From police stations to asylums - meet the man who explores Norfolk’s abandoned buildings
PUBLISHED: 16:27 24 May 2019 | UPDATED: 17:22 24 May 2019
A Norfolk photographer who favours a striking and very unusual subject spoke to EDP reporter Rosanna Elliott about his curious hobby.
There are many hobbies that you would regard as typical; playing sport, watching TV, playing games consoles or scrolling social media.
But Max Lock is anything but typical as he prefers to spend his spare time capturing the desolate atmosphere of Norfolk's many abandoned buildings.
The 28-year-old, from Norwich, developed an interest in photography at a young age, following in the footsteps of his grandfather who was an RAF photographer.
As an adult he focuses his hobby on documenting the discoveries he makes while exploring the county's abandoned buildings - which he has amassed thousands of photographs of.
Mr Lock, who owns his own business Norwich Garden Maintenance, said: "I enjoy photographing abandoned buildings and locations due to the fact that I'm taking photos of places not many people know exist and I wanted a subject that isn't 'the norm' such as landscapes and portraits of people.
"I like the fact that each place is different and I don't know what to expect when I get there."
Among the many buildings he has explored, Mr Lock rates Plumstead asylum, the old police station is Aylsham, and an abandoned church in Hainford among the most striking.
What sort of things do you find in abandoned buildings?
Mr Lock's finds include cars and bicycles from the 1970s, clothing and kitchen equipment from the 1960s along with old photographs from the same era, old magazines and decades old letters and invoices.
As well as storing the photos on a hard drive, Mr Lock shares his favourites to Facebook groups such as Norwich Remembers and Secret Norwich.
"I think other people find the photos interesting because not many people know how to access these places or where they are located, so my photos give them a glimpse into a piece of history they would otherwise not know about.
"Also because a lot of places are just abandoned with possessions still inside, it's interesting to know how people lived or worked within a certain year or era."
What does the law say?
You could be forgiven for thinking that Mr Lock's hobby frequently sees him breaking the law. But a House of Commons 2019 briefing paper on trespass to land says that 'trespass to land is not generally a criminal offence unless some special statutory provision makes it so'.
It adds: "Any damage done by a trespasser while trespassing may amount to the offence of criminal damage. In civil law, trespass to land consists of any unjustifiable intrusion by a person upon the land in possession of another.
"Civil trespass is actionable in the courts, but a claim must be brought by the owner of the land."
But Mr Lock says he's always careful to minimise disruption adding: "I have never got into trouble while exploring, I go alone so there is no noise or big groups and I never enter places that are locked or boarded up or fenced off.
"A lot of my photographs are taken from public areas or the perimeter as I have various lenses that have a long zoom so I don't actually need to be very close.
"I have been stopped by security once but once they knew what I was doing and saw my camera they were fine to let me carry on."
He also warned others it could be unsafe to attempt to explore abandoned buildings and to take heed of restricted access, adding: "I understand why places get locked and boarded up due to health and safety, criminal damage and arson which has happened at places before.
"Although many people would like to view historic places, the small minority ruin it for genuine explorers and photographers and a lot of places are unsafe due to falling debris and asbestos."
Mr Lock hopes to start a website dedicated to the photos of abandoned buildings along with a write up of what he discovers there in the future.
While his photographs are received with great interest he does lament the waste he witnesses, adding: "I'd rather they be put to good use especially with the amount of homeless people and people struggling to find accommodation."
- All the photographs used in this article were taken in public areas or from the perimeter of abandoned sites.
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