Capital Steel Works – Beijing – Grade A-
Beijing Steel Works is a rare beast in the Urbex world. The site is in an almost vacuum state where it feels like all the workers just put down their tools one day and left. The machines have been left as if one turn someone will turn on the plant again.
The site is huge with more rust and corrupted cranes, pulleys, and conveyor belts that you could see in a week. The crane-like structures that you can see in the pictures apparently shifted unrefined steel to conveyor belts which stretch across the complex.
The site is massive in scale and is punctuated by enormous machines, with pipes and cooling units galore. The urbex explorer must be very careful here as the overhead structures creak in the wind and bits regularly fall off.
These metal dragons seemed to be used to scoop out the unrefined steel and shift it up onto the conveyor belts. They have big blunt teeth, and ugly faces.
Train tracks also criss-cross the plant, there are plenty of abandoned trains, carriages, and miniature train stations to be found. Jump over the outer wall, avoid the security guards, follow the train tracks and in whichever direction you travel, you’ll find some Urbex treasures.
This is a huge site, so be sure to take your time. Once you visit this place once, you’ll be addicted. If you ever want to pay a visit, just contact me on email@example.com, and I’ll show you around. Also be sure to check out Burbex – Brin’s Urban Exploration on YouTube for great new videos every week.
If China was a human body and all the cities were organs, we could imagine that Beijing up at the top would be the brain, Shanghai would be the heart, which would probably make Kunming the reproductive organs. Where does Tieling in Liaoning fit into this metaphor?
It doesn’t! The dusty cancerous spleen was removed long ago, and it sits in a sealed jar of formaldehyde where it can be studied closely.
You know that Burbex is always on the look out for missing organs though, like when he found hearts and brains at the abandoned Catholic School. Tieling is a strange place, home to Zhao Benshan, one of China’s most famous comedians.
Additionally, it also has the worst economy of any city in the North East China rustbelt, and one of the highest divorce rates in the whole country. With those things in mind, Burbex was sure he was going to find some great abandoned buildings. Tieling did not disappoint.
The old Tianbao Gas Works has been locked up for decades. The walls outside are graffitied with accusations of corruption and government waste. Two armless manikins stand guard at the gates, their asbestos bones rattling in the dusty wind. This site is massive. Building after building of factory space.
Old office buildings have had their walls beaten and stripped of copper wires and anything of value, and the windows have been shattered by the pounding North East wind.
Everything is coated in the distinctive layer of North East dust, a combination of industrial pollution and dust which piles in every year from as far away as the Gobi Desert and Mongolia.
There are some signs of comfort within the thrashed form of the gas works. Why not take a seat in this comfortable blue sofa. Don’t get too comfortable though, as the dust may swallow you whole.
It’s hard to believe that little more than two decades ago, Chinese government workers were still using these five inch floppy discs. It’s unlikely anyone born after 1999 even knows what these are.
Oddly, for all its pollution and sense of foreboding doom, the site is surprisingly verdant. Ivy which has evolved to feed off the soil pollution clings tight to the buildings.
Random city dwellers without any land of their own, sneak into the complex and plant their guerilla gardens, and later consume the mutated sunflower seeds and pumpkins.
All in all, Tian Bao Gas Works is one of the bleakest sites Burbex has ever visited, but it is a keen reminder of how life will try to hold on in even the most messed up of places, which is why it is being awarded a B- grade.
By the way, if you liked this post, why not subscribe to Burbex – Brin’s Urban Exploration on YouTube and check out the other great videos about Tieling, like this haunted hotel…
Or this abandoned Muslim Graveyard…
Fans who have been following this site for a while, will know that Burbex has a soft spot in his heart for Capital Steel. It doesn’t matter that his heart is rusting, and leaking toxic chemicals everywhere just the site itself, Capital Steel is still number one.
From the Capital Steel Laboratory, to the conveyor belts and machines that look like something from the set of the Alien movie, Capital Steel always has something new and surprising for Burbex to find. There is one place in the site however that Burbex has dreamt of getting back into for a while.
On a previous visit, Burbex was gutted when after climbing into one of the massive blast furnaces, the sun was already going down, and it was too dark to take photos within the rotten gut of the machine. On this visit, Burbex had high hopes he could get in around midday for the awesome early afternoon light.
Capital Steel is definitely not as easy to get into as it used to be. This is mostly because it is being eaten up by property development companies converting the old industrial buildings into modern office blocks, as well as the new overpass which is being built through parts of the complex. Burbex was confident that by following the abandoned train tracks, he could find a way in again.
Navigating the site is not actually so difficult. Once over the walls, corridors and highways of pipes all eventually lead to the central spots where the blast furnaces are located. Burbex did have to jump over a few walls and chainlink fences along the path, but he’s used to that now.
The way that workers got into the belly of these beasts originally was by following the highways that lead up to the second and third levels. These have been partly demolished and furthermore there are some very nasty guard dogs at the end of the ramp. Burbex could hear them baying for his blood.
Taking an alternative route, Burbex climbed up the side of the blast furnace. This was no mean feat especially since most of the stairways are either rotting or have been cut away by scavengers. Burbex somewhat surprised himself with his climbing ability that day.
Entering in the level beneath the blast furnace Burbex found old equipment rooms, everything covered in a thick layer of Beijing dust and catkins which absorb the moisture and leaking oil. It felt just like walking over a layer of toxic moss in a industrial jungle.
Weaving his way through the complex machine, Burbex finally found the belly of the beast, which drips oil and rust, as well as the toxic rainwater that has collected inside. Burbex was very careful not to let any drops touch his skin.
Massive pipe support the heart of the furnace, and this is where the fuel would’ve been burned providing energy for the blasting process.
The huge arena-like area was filled with the sound of three huge dogs baying for Burbex’s blood, however the noisiest dog of all was a tiny mutt with fur the same colour as the rust. Had he been conceived here, the rust entering his bitch mother’s womb?
The central structure stretches up four or five storeys. These are mostly out of reach since the staircases have been cut away, and razor sharp edges and barbwire fences are waiting to snag at catch you with a tetanus-filled bite.
Burbex walked around and around the furnace feeling almost unable to leave. He couldn’t hear the barking of the dogs anymore, he just felt awed by this massive structure, like a cathedral of rotting industry.
Burbex neatly slipped out the way he came in wondering how long it would be before the demolition team finally came in and finished off the structure. If you would like to sneak in before it disappears, be sure to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and set up a time to meet. Make sure all your tentanus boosters are up to date first.
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How can the weather alter change the nature of the urbex landscape?
One of the things that you have to deal with in Beijing is the constant onslaught of crazy climate. It might be in the summer with sweat pouring down your butt crack, soot stuck to your face at Capital Steel, or on super smoggy day’s when you cannot see more than one hundred metres like at Sunshine Park.
Nothing is better that the first snow of the winter though, especially when it just so happens to be the day that you are going to the Banana Factory.
It’s is not really a banana factory, it’s a huge chemical works which stretches for miles and miles. The banana part comes in because the Chinese word for banana 蕉 and the Chinese word for chemical 焦 sound the same.
These tracks and the furnaces at the side are very similar to the ones at Capital Steel, just on a smaller scale. The blizzard that raged around the place though made it feel much more hazardous.
There are artefacts galore here at the Chemical Works, in fact most of the place looks like it has been swallowed up with orange mud and then left to fossilise.
There are broken remnants of the offices strewn about, and old laboratories still contain old machines and equipment.
The caption in the old style Communist propaganda sign above reads:- FOR EVEN HIGHER STANDARDS PRESERVE OUR YOUTH CULTURE BY HOWLING GLORY. I’m not really sure what that means either.
Here’s another of those meaningless signs. This ones reads:- ESTABLISH LEGAL SYSTEMS, PRACTISE SAFETY FIRST. At least that one is a bit less opaque.
Just like in Capital Steel, conveyor belts which used to transmit coal or slag from one side of the site to the other, curl up like the skins of long dead snakes.
The factory opens up into rooms and warehouses where the blanched walls run with chemical stains and spreading rust.
Light fittings decay in their settings and fall leaving russet stains in the fresh snow.
Thick Beijing dust absorbs the moisture in the air and becomes a thick crust of mud that covers and preserves the whole site.
The pipes and engines that ran the site have been gutted and torn apart by scavengers. Whatever is left behind rusts in a bed of snow.
The cooling tower stands on its spindly legs, a commanding presence over the site. Beneath the tower, all is still.
Beneath the abandoned cooling tower lies a pool of water rippling gently in the blizzard breeze.
One of the myriad entrances to the main building is affectionately referred to as CENTURY GATE. Did the architects realise their factory would be dead by the beginning of the new century?
Massive iron hooks swing on chains gently creaking.
Fume cupboards with their doors ripped off create caverns and caves in the site, ideal for hiding from security guards.
While it does have a lot in common with its older and much larger cousin Capital Steel, Jiaohua is a much more recently abandoned site and has a slight edge in terms of its charm. There are many more artifacts to be discovered, and it is going to be drawing Burbex back for more visits once the weather warms up.
For all of these reasons and more, Jiaohua is getting a solid A grade from Burbex. It should be noted that Jiaohua is slightly edgier in terms of danger, so if you are going to visit, please pay close attention to your safety.
Of course, should you need a guide, please don’t hesitate to contact me on email@example.com and we can go along together. The cost you ask? One Banana Blizzard from Dairy Queen.
How many times have I been to Capital Steel, and how many times have I found new areas to explore. This latest trip was a bonanza of new finds.
Along with entering the lofts where coal was moved along on mile-long conveyor belts, co-explorer Vom and I went further into the plant than ever, coming clear out of the other side where the cooling towers are located.
Along the way we found the laboratory where we found everything pretty much as the scientists had left it on the last day. So many bottles, flasks and crazy machines.
Unfortunately, Vom got a touch of heat stroke, and threw up (hence the nickname), but are adventures have seen the whole plant covered now.
In the cool and shady labs, mosquitoes buzzed in circles while we investigates rooms ransacked by looters.
Plus there was enough lab equipment and machines left over to make even Walter White happy.
Most of the chemicals have either dried up or grown out of their bottles and onto the work surfaces.
The other part of the factory that was new to us, was the conveyor lofts which stretch across the complex.
These are covered in a thick layer of coal dust. In the operator’s room there still remains an old bag of sugar and a plastic spoon.
Oil sticks to all the surfaces, and then catkins stick to the oil, so everything has a tarred and feathered look.
But from atop the machines there is some beautiful symmetry to be found.
Capital Steel Laboratory – we salute you – Burbex is giving you a solid Grade A, but with the heatstroke comes an important reminder to take candy and water with you when you go urbexing.
Of course, if any time you want to come urbexing with me, just leave a message on firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange a time, make sure you bring a sick bag though.
Be sure to check out the other great Capital Steel pages:-
On the smoggy outskirts of Beijing, far beyond where the subway line finally ends, and the dust dunes roll over the border into Hebei Province, right there on the border, that is where you will find the Great Mall of China.
Construction started five/six years ago when the small border town Yanjiao was slated to become the next border boom town. This led to a run on house building and general craziness in the area.
Years later, these dreams never came true, and the town, like the Great Mall of China, is deserted.
Getting into the mall is quite simple: find the tunnel under the nearby hospital…
go through it in the dark…
emerge and find the pipe under the bullet train railway…
go through the tunnel…
walk down the causeway and you are in.
While there is security, and by the sound of it heavy work going on, the place is virtually empty, and the two guys on the roof didn’t even pay any attention to me.
There is a vast underground complex of tunnels full of dust and supplies, but no workers to be seen.
Welding lights can be seen in the very distance at the end of the tunnels, and there is the occasional crash of metal on metal, but still no sign of people.
There are various tunnels that weave under the complex, and probably under the hospital too.
The blind bear stands on the road marking the way out. Be careful, there is a man who sells guard dogs nearby.