Visiting these rooms, businesses, and homes is like traveling back in time.
1. The Old Operating Theatre
In 1822, there was no surgical anesthesia. Operations were performed quick and dirty right in a wealthy person’s home or, for poorer patients, in a hospital ward. The distress of hearing a patient suffer through a surgery might have been what caused the Woman’s Dorcas Ward at London’s St. Thomas Hospital to build a small surgical theatre, carving it into the attic of an adjoining church. The theatre allowed student surgeons and apothecaries to view procedures, and allowed patients who might not otherwise be able to afford the surgeries to get them, in exchange for their privacy. In 1862, the hospital changed locations, and the operating theatre was partially dismantled and bricked up. Its special skylight, all important to illuminate the procedures being performed for the observing students, was covered in slate. The only way to access the attic surgery was through an opening in a wall, 15 feet above the floor. If you did get in, you would find yourself in a completely dark room with missing floorboards. In 1957, a man named Raymond Russell ventured into the darkness and found enough fascinating remains of the theatre to warrant a restoration. In 1962, the operating theatre was meticulously restored and opened as The Old Operating Theatre Museum.
2. Posters in the Underground
In 2010, the London Underground began upgrading their Notting Hill Gate station. In the process of the renovation, workers uncovered a section of tunnel that had been sealed up since the mid 1950s. The area had serviced people taking the elevator to the Tube, which was replaced with escalators in 1959. The walls of this station were lined with a museum’s worth of advertisements and movie posters dating from between 1956 and 1959, left just as they were when the area was closed 50 years ago. The unusual part of this discovery is that the London Underground will be sealing the tunnel, and the posters, right back up again. The area will be untampered with, and completely off limits to civilians.
3. Fulling Mill Cottage
This thatched roof English cottage was likely quite a stately home when it was built in the 1400s. Its acreage was no doubt well farmed, and there is evidence in the traces of the stream that runs near it that it once supported a cloth mill. By 1870, the Saigeman family came to own The Fulling Mill Cottage, as it was now known. In 2010, the last surviving member of that family, Fred Saigeman, died. The cat charity that Saigeman left his home (and his 82 feral cats) to were shocked by the time warp they discovered within its crumbling walls.
“He just lived a basic life, with one cold tap in the scullery and the occasional bare light bulb to see by. He chopped wood to light fires and cooked his meals in an old cauldron over the flames. He slept on a mattress on the floor and bathed in a tin bath in front of the fire,” a domestic life likely less comfortable, but otherwise similar to the cottage’s original inhabitants. Cat Welfare Sussex has undertaken to restore the severely dilapidated but priceless historic home.
4. Mr. Straw’s House
William Straw was a successful grocer at the start of the 20th century. He and his wife bought a new home in 1923 Worksop, England. They decorated it attractively in the fashion of the time, and set about raising their two sons there. In 1932, William suddenly died. His family decided, though they continued to live there, to leave the home he once shared with them exactly as he left it, or as close as possible. The cupboards were still filled with the cans and jars of long extinct companies, and Mr. Straw’s coats, hats and shoes remained lined up in the hallway. Mrs. Straw died in 1938, and her two sons, independently wealthy, lived the rest of their lives in the house, changing nearly nothing. They died without heirs and left the house to the National Trust, who discovered a treasure frozen in time. Read more here.
5. First Class Shoe Store
Earlier this year, Redditor Oktober75 posted to the r/pics sub-reddit something his family had discovered in a building they owned: an old shoe store, closed down in the 1960s, still fully stocked. Despite Oktober75’s insistence that the rubber and leather of the shoes were brittle and dry to the point of being unwearable, he was inundated with requests to purchase some of his family’s bounty. The astounding Imgur threads for the fantastic footwear finds are here and here.
6. Lambrecht Chevrolet
Ray and Mildred Lambrecht are in their 90s now, but they sold cars from their Chevy dealership in Pierce, Nebraska for 50 years. They closed their dealership in the late 1990s, and never liquidated their unsold stock. Instead, they accumulated around 500 Chevrolets over those 50 years, most stored away from the elements in a warehouse. Though some were trade-ins, many of the cars are still showroom-new aside from some dust and five or ten miles on the odometer. The Lambrechts put their collection of 1950s and '60s Impalas, TRi-Fives, Chevelles, and countless others up for auction in September of this year. The true classic car lover might enjoy an exploration of the Lambrecht’s untouched collection in this video.