A spiky problem…

Photo by Nick Smale
Photo by Nik Smale
Standing beside the City of Manchester Satdium at 58 metres in height and leaning at a more acute angle than the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the B of the Bang sculpture was commissioned at a cost of almost £1.5 million to mark the 2002 Commonwealth Games and beginning takes its name from a quotation from former sprinter Linford Christie in which he said that he started his races not merely at the ‘bang’ of the starting pistol, but at ‘The B of the Bang’.

But just seven years on and what should have been a major public landmark is now derided by many locals who have nicknamed the sculpture “Kerplunk” after the 1970s children’s toy. And with the tips of several of its hollow steel spikes now having fallen off, local demolition companies are starting to circle, taking an active interest in the removal of the piece, and in the recycling of the 165 tonnes of steel it comprises.

Talk of demolition came after Manchester City Council won £1.7m in damages from the designers and engineers involved in the project. One company, Denton-based Windmill Demolition, has offered to demolish the structure free-of-charge and to recycle the steel at its own facility. This offer was declined by regeneration company New East Manchester, which conceived the sculpture.

A more considered approach came from John Freeley, managing director of local demolition specialist J. Freeley Ltd who estimates that the dismantling could take up to four weeks and cost £150,000. Excavating the foundations would cost an additional £50,000.

“The nature of the concrete foundations would need to be investigated in detail before giving a time estimate,” he said. “Demolition and dismantling specialists would have to work closely with structural engineers who would jointly inspect the structure and look in detail at the original construction drawings to gain an understanding of the design and balance of the structure, as this will dictate the dismantling methods that will need to be used.

“Also, it’s not clear whether it is just the structure itself which needs to be removed or whether the concrete foundations also will need to be excavated.”

To take the weight and offset the 30 degree angle of the sculture’s upperstructure, those foundations contain around 1,000 tonnes of concrete and include a 400 m2 reinforced concrete slab. The foundations extend to a depth of 20 metres.

“The structure itself will have to be painstakingly dismantled and the balance of the structure will have to be maintained to prevent it from becoming unstable,” Freeley concludes. “Demolition operatives will liaise with the highways authorities to make sure surrounding roads are closed during the dismantling.”


The UK’s National Demolition Training Group has announced the date for its annual general meeting. The meeting will take place at the Novotel in London’s Docklands on 5 February 2009.

Full details are available from training co-ordinator Sophie Francis on Tel: 01784 456799 or via email: ndtg@demolition-nfdc.com

C&D underlines commitment to training…

West Mindlands-based C&D Consultancy has announced a new range of highly-targeted training courses for the coming weeks and months including RPE (Respiratory Protective Equipment) Regulations & Employer Responsibilities (Fit Testing) PART 1 and a three-day course of Health and Safety supervision.

Full details of the new range of courses can be found here.

When explosives aren’t the answer…

The controlled demolition of three disused 80 metre tall reinforced concrete chimneys at Coolkeeragh Power Station Northern Ireland has been successfully achieved by Churchill Steeplejacks (UK) Ltd over a nine month period. On this particular project, explosives could not be used to fell the chimneys due to a number of factors including a nearby under ground culvert providing water to the new adjacent power station and a railway line located within 15 metres of the chimney bases.

The full story of the contract can be found here but, perhaps better still, Churchill have produced a pair of excellent videos that capture the action.

Asbestos delays Oklahoma contract…

Mesotheliomanews.com is reporting that a redevelopment project on Oklahoma has been delayed by unexpected asbestos removal costs.

Read the full story here.

When life imitates work…

This is when you just KNOW that you need to get a hobby. Through my work on Demolition News and Demolition & Dismantling and my links with the National Federation of Demolition Contractors and European Demolition Association, I spend a large part of my working week working within and alongside the demolition industry.

Every once in a while, I like to “blow off a little steam” by going to see a band or two and that’s precisely what I have planned for 14 January.

However, by some strange quirk of fate, my well-earned night out is going to have a distinctly working flavour. I am going to the last-ever gig at London’s world-famous Astoria Theatre which is closing to make way for a new Crossrail system.

And what have they called this final gig…? Click here for the answer.

Deutsche Bank Demolition fallout continues…

The New York Times reports that the former purchasing agent for the subcontractor hired to dismantle the former Deutsche Bank building, which was damaged in the Sept. 11 attack in Lower Manhattan, has been charged with stealing more than $1 million by filing false invoices and using the money for expensive vacations and luxury cars, the authorities said on Tuesday.

Read the ongoing story here.

Syd Bishop uses landfil tax for local community…

Terry Bishop (right) presenting the cheque to Jim Fletcher, the Rector of All Saints Church
Terry Bishop (left) presenting the cheque to Jim Fletcher, the Rector of All Saints Church
UK demolition specialist Syd Bishop & Sons Ltd has donated almost £40,000 towards the restoration and extension of the nearby All Saints Church in the Parish of Fawkham and Hartley. Donated via the Community Credit Scheme, the money represents a significant proportion of the Landfill Tax taken at the company’s construction and demolition waste site in nearby Pinden.

Dating back some 900 years, All Saints Church is the oldest building in Hartley with a history that traces back to Norman times. Indeed, it is thought that the church was actually built upon the former site of a wooden Saxon church. In order to meet the needs of the local community and spurred on by the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act, the Parochial Church Council developed detailed plans to convert the Grade 1 listed building to include: level access from the road; modern toilet facilities; a refreshments area; a circulating area; and a community meeting room.
To date, the church has raised £290,000 of the £350,00 required to finance this important project and it was this shortfall that led the church to approach local businesses including Syd Bishop & Sons Ltd.

The new extension will require the level of the land to lowered by approximately 0.5 metres to bring it flush with Church Road. This will require the excavation of an area that has been used for burials for more than 600 years and which contains at least 62 known burial plots, all of which will have to be re-interned when the work is complete. “Many of these were ‘shroud’ burials in which no coffin was used so internments often overlap each other,” explains rector, Jim Fletcher “In fact, one of the graves contained one body but four skulls.”

A large part of this work is being funded thanks to the donation by Syd Bishop & Sons Ltd which has used a charitable clause in the Landfill Tax system to help support this important local cause. “Under the current taxation system, we were allowed to contribute up to 6.6 percent of 2007’s Landfill Tax revenue to community needs or charity, provided that we contribute an additional 10 percent on top of that,” explains director Terry Bishop. “To allow us to support some other good causes, we have donated 3.3 percent which was equivalent to £35,535, plus 10 percent which took the total to £39,008. This area has always been good to us as a company and it’s great to be able to give something back to the local community.”

Bats block demolition…

A straightforward contract awarded to UK demolition contractor J Freeley Ltd to demolish a disused and vandalised building in Rochdale was delayed for more than 12 months; because it was discovered that bats had taken residence.

A specialist bat ecologist put the demolition on hold until a new building was erected on site to provide an alternative home for the roosting bats.

Once that was built, J Freeley Ltd operatives had to painstakingly remove tiles, fascias and bricks by hand from the sheltered accommodation block on Dean Street under the watchful eye of the bat expert, Angela Graham of Bury-based Angela Graham Bat Consultancy Service.

“Initially this was a straightforward demolition contract. The building stood within its own grounds so it would have been quite safe and simple to use remote machine demolition. The contract involved asbestos removal, demolition then landscaping – it could easily have been completed within five weeks,” says managing director John Freeley. “But as bats had been spotted around the building, and they are a protected species, we had to wait more than a year before we could start the project on behalf of our client Rochdale Boroughwide Housing Ltd.”

Angela Graham inspected the accommodation block, and paid a number of visits both in daylight and at night time to establish that bats were indeed roosting within the building. Her report said an alternative roosting building must be erected before any demolition took place. So an open-fronted shed, made of blocks and with cavity walls, complete with a felt-lined slate roof, was built for the bats. Inside, specialist roosting boxes were installed.

Once that was ready for the bats, careful hand demolition of the accommodation block began under the supervision of Angela Graham who was particularly concerned that removal of known roosting features, such as slates and fascias, was tackled with particular care. This necessitated the complete scaffolding of the building before demolition began.

Said John Freeley: “Considerable extra costs were incurred by the client once it became clear that bats were using the building to roost. As awareness of the protected status of bats becomes more widely known, demolition contractors are advising clients to have buildings assessed by specialist bat ecologists at the earliest possible opportunity so contracts are not delayed.

“I believe that in the future, these types of surveys could become as standard as the Type 3 Asbestos Survey is today.”

Demolition News “Webby” award goes to…

With the dust having settled on 2008 and 2009 now springing into life, we at Demolition News have taken a look back at our website traffic statistics to see what our readers have been looking at during the past year (well, the past three months – we only launched in October!)

As is the tradition, we will announce the winners of our Webby Award for the most commonly visited story of 2008 in reverse order.

3rd – In Third place was the launch of our own online magazine. Even though we are terribly disappointed to come third in our OWN contest, it was pleasing to get this magazine out and we’re genuinely delighted at the response so far.

2nd – The second most viewed story was our story “just when you think you’ve seen everything” which covered the use of a helicopter/drop-ball combination

1st – And the winner of our Webby Award for the most viewed story of 2008 is “no quick fix for quick couplers”, an audio/video interview with Miller International chief executive Keith Miller on the subject of quick couplers.

Keith Miller
Keith Miller

Our thanks to Keith for his involvement in this item, and to our contributors and readers for all the other news and views contributed during our exciting first few months.