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Report - - Sandford Mill Chemical Filter Building, Chelmsford - January 2017 | Industrial Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Sandford Mill Chemical Filter Building, Chelmsford - January 2017


WildBoyz

Is this the future?
28DL Full Member
History

The building this report is based on is the old art deco Filter House. The building housed all of the equipment and tanks that were needed to complete the chemical filtration process. It also contained a laboratory which was used to handle chemicals and conduct tests, to ensure the water was fit for human consumption before being sent to the nearby reservoir.

The site on which the old chemical filter building at Sandford Mill sits began life as a corn mill. The timber mill was constructed sometime in the early 19th century, directly over a stream that would run underneath the centre of the building. The stream drove a large water wheel, which provided power to the corn mill. By the end of the century, a steam engine was installed to generate additional power. It is noted that coal used to run the engine was supplied from Newcastle-under-Lyme, which was transported along canals via horse drawn barges.

In 1923 Chelmsford Corporation purchased the site for the construction of a new Borough Waterworks. Construction of the new facility began in 1926, around the time milling in the area ceased. The old corn mill was subsequently demolished, save for two cottages which were built in 1905. They are the only surviving remnants of the original mill. The waterworks started operating in March 1929, despite the fact that it was not fully completed until July 1930. The preliminary site consisted of a large red brick building which became known as the ‘Engine House’. Water from the River Chelmer, and from a 650ft deep borehole was both treated and pumped inside this building using electrically-driven pumps. These were powered by diesel driven alternators during the day and the mains electricity supply by night.

The capacity of the waterworks was improved in 1956, following the construction of a new building that was known as the ‘Filter House’. The entire water treatment process was transferred over to the new building, and additional pumps were installed in the Engine House. Three further pump houses were also erected across the site, to move the water around the site through the various stages of the treatment process. The largest pump house, positioned over by the weir, became known as the River Pump House. After being treated the water was transported via the Engine House over to Galleywood Reservoir, approximately four miles away, for use in Chelmsford. Although local rumour has it that the building was designed and constructed by the same Scottish architects, Dunn and Watson, who are responsible for the construction of the Marconi factory in Chelmsford, this is in fact not true. Dunn and Watson’s practice closed in 1912, forty-four years before the chemical building was completed. While the Filter House follows a very similar late art deco design, whoever constructed it remains unknown.

During the mid-70s, the water industry was nationalised and the site was acquired by the Essex Water Company. To avoid the operating two duplicated sites in close proximity of one another, the water company decided to transfer all operations to a site further down the River Chelmer, at Langford. By 1984, all water pumping at the Sandford Mill site ceased and the facility was made completely redundant. Most of the equipment was removed that same year, and the land was returned to the Borough Council.

Our Version of Events

At the end of areasonably successfulday of exploring over in Colchester, where we’d ended up finding ourselves in a semi-abandoned hospital, we decided to meet up with Xploring and DRZ_Explorer. For the rest of the evening we fucked around trying to get into a cinema, then in the clock tower of the Britvic site and finally, rather randomly, a cemetery. After that, we arranged to meet up the next night because there was some sort of chemical filter building nearby that sounded like it was a good wander. From what we were being told, the place sounded like it was something a bit different and unique.

The following evening came, and we all met up down a small country lane by the side of a canal. Getting onto the site wasn’t particularly difficult; although, finding a way inside the building itself presented its own set of challenges. However, it wasn’t long before we were all inside the building, gathered at the bottom of the main staircase that leads into the main tank room. It was at this point we realised visiting during the night perhaps wasn’t the greatest idea ever conceived. Once we climbed the stairs and entered the large hall housing the chemical tanks it suddenly dawned on us that the room is has windows on every side, and overlooking the building are the former mill cottages and the museum – where there were lights switched on. We did our best to take photos throughout the building, but not being able to light-paint too well meant that most of the shots came out a bit shit. In the end, we gave up and decided we’d pop back the following day, during daylight hours.

We returned the next day, and were disappointed to find a white van parked outside. So, for the next hour or so we had to play the waiting game and a couple of rounds of dominos, until the van and its occupants finally fucked off. Thankfully, they did eventually leave, so we made our way back to the entrance we’d found the previous night. Fortunately, it was still open. Once inside, visibility was incredible. Plenty of natural light was pouring through the windows, making our job of snapping up some photos much easier. What is more, now we could properly take in our surroundings. The lads from the previous night had been right, the place looked amazing. With all of the tiles around, it was kind of like standing in an ancient swimming baths, crossed with an old-school batman-styled chemical factory – the type where bad-guys and scientists have a high risk of falling into a vat of unspecified chemical waste.

Much to our disappointment, neither batman nor the joker turned up. The only weird thing we stumbled across were a few skeletons of rabbits and squirrels. As others have said before, it looked like a small-scale massacre had taken place. Our theory, then, is that the animals had somehow managed to get inside the building, because, as with all explores, it has been broken into a few times. This means at some point the doors and windows may have been open to the little critters. Since all the skeletons look fairly intact, it looked more like the animals died due to poisoning – they are inside a former chemical filtering building after all, where there is an abundance of chemical residue. How they all managed to end up in the same room, however, is a harder phenomenon to explain. Our guess is that Poison Ivy may have inhabited the building at some point, and she moved all the corpses into that room where she was able to have a bit of a barbeque. We found her cans of special brew; evidence that she definitely cooked something up in that room. Anyway, we’re certain that this theory surpasses all others in terms of its validity and reliability.

Explored with Ford Mayhem, Slayaaaa, Stewie and Xploring.

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Supersonic

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Your pictures are incredible mate! Much better than mine, I should have come with you lot the next day instead!
 

mw0sec

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Great. The picture of those old Kent chart recorders brought back memories of servicing them during my stint in UKAEA back in the 60's!
 

zombizza

Pink
Regular User
This is actually really tasty. Small and perfectly formed
 

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