about the life of places. In the case of the former Commercial X-Rays factory, forgotten artefacts exist in abundance but the historical record is sparse. So the history of the place is being told mainly in reverse: from imaginative reconstruction rather than from memory. This reconstruction takes place within a loose framework of facts: that the site was open land until the 19th century; that it was built upon in the early 20th century; that it was occupied by Morris Motors around 1925; by Premiere Upholstery Co. around 1935; and by Commercial X-Rays Ltd. from 1945 to 1990; that at some point, Gamma Rays, a sibling to Commercial X-Rays, occupied part of the building, along with Photographic Craftsmen Ltd.; that Gold Angel Garments and a workers’ café used parts of the building after 1990 and before 2001. This framework makes sense of myriad, almost kaleidoscopic details: the ornate façade; abandoned stationery and test reports; the well-worn stairway; a plaque on the toilet wall; stacks of kitchen worktops; names on a coat rack; a peculiar cable trolley; structural modifications; glass photographic plates; sections of a skate wheel conveyor system; graffiti. These are integrated and animated by those who imagine and those who remember.
Between memory and forgetting is the space of conjecture, of imaginative reconstruction, of adventure. Visiting a derelict building is such an adventure. There is adventure in exploring old structures, in recovering bits of history and observing the traces of former activities. Abandoned documents, the remains of technology and the signs of work and wear each provide fragmentary clues about the life of a place. These fragments help in getting forsaken, forgotten places to yield their secrets. This adventure is about producing history in reverse: the archaeology of dereliction; the recovery and interpretation of artefacts; of speculation about relationships between those artefacts. This process of recovery generally produces a sort of catalogue, a collection organised according to descriptive qualities, of physical details, location and approximate age. But a catalogue has no unifying narrative. For that, we turn to a more straightforward and carefully maintained sort of history: the linear archive, the historical record, the collective memory. In this regard, archives and dereliction complement each other. An archive is memories taken from their place of origin to a site of collective remembering, while dereliction is a place of forgetting, a site of collective amnesia. Brought together, they re-integrate, re-locate and elaborate wonderful stories