On Sunday 22 nd Sept 13 I decided to go for a walk through nearby Stanley Bank and lucky enough I took along my camera. On reaching a recently laid bridle path I followed it into nearby woods and headed towards what was once an old sewage works which I assume was first made redundant and later demolished though in which year I’m uncertain.
On striding over a stream I was inside those same grounds then on looking up I spotted a rectangular concrete object so during an immediate investigation it brought back memories from half a century ago.
At the age of 11 following an exchange of house along with my parents I decided to follow suit with others in the same street where we ended up in these same woods alongside the East Lancashire Rd. the A580, as we approached the woods I could see two securely locked entrance gates with a 5 foot tall fence either side with sharp spikes and being my first time I began to wander what it concealed.
Once inside the woods there was a rope swing which overlooked this compound so I was able to see some unusual circular brick walls with gaps in between and over the top pipes were circulating round and water sprinkling out and with none of us being any wiser it became an interesting subject, At a later date I returned to these woods on my own so just for curiosity I decided to ‘investigate’ and within 30 minutes I learned all that I needed to know of what goes on inside a typical sewage works.!
I ‘trespassed’ inside these works two maybe three times when on one occasion I took more notice of a large grass covered mound of earth much taller than myself which to me seemed unusual all the more as it was set back from the main works and me being so adventurous I climbed on top not realising what was beneath my feet.
Over to one corner was a rectangular ‘hole’ which wasn’t oversize and secured in concrete along with several metal bars and even glancing through them I was still none the wiser so the novelty soon wore off and by the time I had reached school leaving age I never give it any further thought all the more being sewage works so I didn’t enter that side of the woods for many years.
If I can remember right it was in the mid 80s when I re traced my steps only to find the plant had disappeared leaving no sign of its existence not even the original boundary fence in fact anyone coming here for the first time would never guess it once contained a sewage works.
Once inside I noticed this same grass covered mound of earth had reduced in size, mainly by weathering and at one end a concrete corner piece was visible but still having no idea of what it was I continued on my journey. During this same tour I finally realised what the weather and vandalism had revealed as from the brook I could see several partly buried vertical concrete panels some broken and as I approached even further a 50 year old mystery to me was solved as directly in front was an original WW2 Anderson air raid shelter so I immediately began taking photos.
Internally the solid floor was grubby and to my surprise in the far corner was a sofa which must have been a struggle plus an oil drum and a battered metal chair.
The inside length is approximately 30ft therefore with not having adequate lighting I withdrew my investigations just in case it contained any syringes.
On the side facing the East Lancs photos reveal a concrete ramp supporting a wall of red brick and looking from the inside it’s reinforced even further thus concealing the only entrance hoping to make entry virtually impossible but for some reason they did not add any additional surface reinforcement so in later years this became its weakness.
On bricking up the entrance using this material has given a clue to when it was sealed which was several years post war so prior to this it may have been used for other purposes.
I can only assume once the entrance was sealed several lorry loads of soil was placed over top thus creating a large mound hoping what was underneath would go unnoticed which it did for many decades all the more being on private land, placing a vent directly over the only entrance may have given the game away as with the aid of a torch shining into a dark open space would have unveiled its secret. On this visit I took many detailed photos, first of all taking into account the age and size of trees morose the firm roots concealing the shelter even further and surprisingly there are no invading roots, with the aid of a torch I investigated the inside even further by taking additional photos of the main entrance including the vent and the vertical / curved reinforced walls from both ends. All these concrete panels are bolted together and as expected over the years they and steel reinforcements have corroded even so they still remain undisturbed and so for a second time I took many more photos collecting as much evidence as I was able, I couldn’t help but notice several empty bolt holes, was it down to a cut back or where they made use of elsewhere
With a stick in my hand I searched through rubbish scattered across the floor where I found several bottles buried in one corner all of which were very grubby so I placed 3 inside a polythene bag and once outside I cleaned them up with much interest but it soon fell flat as on a green bottle was 'best before May 2009' and along the bottom was its contents measured in m/litres so they went back inside.
At least it does give a date to when the shelter was first opened and taking this into account there is much rubbish on the floor but apart from the forced entry point there is no other structural vandalism, I then investigated the entire area close to the East Lancashire Rd. hoping to find any evidence of the original entrance where I did find 2 steel gate stumps though not the original.
During further treading and cursing through nettles I found and recognised two poles originally from inside the boundary fence which at one time supported a sign, most likely Trespassers will be Prosecuted, and who at the age of 11 would observe such warnings as it makes it all the more interesting.
Originally this plant came under the area of Ashton in Makerfield and was built in the early 30s serving newly built properties in Liverpool Road and with being on a gradual fall the plant was ideally situated alongside a fast flowing stream just inside the woods making it ideally camouflaged
It has taken half a century to observe what was beneath my feet even though I then lived within easy walking distance so to make up for lost time I have taken many images
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