Urban explorer visits Wigan to photograph abandoned buildings

An urban explorer who photographs derelict buildings has visited Wigan to peel back the darker corners of two well known abandoned eyesores.

Friday, 15th October 2021, 3:26 pm
The buildings have been left empty for years

An urban explorer who photographs derelict buildings has visited Wigan to peel back the darker corners of two well known abandoned eyesores.

Daniel Sims, 32, known as BeardedReality on Youtube, visited grade II listed St Joseph’s Church on Chapel Street in Bedford, Leigh, and the Shanghai Palace restaurant in Poolstock, capturing fascinating images of how time has aged them since they were vacated.

An architecturally impressive Catholic church that last celebrated mass in October 1995, St Joseph’s is now an eerie blend of grandeur and emptiness.

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Photos showed abandoned buildings in Wigan

Mr Sims said that the building retained some “very cool features such as the confession booth and the arches.”

Elsewhere though, the once-proud church has been reduced to shattered glass and rotting wood.

A previous urban exploration, from The Urban Collective in 2018, uncovered shocking footage of drug paraphernalia and vandalism across the church.

Mr Sims added that seeing such buildings become “drug dens” is a familiar theme of what he does.

Photos show what the buildings are now like

Since then, St Joseph’s has undergone a “small clean-up”, getting rid of some of its unwanted debris, but remains a crumbling husk of its former self.

While the high ceilings and general vastness of the building remain a testament to its past glories, the church which once housed 600-plus worshippers now has little more than pigeons for visitors.

Perhaps a little closer to “stomach-turning” than “eerie,” Mr Sims discovered the remnants of “food bits” still in the kitchen of the Shanghai Palace, even though the restaurant closed in 2016.

He said that most of the building, which in a previous life was The Beer Engine before becoming a Chinese restaurant, looked as though it had been “completely ransacked”, which shows in the video as he wades through piles of waste that lay strewn across the floor.

The sorry part was that elements of the once £650,000 restaurant are actually “very pretty, like the wallpaper”, suggesting that the unloved eatery wasn’t always such.

There have been intentions to build homes on the restaurant site, but they have so far failed to turn into reality. Mr Sims is largely numbed to scenes of disrepair though.

He said: “It can be sad but I see it so often so it’s hard to be too upset.

“A lot of buildings do end up like this with various economic events and Covid now.”

He does have further plans to uncover more of Wigan’s derelict spots, but he’s going to “keep those a secret for now”.