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Report - - Houghton Poultry Research Station, Huntingdonshire, 2016 to June 2021 | Other Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Houghton Poultry Research Station, Huntingdonshire, 2016 to June 2021


KPUrban_

Surprisingly Unsurprising
Regular User
Introduction
Whilst clearing out the several hundred gigabytes of old and useless files I came across several old files containing images of this place.
Having started exploring here and having spent many weekends and afternoons making an arse of myself here, I decided there should be enough here for a somewhat adequate report.
Although its use is slightly controversial there is a wealth of information related the buildings themselves and on the tests and research carried out within. This adds somewhat to the interest of the site.
Adding to this demolition is in full swing now, with the site becoming housing, so it's final calls to visit here.

In the last month I've spent afternoons wandering in and out of here trying to capture as many buildings as possible before their time was up. The site totals around 30 to 40 buildings with different uses, designs and interests and as demolition is underway I got the chance to see some of these buildings in a different light as well being able to photograph them properly...
That said, some buildings are not shown on here as a fair amount of them (Primarily the Production and Chicken Houses) are almost mirror images of one another or due to the fact I've had to whittle these photos down from the 117 I originally intended to use.

The History

There are two histories of this site:
That of the Grange.
That of the testing facility.​

Starting with:
The Grange, Estate & Gate Lodges
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Drone Images of the Grange today: Early 2021
(History Sources:
)


The Houghton Grange and the West Lodge can both be dated back to the 1890's as the farm of Houghton Hill Estate upon a 32 Acre plot, upon its purchase by Harold and Edith Coote in 1897, with the only existing structure being that of Dormy House.
Harold Coote was a large figure within the area holding the title as Deputy Lord Lieutenant Of Cambridgeshire and along with his partner Edith Coote they commissioned London architect James Ransome, who was responsible for many other constructions of this era, to design their home.

The house he designed followed a somewhat Elizabethan Revival design at two stories high with a large attic, being built from red brick with grey concrete foundations.
With a large Oak door taking center stage on the house's norther edge you enter the ground floor.
The ground floor layout featured a dining room to the south east and a Drawing room to the south west both emerging out into the back gardens, with the ground floor library in between, with a Billiards room to the North West and a Pantry in the North east.
Between the Billiards Room and Pantry the oak paneled staircase is found.
The first (or second depending on who you are) floor boasted 6 bedrooms, with two of the four rooms along the South having their balconies above the drawing and dining rooms giving views of the gardens and the valley in which the Great River Ouse sits, and a dressing room in the North East corner.
The attic itself is a maze of low, sloping, ceilings with a few skylights letting in the daylight with hand crafted ironwork holing up the tiled roof and chimneys.
From the porch a drive constructed from coal and soil headed north, through the gardens, to what is now the A1123.

The house was constructed in 1899 and became known as Houghton Grange.
Along with the Grange House a small cottage lodge was constructed as gatehouse later being joined by a second lodge in 1901 which was known as East Lodge. Both these structures are near identical consisting of small kitchens and two (I believe) bedrooms.
The Cootes' gradually expanded the estate numerous times with the boundaries seen, even today, marked by conifer trees.
By this time the estate was also occupied by the coachman William Papworth and the gardener Walter Johnson.

By 1920 (33 Years Later) the estate was then purchased by a market gardener under the name of Mr. H. Perkins.
The house's gardens, already impressive, where expanded and utilized heavily by Mr.Perkins. Noticeably, even today, he planted a line of trees either side of the road from the house to the main road. Mr.Perkins also utilized the gardens around the house itself with 2,000 Square Foot of greenhouse that tomatoes, grapes and other fruits were grown with six gardeners taking care of the land.

By 1932 Mr. Perkins had listed the house for sale, along with the estate, with a price of £7,500 (Roughly Half A Million Today).
The estate was then purchased by a Pysician Mrs. Gegory, who along with her husband, owned three farms in the nearby area (with Houghton hill farm being the only surviving farm today). They hired an architect, by the name of L McMullen, to design the site as a treatment centre with his plans been completed in 1935. His plans showed a lake with a ring of single story buildings surrounding. Unfortunately, the only parts of this plan that came to fruition where that of the Squash court connected to Dormy house and swimming pool which still survive.

1939 saw the start of the Second World War and like most estates it was utilized within the war effort, although unlike places such as Standish house, it was used for farming. The estate was supplied with additional staff and POWs in aid to grow food for the country. Once the war was over, unlike other estates taken over, it returned to being a country house. Still owned by the Gregories, who had now given up with their plans in 1947, put Houghton Hill Farm and Hiam Farm along with Houghton Grange up for sale.


The Testing Facility
Sources :https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houghton_Poultry_Research_Station https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_Health_Trust)
Dr Bob: https://aaap.memberclicks.net/assets/documents/Bio - Gordon - Robert Fraser.pdf
General Map: http://docs.huntingdonshire.gov.uk/NorthgatePublicDocs/01518250.pdf


With the Gregories putting their land up for sale in 1947 Houghton Grange was purchased, along with some neighboring land known as the Bird Sanctuary, by the Veterinary Educational Trust later known as the Animal Health Trust. The cost of their purchase was that of £80,000.

Being founded in 1942, the Animal Health Trust was a charitable organization who provided education to graduates entering the scientific or veterinary fields. The main goals of the trust were to teach veterinary and sciences as well as research diseases in animals such as horses, dogs and cats. (Who went into liquidation in 2020)

The Animal Health Trust were to use the Grange and another site for scientific research both being set up in 1948, with Houghton Grange taking the role as the poultry research station. The poultry research station grew faster than that of the Livestock Research Facility, initially starting off using two of the former POW huts as labs and the land around for rearing poultry.

The station was headed by Dr Bob Gordon along with: C Horton-Smith, A Buxton and K Chodnik.
Dr Robert (Bob) Gordon, born in Aberdeen 1908, was a veterinarian who spent a lot of his life trying to understand and prevent diseases in poultry. He started his working life, after leaving Aberdeen University having studied Zoology and Geology and going on to study at the Royal Veterinary College in London becoming a Veterinary Surgeon, at the colonial veterinary service at the Weybridge Veterinary Laboratory. Working in the poultry department, he soon became the head of the poultry diagnostic department. It wasn't too long until he was then appointed to the newly founded Houghton Poultry Research Station, as the Founding Director where he remained in charge until his retirement in 1973.
Gordon was also joined by three other scientists a Parasitologist, a Bacteriologist and a Pathologist.
Image from Here
By 1949, a year after opening, the site had documented the now well known "Houghton Strain" of the Eimeria Tenella disease which allowed scientists to greater study the infection's life cycle.
The grange house was used primarily for housing of scientists, library and laboratories from the opening in 1948 to 1959.
The site was recognised in 1956 as an independent state aided institute.
By 1959 the site had expanded enough that the house itself was able to be used as an administrative building. This due, in part, to the animal health trust selling their interests to the Agricultural Research Council.

1959 saw one of the major constructions to the grange which was that of the Eastern Wing of laboratories. This construction consisted of a two story building housing a large portion of the laboratories with a small section being limited to a single ground floor. This lab was connected to the building using a two floor corridor that protruded from the grange's eastern side.

During the 1960's the Leukosis Unit was constructed. By 1969 it had then helped develop a vaccine Marek's Disease which, at the time, was causing mass amounts of trouble within the agricultural industry due to the disease killing or paralyzing birds.

By 1969 the site saw another major expansion with the construction of the Western Wing of laboratories. These formed a similar design and connection to the grange although appear to have stood up to the elements far better.

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Looking into planning documents we are able to get an idea of the further developments onsite after the 1970's.
In 1975 several applications were placed for the construction of multiple buildings; a small prefabricated building (presumably the one near the water tower), a Microbiology isolation lab and plans to convert a lab into a club room.

1978 saw the planning approved for the construction for the parisilogy building which was a small buildings consisting of 4 to 8 small rooms. With another similar building being constructed around 1981.

During this time a lot of further extensions and changes were made to the site.

It was from the mid 1980's that expansions began to cease. With the Agricultural Food Research Council deciding to relocate services at Houghton Poultry Research Station to other sites. It was in 1992 when the site closed down operation with any ongoing work moving elsewhere leaving it vacant.

From this point plans put forward 2 years prior were never acted upon, which intended for the site to continue operation.
By 2002 HDC had designated the land as parkland for residential development. Although, nothing came of it.
From here the three listed building were maintained and left vacant.
It wasn't until plans were put forward in 2019 that work would begin. The site is to become a residential development leaving the Grange, West and East Lodge and Dormy house intact.​

Anyways, The explores.

As said, I first started this silly hobby here.
It was after school one day and whilst walking home a friend at the time said something along the lines of "want to come out later? Found this place we can go" So, I went along. Next thing we were walking across a field looking at a few dilapidated buildings whilst chugging some 35p energy drinks. Within a few hours of wandering around and sitting on the roof I was captivated by this place.

From this point on wards I would spend at least every weekend here venturing further in.
It was a while until we found the Grange and within seconds we were running from the automated "This Is Security, The Police Have Been Contacted. ect ect" screaming from the cameras.
Aaaaand that became the new past time. Would anyone actually come?
Spending a few hours on the roofs or inside after setting them off, every so often, seeing if someone would make an appearance. It soon turned out to be a fake warning.

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Phone shot: roughly 2016

It then became the challenge to get into, what we called, the "Mansion".
After a few weeks we kept trying. Then one day a rustle came from one of the labs. Walking in a head appeared, it turned out someone else was inside grabbing their photos. After we had a quick hello and goodbye we couldn't help wonder where he went.
Then we found the way into the grange, whilst looking for him, and then instantly running away as the alarms whaled.

Fast forward a few months of going back and forth I had met someone, by accident, who I would find myself exploring with for quite a while on wards. We eventually cracked a lot of the buildings onsite until coming into contact with, what was then called, "Laboratory X".
That pretty much cemented the interest into this hobby within both of us. Afterwards neither of us really ventured back here, busy with other places found.​

Since 2019 security was placed onsite with planning underway for development and thus made future visits difficult. But, it did provide the amusing pastime of trying to get as close as possible to them with someone managing to get into their personal portaloo on one occasion.

A General Overview of the site.
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Anyways
On with the Photos!

Starting off where it all started in:
The Leukosis Unit
As the name would suggest, this unit was specialised in one form of research. This has almost all been demolished as of writing this.
Starting off with an overview
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Starting with the structure on the left.
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Phone shot: Roughly 2018

The Labs Below
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Images from: roughly 2019

Moving onto the courtyard structures. A reoccurring theme of this facility.
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Drone Image: Early 2021

Inside the courtyards.
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Phone Image: Probably 2017 to 2018

The Laboratory to the North of the site.
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Terrible Phone Images: From 2016 to 2017

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Camera Image: 2020

Moving on to main site. Working in an Anti-Clockwise rotation

The Production Houses
These buildings litter the whole western edge of the site. Inside, they're exactly the same.

Road leading down the perimeter of the site.
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In between the buildings.
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A peek inside one of the better condition production houses.
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Production House Images: April to June 2021

Continuing further down we come across a garage that is connected to Dormy House and a laboratory.

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Starting off with a structure on this compound which was only accessible for a few days in 2019
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Once over the awkward gates a small garage site with a pair of Flat 4 Alfa Romeo Engines Inside.
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Once through the bushes the lab comes into view.
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Images: 2021

Moving alongside west wing the restaurant is found, albeit, inaccessible as it has been for years.
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Next Up is the Grange and The Wings.
Most of this area has been sealed tight for the last year and not wanting to be caught by the security team whilst solo on the recent visits some older photos are all I have to show.​

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Phone Image: 2016

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Image: Late 2019


To Be Continued
 

KPUrban_

Surprisingly Unsurprising
Regular User
Continued:
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Image: Late 2019
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Image: Late 2019
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Image: 2017
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Images: 2016 to 2018

The Grange itself was almost never accessible and also empty.
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Making a quick detour up to the middle of the site a pair of bungalows are positioned.
Not entirely sure why there are here. But they are.
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And as you'd expect they're completely empty inside.
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Moving down to the next building.

The Social Club
This wasn't marked as the social club on any official maps but from older planning documents mentioned earlier it appears to be the only obvious use.
Most Images from May 2021
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Moving back down to the south east of the site now.

The Post Mortem Rooms
There were primarily used for determining cause of death and disposing of bodies.
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No idea, just a table with some air filter on it.
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Moving on.

The Isolation Unit (South)

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Parasitology
Had never seen this area before and to be quite honest. There's no much to it.
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To Be Continued
 

Attachments

KPUrban_

Surprisingly Unsurprising
Regular User
Continued.

Virology
The Virology Buildings are split into many parts.
This fist building is probably the most modern structure onsite with a smell that would easily knock you out.
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Microbiology
This building I originally though was used for another purpose, considering its design.
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Images: 2018 to 2021

Bacteriology
I hardly ever saw this building until demolition came around unfortunately.
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Virology
These labs make up some of the more interesting parts of the site.
Starting with those numbered M1 to M4 which are all in the identical courtyard style of construction.
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Virology 5
This is probably the most well known part of the site.
Wing 5
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And some miscellaneous stuff to finish.
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Isolation Unit (North)
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East and West Lodge

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That'll be all.

Goodbye Houghton Poultry Research Station


 

Attachments

Last edited:

Mikeymutt

28DL Regular User
Regular User
Nice comprehensive report there mate. I enjoyed my visit here when I went. The wings were exceptionally nice I thought.
 

Calamity Jane

i see beauty in the unloved, places & things
Regular User
Great comprehensive histories there. What a fab report. You've covered so much over the years. I love the comment, this is where I started this silly hobby. I think we all start off like that, nosey school kids, that turn into nosey big adults lol.

Great report, loving all the addictions too. Fab photos too. Cheers, enjoyed this one. :thumb
 

KPUrban_

Surprisingly Unsurprising
Regular User
Great comprehensive histories there. What a fab report. You've covered so much over the years. I love the comment, this is where I started this silly hobby. I think we all start off like that, nosey school kids, that turn into nosey big adults lol.

Great report, loving all the addictions too. Fab photos too. Cheers, enjoyed this one. :thumb
Thank very much. I could have gone on for ages about the historical aspects. Was tempted to do a section on documents but that would have messy.

And yes at the end of the day. This hobby is just us being a bunch of nosey idiots.
 

KPUrban_

Surprisingly Unsurprising
Regular User
Enjoyed reading your history on this place.
Some report there KP, nice one!
Fab retrospective mate
Thanks Guys!
Nice comprehensive report there mate. I enjoyed my visit here when I went. The wings were exceptionally nice I thought.
Great report and nicely covered, spent many hours here
Thanks, could easily spend a few days here at one go, for a place that has stood derelict for 30 years there some good bits inside.
 

carl0296

28DL Member
28DL Member
Tried it with no luck! Escaped from security with a dog and then I managed to avoid the drone they flew! Not worth the hassle!
 

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