The subculture of urban exploring, or ‘Urbexing’ as it is known to syllable cullers, gained notoriety a couple of years ago when a group of nocturnal adventurers known as the London Consolidation Crew broke into and climbed the then unfinished Shard building. The public’s response was divided, whilst some condemned them as criminals and vandals, others were inspired by their courage and saw an oppurtunity to capture the cities that they lived in from a novel and illicit perspective.
“Take nothing but photographs, Leave nothing but footprints”
Whilst breaking and entering buildings that are under construction holds little interest for me, the story, and the googling that it provoked, led me to a number of urbexing websites that focus on the exploration of abandoned and derelict buildings around the UK.
After foraging through the forums, I came across the ‘Zachary Merton Convalescence Home’, a long forgotten psychiatric hospital for injured war veterans.
Located in possibly one of the most picturesque villages in Leicestershire, the decaying structure is a haunting contrast to the serenity surrounding it. The main building sits shrouded in perforated sheet steel; the walkways, once majestic, lie neglected and largely reclaimed by a thick layer of moss and overgrown vegetation. Climbing in through the shattered frame of a window, we are greeted by the crackle of peeled paint flakes beneath our feet and the overpowering, musty odour of disuse.
A debris covered corridor of deep shadows and broken glass. The groan of a corroded hinge, struggling against its fixings. A mouldy sign on the door tells us we are entering the Recreation Room. Pale rays of light trickle in from around the edges of the boarded up window frame. Not enough to penetrate the palpable darkness. We wait as our eyes acclimatise.
Charred and discarded patient records lay strewn amongst broken furniture and a burnt out pool table, hinting at the ordeals endured by the inmates. Empty beer cans share the seat of an upturned wheelchair with broken records and audio cassette tapes from the 90’s.
History runs deep within these tired and crumbling walls of brick and splintered wood. These tattered cells have seen things; they hold stories from another time, shared through the assortment of dusty artefacts littering the halls. As we climb the stairs to the next floor we come across a scrawled spray-paint message: Welcome To Hell.
Graffiti adorns these once pristine walls, interrupted here and there by blackened wallpaper, evidence of the numerous small fires that have undoubtedly been set around the building. Some of it is simple vandalism. Other pieces cross the line to become art. This piece in particular, along with the eerie masked figure next to it, say something about the buildings imagined history.
As we descended further into the building we encountered some strange apparatus, the use of which I hesitate to speculate on. One room contained, as well as a filthy and cracked porcelain bath-tub, a device that consisted of a chair mounted on a metal frame, with a handle at it’s rear to spin the seat, and presumably the patient strapped into it, vertically. Another room, strangely void of the peeled paint that littered every other cell, held a single wooden stool almost dead in the centre.
Here are some more images taken that day, hope you enjoyed the post, and thanks for reading!