out of the chapel, you find yourself in the dead centre of what I've
calculated to be the longest above-ground, fully-enclosed, straight
corridor in the whole of Berkshire (and possibly further afield).
We've never actually taken the time to measure it, but the Ordnance
Survey map indicates that it must be approaching 300 metres long -
as near as makes no difference to the length of the ocean liner QEII.
Standing at one end, a combination of distance and perspective makes
it almost impossible to make out the opposite end. We have good reason
then for referring to this feature as The Grand Corridor. Indeed,
if you had to pick one reason to save the CRCMH from demolition, then
this is it. A truly remarkable sight. But accolades over with, here
we can gaze along its length looking north from near the chapel.
a stroll upwards for perhaps a hundred metres (but not right to the
end because we'll be heading up there later), the northern doors become
visible through the darkness. Believe it or not, the corridor actually
continues past these doors. You can also see a random assortment of
wires dangling from the ceiling. Even the experienced explorer will
walk straight into one of these from time to time - especially in
the dark, when it's likely to make you startled and hop about flinging
your arms in the air as you try to disperse a load of ficticious bats.
else you might bump into if you're not careful is a strange wheely
contraption such as this. Actually, this one is fairly famous. It
appeared in Mist Raiders as "part of Sven and Cornis's
His & Hers bicycle set - retailing at only £23.99 from Argos."
It also featured in the two CRCMH photos present on the Maidenhead
Millennium Photography Project CD ROM in May 2000 - resting peacefully
next to the sentry box near the entry gates.
making our way south again, wandering down the seemingly endless corridor,
you get all sorts of interesting views from the many windows on either
side. Here we can see the side of a ward through a west window. Actually,
the building on the right looks uncannily like the chapel, unless
it's a trick of light.
of these windows have been pushed in by foliage, giving the whole
corridor the appearance of a leafy conservatory. A great example of
man-made and nature in peaceful co-existence - as the latter reclaims
its stolen territory. We still can't really see the southern exit
long walk continues past one of many doors which open up onto the
green space between the wards. Well, they would open up if
time hadn't well and truly jammed most of them shut. Note the old
heating pipes exposed on the ceiling which run the entire length of
the corridor. The original ceiling panels had been long since removed
- perhaps because they were made from asbestos. Quite ironic really
when you think that a hospital - which exists solely to make people
better - would be constructed with something designed to harm people.
The human race is how intelligent exactly?
before we head outside, let's take a turn off into one of the wards.
This one is maybe Ward 1 or 2 - right at the southern end. At the
start of each ward, you'll find a narrow passage with doorways leading
to an array of ward duty desks, administrative offices and private
rooms (such as that occupied by General Patton in the film). At the
end of these passages, the room opens up.
you'll find yourself standing in a large empty ward - but hopefully
not looking like a Cockney chimney-sweep like Ezekial here. There's
not much of interest left inside these anymore. No furniture - just
big vacant rooms which ideal for that all-night function. At the very
western end of each ward, you'll discover some double-doors which
open up onto a small conservatory like day-room - where the patients
could go and get a bit of sun and gaze into the forest. Some of these
actually have a further set of doors which enabled the staff and patients
to take a wander outside.
that's pretty much it for these western wards. There are 15 of them
in total and they take up a lot of ground space on the site (and so
they should - because more space means more patients, and more patients
means more money - not that it made any difference at the end of the
day). Now, I know you're dying to get out into the open air at the
bottom of The Grand Corridor - but first, we're going to take
a detour off through the passages on the left (East) and head through
the area famous for The Flincher incident and into the Maternity