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Report - Prudential Assurance Building - Oldham - July 2017


Exploring with Bob
Regular User
The History

The Prudential Assurance building is a three-story office raised over a basement, designed by Alfred Waterhouse and built in 1889. It is made of brick and terracotta and has three polygonal towers. The entrance is constructed with a polished granite plinth. Alfred was a notable architect of the time, particularly associated with Victorian Gothic Revival. However, that wasn’t his only style and doesn't appear to have influenced his designed in Oldham. The Prudential Assurance building in Liverpool was neo-gothic. He also designed Manchester Town Hall and the National History Museum.

The building is grade II listed, registered on 27th January 1973. It is currently on the market for sale with a guide price of £425,000 (which I don’t think is half bad for what you'd get), and has failed to auction at least once.

When the building was originally constructed, the Prudential used to provide loans to professional and working people. They later went on to sell health insurance for the working classes for as little as a penny, which probably explains why they came to have a such a grand building in the industrious town of Oldham.

After Prudential sold the building, it was put to use as various offices and a club. From what I can dig up the was originally called “Dinos” before being rebranded or re-opened as, “Holy City Zoo”. There was also a children's day care centre in there at some point.

The building was subject to a failed arson attempt on 23rd May 2017. Fire crews attended reports of smoke coming from the basement and put out a small fire, which fortunately caused minimal damage.

My Explore

I know we have a handful of explores that are well worth a look around these parts, but they’re normally sealed up tight or have overzealous security who think they’re SAS ninjas (Fletchers). However, this is not one I was aware of. I saw some pretty tiles pop up in the 28days FB group. Normally when something cool pops up it’s unlikely I’ll get to them before access is shut down. But this time I was delighted when I discovered this explore was right on my doorstep. Fearing access would be short-lived I decided to get on with it as soon as possible, but figured I should probably wait for an early weekend jaunt to avoid prying eyes. After an unsuccessful poke about in Hull after dropping off the Terrors, I decided to recce the PA Building for access. After spotting a couple of likely ways in, I went home, had just a couple of safety brews and fell asleep.

My alarm did not go off and I woke up half an hour later than intended. But it was still plenty early enough to get on with the explore. With all the finesse of Fletcher’s Secca I was soon in unnoticed and having a mooch about. A faint alarm was ringing, but no one seemed to care.

It turns out I cut my finger on the way in and it was pouring with blood. I didn’t realise until I was changing the settings on my camera, which now needs a good clean.

This was my first town centre explore and the noises were very different. Two loud and shouty workmen sounded like they were closing the access as I was mooching around the top floor, so I had to go back down and check that out. And there were several incidents very nearby involving police.

All in all, the building appears to be a decent condition. It has been vandalised with windows smashed and hard bastards testing their strength by punching through plasterboard. Happily though, all the pretty tiling remains intact; it’s just covered in dust. The biggest threat to the building appears to be nature with a forest of Buddleia and bracken reclaiming the centre section and water damage rotting away the upper sections. But all that helps add character to some of the snaps.

The Snaps

The ground floor has a fair few corridors and offices.



But it is most notable for the beautiful tiled rooms.







The Basement Club - Holy City Zoo




And then up the stairs there are the floors of offices.... I really struggled because of the space and angles to get a decent snap of the stairs, which I was a bit gutted about.



More Corridors


Including the kitchen sink...



I discovered a private room...


A beautiful vista of Oldham...


And some really nice manky water damaged rooms on the top level, which I think are some of my favorite parts...




Thank you for reading.


EOA :thumb
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Exploring with Bob
Regular User
Thanks very much @host and @UrbanZ - I am hoping a couple of the other local gems become accessible in the not so distant future too.

I am wondering whether this was opened up by the people who tried to burn it down a couple of months ago and it has stayed open since.


28DL Regular User
Regular User
Thanks very much @host and @UrbanZ - I am hoping a couple of the other local gems become accessible in the not so distant future too.

I am wondering whether this was opened up by the people who tried to burn it down a couple of months ago and it has stayed open since.
Its been open for many months...theres also another gem not 2 mins from here too...
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