Two urban explorers who filmed themselves inside the former Brandon Stadium have spoken of the sense of excitement that has led them to abandoned sites across the country.
Tyler and Rich have been among the unauthorised visitors to gain entry to the former motorsport mecca, sharing memories of its heyday and capturing drone footage.
The dilapidated, graffiti-daubed arena is among a number of deserted sites that the YouTubers, who call themselves Lost in Time, have explored outside of their day jobs.
Speaking to CoventryLive, Tyler says: “We like the history side of it, a lot of the places we visit do have a lot of history attached, even though it’s sometimes hard to find.
“Because we go to places where so few people gain entry the buildings can be like time capsules.
“It’s less like that now because more and more people are gaining access.”
Excursions to date have included a 165-room mansion house in North Wales and deserted buildings and structures across the Midlands as well as in Cheshire, Derbyshire, Lincoln and Huddersfield.
Producing professional-looking packages of video and photographs, they upload the material to social media platforms centred on their YouTube channel.
At the former arena, also known as the Coventry Stadium, the friends reflected on the fire damage and vandalism the site has suffered, with Tyler recalling his visits when it was still in operation.
They say they never cause damage to enter sites and if they find somewhere out of bounds or visibly protected by security they stand down. Unless the location is obvious, Lost in Time make up names for the places they visit. Once inside, they check as best they can that the flooring is safe.
Nevertheless, police forces around the country have warned urban explorers that the activity is potentially dangerous and there is also the risk of being arrested for trespass.
While evidently taking a more responsible approach, Lost in Time is open to the accusation that it may encourage others who show less regard for their safety and surroundings.
The forays occupy a legal grey area because trespass, according to CPS guidance, is not of itself a criminal offence but forms an essential element in some other offences.
On one occasion when they were stopped by security they were simply asked what they were doing and asked to leave, a request which they say they would always comply with.
“For every video we make there are another four that we haven’t made because there was no way of getting into places safely and within the law,” Tyler says. “The majority of sites are owned by someone so if it is boarded or gated off or there’s no entry route, we don’t make one.”
But the pair, from Hinckley, admit that there is a buzz due to the inherent risks involved.
“There is an adrenaline rush to it,” Rich says. “There’s an element of ‘you could get caught’ and even though we’ve been caught before and we know what happens, there’s still excitement and fear. It’s a mixed bag.”
Exploring the Brandon Stadium, however, turned into more of a trip down memory lane and a reflection on the deterioration of what was one a dust-kicking sporting asset as they strolled round at their leisure.
They found fire damage in an upstairs former function room and noticed that boards which had been sealed when they previously visited the site had been torn down.
Campaigners say the former home of the Coventry Bees has become a magnet for vandals and arsonists, though the owners, Brandon Estates Ltd, have said they have taken measures to secure the site.
“We have been there a few times and each time we’ve been there it’s changed so much,” Tyler says.
“There’s only been months in between our visits and to see how fast the place has declined is crazy.
“We’ve had messages in our comments and privately from people saying we’ve brought back memories for them of the place when it was open, when it was the best part of people’s lives.
“We tend to have that quite a lot, not just for Brandon. It feels likes it makes it worth it to bring back memories of the good old days, shall we say.”
While at the decaying stadium, the pair ventured into what remained of an upstairs lounge, which once offered views of the action on the track, pausing at a still-intact stretch of bar before taking drone footage of the site, which is six miles east of Coventry in the Rugby council district.
“It would be good if it could be returned to its former glory and there’s obviously a reason why it closed in the first place,” Tyler says. “But from the comments we’ve had I didn’t realise how much of a place it holds in people’s hearts in Coventry and the surrounding area.
“Yes, it would be good to see it restored but equally if the owners want to keep people out then they need to make a really conscious effort to keep people out.
“It’s a goldmine for people like me and Richard who can go round and enjoy it, but equally it’s a goldmine for people who want to go there for the wrong reasons.”
Urban exploration has become a rapidly growing pursuit over the past decade, driven largely by the profusion of social media channels, most notably YouTube.
Night Scape, one of the largest and most professional outfits, has 1.1million subscribers alone.
The urban exploration tag is a loose term with some exponents veering more towards stunts, which includes scaling tower blocks, cranes and monuments, as well as jokey clips.
“With YouTube becoming more popular a lot of bigger YouTubers are bringing it to light which is trickling down to people like me and Richard,” Tyler says.
“It’s becoming more of the norm. When you watch the videos you can see how places look and the videos are shot really well. It’s not just about exploring, it’s about photography and capturing the essence of what something once was.
“Seeing that through their lens makes you want to show what you can do yourself.”
The YouTubers, who only wanted to be identified by their first names, have been able to use the flexibility of their day jobs to fit in the past-time, which involves long drives and editing.
Tyler is a self-employed landscape gardener while Richard is a mobile hairdresser after being made redundant from his audio-visual technician job in Binley during the Covid-19 pandemic.
They have a number of new edits lined up for the channel and, if the Brandon Stadium can be used as a litmus test, are unlikely to be stopped in their tracks any time soon.