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Comment – A slow and miserable death…

Voluntary arrangement fails to save Masterton from inexorable slide into the abyss.

It is a year, almost to the day, since I visited the Bacton Gas Terminal in North Norfolk to see Masterton demonstrating its demolition prowess in a challenging and spark-free environment.

The resulting article never made it into print, partly because we were never able to get an approval from the client to clear the photos, but also because the alarm bells were already ringing.

One of the first questions I was asked once I had made it through the Fort Knox-like site security was “have you heard any rumours about Masterton” quickly followed by “what is everyone saying”. It was clear from the outset that all was not well at the heart of what was once one of the most revered demolition names north of the Border.

If those initial questions set alarm bells ringing, then the company’s actions over the next year or so would have made Big Ben seem positively hushed by comparison. CVs from company employees seeking to flee the sinking ship began to circulate in increasing numbers, and the rumour mill slipped into overdrive. A flat refusal to speak to or engage with the press is a tell-tale and tacit smoke that proves somewhere, something is on fire. When the company finally sought a Company Voluntary Arrangement in August last year, no-one in the wider demolition community seemed even remotely surprised.

Experience suggests that voluntary arrangements generally have one of two outcomes: they either buy the company sufficient time to regroup and re-emerge leaner and fitter; or they merely delay an inevitable demise. From the very beginning, Masterton seemed destined for the latter route.

It could all have been so different. Back in November 2012, with the industry still wracked by recession, we reported that the company was heading for a record turnover and had just moved into a sparkly new headquarters in Grangemouth. It reportedly had a strong forward order book, had taken on more staff, and had even set its sights on overseas expansion through a joint venture with parent company CA Blackwell.

Today, as the administrators begin their post-mortem on the lifeless corpse of this once great name, such blind ambition in the midst of a global economic downturn now seems like folly.

Exclusive – Masterton calls in receivers…

Company Voluntary Arrangement fails to save former Scottish giant.

Masterton, the Grangemouth-based demolition division of the Blackwell Group, has called in the receivers, Demolition News can exclusively reveal.

The appointment of administrators Price Waterhouse Coopers brings to an end a period of intense speculation over the future which sought a Company Voluntary Arrangement in summer last year.

The company’s eventual demise was as swift as it was inescapable. It is just two years since Masterton reported a record turnover of £16 million and cut the ribbon on a new headquarters in Yorkshire amidst the promise of a strong forward order book and overseas expansion plans. More recently, the company was shortlisted in the Construction News Specialist Awards 2014, and in the nepotistic awards of the National Federation of Demolition Contractors.

However, the company sought a Company Voluntary Arrangement in August 2014. The following month, Steve Forster (ex-Controlled Group) resigned as a director. Demolition News understands that he has since joined a project management specialist in the north east of England but this is unconfirmed.

Our sister website – – is throwing open its doors to help any Masterton employees impacted by today’s news back into employment. Those workers can register their CVs and availability to work by clicking here; and we will do all we can to help them find alternative employment very soon.

Woodward hits out at government obsession…

Former IDE president decries lack of investment in demolition education.

061John Woodward, founder of C&D Consultancy and former president of the Institute of Demolition Engineers, believes his industry is in urgent need of ‘young blood’ if it is to meet its current and future commitments.

The industry expert estimates that more than 600 positions need to be filled, but a lack of funding and available apprenticeship courses are seriously restricting the search and development of new talent.

“There is a massive skills gap in demolition, especially for those young people looking to become engineers,” explains Woodward. “As it stands, there are no colleges or universities in the UK that offer apprenticeships or courses in this field and it makes it very tough to give new recruits the right training.”

He continued: “If we were looking to train the next generation of hairdressers, automotive engineers or digital media specialists – all valid careers in their own right – we’d have tens of options to choose from.

“Some people will also argue that there are operative apprenticeships and both the National Demolition Training Group and CSkills are pushing these. That’s great if you want to be a labourer or a plant operator, but not ideal for those looking at the more technical element of our industry.”

Read more here.

Video – A demolition hoe-down…

Demolition is far more fun when it’s set to banjo and fiddle!

I know from personal experience just how tempting it is to edit demolition video to feature heavy rock music to lend it a somehow epic feel.

Turns out I have been doing it wrong all along. Throw in some banjo, harmonica and fiddle, and demolition suddenly feels like fun.

Woolworth Building Demolition Project Haverhill, MA from Al Pereira on Vimeo.

Video – High reach at the hospital…

Rosenlund continues its war of attrition with Gold Coast hospital.

As I write this, the sunshine is streaming through the portcullis at the entrance of Demolition News Towers, even though the temperature outside remains on the uncomfortable side of chilly.

On the other side of the world, those pesky Australians are basking in real sunshine and the knowledge that they have a cricket team capable of beating Balngladesh in a one day international. And when they’re not enjoying warmth and sporting success, they’re carrying out the high reach demolition of the Gold Coast Hospital against a backdrop of unimaginably blue skies.

Be sure to watch this on full screen for maximum effect.

Video – The fast and the slow…

Hyper-speed and slow-mo demolition in action.

If you’re in any way hungover, we would advise you not to watch the following video.

It features some run-of-the-mill demolition made sexy by the judicious use of hyper-speed and then slow-motion footage. But the transition from super fast to super slow is eerily reminiscent of a lost weekend in Amsterdam:

Video – Tokyo Stadium coming down…

Venue for 1964 Olympic Games will soon be no more.

As we reported a day or two ago, the sports stadium that hosted the 1964 Olympic Games is co,ging down to make way for a new venue that will host the 2020 Games.

The National Stadium in Tokyo – where future heavyweight champion of the world “Smokin” Joe Frazier won Olympic gold – was the first in Asia to host an Olympic Games.

Near-miss Down Under…

No-one hurt as scaffold falls onto road during morning rush hour.

Four storeys of scaffolding collapsed during peak hour in Sydney’s south, but no one was hurt or trapped.

Rescue crews have confirmed no one was under the Rockdale rubble after earlier fears a person was trapped when 25m of scaffolding crashed onto Frederick Street.

A witness told firefighters someone had been trapped when the building’s facade collapsed on power lines, three parked cars and the road just after 8am on Friday.

Rescue crews determined no one was inside after a thermal-imaging search.

Firefighters have been stabilising the building demolition site.

“It’s extremely lucky given the time of day,” police Superintendent Dave Donohue said.

Two workers who were due to enter the building site were also lucky to miss the crash while sitting in a car opposite the site.

Read more here.

Tokyo Stadium demolition plan announced…

Former Olympic venue to fall in preparation for 2020 Games.

Tokyo’s National Stadium, the centerpiece of the 1964 Olympic Games, will be completely demolished by September and construction on a new facility for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is to begin in October, according to details published on Thursday.

The new 80,000-seat stadium is slated to be completed in time to host the opening match and the final of Rugby World Cup 2019, which will be hosted by Japan.

The existing facility’s demolition was supposed to have begun last July, but was delayed after irregularities in the original bid process and missteps by the Japan Sports Council, which manages the stadium, required a new bid process.

Video – Friendly fire…

Tamar Explosives takes out part of “Grandfather’s Village”.

The people of Israel have grown accustomed to the sound of explosions for all the wrong reasons.

And so the explosive demolition of a block in Kfar Saba (Grandfather’s Village) in the Sharon region, will probably have gone largely unnoticed.

But the eagle-eyed (square-eyed) folks in our video department spotted it and we’re delighted to bring you footage of the blast:

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