Westzaan 2005 (the Netherlands)
Via a message of Hans Klopper from Leiderdorp (see our guestbook), we heard of an empty paintfactory in Westzaan.The first signs of a company on the place of the current factory go all the way back to the beginning of the 18th century. In 1702 the (probably) first director of the bluepaintfactory was appointed. The bluepaintfactory in those days consisted of a so called ‘steedmill’ (a mill wich was driven by a horse). Working in the bluepaintfactory was filthy work, in wich lots of dust came free. Because of that everything in the mill became blue, also the horse. Because of this the name of the factory became suitable “the blue stallion”.When you enter the factory now, about 300 years later, the blue glare is still present. On the same spot the mill once was, now stands the factory, but the colour is the same. The same blue colour that kept the Avis employees occupied for over 300 years.
At some moments you think you've seen the best abandoned places, and even to continue on your adventures can't help to equal those most precious experiences. At that time it's the greatest when such an idea is taken down by paying a visit to another fantastic place. Thanks to Fleur van Zuilen from Breda we had a similar experience in the last weekend of oktober. Her tip: the abandoned Oranjeboom brewery in Breda in the Netherlands. The adventure in the former brewery was one of the greatest untill now. Just when we thought we had seen it all, we discovered new spaces, new possibilities, a beer tasting room, a recreation area including a fireplace and stage, and finally the undisputed highlight: an area with the old copper kettles in wich they used to brew the beer. It must have been a great deception for all 334 employees who lost their job. On thursdaymorning the 29th of April 2004 the beerproduction once and for all was terminated. Exactly at 10.27 p.m. the last bottle was bottled and the filling installation 'Column 6' was shut down. This ended 376 years of brewing tradition, formerly ended on the first of July 2004. From that moment on nine other breweries in Holland, Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany and Great Brittain took over the production. In Breda only the head-office for Holland (220 emplyees), a liquor wholesaler's and a servicedepartement catering technique remained. The bottle-filling line moved to Russia and the Ukraine. Thank you Fleur for this magnificent discovery!
Budapest 2005 Like a drug addict feels a rush once he gets in touch with his dealer and his drug, the full-blooded factory-tourist feels that same rush when he gets in touch with the greyness of the world that surrounds him. Something has to be found to satisfy his needs, his drug, the abandoned factoy. So that's what happened in Budapest, where we stayed during the holidays for a week. Looking at so much lost glory in the outskirts of Budapest, we had to meet our deepest desire. And we found what we were looking for: a empty factory. Once found, we had to get inside. On the terrain a few men were clearing the biggest rubble. Luckily for us, they were at the back of the old factory most of the time, so we could climb over the fence without being noticed. The factory wasn't as nice as other abandoned places we'd seen, but we felt at least as much tension as we did at other forbidden places. Normally the tension fades away after we have succesfully entered the building, this time it didn't. We didn't know if or when the workers would enter and had to move without making any noise. When we left the factory, we ran into one of the workers. Without anybody saying anything we walked calmly to the fence and climbed over it, leaving the man there in astonishment. Click here for a overview of all pictures. Do you have a addition, question, or something else to report? Feel free to report it in our guestbook. Soon on this website: pictures of our expedition to the former 'Oranjeboom-brewery' in Breda in the Netherlands. Click here to view a little movie where we, in company of Fleur (who gave us the tip), have just left the brewery.
Zaandam Hembrug This is our first succesfull project in the Netherlands! At first we had in mind to take photos at the old Sint Andreas hospital in Amsterdam, but when we arrived there, most of it turned out to be demolished already. Eventually we ended up in Zaandam, at the Hembrug-terrain. As far as we could check, this area was never before photographied by a urban explorer. At the moment it is almost completely abandoned, but untill recently it was used by the ammunitionfactory Eurometaal and the Dutch Secretary of Defence. The original owners were the Secretary of War, the ammunition- en weaponfactory Artillery Institution and the Tool-and Equipmentfactory Hembrug. It was top-secret there was ammunition made, explosive material stored and weaponry tested. At it's peak over 7500 men worked at the Hembrug area.
UE, urbex, Untill it closed down in 1998 Phoenix West was the most important place for the production of steel in Dortmund. After the production was shut down, parts of the factory were dismantled and transfered to China, but as you can see on the photos there's still enough left. At first we both wanted to visit Phoenix West and East, but unfortunately, by the time we got there everything in Phoenix East was already demolished. The whole Eastern industrial area was a bare spot, a housing estate (including a small lake) will arise at this location. But it already took us a day to see everything we wanted on the 110 heactare large West area. Still it's kind of tragic: this used to be high-quality industry, but caught up by time, this is all there's left of it...
UE urbex In January 2005 our friend Daniel Helwegen from Leiden (click on photo 10 to see Daniel in action) gave us a tip about a old flour-factory that was abandoned since 1988. It's a beautiful building, but unfortunately we didn't succeed to take a peak on the inside. As so often in the Netherlands when there's a abandoned place, everything was hermetically sealed, and we should have to destroy something to get in. But offcourse, we're neat citizens, so we left without seeing the inside. We did get on the area (by ranging the doorbell(!), some parts were still occupied), but you will understand we were not able to make a lot of nice pictures here. Better luck next time!
After a long journey through the south of the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg and the north of France we arrive in Uckange. In front of us adorns the coolingconstruction of the blast furnaces, impressive, dominating. We par our car to find a store, the long trip made us thirsty. We yearn for beer and find a gasstation that sels it. We walk past the brick wall that separates us from this location. A conspiscious lot of policecars patrol in the area of the factory. After a policecar just passed us, Dimitri walks in a steady tempo towards the brick wall and pulls himself up. Exactly at that moment another policecar passes by and stops. My heart pounds like a hardcore beat. We have to show our passports. Fortunately the policemen don't react like I read in stories of colleague-explorers. We can go freely and walk back to our car. We decide to drive to the other side of the area and try again. It's easier to get in from here and a few minutes later we are at the terrain. In the mean time it's getting late and two hours later it's getting dark. Sytse, a friend who joined us on this occation saw a helmet somewehere inside the building and wants to take it as a souvernir. On full speed he runs into a complete dark room where the helmet was supposed to be. We hear a muffled boom and run in his direction. Sytse comes out of the building, groggy, with a small hole in his head, the helmet in his hand. Unfortunately we all just put away our cameras so we couldn't record his foolish look. It appeared he walked into a iron bar. We walk back to our car and spend the rest of our weekend as tourists in Luxemburg.
Despite the fact Hasard Cheratte Hassard already shut down in 1977, it's still stately there. Most of the buildings go back to the beginning of the last century. The former mine lies against a hill in the small village of Cheratte near. The complex of passages of the mine are beneath the neighbouring hills. Across the closed gate at the main entrance still are some (occupide) houses. At the gate there's a sign warning for watchdogs. Is it still hanging there since 1977?! We decide to try entering Hasard Hassard through the hills on the back of the mine. After a heavy journey (through thick grown bramble-bushes including nasty thorns!, up the hill and down a real sharp drop down), we finally stand on top of Hasard's Hassard's wall which is about 6 meters high. So trying to jump down doesn't seem very wise. The soil is definately not even and there's a big chance of spraining something. We also heard dogs barking. It was'n very clear if the dogs were on the domain of the old mine, but with the warningsign at the gate still in mind, we decide to climb back up the hill and try to get closer to the main building. Going down was relatively easy, and a few minutes later we enter the building. On the inside a abandoned and forgotten world shows it self. Inside the changing rooms there still hang some rags from what once must have been some worker's garment. Shoes and boots already stand several years, abandoned, on the same place, untouched. You get the idea workers can come in any time, not disturbed by your presence. Hasard Cheratte Hassard is special and lets you experience the reality of past times.
The weekend of 8 and 9 Oktober we got a trip planned to the city of Liege, a Valhalla for anyone who loves desolate architecture. Our goal was Le Valdor, a former mental hospital. The new one was already build right next to it. But standing in front of the old Valdor, it made a huge impression to all of us. Now it was time to make plans how to get into the old hospital unseen. On the outside high fences with barbed wire restrain passengers from taking a closer look at this magnificent building. Furthermore, Le Valdor is standing in the inner city of Liege, which makes it even harder to get inside without being noticed. And the gendarmerie can be called in a instance. After we took a good look around, we decided to take our chances by entering Valdor through the hills on the backside , not knowing if we would arrive on the right spot. After some climbing up those hills and coming down again, it appeared this wasn't the best choice we could have made. To reach Valdor we either had to go back, or run through people's garden, cross the active railroad, through the thick bushes and still climb over a fence. But we decided to do so, going back was not a option. If we made it to Valdor without being seen is not really clear, but we doubt it. But we arrived and a open window was quickly found. Long corridors, stairs at the end of every passage. A strange kind of silence. This building is such a immense labyrinth of passages, stairs, halls and rooms that it seems like the doctors wanted to make sure everyone inside was mentally ill and would stay that way...
Carcokes Zeebrugge/Zwankendamme at the coast of Belgium, our second project. Through other 'industrial heritage' websites we found this impressive complex that dates back to 1900. What didn't know what to expect, if there was any security, vagabonds or drug-addicts, not even if it would still be there. Fortunately the cokesfactory was still there, but even though it's only closed since 1996, everything has fallen into disrepair. We did meet security by the way, but only when we were already done taking our pictures and ready to leave again.
After we got a bit lost in Germany, close to the Dutch border, we parked our car to get something to drink and to take a look on the map. By coincidence we parked next to a old abandoned factory. We decided to take a look inside. It appeared to be a big complex, which excisted out of multiple buildings. Everywhere long passages connected the several rooms, departures and stairwells. Lots of things just stood there like they were left the day the factory closed it's doors. You imagine how they worked there, what went on inside the factory and how they left on the last production day, probably with lots of insecurities for the near future, and knowing they would never set foot inside the factory again. When you're there, thinking those things through, somethings happens to you. The big halls, once filled with many workers, are now undefinably empty, only disturbed by the flying (and everywhere shitting) pigeons. This building told us a story about old glorytimes, but showed how soon those moments of glory fade away. After this first contact with a forgotten world our interest was definately awakened.