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Report - - Balfron Tower, London - September 2020 | High Stuff |

Report - Balfron Tower, London - September 2020

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28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Balfron Tower in Poplar, East London, was completed in 1967, and designed by architect Ernö Goldfinger. The tower itself is actually part of a much larger area, known as the Brownfield Estate, which was completed 6 years prior to Balfron Tower, all designed in the same traditional 60's brutalist style.
Not only was Balfron built at 26 story's to house a larger number of people, but it was also intended to become a local landmark for Tower Hamlets, and excite motorists as they exited the Blackwall Tunnel that were entering a new and futuristic area of the capital.
Ernö Goldfinger, of Hungarian descent, was responsible for a number of London's brutalist blocks, such as the famous Trellick Tower on the Cheltenham Estate, and Alexandar Fleming House in Walworth. However, out of all of these projects, Balfron Tower still remains to be the closest, and one of the first buildings that had been designed almost identically to that of the typical cold war-style tower blocks on mainland Europe.
Unfortunately, by the mid-2000s, Balfron Tower began to show it's age, so much so that the living standards inside it's flats were deemed unacceptable by both residents and the council. Subsequently, in 2011, a full refurbishment project began on the tower, covering all its 26 floors, with the aim of bringing the building up to modern specifications and 21st Century Living standards. This lasted until 2014, with some residents still living within the tower alongside the refurbishment.
However, this was only Phase 1, Phase 2 was soon to come into play the following year, which saw all residents evicted from the tower due to the size of the project. Since the beginning of Phase 2, Balfron is still uninhabited, essentially leaving it as one large construction site towering over Poplar.

Balfron Tower - 1968


The Explore:
After what a began as a considerably fruitless evening of failures and security escapes, myself and @sjw were on the brink of calling it a night, however, we thought we'd take one last crack at something before giving up. For anyone who's local to London, or explores in London, you'll understand what I mean when I talk about "one of those nights", which was exactly the sort of night that was shaping up to be. Although, despite our lack of enthusiasm, we thought it best to take a look at Balfron Tower on the way home, just on the off chance it would be accessible, and much to our delight, it was exactly that.
Upon arriving, we noticed the site was only moderately secured, with a distinct lack of human activity. With this in mind, we knew there was little else to it than to simply go for it, and so after finally having found a viable way in, we advanced towards the main stairwell.





Now, having finally negotiated our way through Balfron's maze of scaffolding, and endless twists and turns in the corridors, we'd made it to the staircase. Once again, for anyone who does rooftops, you'll know exactly what I mean when I refer to the stairwell being like the Sahara desert, and the roof like the Arctic Plains.
So, after 26 story's, we emerged onto the roof, taking in a rather welcomed breath of fresh air.





By this point, it was pushing 3am, and so we thought it would be wise to start thinking about making a move off the roof and back into the stairwell. Admittedly, this wasn't the most phenomenal of blocks, but given its history and significance to the East End, it was still worth our while.
Although, myself and @sjw simply couldn't leave without just grabbing a couple of shots of the pipes.




Now satisfied with our shots, we began to make a move back into the stairwell. We'd made an active effort to find a blind spot to enter the site from, away from any cameras or sensors. So, we thought there'd be no chance of anyone waiting for us at the bottom. However, once we'd gotten outside the tower, and just moments before we were about to dart to the fence. I noticed that @sjw had dropped to the floor.
Then, I noticed the infamous blue and green pattern of a police car, parked directly outside the front gate of the site. And so I too hit the deck, and that's exactly where we stayed. We must've been laying in the gravel for nearly half an hour before the officer searching the site finally decided to get gone, and how he didn't spot my rucksack poking above the pile of scaffolding poles we were hidden behind... I'll never know. With the police now gone, we weren't exactly hesitant to make ourselves scarce, and so finally, we too were out.
All in all, and despite our initial failures, this was certainly one to add to the evergrowing list of memorable experiences. Cheers to @sjw for saving the night.

- Thanks For Looking -
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28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Excellent, always nice to see these buildings from behind the scenes... You going to have a bash at Trellick next?

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