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Report - - Millennium Mills, Silvertown - August 2021 | Industrial Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Millennium Mills, Silvertown - August 2021


lpphevs

Wasteland Wanderer
28DL Full Member
It's that time again folks. An age-old urbex classic still hanging on in there, with some brand new photography. Somehow, after first finding out about this gem back in 2012 at the start of my exploring days, its weirdly taken me a decade to actually get round to attempting it. I suppose not always being able to drive, the mixed descriptions of the site's difficulty, and the potential for a wasted trip had put me off until now. Joined by @LashedLlama - who jokingly quipped he was becoming an informal tour guide having been five times previously, we decided to head for the mill just before sunset, allowing us a nice mix of golden daylight and night time shots.

The History

Do we even need a section on this by this point. Well for completions sake, I'll give a brief and imprecise outline of the past, present, and future of the mills. These grain mills are perhaps one of the last substantial remnants of London's docklands and a symbol of their decline in the light of the area's very contrasting redevelopment. Mills existed at the site since the end of the 19th century, with the smallest end block being much older than the rest, which we did not at this time reach. The mill was added to over the years, and partly destroyed in the massive Silvertown TNT explosion of 1917. Original owners, Vernon & Sons, was superceeded by Spillers Limited in 1927. The majority of the mill complex was rebuilt in 1933 in glorious art deco style. Much of the mill was hit hard in the Blitz given its strategic importance, so had sections rebuilt in the late 1940s and 1950s. The Royal Docks closed in 1981 given the move of shipping to deeper waters, and hence the mill's days were over. Parts were demolished in the 1990s. The mills have since stood as an iconic landmark of London's not-so squeaky clean past and have thus been used as an edgy backdrop for many music videos such as Coldplay and Arctic Monkeys, as well as in films and TV including an upcoming Spiderman film (lost track tbh). The mills site was polished up in 2012 as an arts venue for the Olympics, but again found itself largely useless until massive asbestos removal efforts in 2015 - one of the most expensive projects of its kind. Most of the internals were stripped - a bit of a double edged sword as whilst now being nice and healthy for explorers, it now lacks many of its furnishings. This seems strange as the building has still stood vacant since, despite the immense cost, and propositions to turn it into apartments or offices are still yet to be realised.

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The mills in 1934


The Explore
I began by taking a quick snap of the building's exterior through the fence whilst it was nicely lit by the glowing sunset. Despite the rumours, I personally found the explore nice and straightforward. However, it was not all entirely plain sailing, and if you don't have ninja mode installed, you may swiftly find yourself dead in the water. Initial access had to take place directly in front of a local uber driver, who had no intention of moving anytime soon. After giving us a smirk, we gave him a quick thumbs up to quell any suspicion of our intentions - not an ideal start but not the first time the 'hidden in plain sight' resort has been necessary. Heading across the very exposed yard as fast as possible, we quickly made our way inside. I was initially very surprised with the ease at which I'd finally found myself in somewhere I've pondered to be tricky for way too long. But as I say, watch this space.

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I bracketed these shots - please respect my attempt to do HDR the right way ;)

After taking some pictures of the stripped concrete shell, we watched secca wandering round his cabin on the phone, completely unaware. We also had a great view out to Silo D, which we didn't think worth its own expedition considering how sealed it is. We headed up through the barren and freshly-decontaminated floors towards the roof, and by this time darkness was drawing near. Open stepping out onto the roof, I was frankly blown away by the view, although I have only managed a handful of urban rooftops in my time. The Millennium Dome and Canary Wharf stood imposingly, shining brightly whilst we observed over the city from the dark vantage point. Pedestrians strolled along the dock's promenade outside the Excel Centre (aka Nightingale Hospital). Planes taxied around London City Airport's sparkling runways. Maybe the best free view of London's docklands. Every successful explore in London is all the more satisfying - that place is full of twats and I take great pleasure in reclaiming a bit of freedom in a place which is otherwise very suffocating.

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I was racking off the shots, which overall I'm really pleased with. Llama was itching to try and reach the other buildings, being far more accustomed to the view. We headed back down inside, and worked out that whilst the older mill would be inaccessible from this section, we could work out way to the tall 1930s block by going down a few levels. We had to navigate our way in the dark around the structure using as little light as possible whilst avoiding what looked to be 10-storey drops I could hardly see the bottom of. At one point, we had to scoot over an edge by holding onto the fencing - at least it was too dark to see the bottom. We found our way eventually out onto the connecting block between the labelled 1950s and 1930s blocks, and proceeded to climb a very shaky scaffold tower going up to the other roof. I felt like a stray cat prowling in the dark amongst the rooftops opposite the glowing new balconied apartments of Silvertown. We had to use the torch sparingly to safely find our way, but I think this must have caught seccas attention as we now saw him waiting for us in his car with his headlights on down in the main yard. We expected it was game over at this point, so we racked off a few last shots looking over the excellent MM signage and it was time to gtfo.

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Sadly took this tasty shot free-hand and hence came out very noisy
After navigating the maze, we reached our entry point and quietly left without trace. Sneaking in the shadows, it would've been very difficult for the guard to have spotted us exiting the site, although we did have to make a break for it along the last bit. Upon exit, we realised we'd pulled it off without the guard probably even realising we were no longer in the building. I took one last shot from the same spot as the start of the explore, but as a long exposure after dark. Success!

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Mikeymutt

28DL Regular User
Regular User
Some really nice shots there. Guessing it's more a place to go for the roof shots of London
 

Stitches

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Classic spot, do they still have the message from Coldplay on the wall?
 

Mikeymutt

28DL Regular User
Regular User
Yep that's right tbh. I quite like a bit of a shell sometimes but not many features of interest internally. I believe the older mill at the end is unstripped still.
Yeah I like a nice open space. But deffo the London skyline for the view. Well I guess I know what your next mission is :D
 

Alley

Conspicuous Loiterer
Regular User
Fabulous report. I think it's always worth adding the history even if it's been reported before. Saves me having to go find it, and puts your pictures into context. Love the contrast between old industry and the sparkling new London skyline.
 

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