GES127 - Fore St Phone Exchange
Flickr has it's uses. While randomly flicking through photos, I came across one of a knackered looking phone exchange someone had taken. I was immediately interested, and went for a look while GES010 was in town and we were hunting for targets. A quick reccie showed that others had been here, due to holes being cut in the stupidly high mesh that protects it's rear. The place looked pretty sealed up. GE077 and I decided on a return visit while in the area, and he managed to get into the building via an awkward gap. All I heard was cussing and strange noises as he got in. However it wasn't long before we heard an alarm going off, and GE077 was cussing much quicker and making the strange noises quicker as he got the hell out of the building.
Still intrigued by the building, we came back with a view to seeing if we couldn't be more brave and try to get in via another possible route in. As we were ducking and diving around the courtyard, we found that a door was ajar. Intrigued I poked my head in, expecting to see someone legitimately there at crazy o'clock. As I pushed past the rubber flaps, I was greeted with the room in the pic below. I called in GE077, and he was nervous after the last time, but his eyes lit up with what had been found.
A shaft and a door open with a light on behind it. Realising we may have found another way into the building, we agreed to come back the next night better prepared. Windows of opportunity in the exploring world rarely stay open long.
A map on an air conditioning vent showed that there was more than just an exchange to look around, it also appeared we'd found a way into the mythical deep level tunnels that criss cross London.
The next night GE007 joined GE077 and I, as we were grateful to find the door still open. During the day I'd scanned various youtube videos, and bought the necessary gear from Guerrilla Exploring suppliers, Homebase, and built a rope ladder. Ever the madman, GE077 tested it, and popped down. I quickly followed and walked into the next room.
A vintage set of lifts were there with quite a few floors on. A press of the call button showed they were sadly inactive. Probably for the best, as we weren't sure how much trouble we were in.
Opposite the lifts was a huge steel door. We were now in proper top secret sty-lee territory. Although probably not if the door was still open. I was wondering who had opened the door on the surface that provided us with access to this part of the building, and posted it on my facebook account that I have lots of fellow explorers on. But no one seemed to bite the bait, so I'm guessing it wasn't explorers, and probably metal thieves. As there was lots of stripped plastic wires laying around.
Lots of the doors were screwed up tight. The orange door led to more interesting things. It was nice to read the lack of alarms though.
On the left hand side of the photo above, was this long room, with lots of stripped plastic cable coatings lying about. On the ceiling one can see air filters, as this area was designed to be sealed off if needed.
On a door, maps showed more detail for the building. Sadly the deep level lift wasn't working.
It was clear that we could get into the building via the stairs we were reluctant to explore next to the lifts.
At the end of the long room above, we turned a corner and came to another large steel door, that unlike the other one, wasn't going to open anytime soon.
Next to the sealed door in the above pic, was this set up empty rooms. I was annoyingly curious as to what would have been in here at one point.
Back to the other steel door, and these two doors raised curiosity levels. The one on the left was screwed shut, but the one on the right with no personnel access stickers did.
It led into a room with a huge black tank in it. Presumably either oil for heating, or to power the place in an emergency lock down/power fail situation.
Remember the orange door I mentioned near the top of this write up? Well it lead into a couple of empty rooms. One of which was this room. The exchange was protected by pir activated alarms throughout, and even though one of the steel doors was open in the basement, there was still quite a bit of security built around these doors. We were fairly certain they led into the deep level tunnels below us. However with a keypad door being watched by what one might guess to be a very active cctv camera, it wasn't going to happen.
We then decided to see if we could explore the rest of the building, and climbed the stairs by the deep level lifts. We saw the pir on the stairs, and wondered if we could climb on the outside of the stairs to maybe get past it. The alarm that subsequently started ringing showed that no, this would not be the case! And as such we scarpered back up the rope ladder, and left the area. Albeit somewhat frustrated at how close we'd come.