“Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.” My exploring partner, Tom, was uncharacteristically shouting
from the subterranean depths he was exploring, his rhythmic calls echoing through
the caverns and tunnels, the silence of our environment shattered. By now I was
scuttling back along the catwalk, giving up on any potential photography, and
clambering down a narrow ladder, hoping to make the safety of an enclosed office
where I could hide if anyone became suspicious. Not that anyone would become suspicious
of a lone voice shouting “Fuck” from a supposedly derelict and empty site.
I reached the concrete floor, hands sweating in the June heat, already smeared with dirt,
grime and grease. I leaned over the railing, trying to spy Tom in the gloom below. There was
a drop of forty feet below me, in which could be seen huge concrete engine mountings, pipe-work,
and a swarming tangle of pneumatic test leads and wiring.
“Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.”
“Will you shut up?”
I found a door leading to a stairway, and took the stairs to a precarious platform
overlooking the dark, cool depths, before finding a metal stepladder to the darkness
below. After the heat of the cavernous room above, the cold dank underground rooms
were welcoming. Tom peered through a doorway: “Sorry, I hit my leg on something.”
I wasn’t surprised. Our explorations had revealed a site of jaw-dropping wonderment,
crammed full of pipes, dials, control panels, catwalks, sheer drops and industrial
test machinery. It was like being on the set of Thunderbirds (if the sets were real,
instead of made for small plastic puppets). Walking into things (and falling into holes)
was a constant threat as we walked around with our mouths open and our eyes on stalks.
This location was one of the most interesting and exciting I’d ever explored, and it was
becoming more and more fascinating by the second.
Easternmost underground chamber of Cell 3 looking west.
24|06|06 © Simon Cornwell 2006