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Report - - Under chimney at Camperdown works | Underground Sites |

Report - Under chimney at Camperdown works

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I only discovered this site a few days ago, got me thinking about a few explorations years back. Round about the time Dundee was something of an industrial wasteland, ripe for a few adventures.This report concerns Camperdown Jute and Hemp works in Lochee, which is famous for it's rather impressive chimney. A truly monumental phalic symbol erected ,if you'll pardon the pun by the Cox family during a highly competitive period of jute mill construction and expansion.
It's an Italianate multicoloured brick spectacular. The rival Baxter brothers favoured Egyptian obelisk style chimneys, all gone now sadly. Camperdown works had previously used several smaller chimneys. Obviously bigger is better so these were replaced by one huge square chimney.No expense spared since the company was rich beyond imagination selling jute to make tents for the american civil war.
The site had been closed for years when I began my visits there. Nothing in the way of security as the area covered by the factory and outbuildings was too large to patrol without an army of night watch men. Half hearted fencing was an open invite. Who am I to refuse.
First port of call, the high mill. A massive structure with not a single pane of glass intact. Wind and rain ripping through the building and a blizzard of flaking paint and pigeon shit. First and second floors were apparently a popular haunt for local glue sniffers The dank bowels of the building housed a mangled collection of shopping trollies. Looking like fish bones in the belly of some leviathon.

Now I should point out here that this was before the joys of digital camera's so I have a very sorry collection of stills. Screen caps from a super8 film I shot. Not up to the usual standards on here but sadly all there is.


I explored the main mill over the course of a few nights and, after a number of close scrapes involving large holes in the floor. I decided to re-schedule my activities and began daytime tours of the site. These included visits to the foundry, warehouses, air raid shelters, boiler block, workshops and some interesting holes in the ground. This being the underground sites section of the forum I should perhaps mention the honeycomb nature of the site.
Tunnels for steam pipes tunnels for smoke, cooling water, transit tunnels for people and jute, drainage. Miles and miles of tunnels branching off in every direction.


The largest of these tunnels were the flue's taking the smoke from the boiler ranges to the main chimney, Cox's Stack. All the boilers were in the process of being removed/cut up for scrap. Lancashire boilers just like the ones that provided the steam to power the Titanic to it's untimely demise.
Various large holes had been left in the stonework after several of these boilers had been wrenched from their bases. These allowed access into the flues themselves. Thick with soot they could be crawled along until they joined larger tunnels around 7 feet in diameter. Here you could walk along upright . It was much like walking in deep snow or sand. Slow going but worth it as the end of the tunnel was underneath the 282 feet tall chimney.
Approaching the base of the chimney there was a set of steel doors, probably to control draught depending how many boilers were fired up. The doors had rusted in a half open position and my skinny frame could fit through fine.


All the time I traversed the distance between the entrance hole in the stonework and this point there was a strange moaning whistling noise which grew progressively louder. Beyond the doors the reason for this became clear as the tunnel opened out into a gallery beneath the chimney. Three tunnels converged at this point and their arches supported a massive framework of brick and a web of cast iron beams supporting the chimney. Wind whistled through these tunnels and leaves and debris spiralled past me being dragged upwards into the mouth of the chimney.
I later did an experiment to see how much draught the chimney had by building a huge bonfire in the open space beneath. Took me days to collect smashed joists from around the site and drag them down. I eventualy found a hatch on the surface that allowed me to drop wood into the tunnels.
If anyone happened to notice the strange sight of smoke billowing from the chimney of a derelict deserted factory I confess it was my doing. And if you had spotted it, at that same point of time i would have been under the chimney thinking what an amazingly stupid thing I'd just done. The suction as the hot air rose up the chimney was incredible. Like being thrown about in a gale with invisible fingers tugging at your clothes.I've only ever been more scared once which was actually the following week after I figured out how to get to the top of the stack.




Again i'm sorry about the piss poor quality of the images, I was gutted when I realised how little i had to show for some tremendously entertaining times. I'll forage further and see if I can find any further images when I get a bit more free time. Take care peeps and keep up the good work.


A few more shots, no improvement in quality though sorry.



Found some negatives so I'll pop round to jessops and see if there's anything worth printing up.