As an added piece to the usual disclaimer, just in case the title wasn't a dead giveaway, this blog post has some content that is NSFW.
Todays photos, while still conveying the relevant details of the latest location, were taken under one massive adrenaline rush, the likes of which I actually seldom have even from the multitude of rooftops, cranes, cyanide-filled tunnels, and creaking floorboards of abandoned houses and mansions that I frequent. The reasons why will become apparent.
Todays location sits on the border of Shropshire and Staffordshire. While technically in the latter, it was popular with locals from Shropshire, particularly Telford due to proximity. And as you know, my blog title has been dabbling in inaccuracy for years due to my own lack of foresight. I never thought it would take off like it did! I thought I was just yapping to nobody about the views from the rooftops of Shrewsbury. Several years later I'm teaming up with other bloggers to drive out to fetish clubs with some degree of urgency because the national media has revealed the place to the world and it's only a matter of time before it gets either boarded up for good or Calcott-Halled (meaning trashed and looted by a frequent influx of visitors). After putting up an advert for a driver I ended up with the partner of one of my favourite Shropshire bloggers, getting driven out to the ultimate sandcastle, the place known as Utopia.
*cue dramatic music.*
(This picture was stolen from Google Streetview. I didnt have time to take my own due to our speedy getaway.)
It looks so innocent from the street, doesn't it?
Utopia is said to be an 18th Century building, and its actual address does name it as The Old Hall. What was it used for? I dont know. Its modern day purpose sort of casts a shadow on any research beyond the late 20th Century. What I do know is that Utopia used to be a health spa called The Retreat, due to its remote location.
In 2003 it was taken over by Hideaway Leisure Ltd who renamed it Utopia and opened it up as an exclusively male bath house. And from what I can tell, this caused some controversy among the local villagers. It's strange looking back, but in 2003 the whole LGBT thing was still slightly taboo in some circles. True, it wasn't considered illegal, but to come out gay in school or college was to commit social suicide. I'm not sure how it was for adults since I was only a youngster in the naughties, but I remember everyone either hated the gays or supported the gays but nobody actually admitted to being gay, and if they did people just said that they were doing it for attention, and then suddenly it was a trend to be bisexual and everyone pounced on that bandwagon. I think it's interesting that in 2003 Utopia was chosen for its remote location but if something like this was to open now, in 2016, it could be right in the middle of town and nobody would care. So we've actually come a long way in a short space of time. Utopia had the swimming pool decorated with homo-erotic imagery, and it had the windows blacked out to ensure confidentiality and privacy, yet it proudly said "This is what we are" in an attempt to get some transparency going with the locals, who apparently hated it.
So of course, as a perfectly hilarious response to all the narrow-minded humans out there, in 2004 Hideaway Leisure opened the doors of Utopia to all genders, and made it into a swingers / fetish club. I've actually had several testaments from people who did come here, all of which shall remain anonymous. There was a membership process, and following admittance through the reception the attendees would change into robes and enter into a bar area. Leading off from the bar area, there was a locker room for their belongings. And then apparently it was a sexual free-for-all. Anything went. And this place had it all, from bedrooms to sex dungeons. It also had a number of girls working there.
Utopia closed in 2007, and from what I can tell the interior was just left with everything still in there, right down to the employees lingerie, almost as if they planned on opening up again. It seems that someone somewhere does want to sell it on eventually because in January of this year it was denied listed building status under the reason that if it's listed then future owners won't be able to make the changes that they might want.
Which I guess could translate hilariously to "Let's not make it listed until we can take out that sex dungeon."
Having been driven out to Utopia, I was immediately disheartened to see a van parked outside, and numerous workers in the process of boarding up the windows. This was a week after the major newspapers had revealed the place to the world, drawing towards it every miscreant adventurer, curious human with a camera, and urban explorer who was available. I'd known we only had a short period of time to get in and check the place out, but to get there right as it was being boarded up was pretty disastrous.
Vee's partner, who had driven me there, said to me that it might be worth asking the workers if we could have a look around.
I, however, would rather be told off than told no. It was time to put on my slightly larger glasses.
We decided that my accomplice could ask at the door if we could get in with permission, but while he was doing that I would be sneaking around the back to find a way in. Whoever was successful would message the other with the good news, and the unsuccessful one would join them.
The exterior was not without its gems.
I managed to get in via an upstairs window and messaged my accomplice to let him know. His response was a warning to get out NOW. The workers had been very hostile to him, having fought off a stream of people with cameras all week. They were calling the police on any intruders. It was probably best if I call it a day. But I am addicted. More important, I was already inside! How could I turn back now?
All I had to do was sneak around this building, ticking off the mental checklist, which had a freakin' abandoned sex dungeon on it, and make it out again without being seen by the people working on sealing the building, and without being boarded in myself. I don't think I'd ever done anything quite like this before.
So I found myself in the top floor, and it wasn't very telling of a fetish club, but it was nice.
This room had two televisions in. And this was to be a recurring theme.
I actually have a chair just like that! They're not much to look at but they are super comfy!
Here's a bath.
And check out this odd-looking piece of furniture. Some kind of dressing table reminiscent thingamajig with coathooks.
Moving down from the top floor I found a discarded bra on the stairs.
But that was just the start. The middle floor was littered with discarded undergarments.
Numerous chairs outside the bedrooms. Waiting areas perhaps? I just want to make it clear that fetish clubs hosting polygamous sexual free-for-alls, and BDSM dungeons, are an area I've not actually ventured into in my personal life. Which means sometimes what I'm saying here is completely speculative. But I want to make it clear, I'm not judging anyone. Everything unknown to me is just intriguing.
The toilet had a chair in it too.
Someone has written "No key" on the door, and someone else has faintly scratched underneath "Or is there?"
Evidently at some point there was. This was a spacious red room, with a relatively tiny bed in the corner, with a tissue dispenser built into the wall.
All beds up here were wipable. One wondered how well paid the cleaners were, for surely during daylight hours once everyone had gone home (and one of my sources reports leaving at 6am) there would be a rush to prepare this place for the following night. The cleaners must have seen some weird stuff.
Anyway, as an example of some of the paraphenalia to see around here, take this.
These small steps led to three more bedrooms. And again, one of them had a couple of televisions in them. Someone did make the suggestion that maybe the goings on in all the bedrooms were live-streamed to other parts of the house, including other bedrooms. This totally makes sense.
This particular bedroom had its own bathroom with a hairdressers chair.
And doesn't this card really give this place a good vibe? It's like actual friendships were formed here or something. This card made my day!
And wasn't there a Jayne written about at Shrewsburys abandoned brothel too? Wouldn't it be great if it was the same woman?
Moving on to the next room...
This was the only door that said "Private" on it, and naturally I was struck by curiosity. What was behind this door that the sign thought was too good for me? Time to do some disregarding.
Just a bedroom, with wipable beds, a sink in the corner, leftover money, and a bra hanging from the chandelier.
And the final bedroom, which seemed to be far less sexualised. In fact it felt rather homely. It had a real mattress, and belongings strewn around that weren't underwear. It's almost as if someone actually lived in this room.
What would be nice would be to know why this place closed down, as perhaps that would explain why so many valuable items were left behind.
I'd been lucky so far. Utopia had very creaky floorboards, and while nobody had been working upstairs, I was very wary that my footsteps may have been heard down below. In fact there were numerous times when I was certain I must have been heard, and froze to wait for the approaching footsteps, ready to dash for my exit. No approach came. And so I boldly went downstairs.
On the right at the bottom of the stairs was a door labeled "The Viewing Room."
I could hear people working on the other side of this door, so I decided to leave it. I am filled with intrigue though. Someone suggested that it could be a room with a one-way window, so mirrored on the other side, so that people could watch other people having sex.
The bottom of the stairs brought me out what I assume was a bar area. The bar itself was gone, but it definitely seemed like a social area.
That door was probably broken down by the initial visitors to this place. Abandoned sites aren't just explorable straight away. Someone has to force entry first. That person is never me, or anyone who associates or assists in this blog, but we do take advantage of their silly actions.
The fish have long gone.
The game is called Temptation. Of course.
It also seems to be situated in front of a newly boarded up doorway, which means it was probably moved there from somewhere else.
Just off from the bar area was the locker room where folks coming in would leave their personal belongings, including clothes, in favour of dressing gowns.
It was interesting but not surprising to see notices forbidding mobile phones. Obviously this is for confidentiality. It is thought-provoking though. It suddenly hit me that the people coming here would come from all varying professions. Teachers, police, managers, your average human, all maintaining professional lives outside of this building. What happened in Utopia stayed in Utopia.
Near the locker room was a doorway to a reception area.
In a nearby cupboard there was a really nice lamp, hidden away, along with a television.
But it's that sign at the back that makes me chuckle. It's instructions for operating the DVD player, and it begins with the informing sentence that only one DVD works, and that's Kostas' Friends. I decided to google this title and sure enough, it's all-male porn taking place in a villa in Greece. But bizarrely this particular porn movie is unique because it's told from the perspective of a dog named Kostas, who lives on the villa and just so happens to be around when all the homo-erotic action takes place.
Well that's certainly different.
Instructions on the DVD player are remarkably condescending. Step 3 instructs you to take a DVD out if there's already one in. Why would there be if only one DVD works? I don't know.
The shot above is the closest I got to the people working on the premises. Believe it or not, they're right around the corner, preparing to put that wooden board over the doors. And they never knew I was there. Needless to say I didn't stick around to let them find out.
There's this really bizarre red room that seems somewhat more trashed than anything else in the building.
So far we've seen immaculate bedrooms, and only a little bit of wreckage that's probably caused by break ins and the workers. But this is full-on Calcott-Halled. It's speculative but maybe there was an incident in this room that caused the clubs closure.
There's part of a rope barrier there, used to regulate queues and whatnot. The windows are also blacked out to hide the interior goings-on from outside.
Progressing further along, I found a washing machine.
Also, as an added touch, I just want to point out that this was all pitch black and I was navigating my way largely with a camera flash to take in my surroundings. As such I have a lot of pictures that are just blurred, unfocused and not worth showing. But I have one happy accident-
This picture features a drinks price guide but also an enigmatic notice- It starts with the word "Caves" and ends with the line "Anyone caught will be banned from the club." I'm actually really disapointed that I didnt notice this during my adventure, as I really want to know what one is not allowed to do in the caves that would get someone banned from a sexual free-for-all. The caves are, of course, referring to the dungeon.
First though, I found a swimming pool.
The swiming pool and jacuzi, date back to when this place was still just a health spa. Of course, there was less furniture, odd footwear and decorative plants in it then. All the Christmas decorations were really interesting.
Some nice artwork gives the impression of some kind of villa with mild homo-eroticism. You know, that DVD synopsis I read didn't mention that Kostas could paint as well as direct movies. What a clever pooch.
On the outside, there's a door on the other side of this fridge. In fact, some urbexer was actually bragging online about smashing it down as a means of entry. So the people boarding up the windows clearly also seek to barricade the means of entry by placing heavy obstructions in the way. It's probably the reason for the Temptation Game being placed over the door too.
Beyond the swimming area was an open door. It was all shadowy and gloomy. Could this be the dungeon???
It is! It is the dungeon! And what a labyrinth this was!
It was pretty awesome. Never have I explored an abandoned sex dungeon before. I bet it was quite a sight to behold on a Saturday night back in the day!
Taking a look in a few of the cells, I found they were quite samey. A small space, with the wipable mattresses coloured to fit the aesthetic of the place, but the wall-mounted tissue dispensers looking a little out of place.
There's tissue still in the dispensers though. How awesome!
Leading off from the dungeon was a shower space.
And also, a BDSM room.
That graffiti. I guess someone really hates BDSM. Or more understandably, Fifty Shadoes of Gray.
The ceiling was reflective but also had those horizontal panels, and this cast a weird horizontal shadow across the entire room. The BDSM room was furnished, with sofas and various other things that you probably wouldn't keep in anything other than a BDSM room. The eeriness of this place comes from the stories I've heard while doing my research and speaking to former guests. It's one thing to find a BDSM room and know that it was used by lots of people. It's another thing to actually have stories told about this exact furniture by some of those people.
The womble was an intriguing addition to the room. Must not judge...
Leading off from the BDSM room was a tanning bed, which I believe was left over from this places time as a health spa.
On a nearby mirror I saw that my arrival had been foretold.
By this point I was in the deepest part of Utopia, as far away from my means of entry as I could possibly get. And with the sounds of workers all around me as they went about securing the place, I decided to call it a day. Besides, my poor driver was waiting. Ironically he had far superior camera equipment than me and he was a little disppointed that he didn't get to use it. I bolted back to the upstairs floor, out through my means of entry, made my way back to the ground, and bolted for the car, presumably without being spotted. I mean I didn't hear any shouts of "Oi" or "Get back here you little prick," and other things I imagine people in this line of work would say to a trespasser. But I tend to be a little more careless when it comes to escaping, so I didn't actually look to see if anyone was watching. I ran back to the car far faster than anyone would ever expect someone growing up in the internet age to achieve. But I do have the best legs in Shropshire. By the time I made it to the car, I was a jabbering mess of adrenaline-induced verbal diarrhoea which my driver handled pretty well.
Later on that day, we returned to Shrewsbury, and to Vee's house, where I finally got to meet one of my favourite local bloggers!
I'd say it was a successful day. Numerous urban explorers, photographers and my fellow miscreant adventurers have since asked me how I got in, but in all liklihood the way in probably does not exist anymore. Someone did report to me that there are now alarms and motion sensors in the place too, so they had to flee. Whatever the future has for Utopia, someone wants to keep it all secure for now. Intriguingly, some people have told me that they explored it years ago, so the chances are this was a fully explorable location for a long time until some urban explorer decided to sell the photographs to the mainstream media. And while this has given loads of others only a small window of time in which to get in and snap everything, I wouldn't have known about it at all, so it's swings and roundabouts. And let's remember, securing this place has provided work and pay for whoever it was who was contracted to do so.
Happy Endings all around!
So that was Utopia. If anyone has any stories or information about this place, especially those that I can edit into this blog article, drop me a message. I assure you any stories will be handled with discretion. In the meantime, if you liked this blog post, share it across the social media. If you want to help fund the betterment of this blog (because camera equipment is hard to get on a minimum wage job), click donate at the top and enter the amount if your choice. Don't feel pressured! It's far more important to me that my readers are happy, and that they're making other people happy. The world echoes. If you frown at the world, the world will frown back. If you smile at the world, the world will probably smile back.
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