BBC Southeast's InsideOut
Therefore this website will document my various rambles through some of the UK's decaying sites.
I was contacted by a Phd Student who was researching his local asylum as part of his doctorate. By coincidence, he was interested in Whittingham Asylum near Preston, and was interested in my visual record of the buildings. I helped him as much as I could, revealing that a third of the site had been demolished, another third was being destroyed, but the historical core of the most building still remained.
Part of his work entailed building a virtual record of an asylum. Spurred on my my pictures of the magnificient, albeit delapitated, buildings, he approached the owners for permission to document the asylum inside and out. His work would’ve been a lasting record of a historical building, one that’s at risk, one that’s totally unique.
He was denied access.
Instead, his project had to concentrate on another asylum, long since demolished, but immortalised in photographs. Unfortunately, due to the shortsightivness of Whittingham’s owners (either due to fear of litigation, laziness or apathy), that asylum will not be documented, and the only lasting legacy will be a couple of websites which merely scratch the surface.
Love them, or loathe them, at least an urban explorer with an eye for detail and architecture, could potentially build up a library of snapshots, which could go some way to documenting a building. Such a clutch of pictures could, potentially, be of some use to someone, somewhere. Some of my pictures remain unique on the web; whilst my wonders around Cane Hill, RAF Upwood and others give real insights into these buildings, their function and their architecture. Soon - all that will be lost.
Furthermore, some urban exploration websites evolve into more than just the examination of the ruinous locations visited. They become meeting places of the ex-employees, fellow enthusiasts, melting pots of ideas and discussion. The Shrine (which first started as a ghost story set in the derelict Canadian Red Cross Memorial Hospital) has evolved into a historical account of the site, the people who worked there and some first hand recollections from some of the patients. Good going for what simply started as a fun, derelict place to hang out in.
When looking back after these buildings have long gone, when drab housing estates sit on the same land, will people then care that the pictures were taken without the permission of their absent owners or the blessing of the totally unimaginative trusts and associations which supposedly look after them?
I think not.