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CRCMH Explorer Michael details a visit or four

The CRCMH has been a great talking point amongst lots of people who I work with, and filled with the urge to explore, finally decided that it was time to make our first visit to the hospital.

There were 5 of us in total and we had a single torch. It was obvious that some of us would rather not have been there, and in hindsight I should have realised this would cause a problem. It was 10pm or thereabouts when we left the car in The Feathers' car park and began the short trek that I'm sure many have made countless times towards the hospital. It was slightly chilly and raining steadily. After a short walk we found ourselves at the corrugated iron covered gates.

Once inside, we were faced with the choice of where to go. The torch beam cast eerie shadows across the dilapidated buildings as I swept it across the site. At this point, three of my companions lost their bottle. The expedition was doomed, and we beat a hasty retreat after venturing less than ten metres into the site. I was disappointed at not going further, although admittedly, it did look spooky.

The following day, I awoke determined to uncover the secrets of the hospital. I arrived at work and approached the only other "would-be explorer" from the previous night who had not been phased by the thought of entering the hospital at night and suggested a return visit after work. He agreed and all was set. We left work and headed straight for the hospital, we arrived at The Feathers again and noticed a familiar looking car strangely parked there. Our suspicions aroused, we approached the vehicle to find a colleague hiding with his kids in the car. He had planned to follow and spook us while we were in there. I was glad we had rumbled him - I didn't want to end the evening sprinting from the hospital grounds!

Retracing our steps back to the hospital gate, we discovered that someone had thoughtfully left a ladder propped against the wall slightly to our left. Using this, we were in and headed towards the staff common rooms. After a brief poke around inside, we had shaken off any nerves which we initially held and made our way south, this time entering the building through the main entrance.

We found it quite difficult to maintain our bearings in the dark and due to a map reading error we ended up heading north, where we explored the Boiler Room area and found some interesting souvenirs. In the office, I found some old plans - one of which included the location of the elusive mortuary! There was a desk of some sort in the room which had been overturned and most of them were underneath that, which we had to lift in order to get them out. They may have been sitting under there for years and just gone unnoticed. I remember thinking as soon as I saw the mortuary on the plans that I had made a momentous discovery.

We returned to the south, and it was then that we discovered the Grand Corridor. We shone our torches up and down it, north and then south, trying in vain to focus the torch beams on the farthest point of the corridor, but all we could see was darkness in the distance. With that we entered Ward 12.

The whole process of entering the Grand Corridor, shining the torches up and down and entering Ward 12 had taken maybe 10 of 15 seconds. Almost immediately after we had entered Ward 12 I heard a distinct sound from somewhere down the southern end of the Grand Corridor. It sounded like a childs voice, quite a startled sound - almost like a yelp or cry - but not quite. I don't know why, but my immediate thought was that my colleague had followed us after all and had gotten one of his kids to call out. In retrospect, this was ridiculous thought - for it had been an hour since we had seen him, and his kids would never have gone in there with him anyway. When I asked my mate if he had heard anything, he said he was just going to ignore it.

At the time I didn't think anything more of it. I was worried enough not to go down that way, but not worried enough to run from the grounds!

What we did discover though is that there is a morgue, or at least there was (according to plans we discovered in the Boiler Room) - and it lies in an area which isn't mentioned on The Shrine. As you exit the building from the very northern end of the Grand Corridor, you head east toward the most north-easterly point of the site. I was sure that we were in the right place when we were following the map, but all that remained was a pile of rubble, brickwork and unidentifiable bits and bobs. However, the brickwork was well broken up, as though it had been demolished, rather than falling down itself. I couldn't see anything which obviously pointed to the fact that the contents of the rubble had once been the morgue. There was broken tiling amongst the rubble but I really needed to look again in daylight. Based on the amount of rubble, and the area it took up, coupled with its positioning and the fact that nobody had previously found a morgue on the site, I was fairly sure that this must have been where it stood. Still, that concluded my second visit.

My third visit to the was much more of a scout around, my friend and I returing for our second proper look about accompanied by three other curious colleagues. We came armed with torches and a camcorder - time to capture some video of the place!

We briefly explored the remaining sections of the main building which we had not seen, although it was far more rushed than I would have liked, with wards and other rooms remaining untouched as we moved along the Grand Corridor. We went through Flincher territory and I remember spending some time in a room which I think must have been the pharmacy or some sort of lab. We also made a point of returning to the rubble which I thought may have been the mortuary. I had measured the distance from the corner of the stores room to the corner of the mortuary building on the plans, and according to the scale the two buildings stand 192 feet apart. Firing up my GPS, I marked my position at the edge of the stores building and walked towards the rubble in roughly the direction in which the mortuary should be.

When I got home and looked at the data, I found that I had only walked 90 feet from the stores building before reaching the rubble, meaning that the rubble was 100 feet away from the mortuary site. The rubble looks passable, but not inviting, and I resigned myself to the fact that it would have to be an exploration kept for next time as the three first timers didn't seem keen.

The view over the rubble was obscured, and the fact it was dark didn't help (though the full moon and mist made it nice and atmospheric). I couldn't make out any evidence of another building in that direction, but I couldn't rule it out either. I really must try and visit during the day at some point, I think the place would seem totally different and much more explorable with a bit of natural light.

On my fourth visit to the hospital, 6 of us ventured inside, including one visitor who had begun his life within those very walls many years previously. Armed with a mental image of the plans showing the mortuary and my GPS, we headed north through the building after entering through the main entrance. Briefly taking in some scenery along the way, we headed outside and over towards the mortuary site. I saw evidence of the fence that used to block off the very north of the site, though it is now almost non-existent. We negotiated our way around the rubble and into the very corner of the site, which is now enclosed by a solid steel fence about 7 feet high. The whole area is extremely overgrown and I found that when I was right against the steel fence my GPS was saying that I still had to go further to reach the mortuary. Very close by was a large oil container which I believes was the one marked on the plans. Where the fence met the pathway from the stores there were some large gates. Peering over we could see buildings further away in the direction the mortuary should be, but there is also another large building which is clearly inhabited very close by. Weary of arousing suspicion, we decided it would be best not to explore further at this point.

We then went on to investigate the engineers office further, where we found lots more plans - including those of the 2 storey staff building, Taplow Lodge, a plan showing the entire CRCMH site, even plans for a convalescence hospital sited in Cippenham We found plans from various dates, showing some of the development and changes that took place within the hospital. It's all interesting stuff.

The following day we studied the plans again, and judging by the position of the gates and rubble in relation to the other buildings on the site our assumption seems correct, the mortuary site is fenced out of the main site, whether the building is still standing is still unconfirmed. A daytime visit is most definitely required I think...

I'm sure I saw a mention on The Shrine somewhere about how surprising it is that such a large variety and amount of people seem to visit the place. I can only agree with that. I was amazed to find that within a day of each of my visits, the ladder we used to gain entry had moved somewhere else around the hospital site. People must be coming and going on an almost daily basis. I can see why though - I am finding the place almost addictive, and after each visit I am itching to go back and see what was round that next corner or what was at the end of that passage. I'm sure that everyone knows the feeling...

November 2002


Webmaster's Note: see here for more info on the convalescent annexe in Cippenham, including some updated info (Feb 2003) concerning a different Cippenham annexe. Also, some of Michael's aforementioned discoveries are already available for you to see - have a look at the first batch of plans he found here, and a whopping collection of 204 exploration photos here.


this page © Michael 2002-2003