29 June, 2011


Naughty but interesting

So I'm thinking about the Government's ideological desperation to privatize the Royal Mail, which leads me to try to remember that stupid new name some overpaid firm of branding wankers thought up for the organization, which leads me to Wikipedia which leads to, ah, yes, "Consignia", that was it. While we're here, let's have a quick refresher about postal history. Oh yes, the Post Office Railway, now when did that close, again? Which leads in turn to this:
Security Breach: The London Mail Rail
The adventures of a group of irregular industrial speleologists wandering round underground London, and elsewhere. Fascinating stuff. I suppose one ought to tut-tut at their "unauthorized" behaviour and fret about the security implications, but in reality they seem to be savvy enough not to be a danger to themselves or a source of danger or disruption to others, and to do no real harm other than to the pride of TfL and the BTP. And the photos are stunning.

I have been in a fair few mothballed, decommissioned or otherwise partially abandoned large industrial or utility sites over the years, always there with a plausible and broadly authorized reason but often wandering into areas that were not, shall we say, entirely within the remit. I can well understand what leads these lads into these dark and interesting corners, though I wouldn't have the bottle to do the sort of thing they get up to, even when I was younger and (slightly) fitter.

What is addictively eerie about such places is when they are just mothballed and still have services like electric power connected. Finding old machine rooms full of specialized telecommunications kit, still powered up and quite possibly still connected to a live network, but taken out of service 20 years ago and just left in place because the cost of recovery was too great and there was no pressing requirement to re-use the space. Marvel at the now obsolete and chunky technology, leaf through ancient ring-bound manuals which describe bootstrap procedures involving careful sequences of toggle-switch settings and which proudly inform you that the "enhanced" model of the kit has all of 96K of core.

Such hidden gems can often sit humming quietly to themselves until the building itself is finally demolished.

Yes I can well understand the fascination.


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