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GES027 - Smithfields Fish Market & Red House Coldstore

Also known as Annexe Market or Triangular Block, it consists of 2 buildings built between 1886 & 1899. The self explanatary Fish Market was finished in 1888. The Red House, with its imposing red brick and Portland stone façade, was built between 1898 and 1899 for the London Central Markets Cold Storage Co. Ltd.. It was one of the first cold stores to be built outside the London docks and continued to serve Smithfields until the mid-1970s.

This was kept a secret for awhile on exploring sites, and known as 'The Secret Chambers.' I'd never really thought about it or to ask where it was. Then one day I had to sort out my parents Visa's for a trip to China. I opted to park in the motorbike bay in Snow Hill as it was near to the Chinese Visa section. As I parked up I found an old abandoned building opposite, protected only by a heras fence. I found out later this was the so called Secret Chambers, but actually Smithfield Fish Market. When I became a member on UER.com, I found a write up on it by Loops, about how a group had used a car jack to make the site open. Thanks go to them.

Trip 1

GE010 was coming to London and staying over for a weekend of exploring, and this was marked down as an easy Sunday morning explore. After recovering from the exhausting climb up Strata in the early hours the night before, we headed over to Farringdon. Entrance was as easy as moving a heras fence to one side. Although more difficult now since a large group of 28DL forum members had a party in there and got busted by the Police.

The first area you walk into is the main Fish Market which occupies the ground floor area where market stalls would have been laid out. The building is a right angle triangle, and has a small isosceles triangle room within it sat by itself. Seen in the centre of the photo below.

More fisheye from the back of the building.

Offices lined the room on the first floor, but were mostly stripped and featureless. A fireplace lighting up one such room.

We went up to the roof and had a nosy.

On the roof with a fisheye one can see the triangle shape clearly.

A shot of the Red House Coldstore with it's scaffold roof protecting it.

Down a spiral staircase, and back to the ground floor. A convenient hole in the wall lead to another world.

A big open room with no obvious purpose, just loads of girders keeping the building upright.

Seen from the first floor by the lift shaft, the morning light made a decent impact.

Through an open lift shaft, we walked deeper into another world.

It seemed we were in some 1950's world, that had been left untouched since then. Old crates stacked up in a wood lined room.

Old trucks used for moving goods were left in another room.

Up a precarious small wooden stairwell, we came to a dark area with random items left here and there. Also the lift was stuck at this floor.

A notice on the lift reminded workers of the terrible implications of someone dieing, a £100 fine!

The stairs up looked dodgy and had collapsed further up, so I skipped going further and came back down. We walked into an open area with long metal pipes stretching across the ceiling, wheels and valves popping out here and there.

While waiting for GE010 to take some shots, I stumbled off through a doorway to one side near the above photo, and found a more modern area with long white arched hallways. I had also triggered a p.i.r. unavoidably pointing at the doorway i'd walked through. I raised this with GE010 who is more knowledgeable of such things, and as there didn't seem to be an alarm sounding, wasn't too concerned. So together we walked into the arched corridors. Left was a dead end, right continued some way.

Along the corridor, a right angle brought a slightly smaller corridor with huge chiller rooms off to each side. After taking a few photos in the dark, GE010, genius that he is, switched the lights on, and they worked!

Further progress was limited by the words 'alarmed' written across doors. Not wanting to push our luck, we headed back to the Fish Market. There I grabbed a shot of some of the metal work on display, and we left.

GE010 headed back to Suffolk in his car, I headed back to the significantly closer West London for a well earned kip after a full weekend of exploring.

Cheers to GE010 for his company and light switching skills!

Trip 2

Another weekend, another explorer staying over to do some exploring. This time GE054 who i'd done the Savoy Hotel with the night before. Looking to do the Heron Tower later on at night, we looked at the Fish Market as a way to pass the time, and GE054 hadn't been there. Problems started early on, as GE054's camera didn't work. But then after trying my memory card, it somehow did. We did the usual wander around the buildings. I grabbed another photo of the central triangular building which I find brilliant.

then down into the cold storage areas. GE054 showing off her professional light painting techniques here and there. When we came to the alarmed doors, GE054 and I said 'sod it', and if the alarm sounded we'd just run out. If it sounded off site, well, we'd face the music. As we pushed through the first door, no sound. Relieved we walked into a smaller corridor with a lower roof. Still the white featureless walls. On turning left we came through a few doors to a room tucked on the end. I pushed up some very old metal light switches (cheers GE010), and it partially lit up a room with lots of old metal arch supports in front of us.

And then around the corner a rack of old lampshades. A sign on the floor was for the Argentinian Meat Company.

We went back to the first alarmed door, and continued right to a large solid door with huge metal fastenings. Again it looked alarmed. There was a small catflapsized hole in the door, but it was too small even for GE054. We decided what the hell, and pushed it again, no alarm. It only lead to a small open area, and then a fire escape to the surface. Half way up the staircase, was a red door, through which look distinctly London Underground property. There was a glass lock on the door and a cctv camera looking at the door from the other side, so we figured it wasn't worth it. While talking about it, through some weird trick of light, it looked like GE054 was on the other side of the door.

We got out without problem, and I grabbed a last photo showing the triangular point of the building looking north west. GE054 was tired, and didn't fancy the Heron, so she went home. Another explore packed weekend ended at Smithfields.

Trip 3

GE031 came to town, and was keen to visit here, so again I came here. A Van driver parked right next to the entrance so we had to wait him out. Luckily so, as shortly after a security chap came to check the entrance before quickly getting back in his van. I didn't really see much I hadn't seen before. Except through boredom I climbed up the knackered and collapsing staircase to the top of the Red House building. After a barrage of pigeons at the top, I stepped out on the roof, covered with sheet metal and scaffold to climb over and under. There wasn't much of a view so I came down again. I showed GE031 the rest of the site, and we left into the night.