Having been in hibernation for quite some time now, we often find ourselves in a reminiscent mood. A number years ago, back when we first started exploring, a derelict piece of industry popped up right on our doorstep and we had to check it out. Having grown up in the south we were not used to this as we had the big old asylums to play in. Industry was a thing of the northern territories and old mills dating from the Victorian times were rare as hens teeth. Our proximity to London meant that any land within the major towns, and away from the green belt, was quickly repurposed. The industrial centres in the south of London such as The Docklands, Woolwich, Croydon and Hayes all quickly developed into commuter suburbs. Our local town, Woking, was famously linked with Vickers Aviation firm at the Brooklands circuit, and the large James Walker factory in the centre of town.
A smaller firm existed called the Unwin Brother’s Printers in Old Woking, had held a presence in the town since 1896 and were the countries oldest printing company. The company had merged with another local printers in 2007 and closed their Old Woking site in order to move down the road to Chessington. At the time, we had no idea that the company even existed. When we did eventually figure out where it was, we were not surprised by this. The firm was located bang in the middle of a field on the outskirts of town. We had driven past it many many times and not even seen it!
Imagine our surprise when it popped up out of the blue on one of the forums, we only thought Old Woking had a AAOR to look at, if you were bored. Some explorers post about epic 500km trips into Europe and back, this isn’t one of those posts, we drove about 3 miles. The explore wasn’t particularly eventful, but the building was scattered with a few good piles to rummage through. We happily meandered around for and hour or two until we turned a corner to spy the back of a security guard making their way down a corridor. Following a hasty retreat back up the stairs, we made legs and left, setting off a pair of dogs in residing in the back of a van.
Two weeks later some other explorers succumbed to the security guard, who let their dogs loose on them. After that, Unwins was given a wide berth and forgotten about. We only went back when we heard demolition had finished. We learnt a valuable lesson from this explore, – look local, there is more than you realised (which is why we have a very large google earth file of leads).