We live near to a fairly large clunch quarry (hard limestone used for building) and cement works, and as with most mining activities, it has not been without its controversies over the years, particularly as the workings have come to an end. About ten years ago local communities were fighting to prevent the on-site chimney from being substantially extended to allow the incineration of all manner of waste materials. Luckily for us, Cemex eventually chose another site for its large-scale cement production and the 56m chimney has sat unused ever since.
Some of the quarry land has now been restored and they are planning to build a couple of hundred houses there. They also decided to demolish the chimney in advance of this work. In fact, we had no idea about the demolition until a recent pub trip for Christmas drinks when we noticed a poster promoting the sale of raffle tickets … to select the person to press the big red detonation button. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?
Well, in the end a local Barrington resident won the honour. That seems fair, but many of us were nevertheless keen to watch the end of the 58year old chimney. So yesterday morning several hundred people lined up along the edge of the quarry to say goodbye. It turned out to be a glorious morning, with clear blue skies.
Unfortunately the recommended area for viewing the demise of the chimney was roughly due west of the chimney, meaning the sun at 9am was almost directly behind it. With a bit of squinting it was fine and the lighting of the scene was quite romantic.
So we took pictures while we waited for zero hour (9am). 9 o’clock passed. We fidgeted. Took more video footage of the chimney silhouetted against the sun. A youth behind us complained that he had by that point taken ~20 videos of an unchanging chimney already. But we knew it was imminent when the guys in hi-vis jackets lined up on the opposite side looking towards the chimney.
Then a klaxon sounded and finally there was a puff of smoke at the base of the tower. The chimney started to lean to the left. There was a very loud bang (in reflex I took my finger off the video button – oops) … and then it was gone.
And this is the last frame I took!
There’s no going back from that.
If you want to see a great video of the demolition then take a look at this aerial footage from the BBC:
I was impressed the precision of the fall and how effective the multiple water jets were at keeping the dust down.
The end of an era