Derelict Royal Observer Corps Orlit B Post (Guist, Norfolk)

The disused Royal Observer Corps Orlit B Monitoring Post at Guist, Norfolk, was built during the Cold War and has been abandoned since 1968.(Image: Evelyn Simak. Disused Royal Observer Corps Orlit B Monitoring Post)

We’ve featured several abandoned Royal Observer Corps installations on Urban Ghosts to date, such as the ruined ROC Monitoring Posts at Ponteland (Northumberland) and Culham (Oxfordshire), and a number of other forgotten fortifications built for the defence of Britain during World War Two. This is the first time we’ve looked at Orlit Posts, however, which date to the Cold War and were often constructed near existing ROC monitoring installations. The abandoned Royal Observer Corps Orlit Post pictured in this article is located in the vicinity of Guist, a village in the East Anglian county Norfolk.

(Image: Evelyn Simak)

All across Europe and beyond, World War Two had demonstrated the devastating reality of aerial bombardment. If the United Kingdom were to go to war again, it stood to reason that enemy aircraft would pose an even more deadly threat to the nation. The 1940s had given rise to the Jet Age, and existing monitoring technology would struggle to keep up with newer, faster planes, capable of carrying a heavier bomb load that their Second World War predecessors.

(Image: Evelyn Simak)

Though the need for updated ROC posts had been identified by 1947, it wasn’t until the early 1950s – with the deployment of the vast ROTOR air defence radar system – that more substantial buildings were constructed, in a bid to counter the increasing threat of Soviet bombers.

(Image: Evelyn Simak)

Named for their manufacturers, Messrs Orlit Ltd, two variants of installation were constructed; Orlit A posts were built at ground level while Orlit B examples perched some six feet above ground on four legs. Accessed by a ladder, these basic, ultilitarian structures were usually constructed of pre-cast concrete.

(Image: Evelyn Simak)

The abandoned ROC post at Guist, which was operational during the decade from December 1958 to October 1968, is an example of an Orlit B installation. It’s situated near a derelict subterranean monitoring post (above and below) some 150 yards north of Furze Lane, between Guist and the small village of Wood Norton. To the west lie the remains of RAF Foulsham, an abandoned Bomber Command station and one of the few World War Two airfields equipped with the FIDO fog dispersal system.

(Image: Evelyn Simak)

When Subterranea Britannica documented the disused Orlit B post in 1999, they reported that the surface structures were “in fair condition” but that “all the doors, shelves etc have been removed.” Describing the overall site, Subbrit wrote: “Some compound fencing remains in place. All surface features remain intact but the ventilation louvres are missing and the ventilation shaft is reduced to a pile of rubble above ground level. The hatch is open. Internally the post is strewn with rubbish and has been completely stripped. The internal door to the monitoring room is hanging off its hinges.”

(Image: Evelyn Simak)

These photographs, which were posted to Geograph more than a decade after Subterranea Britannica visited the abandoned Orlit B facility, suggest that little has changed at the former Cold War monitoring installation in recent years. The internals are gutted and littered with debris. Even so, the structure echoes those tense Cold War decades and, like many other forgotten posts up and down the country, serves as an unassuming reminder of the Corps, which was officially stood down in 1996.

(Image: Evelyn Simak)

Related: 10 Surviving Military Abandonments of World War Two

The post Derelict Royal Observer Corps Orlit B Post (Guist, Norfolk) appeared first on Urban Ghosts Media.

Beauly Railway Station: The Shortest Platform in Britain

Beauly Railway Station has the shortest platform in Britain.(Image: TheTurfBurner. A train approaches Beauly station in Scotland)

Beauly: the name alone, meaning “beautiful place”, conjures a romantic image on the evocatively-named Far North Line. Nestled in the Shire of Inverness some 10 miles west of the Highlands city, Beauly railway station opened in 1862 as part of the Inverness and Ross-shire Railway. Back then it had two platforms and a passing loop. Fast forward a century and a half, and the tiny station is famous in railway circles as having the shortest platform in Britain.

Construction of the Inverness and Ross-shire Railway was given the go-ahead in 1860 to carry passengers between Inverness and the town of Invergordon, on the banks of the Cromarty Firth. Beauly was the first stop on the first stretch of the line, which ran to Dingwall.

But on June 13, 1960, a century after it opened, Beauly’s platforms and those of other stations between Inverness and Bonar Bridge were closed to passenger traffic. The cuts of the era and increased competition from omnibuses all conspired to put paid to the station, though the Far North Line itself remained open.

(Image: Ben Brooksbank. Beauly station in October 1961)

That wasn’t the end for Beauly station, however. More than four decades later, a passionate local campaign pushed for the construction of a new platform, station shelter and car park, at a cost of £250,000. After almost a century in hibernation, Beauly station was again open to passengers, albeit a smaller version of its original self.

Beauly’s single new platform, at just 49.4 feet in length, is officially the shortest in Britain. The platform at Conon Bridge, also on the Far North and Kyle of Lochalsh Lines, comes in marginally longer at 49.5 feet.

Due to its diminutive size, Beauly can only accommodate one passenger coach, and announcements are made on longer (a relative term on the Far North Line) trains warning passengers which door will open. Stepping out onto the tiny platform, the original station buildings, which have been repurposed over the years, stand proud.

(Image: Rob Faulkner. A train on the Far North Line)

The 1960s saw much of Britain’s Victorian rail network abandoned and torn up in favour of road transport. But as the decades passed, some of these routes (and abandoned stations) reopened, often driven by local campaigners who want their railways back.

When Beauly reopened in 2002, some 75 per cent of local commuters opted to use the railway over the road. Conon Bridge station followed in 2013, breathing new life back into commuter traffic on these remote northern railways.

Most prominent among Scotland’s reborn lines is the Borders Railway, or Waverley Route, which was controversially closed in 1969. It reopened amid much fanfare in 2015 between Edinburgh and Tweedbank, after a tireless, decades-long campaign by Scottish Borders residents. Its return has benefited both local commuters and tourism.

Read Next: 10 Haunting, Forgotten Stations Served by Britain’s ‘Ghost Trains’

The post Beauly Railway Station: The Shortest Platform in Britain appeared first on Urban Ghosts Media.

Narrenturm: Vienna’s “Fool’s Tower” was Europe’s First Home for Mentally Ill

Narrenturm: Vienna's grim Fool's Tower was the first purpose-built accommodation for the mentally ill in Continental Europe. It now houses the Federal Pathologic-Anatomical Museum.(Image: Gryffindor. The Narrenturm in Vienna, Austria)

We’ve delved into the history of various so-called insane asylums before, not to mention the eerie suitcases left behind by patients at the Willard Asylum for the Insane in New York, and the elegant but creepy architecture of Gartloch Hospital in Glasgow. Let’s go back in time even further, to the place where it all began.

(Image: Guenter09)

Vienna’s Narrenturm, or ‘Fool’s Tower’ was Continental Europe’s first dedicated structure built to house mentally ill patients, an oppressive-looking, squat round tower of a building that opened in 1784. It is located adjacent to the old Vienna General Hospital, which is now a university campus and had originally served as a military hospital and poorhouse.

(Image: JOADL)

More like a fortress or barracks than a hospital, the Narrenturm had been built on relatively enlightened ideals – to protection those who might face ridicule and harm on the streets or in Vienna’s prisons – but the conditions in which they lived were bleak. According to Dark Tourism, ‘patients’ were confined (two to a room) in cramped and austere cell-like spaces.

The Federal Pathologic-Anatomical Museum in Vienna.(Image: Lydia Platzer. The Federal Pathologic-Anatomical Museum in the original Narrenturm)

Vienna Direct writes that the old General Hospital – of which the tragically-named Fool’s Tower was part – was a then state-of-the-art facility that attracted medical professionals from across Europe. But the conditions in which the mentally ill were confined could hardly be described as cutting edge.

(Image: JOADL)

Designed by court architect, Isidor Canevale, the idea was the brainchild of Emperor Josef II. The circular tower had five floors, 28 cells, and a central courtyard. Cells were outfitted with heavy doors and chains, and mounted on the roof ridge was a lightning rod (above). It’s uncertain whether the rod was designed to conduct lightning for the treatment of patients (a sort of early electro-shock therapy) but its surviving remnants make for an ominous sight.

(Image: Lydia Platzer)

In 1796, Emperor Francis II founded the Federal Pathologic-Anatomical Museum, and the collection relocated to the Narrenturm in the 1970s. The Fool’s Tower had ceased to operate as a psychiatric facility in 1866, and was for a time used as nurses accommodation.

(Image: Lydia Platzer)

According to Dark Tourism, the items now on public display are but a relatively small part of the museum’s extensive collection. Yet they form a disturbing glimpse back into our medical past. We’ve come a long way in a relatively short time, and Vienna’s unsettling Federal Pathologic-Anatomical Museum, and the Narrenturm that houses it, is a stark reminder.

Read Next: Abandoned Morgues: 21 Derelict Mortuaries & Body Slabs

The post Narrenturm: Vienna’s “Fool’s Tower” was Europe’s First Home for Mentally Ill appeared first on Urban Ghosts Media.

Narrenturm: Vienna’s “Fool’s Tower” was Europe’s First Home for Mentally Ill

Narrenturm: Vienna's grim Fool's Tower was the first purpose-built accommodation for the mentally ill in Continental Europe. It now houses the Federal Pathologic-Anatomical Museum.(Image: Gryffindor. The Narrenturm in Vienna, Austria)

We’ve delved into the history of various so-called insane asylums before, not to mention the eerie suitcases left behind by patients at the Willard Asylum for the Insane in New York, and the elegant but creepy architecture of Gartloch Hospital in Glasgow. Let’s go back in time even further, to the place where it all began.

(Image: Guenter09)

Vienna’s Narrenturm, or ‘Fool’s Tower’ was Continental Europe’s first dedicated structure built to house mentally ill patients, an oppressive-looking, squat round tower of a building that opened in 1784. It is located adjacent to the old Vienna General Hospital, which is now a university campus and had originally served as a military hospital and poorhouse.

(Image: JOADL)

More like a fortress or barracks than a hospital, the Narrenturm had been built on relatively enlightened ideals – to protection those who might face ridicule and harm on the streets or in Vienna’s prisons – but the conditions in which they lived were bleak. According to Dark Tourism, ‘patients’ were confined (two to a room) in cramped and austere cell-like spaces.

The Federal Pathologic-Anatomical Museum in Vienna.(Image: Lydia Platzer. The Federal Pathologic-Anatomical Museum in the original Narrenturm)

Vienna Direct writes that the old General Hospital – of which the tragically-named Fool’s Tower was part – was a then state-of-the-art facility that attracted medical professionals from across Europe. But the conditions in which the mentally ill were confined could hardly be described as cutting edge.

(Image: JOADL)

Designed by court architect, Isidor Canevale, the idea was the brainchild of Emperor Josef II. The circular tower had five floors, 28 cells, and a central courtyard. Cells were outfitted with heavy doors and chains, and mounted on the roof ridge was a lightning rod (above). It’s uncertain whether the rod was designed to conduct lightning for the treatment of patients (a sort of early electro-shock therapy) but its surviving remnants make for an ominous sight.

(Image: Lydia Platzer)

In 1796, Emperor Francis II founded the Federal Pathologic-Anatomical Museum, and the collection relocated to the Narrenturm in the 1970s. The Fool’s Tower had ceased to operate as a psychiatric facility in 1866, and was for a time used as nurses accommodation.

(Image: Lydia Platzer)

According to Dark Tourism, the items now on public display are but a relatively small part of the museum’s extensive collection. Yet they form a disturbing glimpse back into our medical past. We’ve come a long way in a relatively short time, and Vienna’s unsettling Federal Pathologic-Anatomical Museum, and the Narrenturm that houses it, is a stark reminder.

Read Next: Abandoned Morgues: 21 Derelict Mortuaries & Body Slabs

The post Narrenturm: Vienna’s “Fool’s Tower” was Europe’s First Home for Mentally Ill appeared first on Urban Ghosts Media.

Beck Valley Storm Water Culvert (Nottingham)

Subterranean Nottingham: the Beck Valley Storm Water Culvert, also known as Beck Burn.(Image: Noel Jenkins. Beck Valley Storm Water Culvert, aka Beck Burn)

Underground rivers are a fascinating reminder of Victorian engineering, as natural water courses were channelled through man-made culverts beneath Britain’s towns and cities. The Beck Valley Storm Water Culvert in Nottingham (pictured) channelled water from the overflowing River Beck beneath the city streets through the so-called “Beck Burn” and eventually into the River Trent.

According to the website of the Southwell & Nottingham Church History Project, the area around Pennyfoot Street occupied low lying land that often became waterlogged, necessitating the building of the culvert. The site writes: “The basin was regularly flooded by the overflowing River Beck as it crossed the East End of Pennyfoot Street on its way to discharge into the River Trent. Until the earlier part of the nineteenth century a wooden walk-way, elevated six to eight feet high on posts plus a hand rail, was needed to allow foot travellers to cross from Sneinton to St Mary’s Church into the higher part of the town, the location of much of the growing hosiery and lace industries. The Beck was eventually controlled in 1884 as part of the Beck Valley Storm Water Culvert scheme.”

Read Next: 10 Abandoned Places in and Around Nottingham, England

The post Beck Valley Storm Water Culvert (Nottingham) appeared first on Urban Ghosts Media.

The Abandoned Hotel Ponce Intercontinental, Puerto Rico

The abandoned abandoned Hotel Ponce Intercontinental in Puerto Rico.(Image: Mémoire2cité. The abandoned Hotel Ponce Intercontinental)

Imposing and unloved, the hulking form of the abandoned Hotel Ponce Intercontinental dominates a hilltop overlooking the Portugués Urbano neighbourhood of Ponce, Puerto Rico. According to Latin Flyer, the years between 1960 and 1975 were the heyday of this modernist ruin. It was the place to be seen. Celebrities, diplomats, and politicians alike would book into the towering hilltop edifice whenever they were in Puerto Rico.

(Image: Mtmelendez)

Construction of the “futuristic” design began on January 6, 1958, embracing both elegance and luxury. The man behind the Hotel Ponce Intercontinental was New York City-based architect William B. Tabler, who was known for contracting with some of the biggest names in the hotel business.

(Image: Mémoire2cité)

From Statler to Hilton, Tabler not only worked for them; he also knew what they wanted. While capturing the unique spirit and design that was characteristic of Puerto Rico, he also capitalised on the stunning views surrounding the El Vigia Hill. The hotel soon found itself at the heart of 1960s high society, the birthplace of art, political movements and social happenings.

(Image: Tito Caraballo)

What’s more, the Hotel Ponce Intercontinental was equally special to those living in the surrounding community. Latin Flyer’s Mark Chestnut writes of how a family member held onto the dress she once wore to an event there, even decades after it closed. And why exactly the hotel did shut down is still a subject of debate.

(Image: Mémoire2cité)

There was no slow decay, no downhill slide. Yet on May 31, 1975, the Hotel Ponce Intercontinental closed its doors for good. There were rumours of labour conflicts, and speculation that a lack of decent roads and other infrastructure linking to the hotel may have played a part in its demise.

(Image: Mémoire2cité)

Many ideas for remodelling the once-grand hotel have been floated over the decades since its closure more than 40 years ago. The once-luxury hotel was briefly given a new purpose in 1985 when it was used as temporary housing for those displaced from their homes by a landslide. There has also been talk of turning it into a convention centre, banquet facilities, villas, a hotel and casino, or even demolishing it entirely to clear way for an apartment complex.

(Image: Roca Ruiz)

The most recent proposal came in 2016, when local architect Juan José Acosta laid out plans to transform the abandoned Hotel Ponce Intercontinental into a housing community for homeless LGBT youths. His idea was reportedly recognised as one of the outstanding proposals at the SOURCE Awards. Perhaps soon, this iconic monument of Puerto Rico’s recent past may be given new life.

Related: 10 Abandoned Hotels from Eastern Europe to Asia, Africa & Oceania

The post The Abandoned Hotel Ponce Intercontinental, Puerto Rico appeared first on Urban Ghosts Media.

Visit: U-534: Preserved Wreck of a German WW2 Submarine

Wreck of Germany WW2 U-boat U-534 at Birkenhead Docks awaiting restoration.(Image: Paul Adams. U-534 while stored at Birkenhead Docks)

Only a handful of World War Two German submarines survive today and U-534 makes for a rare attraction, preserved in sections at the Woodside Ferry Terminal on Merseyside. Before that, her rusting hull cut an impressive and ominous form at Birkenhead Docks on the Wirral.

(Image: Nigel Cox)

Entering service with Nazi Germany’s Kriegsmarine in 1942, U-534 was built in Hamburg by the Deutsche Werft shipbuilding company. The 251-foot-long Type IXC/40 vessel, which could reach a maximum speed of 18.3 knots on the surface and 7.3 knots submerged, was commissioned in December of that year and captained by Oberleutnant zur See Herbert Nollau.

Salvaged U-534 submarine preserved at Woodside Ferry Terminal(Image: Chris Allen. Salvaged submarine preserved at Woodside Ferry Terminal)

Despite the terror of the Second World War U-boat scourge, U-534 sank no allied ships herself, and was instead used primarily for training duties. In that role she tested the new “Zaunkönig” G7es (T5) acoustic torpedo. The vessel was later redesigned, her main gun removed and a flak gun fitted in its place.

The U-boat wreck prior to restoration(Image: David Bagshaw. The U-boat wreck prior to restoration)

Her patrols finally came to an end on May 5, 1945 when U-534 was attacked by two Consolidated B-24 Liberator anti-submarine bombers of RAF Coastal Command. The aircraft, operating out of Tain and Leuchars in Scotland, attacked the U-boat with depths charges, who returned fire and managed to down one of the aircraft.

(Image: Goeff3Cae)

But a direct hit scored by the second Liberator (G/86 George) caused U-534 to slip beneath the waves. Her 52 man crew all escaped the striken sub, though three men were killed in the aftermath. The radio operator, 17-year-old Josef Neudorfer, escaped through the forward torpedo hatch but didn’t exhale as he swam for the surface, causing fatal damage to his lungs. Two other men died from exposure before help came, though four crew members who had been trapped along with Neudorfer survived the 220 foot ascent.

(Image: Chris Howells)

The wreck of U-534 would remain quietly on the seabed for the next 41 years, a haunting a tragic reminder of that terrible conflict. But in 1986 the submerged Type IXC/40 submarine was found by Danish wreck hunter Aage Jensen and salvaged amid the now familiar rumours of legendary Nazi gold.

(Image: PentneySam)

Raised in 1993, U-534 was transported to Merseyside found a new home among the collection of the Warship Preservation Trust at Birkenhead Docks on the Wirral Peninsula in Northwest England. She was later bought by Merseytravel and transported to the Woodside Ferry Terminal. Due to financial constraints the submarine wreck had to be cut into five large sections, in a month-long process using a diamond wire cutter.

(Image: Gleamhound)

U-534 now forms the centrepiece of the U-boat Story. Two of the sections were rejoined, but the others remain separate, allowing visitors a glimpse of the internal workings and the cramped, claustrophobic world of a wartime submarine.

Read Next: Abandoned Warships: 10 Decaying Aircraft Carriers, Submarines & Other Military Vessels

The post Visit: U-534: Preserved Wreck of a German WW2 Submarine appeared first on Urban Ghosts Media.

Relic of Lost Railway Swing Bridge Over Caldon Canal

Remains of an abandoned railway swing bridge in the Caldon Canal.(Image: Roger Kidd. Abandoned swing bridge relic in Caldon Canal)

At Stanley Moss, near the village of Endon in the Staffordshire Moorlands district, sits this curious man-made island in the middle of the Caldon Canal. According to photographer Roger Kidd, the “island” once supported a swing bridge that carried a light railway across the waterway, to meet the (now equally defunct) Stoke-on-Trent to Leek line near the edge of the canal tow path. Wading across a mucky canal near Doles Bridge may not be an appealing prospect for most, but a yellow warning symbol has nevertheless been placed on the old support to ward off potential visitors – just in case.

Looking down on the Caldon Canal in Staffordshire. The disused Stoke-Leek railway line is to the left.(Image: Google Earth. The man-made island seen from above)

The Caldon Branch of the Trent & Mersey Canal opened in 1779 between the Stoke suburb of Etruria to Froghall, in Staffordshire. The waterway runs for 18 miles through 17 locks and the 119-metre-long Leek Tunnel.

The The Stoke-on-Trent to Leek line was originally part of the North Staffordshire Railway which was built during the Victorian era. The route remained open to freight traffic until 1988 and was later mothballed. Railway enthusiasts will be pleased to learn that proposals for the line’s reopening have been made.

Related: 10 Haunting Abandoned Bridges and Viaducts to Nowhere

The post Relic of Lost Railway Swing Bridge Over Caldon Canal appeared first on Urban Ghosts Media.

Curious Public Art in Swindon, Wiltshire

A curious art installation in Swindon, South West England.(Image: Neil Owen. A curious art installation in Swindon, South West England)

“It used to be blue,” writes photographer Neil Owen about this intriguing cylindrical structure in the heart of Swindon, Wiltshire. Owen adds: “Now it’s a rather unexpected Aztec/Inca theme? Still can’t work out what it is for.”

The enigmatic structure is situated on a pedestrianised side street just off Regent Circus near the Museum of Computing. Check it out on Google Earth here. An image on Street View (below) shows the artwork to be in a similar condition to the photograph above, albeit with more red paint splashed across its surface.

Related: 10 Clever Examples of Urban Interventionism

The post Curious Public Art in Swindon, Wiltshire appeared first on Urban Ghosts Media.

Bulcamp Oddity: An Unusual Roadside Structure in Suffolk

The so-called Bulcamp Oddity in Suffolk(Image: Adrian Cable. The so-called Bulcamp Oddity in Suffolk)

Situated at the side of the A145 road, between the Suffolk villages of Blythburgh and Bulcamp, stands an unusual structure whose original purpose has been lost to time. Known as the Bulcamp Oddity, the structure looks like a roadside shelter of some sort, though unusually decorative and dating to an era well before buses.

(Image: Adrian Cable. Is the structure unusually grand for a shelter?)

Several theories have emerged regarding the history and purpose of the so-called Bulcamp Oddity, which is set into an embankment on the east side of the A145. Thought to date to the mid-1800s, the shelter may have been associated with a toll gate on the old turnpike road on which it stands.

Writing on the Blythweb Group website, Eileen Heaps suggests a possible association with the now-demolished Turnpike Cottages that once stood nearby. The author also speculates that the structure may occupy the site of an ancient spring – the adjecent stretch of road is known as Springhole Lane.

(Image: Adrian Cable)

But there could be an altogether darker purpose behind the structure. According to Eileen Heaps: “Another suggestion is that it was indeed a shelter, but for those whose journey to the nearby Bulcamp Workhouse (a ‘House of Industry‘ dating from the 1700s, now a private residential complex) meant that their arrival was after the House had closed for the night.”

Hidden in plain sight by the A145 road.(Image: via Google Street View. Hidden in plain sight)

Whether the true purpose behind the brick-built Bulcamp Oddity one day reemerges remains to be seen. For now, it remains an intriguing and unusually ornate roadside structure that, if not designed as a shelter, at least acquired two basic stone seats as the years have progressed.

Related: Hidden Wartime Air Raid Shelter West of River Almond, Edinburgh

The post Bulcamp Oddity: An Unusual Roadside Structure in Suffolk appeared first on Urban Ghosts Media.