On Tuesday afternoon I was heading over to Smith Child street to drop some Street Games flyers off with the Tunstall North Residents Association to go into the new notice board next to Summer bank School.
On the way past Harry Hancocks, I couldn't help but notice a gas bottle (highly flamable according to the label), and other asorted junk had been dumped around the back.
The owner of Harry Hancocks should be looking after the land, but is failing to live up to their obligations. Considering the place was meant to have been cleared, the back is still littered with glass and cermaic shards. Maybe the big items have been taken away, but the general area is still an eyesore.
Anyway, the most worring aspect of my journey past Harry Hancocks, was the roller door around the back was opened by about 30cm-40cm.
I tried for an 3/4 of an hour to get through to Stoke-on-Call to report the gas bottle and the rear door, but just couldn't get through.
I headed home, still trying to ring through, and collect more street games flyers which I was going to drop into Summerbank school, as I'd noticed on my first visit that the teachers were having an inset day, so I again went up to Summer Bank Road and dropped them off (still trying to ring through to Stoke on Call 234 234)
On my way back home, a lady stopped me at the back of Harry Hancocks, she was in a distressed state. She had two young children with her and a westie dog on a lead. Her other dog "daisy" (changed the name to protect her identity), had scampered into the open rear door of Hancocks and couldn't get out. The situation was even worse because she didn't have her phone.
I couldn't leave the dog in Harry Hancocks either, so I tried a few times to get my body through the gap but the gap was to narrow. I'm not fat, but I think I could do with more exercise. At this point I tried opening the roller door but it wouldn't budge.
As I knew Stoke on Call was clogged, I tried a few numbers of council workers who could possibly get someone out (I wasn't sure if I should call the emergancy services number!), but still couldn't raise anyone. Maybe the right thing to do was to phone the 999, but I didn't know if it was appropriate use.
I tried the door again, and this time it budged a little, then after a few more goes it finally rolled up on it's rusted hinges.
I've got to tell you, if you think it looks bad from the outside, it's even worse from the inside. Dead birds, broken glass and pottery, rubble every where.
The back of the building is a large warehouse space, which leads into the dark inards of the building.
From the start you could hear "Daisy" barks and whines, but she must have been terrified and lost as she could hear us calling her, and she'd come to the nearest point she could get, only, it wasn't the way out, it just led deeper into the bowels of the building.
After having a quick recky, coming out, and plucking up courage to go back into the darkness again I ventured back in, realising I needed a light, and "I'd got an app for that" on my phone, that made the phone act as a very weak torch I boldly went in (that last bit is a lie, I was bricking it in there, it was dark and looked ready to fall down, a nails were poking out of wood on the floor).
I followed a U shaped route to get to Daisy, and found her in a pitch black room, with the sound of crunching glass with every move she made. I tried calling her a few times, and worryingly she went silents for what seemed like an age, but eventually she decided a strangers voice was better than the place she was in and bounded over.
Picking her up, and getting the hell out of there, carrying "Daisy" past all of the nails, dead animals and glass to her awaiting family. In my head it felt like a scene out of back draft as I came out of the roller door carrying the dog.
We checked her paws over and with a huge releif they were fine.
Dogs will be dogs and follow their noses, kids will be kids and go places they shouldn't. But after my time in there I wouldn't recommend a rat going into that place.
The community of Bankeyfields and Summer Bank need to get this place either knocked down or properly secured, and start fining the owner for leaving this unsafe property in the state it's in. It's private land, but it's also next to a public right of way that leads to a park which has a high number of children passing.
Things turned out well this time, next time the community could have a tradgedy on their hands.
What are your thoughts on Harry Hancocks? Has the current council action gone far enough to improve the situation?