Virtual Tour
The Buildings
Urban Exploration
Pyestock Diaries

Pyestock Diaries

home | pyestock diaries | pilgrimage

I gradually wound down my urban exploration after my son, Haydn, was born. Disappearing for half the weekend to spend time exploring potentially dangerous buildings felt like an unaffordable luxury, especially when sharing the duties of bringing up a child. The lure had also disappeared – I had lost the passion for it. I'd done some great stuff – and had been around for the halcyon years of Pyestock and Cane Hill – but they had gone, and as I wasn't searching for the new opportunities, then the enthusiasm waned.

I never sat Haydn down and took him through urbex|uk like some alternative Grimm's fairy-tale. I never told him night-time stories of evading security through old factories, navigating tunnel systems in ghastly asylums, of talking myself out of arrest at old airfields. Yet he gained the necessary genes – the spirit of exploration, the fascination with old decrepit sites and a certain pragmatism. He developed a fascination with a derelict site nearby, so I took him around once he was old enough. I wasn't too impressed by the location – a waste treatment plant for a long demolished chemical factory – but he found it fascinating.

With a weekend break in Brighton planned, I took an impromptu detour and returned to Fleet Pond. As we tramped through the trees and navigated the overgrown scrub, I told Haydn about Pyestock. I told him about the test cells, the snaking pipework, the control rooms, and the near misses with security. I told him how we would meet the car park, how Major Tom, Marlon and others would find a way into the site, and then discover and photographically capture as much as we could.

The fence was still intact although the trespass signs looked ramshackle and dirty. I showed Haydn where we got through the fence and quickly made our way through the bracken and brambles to emerge by Cell 4. Yet there was nothing beyond the perimeter road. The site was now a sea of mud. Haydn asked if there was anything left. "Only the Anechoic Facility. But we can't explore that. It’s still in use."

And then I realised that I missed the old place.

The heavily overgrown fencing at the north-western corner of the site.
31|07|17 © Simon Cornwell 2017