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28DL and UE in the News - Swindon Advertiser 15/02/07 | 28DL and Urban Exploring in the News... |

28DL and UE in the News Swindon Advertiser 15/02/07

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Swindon features in controversial urban explorers' website

By Anthony Osborne

WE all like to explore our surroundings.

But a group of people who call themselves urban explorers are taking their hobby to a higher and riskier level.

Some do it legally, but other elements make a habit of trespassing onto building sites, climbing cranes and exploring derelict buildings, often at night, to see what they can find, before publishing their results and pictures on the internet.

The fad has now spread to Swindon, with reports about sites such as the former college building in Regent Circus, the Locarno in Old Town and the Mechanics Institute being visited and photographed.

In one expedition - posted on the website - one person, who goes by the alias austinpowers2007, was joined by three fellow explorers to look around the empty former Swindon College building.

In his report, he said getting in wasn't easy because of the seven-foot-high fence erected by developers.

He said: "There was a security van parked inside the fence, so we made our way around quietly and found an opening into the actual college building after walking around for 20 minutes or so by way of a previously smashed window."

Once inside, at the dead of night, the group took photographs of themselves, disguised in black clothing and balaclavas, and explored the empty building.

They didn't cause any damage, and once they had enough photographs, they left without fuss.

Others got into the Mechanics' Institute at night, heading up to the highest point of the building to take pictures across the Railway Village and beyond.

Others entered the fire-damaged Locarno building in Old Town. Clearly one of their aims was to make their way up the old tower of the building.

One report read: "There is no access to the tower, apart from the outside scaffolding, but because of the public location it's probably not possible."

Perhaps the most surprising building to attract the attention of explorers was the old central police station off Fleming Way, which was visited while the building was under demolition.

None of the urban explorers the Adver tried to contact through the website responded, but authorities have denounced the pastime.

Swindon Council spokeswoman Liz Richmond said: "People should be discouraged from engaging in the acts that are portrayed on this website.

"Swindon Borough Council takes a very active and responsible role in protecting the public from dangerous and dilapidated buildings and structures. If a building is fenced off it is usually for a reason.

"When notified of a dangerous structure, the building control section of the council will inspect the building - normally within two hours of notification and depending on the severity of the danger will have the danger removed or the building fenced off to ensure public safety.

"We work very closely with the building owner to achieve this level of safety.

"People carrying out this sort of activity could put themselves and other members of the public at serious risk."

Wiltshire Police spokesman Graham Chivers said: "While it is not a criminal offence to trespass, it is clear from this website that these people are going into structures that are either derelict or are going to be demolished.

"Our advice to these people would be to stay out of these structures because if they injure themselves it could be hours or even days before help arrives. If something does happen it also puts the lives of those people in the emergency services at risk when they have to rescue these people as well."

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