Sunday, April 29, 2007

(B) Celles, Château de Miranda (Home de Noisy)


During the French revolution, in 1866, the family of the Count from Liedekerke-Beaufort had left the nearby feudal castle of Vèves to hide in a farm outside the village, near Celles. The farm grew and finally became this enormous castle, "Château de Miranda", designed by the English architect Milner.
In 1950 it became a vacation home for children, "Home de Noisy" (or "Château de Noisy"), of the employees at the NMBS (Nationale Maatschappij der Belgische Spoorwegen, National Community of Belgian Railways)
After 1970 it was used for activities and sports holidays for kids.
In 1991 it was abandoned and now nature and some vandals (who raised fire, broke out the floors, broke down the stairs, ...) are taking over.

Once so beautiful, it is now completely falling apart and very dangerous to enter. Last year, the horse stables have collapsed because of heavy rain. Floors, ceilings and walls are weak and sometimes already collapsed, stairs to the higher levels have been broken down (there are still steps to the left and right side of the stairway, but in the middle it's a kind of slide), the plaster is coming off and the paint flakes off - in brief, a complete mess here and there. But we managed to get onto the highest tower, 56 m of height!
Some (sick) people thought it was funny to put a fake bloody corpse on the toilet, and to hang up some dolls on the ceiling in the basement.
The chance of being discovered and sent away, and the danger of exploring this - still impressive and beautiful - castle, are a guarantee for an exciting day!

Click here to see a short movie made by a tv-station in the Netherlands. You can see the decay very well and the way we climbed up the 'slide-stairs'.

In spite of its size, the castle is hard to find. Via Google we found its coordinates, but because it lies in the middle of the woods on a private domain, you do have to search a little to find it. First there is a fence which blocks the way for cars, but as a pedestrian you can just walk along it. You pass a villa and some tennis-courts, and then it's still a little walk before the castle looms up before your eyes.

While my partner and I were busy exploring the former horse stables and our friends the surroundings of the castle, we heard a car arriving and stopping. Clearly someone authorised onto the domain! My boyfriend and could hide on time (I even saw the man passing by, luckily he didn't see me) and waited in silence until, after a minute or 5, we heard the car starting again and drive away. A few minutes later we got a call from our friends that they had been discovered and sent away.
But that didn't stop them, after a nice picknick in the fields they returned through the forest as hidden as possible, and they arrived with some other urbex-friends. My partner showed them the 'easiest' entrance into the castle, and from there we dispersed all over the place.

Some old black-boards made us clear that we were not the only ones having been there (but we had already seen a lot of photos all over the internet).
We even met another man and woman who were also exploring the place (without cameras though). The castle became crowded, we were 8 now!
Clearly, the chasing away by the owners doesn't help a lot!

In the late afternoon, when one of us was resting outside on the grass (he had a hang-over), 2 elderly people passed by. One of them made a remark about this being a private domain, to which our friend replied: "so, is this yours maybe", to which they said "it is".
... But the 'owners' didn't seem to mind that much, as our friend didn't get chased away.

After 6 hours continuously discovering and shooting - we didn't even took a decent pause for a snack and a drink - we got tired so we quited... and we hadn't seen it all yet!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

(B) Waulsort, Grand Hôtel de la Meuse

View set on Flickr
View slideshow on Flickr

The day before we went in at the evening to have a first exploration. The former hotel is already being renovated so there wasn't much left, except for some psychedelic wallpapers and a few keys and dusty bottles. My partner climbed up a ladder to the attic, but didn't get there because a rung broke under his foot :-) (luckily he didn't get hurt)
Today we returned with our cameras. I managed to take a few publishable pics anyway, mostly funky wallpapers and rays of sun on them.
We had to sneak out fast, because there were other (authorised) people on the construction site.

Monday, April 23, 2007

(B) Kortrijk, Tuileries du Littoral, IV


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View slideshow on Flickr

We went into the newer buildings on the other side of the street. I discovered an easy entrance to the domain the day before, today we noticed that all the doors were open and we could visit every building. Even the electricity was still working in one place!
There's a lot of dust floating around in the main building, I consider taking an industrial mask with me next time - no joking!
These buildings were abandoned only recently in 2004.

1st visit: 2007/03/10
2nd visit: 2007/03/18
3rd visit: 2007/04/01

Sunday, April 22, 2007

(B) Kortrijk, Tissage & filature Camille De Stoop, II


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It was already dark and we thougt it would be nice to play with our pocket-torches. We went totally crazy with the lights and had a lot of fun ;-)
I wonder what the neighbours across the street were thinking of it...

1st visit: 2007/03/10

Monday, April 09, 2007

(F) Marquette-lez-Lille, Grands Moulins de Paris, I

"Les Grands Moulins de Paris" in Marquette-lez-Lille was a flour-mill, built in 1920 and closed in 1989. "Les Grands Moulins de Paris" is still spread all over France, but also in Belgium, Italy, Sweden and Libanon. Their activities follow the way of corn: from cultivation till finished products.
The building in Marquette-lez-Lille has very much fallen into decay, by climatic conditions but also by vandals. It's a very impressive building, full of rubbish and graffiti. You have to watch your step because there are holes in the floor/ceiling everywhere.

We met another photographer from Germany, who was there already all day.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

(B) Kortrijk, Tuileries du Littoral, III


View set on Flickr
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While I was busy taking photographs, a police car drove by and stopped - clearly for me! (They must 've seen my bike.) I went to the car, greeted the policemen, and told them that I was only taking photographs (showing my camera). They replied that this was private site, and that I should pay attention to the fact that I could have bricks or something on my head. (and I thought: cycling on the road is even more dangerous!). But they didn't chase me away, on the contrary, they said that I was allowed to proceed what I was doing!
I look very honest, I guess ;-)

1st visit: 2007/03/10
2nd visit: 2007/03/18