1971 Escape

My best friend Gary Dean and I were having our usual fun annoying the security guards at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, we would start by gaining access to the steam pipe tunnels under the buildings, use dumb waiter or trap door to the basement nose around the autopsy department at all the big jars of parts especially their abnormality collection then ride the elevator up and down a few times often making like lift drivers and guides for visitors, we most enjoyed going to the top floor and fill paper cups with water then drop them down the middle of the stairwells, of course the cup would land on a handrail in the vicinity of people coming up the stairs so this would soon bring some attention of the security guards, then the race would be on to get from there to the exit doors or any of the fire escap exit only doors.

One time they were ready for us and not only had extra staff but were well coordinated they had all the usual exits covered so we had to think quick on the run changing direction about 6 times as we got to the ground floor but as we got close to the exit they had us almost surrounded, almost, we quickly swerved going upstairs to the third floor trying each door as we went up the fire escape with three security guys closing in on us but we knew the only escape from there was the laundry dumbwaiter now riding one of these things one level up was scary enough but this was going to be a Fast trip five levels down!
While at full Trot we discussed the alternatives, capture, police then parents, we chose the dumb waiters I still 40 + years later have nightmares of that experience, the darkness between floors the feeling in my stomach as we went faster and faster then there were no lights on in the sections between the first floor and basement so it felt like we were plummeting to our death and all alone because there was only room in the dumb waiter for one person no way of stopping it as there were no controls on the inside back in the steam tunnels we found the guards had all those exits covered as well we ran for the maternity building (demolished in 2010) that we were sure we could make a clean exit but no, there were guards at the main exit doors waiting for us and we were traveling so fast we almost ran right into them, with a fast about turn we flew up the stairs with those two guards on our heels, now *running up stairs is much different for 14-year-olds than two middle-aged security guards, but we knew that there were not many options from there, not likely to get through the wards to the only emergency exits without staff stopping us and these were scary matrons or maternity nurses experienced at catching kids on all floors except the roof 8 storeys above the ground, once there we climbed out onto the ledge and jumped down onto the roof of the fire escape at the southern end of the building now the only problem we had was to get from the roof down to the top of the stairs which meant climbing down over the guttering and downpipe to then jump onto the steps, I know that jump was only about 4 or 5 foot but was 7 stories from the ground.

This had to be the dumbest thing I had ever done and Gary if you ever read this I’m so sorry for talking you into doing that jump, clearly wasn’t worth the risk but we both got down the stairs and left the grounds of the hospital safely but very shaken.

* Running (something I had become very good at)

Professional Historians Australia

pic of the building looking from the north east side 1950’s

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