd ascended was a bit unnerving!
    The excitement didn't stop there, on our way to Wren / Wesley we were presented with a precarious looking set of steps leading into a 1st floor corridor in the main ward. I had walked it before but it looked worse than ever.
    1 of the explorers i was with, bravely tested the water and disaster struck. A whole section of floor collapsed, lunging the explorer down with it, shortly followed by the stairs themselves. It proved to be a very lucky escape with just minor injuries sustained. We chilled out and had a good old laugh on top of the nurses block roof. Reflected upon a flukey escape.

    May '05:

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    We went back to assess what had happend with the floor collapse, documented Kings / Keats/ Keller ward block (a full sized, and relatively in tact one) and made a night trip.
     
  9. mr_bones

    mr_bones 28DL Full Member
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    The Final Installment....

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    So this was it. I had re-established contact with some of the very first group we'd met inside the hill. They showed us James Moody's grave (Former hospital Chaplain). We had seen massive corridor collapse and more or less said goodbye.

    The photos don't cover every part of the building i've been in, nor did i always take a camera with me.

    I've never been back!
     
  10. mr_bones

    mr_bones 28DL Full Member
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    Thankyou all for positive replies.

    While rummaging for a picture earlier, i found a whole trips worth of Cane Hill photos that i had forgotten about. A winters day near the beginning of 2005.

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    Beginnings of Cane Hill Guestbook

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