Saturday, 20 August 2016

Farmhouse from the past

Deep in the Derbyshire countryside lies an old farmhouse that can't have seen much change since the early 20th century. The farm was probably built about 1875, and John Sandars was running the farm from 1888 (when he married) as recorded in the 1901 Census.


An internet search on the property revealed an article reproduced from the Derbyshire Advertiser in 1912.

"Entering the house under the porch, great comfort is to be found in a small space, the thick wall affording the protection necessary on these Derbyshire moors, when the furies of the winter are let lose, and windows rattle and boughs moan and strain in the fierce blasts. All is very compact, a cosy little kitchen, a sitting room of very fair size and a dainty little pantry, which Mrs. Sandars declares to be too small - it certainly although arranged with the utmost neatness appears somewhat crowded with good cheer. The sale of milk performs the principal though not the sole business of the farm. When there is a small surplus, Mrs Sandars makes a little butter for home consumption and for a few favoured customers. Not far from the house is the milk cooling shed, also a compact little place, and fitted by Mr. Sandars with a Watson's cooler, which although occupying small space offers a large cooling surface. Mr. Sandars keeps a good herd of dairy shorthorns, giving his preference to red cows: he declares that he has never in his life had any luck with a black animal, though animals of this colour thrive on many farms in the district, and certainly add a picturesque touch to the landscape". (6th Jan 1912)

This cottage is a little out of the way and I was thankfully helped to locate it by Judderman. Tucked away in a rather beautiful corner of Derbyshire, it has been left to rot quietly in peace.

The cottage is a two-up, two-down building. Of the two ground floor rooms, the one above was the best to explore as the other room was so crowded with junk.
The range, which would provide heating, hot water and cooking facilities for the inhabitants is still there, complete with kettle and pans.

Above the fireplace was an assortment of old jars, rusty tins, cups etc. The wallpaper was peeling, revealing further layers underneath, possibly from the Sandars era?

 A quick Google search discovered that this tin was from the 1960s or earlier. Fynnon Salts were used to treat rheumatic pain.

Apparently, Arrowroot was very popular in the Victorian era. It can be consumed in the form of biscuits, puddings, jellies and cakes.

In the corner, by the window, was an easy chair. On the wooden kitchen table were several old bottles, including a White Horse whiskey bottle, with a cobweb, extending from the lid to the wall. I could imagine Mr. Sandars, relaxing in his chair after a busy day on the farm; Mrs. Sandars busy cooking at the stove.

On the floor was a newspaper dated April 1977.

In addition to the whiskey bottle was a rum bottle and wine bottle. I guess it was a long trek to the nearest pub after a hard day toiling on the dairy farm.

On the opposite wall was a smaller window.
Upstairs were two bedrooms. The first was empty, save for a rather putrid old mattress on the floor.
The other room was more interesting.
Again, there were two windows, on either side of the room.


The windowsill was cluttered with a range of books, beads, receipts and an empty cardboard box of "Horse, sheep and cattle medicines".


I really enjoyed exploring this little cottage and its cobwebbed, rusty contents from long ago. The added bonus was its peaceful, quiet location. This would make a wonderful little countryside retreat with some TLC and hard work.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Willington Cooling Towers

This site had been on my Urbex "to-do list" for quite some time. On a sunny August day, after a failed attempt to access a mill in Derbyshire with Judderman, the chance presented itself to me to get it ticked off the list.

A little history, courtesy of Wikipedia:
In the 1950s, two coal-fired power stations were built on a site off Twyford Road, between Willington and Findern. The stations were privatised and sold to National Power in the early 1990s and eventually closed in the mid-1990s. Although most of the stations were demolished at the turn of the millennium, the five cooling towers continue to dominate the skyline of the local area. The site is earmarked for a large residential development, pending the results of a public inquiry. The construction plans have been met with local opposition, perhaps due to the site's proximity to the River Trent's flood plain. In the mid-1990s a pair of peregrine falcons nested in one of the site's huge cooling towers. Unlike many bird of prey breeding sites, this was widely publicised because of its impregnable location.
The power station was also the subject of a short documentary by Channel 4 titled "Drones in Forbidden Zones".

It seemed that many other explorers had trodden the well-established path through the long grass towards the five cooling towers.

The first tower was clear inside, save for a box of spent fireworks in a box labelled "Power Station Firework Party". That must have been some party - the acoustics in there were amazing - just throwing an average sized stone on the ground resulted in an impressive gun-shot sound!
Standing in the centre of the cooling tower, looking up at the opening was awesome!
Onto the third cooling tower. The third, fourth and fifth towers were of a different design internally.
The sheer size of the towers is astonishing.
This concrete beam was just asking to be walked on!

The view, looking up from the centre of the tower (at the end of the beam)


And that was that - what a shame that these fabulous structures will soon be demolished!