MUDKISS FANZINE

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DEATH, DESERTION AND RELIGION BY MEL

Continuing on with my latest fascination, I embark on another series of adventures. Whilst none of the places here bear any resemblance to each other, all held a common thread - serenity and contemplation. Death (Cemetery), desertion (RAF base) and Religion (Seminary). Hope you enjoy my little diary events and photos.

 

Saturday 03/04/10 - RAF Croft: A former military base, now abandoned to overgrowth and destruction. In its heyday the base was used by the RAF from 1941 until the mid 50s when it became tenanted by the USAF as a processing station for Burtonwood airbase. Airmen could fly in to Burtonwood then make there way over to Croft, here they had resident buildings to stay with their family, a running track, playing field and even a theatre. Unaccompanied personnel were billeted in single rooms and messing facilities were described as being above average. A large theatre was located on the station at the rear and regularly showed 16mm films. RAF Croft or HMS Gosling camp 3 was built during the Second World War and used as a training facility for fleet air arm mechanics.

We drove 10 minutes from home into a small country village called Croft in the area of Warrington. We meander down country lanes in search of our destination; my sat nav takes us down Lady Lane, a road which was once party to the Royal Air force. We spy upon two rusty old gates, held together very loosely, baring a small sign which reads “DANGER – KEEP OUT”. Not being deterred easily we forge on and sneak past the gates into a small wooded area. Within seconds we are faced with a huge factory style derelict and decaying building. One part of the building which is at the rear used to be the theatre, the stage and projection holes are still there, but now it has been ravaged by the elements and under the stage is water logged. Rubble is strewn everywhere, inside and out, I suspect that it’s been the hang out of neighbouring chavs at some point and there’s evidence of fires being lit. Amongst the grounds, where the growth is thick in parts, I found three boats, and the skeleton of a small animal. Pieces of old farm machinery lay around parts of the internal buildings, looking like they had been abandoned for years, alongside the old 1940’s bath, a leather chesterfield and the classic 1950’s car, burnt out and rusty with spray painted graffiti.

As we neared the end of our trail we hear a branch snap and my young companion remarks “there’s a man and a dog”. My mind raced to Denbigh last week, but figured this time it must be a man just out walking his dog. We decide to sneak around and minding our own business we continue to snap away with our respective cameras. Suddenly a dog emerges at the top of the corridor we are exploring, closely followed by a woman dressed in a wax coat and wellies “Oh I though there was someone around, do you know your trespassing, this is private land”. A conversation then ensues regarding ownership of the land, to which she exclaims that the land belongs to her! “There was no private sign on the entrance, and we are only taking photos, not doing any damage” I state defiantly. With this knowledge she wanders off in search of her roving three dogs. This kind of put the dampener on the whole adventure so we headed quickly into the remaining building, taking our final shots at a much faster pace. At the top of the building we were met by the farmer, who made sure we left.

St Joseph's Seminary was founded in 1880 by Bishop Bernard O'Reilly to be the Seminary serving the North West of England. The college was formally opened in 1883 and was situated in Walthew Park, Upholland, and the geographic centre of the Diocese of Liverpool. It is now unoccupied and apparently awaiting to be divided into apartments; the building is surrounded by close circuit TV.

Straight out of Croft we head onto the M6 which takes us on our final destination of the day, onto the outskirts of Wigan.Apparently after reading a number of messages on a couple of urbex forums this place is really easy to walk into but hard to get admission into the building as it has security in place. We are now on our third urbex journey and for people who don’t know what this means here is a description: “Urban Exploring or Urbex as it is generally known is the examination of off limit urban areas. The purpose is to document, explore, and photograph these derelict and abandoned structures before they are converted, redeveloped or in most cases demolished.” The motto is simple but honest - “Take nothing but photographs. Leave nothing but footprints”.

We spent the first hour trying to navigate our way into getting to the front of the building for some close up shots, without being seen, as it was a distance from the road, in fact it couldn’t even be seen. The only indication was heavy gates at the entry point claiming 24 hour CCT Cameras. St Josephs Seminary is situated on a main road, at the end of a long driveway, with two ponds in front of the house, and a caretaker’s house, which looks all set to move into.

We decided we would do a bit of surveillance and headed into a cross country walk, which took us around the rear of St Josephs using public footpaths.  After approximately 20 minutes of trudging through muddy fields we emerged at the back of the Seminary. We are now faced with security cameras at every angle, walking through bracken and brambles we scramble around the side and see notices disclaiming that “TRESPASSES WILL BE PROSECUTED”. Once again the lure of the destination spur us on, red faced and sweating like troopers, acting like two undercover assassins we creep along the high bushes and trees. No wonder the guys love this as a full time hobby, it certainly gets you on a high, especially once the mission is completed and you walk away with photos in hand.

We manage to get directly in front of the house, albeit quite some distance away, we haven’t yet been spotted and we wonder if the security isn’t working today. We take our outdoor shots and decide to call it a day just in case we have been sighted. Let’s get out while the going is good, we brazenly walk down the front path, mission half completed. There’s always another day!

Next journey is Saturday 10/04/10 Southern Cemetery, Manchester. Situated in the Chorlton-cum-Hardy area of Manchester, the last resting place of thousands of Manchester citizens. It contains the graves of many of the area’s famous residents including L.S. Lowry, Sir Matt Busby, John Rylands (Manchester's first multi-millionaire, industrialist and philanthropist ), the aviation pioneer Sir John Alcock, who was the first man to pilot a non stop transatlantic flight. Also buried here are Leslie Ann Downey (victim of Moors Murderers), infamous Gangland boss Dessie Noonan, and Pat Phoenix aka Elsie tanner, the Coronation Street star). Morrissey & Linder used to spend their time wandering around the gravestones.

Setting out early afternoon for a jaunt around the grand Southern Cemetery, 3 miles out of Manchester, for anyone who doesn’t know anything about this place it is a monster of a Cemetery and has been here since 1879. There are three chapels but only one is in use, the others are semi derelict.

As you approach the front entrance you are faced by two large gates, the very same gates mentioned in The Smiths ‘Cemetery Gates’.

We decided we’d like to find L.S Lowry, having done research first, and found out he is buried next to his parents. T’was like looking for a needle in a haystack, despite walking what felt like the length and breadth of Manchester we failed to be successful. We did stumble upon Sir Matt Busby and his Lady wife, and another guy called Desmond Patrick Noonan, a notorious Manchester Gangland Boss. He was murdered in Manchester just days before a documentary which featured him hinting he had killed around 27 people.

The Cemetery is notable for its Edwardian statues of angels and classical female figures, whilst not in the same league as Pere Lachaise this isn’t bad at all considering it’s in Manchester. It’s a virtual magnet for photographers, there’s something tranquil about wandering aimlessly around here. It could be the squirrels ducking and running across the narrow paths and scuttling up the enormous trees at the speed of lightening, then again, quite possibly the birds chirping in the branches with the sunlight streaming through. In silence we stroll the many long paths amidst various lopsided graves and statues, a few now fallen over and sadly some vandalised. The hours fled by very quickly and before we knew it we’d been here for 3 hours graveside watching.


Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow
I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you wake in the morning hush,
I am the swift, uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there, I did not die!

Mary Frye (1932)
Report/Photos by Mel
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