"The closest thing to Cadman since the actual Cadman"

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Lord Hill Column revisited

(DISCLAIMER: As an relatively nice human being, I do not force entry, vandalize, steal, or disclose means of entry or location if it isn't obvious. I do this to protect locations and respect them. Trespass without forced entry is a civil offense rather than a criminal one, which isn't worth acting on unless one causes damage, steals, has ill intent, etc. I simply photograph and leave everything as I find it. I do not condone breaking and entering, and I do not condone what I do. I'm a danger to myself and a terrible role model, and I've got really bad halitosis too.)

Some random guy at the pub, whose name I never got, told me that about twenty years ago he lost his virginity at the top of Lord Hills Column, a 133 foot tall column with a statue of Lord Hill at the top. The viewing platform is still a few feet below the actual statue itself, though. Nevertheless I presume it was the viewing platform where this chap did the deed. How spectacular. Back in the day, the council would lend the key out to whoever happened to enquire, making it temporarily accessible to the public. However, at some point they stopped. This sort of thing happens when people use the opportunity to shoot their DNA into other people.
I told the guy that I could beat his story, to which he responded "Oh yeah? Where did you lose your virginity?"
"I didn't," I replied cheerfully.
"I don't mean fornication," I replied. "I mean Lord Hill."

And then I showed him a picture of my phone of me sat on Lord Hills shoulder, from the time I climbed up there a few years back. His jaw dropped, so for good measure, and because I like to brag, I showed him pictures of me on top of other notable Shrewsbury landmarks. Once his eyes had stopped bleeding, he said "Okay, you win. But all of your blogs photos from the top of Lord Hills column are unfocused and dark, and I can't see much."

And Goddammit, he's right. It's time to revisit the mighty goliath!

Photo taken from Wikipedia

This adventure was different from my usual, in that I had to procure a key. Don't worry, I did give it back. And while it would have been great to share the view from yet another of Shrewsburys notable landmarks with my accomplice Tree Surgeon, he was unable to make it. He's a week away from being a daddy. Isn't that awesome? He'll probably be joining me on a lot less adventures. But I'm not bitter because his lady, Ms K, has used magic to reverse my alopecia, which has a massive impact on my social anxiety and overall confidence. This is a big deal because sadly I am a slave to my vanity, and an overall self loving individual. Not to an arrogant extent, of course. I love being me and I sincerely hope that you love being you, too. It's not a competition. In fact, I think our natural inclinations towards a heirarchy where one is either superior or inferior, is something the human race needs to overcome. In a survival-of-the-fittest scenario it comes into play, but humans have transcended natural selection and our means of measuring someones worth. Nowadays it seems to be measured in the number of digits in your monthly income.
The world needs to outgrow that. Managers, bosses, office workers, sitting around getting rich on the backs of the wage slaves, these aren't the role models you're looking for. The role models of today are the people who are happy, no matter what, and doing what they love.
So here are my shots of Lord Hill's Column.

Lord Hill's Column is the tallest doric column in England, doric being the architectural style derived from the Greeks. Construction started in 1814 and finished in 1816.

On top of the column stands a statue of Lord Hill, known as Rowland to his family and, uh, Daddy Hill, to those who served under him. The nickname derives from how he protected and looked after his troops. He provided his wounded with lunch baskets, and he responded to fan mail by buying them supper. It seems that Lord Hill was something of a military legend.
He was born in 1772, and commissioned into an infantry regiment of the British army in 1790 when he was eighteen. A year later he was promoted to Lietenant, and through various military campaigns against the Napoleonic Empire, he rose swiftly through the ranks, before finally becoming Colonel in 1800.
In 1801 he was injured while driving French troops out of Egypt, but it didn't stop him. In fact he went on to have one hell of a successful military career, fighting in the battle of Waterloo and reaching legend status during the Battle of Nive in 1813. It sounds like something straight out of a movie. Lord Hill had 13,000 men and only ten guns. They were trapped on the bank of the river by a broken bridge, and they somehow managed to hold off the attack of 30,000 enemy troops, with 22 guns. A historic record of the battle says of Lord Hill "He was seen at every point of danger, and repeatedly led up rallied regiments in person to save what seemed like a lost battle. He was even heard to swear."
Doesn't that just make him sound like a great guy? It took being heavily outnumbered more than two to one to finally get him to utter a swear word, and he still won the battle! What a guy!
He died in 1842 and having never married, his inheritance passed on to his nephew, who was also named Rowland.

 Upon entry into the column, I saw this chest. The contents are unknown.

 The stairs spiral upwards and can be a little fatiguing. Ordinarily I'd recommend just running up them in a massive burst of energy, but the column has a way of slowing me down. You see, there's a secret message to be read along the way.

 The little-known message is in the stair railing, and one must stop to look at each letter and word, to piece together what is being said. Given the steep spiral staircase of 172 steps, this is more tiring than it looks.

 The message reads "This staircase was the gift of John Straphen, the builder, as his donation towards erecting this column. The first stone of the foundation was laid December 27 1814, and completed June 18 1816, the anniversary of the glorious battle of Waterloo."

Given that the message refers to the completion of the column, I'm assuming that the staircase was donated later, which begs the question why they built it absent of a stairway. I assume they had prior knowledge that the stairs would be provided by John Straphen.

 At the top of the column, both inside and outside, is loads of graffiti. It's very similar to the flag tower, Radbrook college, Wakeman College and also the Library. It's wonderful to see! I mean nowadays we live in a world where some wazzock will scrawl "White power" next to a swastika in a toilet cubicle, something even Hitler would cringe at, and it'll get wiped off and forgotten. However this is historic. This is people getting to somewhere thats not ordinarily acessible and leaving their mark on the world.

 Written very faintly above "Jon Edwards" is the phrase "We had sex." The date is partially obstructed by Jon but I think its 9/92.

I guess Lord Hills column was the place to be.

From up here one can see Lord Hill himself, leaning on his sword. This is the closest I can get to him today- when I climbed up there previously, he had scaffolding up to his waist. 

Meanwhile check out the view!

 There's the abbey over in the distance and beyond that is the Parade Shopping Centre and a load of other places I've climbed, standing out the most is the clocktower.

Isn't it fucking beautiful?

 It's difficult to tell, but I think thats Meole Brace church over there.

 This white building is the doctors at Monkmoor.

 Sticking up near the centre of this image, I think, is the Freemasons church.

 And right over there is Shrewsbury boys school.

 At the foot of the column is the council offices, decorated with solar panels and looking like it should have a gun turret.

 My sources tell me that there's a nuclear bunker under the council building, but accessing it is probably impossible. The tunnel network that leads to it is also used by police to access the court.

 Allegedly the area that has the trees was once much prettier, decorated with loads of fountains, kinda like what they have in Manchester. I guess this feature was considered too nice for a government building in Shrewsbury.

Have one final shot of the town centre. Near the clocktower you can just see St Julians church and St Chads church, and at the very right hand edge of the image is Laura's Tower. Being able to see how much of this town I've actually climbed on is brilliant. I get such a rush from being high up like this. However, I should probably return thecolumns key...

Anyway, that's all I've got today. Next time I've got another abandoned house to show you, and it's got a peculiar feature to it... I can't wait. 
If you enjoyed this blog post, share it on the social media of your choice, and follow my Instagram, my Twitter and like my Facebook page.
And as always, and most importantly, if you know anyone who is struggling, and not doing so great, give them a boost, even if its a few minutes from your day to listen to them. Be Daddy Hill, and buy them supper. Human beings tragically underestimate the impact that they have on each other, but what needs to be talked about more is the fact that so many people suffer in isolation. Talk to each other, hug each other, turn someones day around.

Thanks for reading! Stay awesome!

Friday, 12 January 2018

The House of Vintage Toys

(DISCLAIMER: As an relatively nice human being, I do not force entry, vandalize, steal, or disclose means of entry or location if it isn't obvious. I do this to protect locations and respect them. Trespass without forced entry is a civil offense rather than a criminal one, which isn't worth acting on unless one causes damage, steals, has ill intent, etc. I simply photograph and leave everything as I find it. I do not condone breaking and entering, and I do not condone what I do. I'm a danger to myself and a terrible role model, and I'm totally a bed wetter too.)

Okay, so obviously I won't be disclosing the location of this place. I never do anyway, but you'd be surprised how many people ignore the disclaimer and ask anyway.

Todays house needs protecting, and as such I will not be giving anything away that might give any clues. That includes exterior shots, and names of the former occupiers.
I do have a request- If you do happen to know where this place is, don't go spewing it in the social media comments section. Keep it quiet. Be respectful. Abandoned houses are often discarded because someone has passed away. They, and their contents, remain a memorial of sorts to their former life. It's like a museum, or gravestone. They need to be respected.

 As such any requests about the location of this place will be ignored.

And with that said, welcome to the House of Vintage Toys!

Getting inside this house was fun! While its exact location is a secret, I will say that it's in Shropshire, and it's in a well-populated area, with the means of entry in plain sight. As such Brother Michaels vehicle parked outside it was about as subtle as the holocaust. Brother Michael, you might remember, is a bogus monk and my only ever current client for adventure therapy. I'm not a therapist, but I am an adventurer, and I am opinionated. If opinions were nipples, I'd have more than all of your pets, and they'd make firmer points too.

I explained Brother Michaels predicament in the last non-Shrewsbury blog post. (I alternate between Shrewsbury and the rest of Shropshire so that I can widen my reach without making the blog title too inaccurate). Brother Michaels life is work, and boredom. He hasn't got anything to define his life besides a job he loathes but has to do in order to keep on living. And what's the point in earning a living if you're not living? He used to be a musician, many years ago. He's shown me old gig videos of various venues in Shrewsbury that don't exist anymore, that I wasn't around to enjoy because I was six. To his knowledge, his videos of these gigs are the only evidence that this era ever happened. It gave me a real feel for the impermanence of everything, because such is the power of music, the entire atmosphere of this era was captured in what I was seeing, and I could totally imagine being there, watching the show, appreciating the music, drinking the alcoholic beverage that I'd be far too young to consume if I actually was there. As consumers, the only music we're really exposed to is what makes it "out there" and what we listen to at venues when we go to gigs. There's a near-limitless pit of lost talent that will never be heard again simply because it happened decades ago and was never repeated.
Brother Michael has lost an entire era. That's his problem. I'm using adventure therapy to try and give his creativity a jumpstart so that he can build himself a new era.

So we parked outside the house, and Brother Michael had the wonderful idea of opening his car bonnet, and pretending that he'd broken down, to visually explain to the locals why a car was parked where a car shouldn't be. And once I had an opportunity, I slipped inside.
And of course, a means of access was wide open. I never force entry. 

 The family that owned this house had a really uncommon name, and I was able to research the property enough to ascertain that as early as 1985 there was a business being run from here, by a man and presumably his wife. Now, I can't disclose the nature of the business, but the downstairs of this property was dedicated largely to it, while the family lived upstairs.

While the nature of the business changed somewhat between 1985 and 2009, the family, and Big Cheese, remained the same. Google streetview shows the business still thriving in 2011.

The downstairs appears to be full of old furniture and board games.

For any confused millenials reading this, these are what people in the 20th Century used to entertain the family in the event of a power cut. Twister is great for physical exercise and practicing the kama sutra, while Chess is primarily for proving to your friends that you're more intelligent. As far as board games go, these are mild. The likes of Monopoly have been known to rip families apart.

And there it is, the demon itself, thankfully buried under a pile of others so that nobody can unleash its horrors on the world.

Music cassettes.

Old video games!

There's writing on this tag, indicating that the furniture belongs to the Big Cheeses wife, which is indicative that a lot of what was here was being organised in preparation to be taken away.

There's a little devil hanging from a hook. I suppose it's meant to have a tail hanging down but because the image is two-dimensional, he kinda just looks like the dude from Bad Biology.
If you've never seen Bad Biology, you're not missing as much as you'd expect from a movie whose protagonists opening line is "I was born with seven clits" but if you simply MUST see it, make sure there's an intoxicating substance nearby or you won't survive.

This door at the back of the building was locked from the other side, implying that there's a means of accessing it from the buildings exterior. I'm strictly against forcing access, even to access parts of a building that I already have access to, so I left it that way. Luckily the door did push open a teeny bit and I was able to get a glimpse of what was left on the other side.

Well, it's a garage. And this car is actually the cleanest thing in the entire building. It actually made me stop and wonder if the garage was still being used even when the house clearly wasn't. However, since I can't see the number plate, I can't check really do much research on that.

 According to my research, the Big Cheese of this company died in 2014. I'm not sure of the cause. His remaining family are his wife, his son, and his two siblings. But where are they? The family business seems to have been abandoned. I mean sure, the belongings have been organised as if prepared to be taken away, but if this place ceased to be used in 2014, then any clearance of all this stuff should have happened long ago. It's as if they were in the process of clearing it all out and just gave up.

The door labeled "office" was locked tight, but the mailbox allowed me to peek inside.

There's not a lot left. There's a viking statue on the desk, and behind the desk is a safe.

At the opposite end of the building was this little door with a floral design on it.

However all was not as it seemed. This would have been where the stairs were, leading up to the upper floor. The stairs were still there, however the means of traversing them was not.

So... that door basically leads to a staircase shaped cupboard now? Well that's pretty unique!

Luckily for me, there were other stairs and I was soon making my way up them!

This blue room is where the original stairs would have led to. The walls match and everything. Now its just a reasonably pointless little space.

The family allegedly lived here above the business, and it did have a slightly homelier vibe to it, although it also had a very morbid feel about it.

It consists of a singular hallway that leads to various rooms. There are still pictures hanging on the wall but they're pretty generic, with nothing personal. The coat hooks are empty too, and there's nothing here one would expect in a house that was still occupied such as clothing.

There's not even any toilet paper! And that's the most abandoned object of all time. There's always toilet paper!

The kitchen was of interest. It's full of old vintage magazines and comics.

And in the other rooms, presumably once bedrooms and a lounge, were hundreds of books. And I do mean hundreds. This place puts a library to shame.

These Punch books are old satire cartoons from the Victorian Era. Punch ran from 1841 to 2001. It's historically relevant for introducing the term "cartoon" to the British through its satirical illustrations. These books are probably worth quite a bit.

All these vintage annuals from the 1960s, 70s and 80s are probably collectors items now too.

Also hidden away amongst the books are these boxes labeled "Art and Design" which perhaps allude to college courses taken by the son of the business owner.

Hey, look, it's Bowie! I was drooling at this point. My code of ethics for exploring abandoned places means that I respect what I find, and keep my mits to myself, and I never steal anything.
But how I hate myself for it. Goddamn moral compass..

Here's a book called "Games People Play-The Psychology of human relationships." Doesn't that sound intriguing?

And look here, there's a pot of lego.

Also among the books was this letter to the son of the business owner, which mentions that he's recently moved out into his own house. It's dated 1997, and came from his grand father.

There's also a cheque for £50 up here, also dated 1997 and presumably it came with the letter, given that the letter adds at the end that they've thrown in some pocket money.
Why was this never paid into the bank? Did something happen to the son too?

Here's some vintage Noddy books.

Now this is a rare find. Even though Noddy is still around today, all of the old books were banned. Back in the old Noddy books, Toylands villains, or overall mischief makers, were Gollywogs, a doll typically regarded as an offensive racial stereotype. If Noddys car was going to get stolen, the Gollywogs would be the culprits. There's one on the cover of this book, see? It's mocking Noddy and Big Ears while PC Plod gives our protagonist a good stern telling off!
 There's some who say that the doll itself was never intended to be racist, but because of the black face and big red lips, the word Gollywog became a racial slur, and as such their inclusion as the villains of the Noddyverse was just a coincidence. But regardless, in the modern Noddy stories, most of the classic tales have been retold with Goblins replacing the Gollywogs, which solves the problem and makes these old books very much collectors items.

The "Sex, Death and Punishment" book there sure looks intriguing.

Check this out! Loads of old Transformers story books. I have a few of these from when I was a kid. In fact I'm something of a Transformers collector... only the vintage ones though. I don't much care for the Michael Bay movies. I hate to even use the plural "movies" because every single one of those movies is more or less a lazily written identical twin to the preceding movie.
There's barely any plot, lame humour that only people too young to see the films would find funny, and the Transformers themselves are sidelined in favour of dorky human characters which often includes a socially retarded teenager, a military dude, and an attractive woman with no personality. I'm not being sexist when I say this because there are plenty of amazing movies with attractive women who do have personalities and do contribute to the plot. Those movies just aren't directed by Michael Bay.  Women in Transformers movies aren't there to contribute to the plot, they're there for eye candy, and that's about it. And if your movie about giant fighting robots needs pointless eye candy character additions with no personality or real plot input just to make people want to go and see it, then your movie about giant fighting robots is shit, and you should make porn instead.

But enough of my Michael Bay rant. I do have some of the old Transformer books on this shelf.  Some of them are also signed by the guy who illustrated them, because I'm a geek and when I found out he was in Shrewsbury, I decided to seize the opportunity. He told me "This was the first paid artwork I ever did, and the last thing I ever expected to end up signing for someone."

One thing worth noting is that there are copies of the exact same book here, meaning that the owner may not have been collecting so much as buying and selling. Perhaps they had an ebay shop or something.

In contrast to the childrens books, the majority of the books are for a more adult demographic. However, the letter from the grandparent indicated that the son of the business owner had got his own home, so he presumably is an adult. The Transformers books are indicative of someone who was born in the late 1970s, because they came out in 1984. In fact, I am absolutely baffled at how I managed to get so many of the early Transformers as a child in the 1990s, when they predated my own existence.
But I digress. We can theorize and speculate that the son of the business owner is in their late thirties now.

There's some Transformer bedding here!

Onto the final room. And even though the title of the blog does ruin the surprise, at the time it was mindblowing. It also seemed to be the epicenter of the morbid vibe that the house has. In fact I felt very uneasy, and as if I was being watched.

But check it out! The guy who was presumably born in the late 1970s left all of his toys behind when he moved out. And just about every retro toy franchise you can think of is up here.

They're all surprisingly organised, even to the point that E.T gets the entire fireplace almost to himself. Given that there is a fireplace in this room, I think this was probably the lounge once.

Here's an original Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters.

In the corner is the Ghostbusters HQ.

There's a keyboard here.

And here, to my delight, is a box of Transformers.

Upon inspection I realised that Power Rangers were thrown in there too, along with other robots. Clearly whoever organized these toys wasn't the kid who grew up with them. A Transformers fan would know that the original Megazord doesn't belong in the same box as Optimus Prime.
(Incidentally this Optimus Prime is from 1988, and I have the exact same one in a display cabinet, except mine still has a head.) My inner child really came out while I was exploring this place. Can you tell?

This one got me drooling though. Seeing as I collect the vintage ones, the fact that this one is still boxed in its original packaging did make my jaw drop.

Here's a rubix sphere.

A box full of Simpsons toys.

And... WOW! These Star Wars toys could be worth loads! A lot of the original Star Wars stuff is ridiculously sought after by collectors now.

There's a few Captain Scarlet and Thunderbirds things here, in particular Lady Penelopes car is still in its packaging.

A retro Transformers video game.

And hidden away in the cupboard is He-Man's battle cat. Now that was an odd show...

Finally, out back was a piano. There's plenty of room for it indoors so I don't know why it's just rotting out here.

So to conclude, I think that the majority of the toys were owned by the son of the guy who ran the business. He's an adult now, and he moved into his own place, leaving his childhood posessions behind. They remained here, in the family home, until his father passed away, and the house was apparently left. The mystery, of course, is why nobodies been back in the last four years.
In spite of my efforts here to conceal its location, I follow enough similar people on social media to know that this place has been ventured into before, and after me. If anyone is interested in securing it, they've made absolutely no effort.

It's actually really sad. Hopefully if the son is out there somewhere, he returns to collect his lost posessions before someone else does.
And that's really all I have to say on the matter. I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and like my Facebook page.
And as always if you know anyone who is struggling, give them a few minutes out of your day to pick them up and remind them that they're valued. That's what's important. Feeling valued, and knowing we're not alone. Give them a hug. Cheer them up. Turn a day around.

Thanks for reading. Stay awesome!