View Full Version : Archived: Docklands Reccy and Connaught Tunnel

06-08-2010, 03:29 PM
Garethjames and I were deep in East London’s underbelly, the Docklands, walking along the river with a view of the millennium dome across the water, old docks were decaying and falling to pieces adjacent to factories long boarded up and vandalised, a few smoking chimneys were dotted around the area, but it seemed more like a graveyard to England’s industrial revolution, signs of failed businesses long forgotten and left for dead were everywhere. It was an Urbex wonderland.

Rotting beams and cracked railings were all that stopped us from falling into the freezing water of the dirty Thames, an ancient staircase covered in bird shit and rust disappeared into the splashing water; I didn’t fancy a swim so I left it to decay in peace.

Behind us a giant empty plot sat waiting for more luxury waterfront apartments to rise from the ground, all surrounded by cracked brick walls of ghostly warehouses garishly painted up with spray cans and kids with marker pens. The only industrial life in the area was the still running Tate & Lyle factory buzzing with activity behind razor wired fences topped with cctv.
We made an exit onto the road underneath Silvertown overhead railway through more derelict office buildings and closed down pubs, still brandishing their logos above the steel bars and mdf windows, a few of which we noticed accessible entry points to be remembered for the next visit.

The sun was starting to dip in the sky when we spotted large steel fences, barbed wire and NO ENTRY signs. We crossed the road with anticipation for what might be a gold mine, and we weren’t disappointed. Millennium Mill. Built in 1905 it officially closed down in the 80’s along with a lot of the other businesses in the Docklands area. I had a scout around on the internet to find some details about it and saw that some Urbexers have already been in there. I’m not quite sure however if they had the same kind of experience we had when we came back to it after dark.

We left the mill to go on ahead to the destination we had in mind with a vague idea of where it was with a handy google map print to find our way. It was a sight already visited by some people on this forum, but we thought it a perfect site to bust our Urbex cherries. The Connaught tunnel certainly lived up to it’s reputation, with a pretty easy access point we were in and on the platform after a couple of minutes of reconnaissance. The platform was completely overgrown with weeds and plants, the waiting room was smashed to pieces, the ceiling had been pulled down and the station room was littered with old documents and smashed glass. Probably the most peculiar thing in there was a perfectly good basketball sat amongst the all the dereliction.

After taking a few snaps we headed along the tracks weaving through the bushes and old rusted bolts and smashed signal lights. The gate in front of us looked pretty daunting at first glimpse but proved to be quite an easy obstacle to get past. The first thing we were greeted with was the amazing arches looming over the tracks, graffiti is plastered all over the walls, old paint pots and rollers littered the floor as the footing became more and more bog-like. The tunnel ahead of us was pitch black, like a gaping hole into the mouth of hell but still we pushed on as the sun was setting above the walls sweeping a blanket of darkness over us. I took the torch out of my bag and shone it into the distance of the tunnel, it ate up the light and it was impossible to see just how deep it went without getting a closer look. We moved further down as GJ took a load of shots playing with light painting and long exposures, some of the photos he got were amazing, and will be up on here soon.
We kept spotting tiny lights off in the distance moving around whenever we shone the light into the darkness, it was now completely dark outside and the tunnel was becoming more and more menacing as it became more difficult to see where we were going. It would have been impossible without the powerful torch I had brought with me. Confused at the moving lights we moved still further down the tunnel to where two lines branch off in different directions under the storm drain, this is when we noticed five or six foxes running around in the darkness on their own little Urbex mission.

The tunnel was an amazing site to visit at night, and I fully intend to go back in daylight, we also have another photography mission planned there in the next week.
We left the site exhilarated with the intention of calling it a night, but when we walked back past the Millennium Mill we decided to have a closer look to see if there was an access point. The whole site looked like it was inaccessible due to the amount of razor wire, but we were lucky enough to find a spot without any finger slicing deterrents. We got in to the site about 300 metres from the mill, it was pitch black so we sprinted across the open ground towards a huge stack of concrete bollards arranged neatly next to the lake. GJ set his camera up on a tripod and started taking some photos when we noticed car lights circling the building. We ducked down and stayed where we were until we heard a car door slam about 50 metres from our position, so we darted across the plot into some tall grass and hit the deck. I was crawling on my belly to get deeper into the grass like a gazelle hiding from a hungry lioness when the car lights looped round and started heading towards us. GJ had a thought further ahead and got a lot deeper than I had, so all I could do was lie still as the lights crawled past us about 5 metres away and prayed that my boots weren’t sticking out to give me away. We stayed like that with our faces in the dirt and our hearts in our mouths as the security truck slipped off into the distance so made the executive decision to get up and run like hell.
We made it out in one piece, a grazed knee and a bunch of scratches from crawling through bushes, but we weren’t in handcuffs and we’d had an amazing night.

The pics aren't great quality - but I guess camera phones never are. :smile