Thursday, 22 March 2012

Yorkshire Interlude (Plus Bonus Abandoned University Campus)

I went back to Barnsley at the weekend, as it was Mother's Day. It was lovely, and was my sister's first go at having the full Mother's Day experience, lie in and all.

On the Sunday, we went along to the utterly stunning Yorkshire Sculpture Park to have a look at the Miro exhibition. I wasn't allowed to take any photos of the exhibits, so have a look at some general landscapes instead.

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Re Miro: I prefer the paintings to the frankly extraordinarily vulvic sculptures.

Anyway, you might not know that the reason that the sculpture park is there at all is because the Bretton Hall art college managed to obtain a bunch of Henry Moore works to exhibit on their land. The exhibit turned into a permanent display, and eventually the council formalised the whole thing as the sculpture park as we know it - the sculpture park continues to be a great success (hence the major new exhibition of more Miro works than I knew even existed).

But what happened to the art college? Well, it's closed down. You get to it by going to this pond and then continuing on down the hill. Mum & Em have apparently been down here before and didn't get arrested or anything, so we figured it was ok.

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So, feeling devilish and knowing that nothing bad would happen, we went for a wander in the supposedly off-limits site of the old Bretton Hall college.

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It's the entire campus and infrastructure of a small university, including student halls, totally abandoned and unused. The place got taken over by the University of Leeds at one point and then was just closed down. On the website of the college alumni association there's the hint that the site was supposed to have been made into a luxury hotel and spa complex. The plans foundered for reasons possibly connected to asbestos in 2008, and I should expect that whatever money was behind the spa scheme has thoroughly fallen through by now.

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If I were the more adventurous sort, I'd go and have a better look in the main buildings, as apparently the whole place was just abandoned in the manner of the Marie Celeste. The accommodation blocks still have furniture in them. It is pretty blooming creepy.

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I think part of the reason that it's creepy is that when I was a kid, my mum was doing teacher training here. My youngest sister went to the onsite nursery, and I definitely went along a few times with my mum - I have a really strong memory of going into the Uni bookshop and playing with some cut out papercraft Roman buildings. To see it empty and lifeless like this is just plain wrong.

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There really is a whole abandoned University in rural Yorkshire.

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I'll leave you with a photo of (from left to right) the Emley Moor mast, a huge Henry Moore sculpture and the stately home that forms part of the college complex, Bretton Hall.

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