A large thirteen span 1870s Victorian brick arch Viaduct at East Norton, Leicestershire had fallen into a very poor state of repair. It was becoming a danger to persons who ventured through the security fencing onto or under the isolated landmark and required specialist demolition. The viaduct was one hundred and ninety metres (about the length of two football pitches) long and approximately twelve storeys in height. It was agreed with our employers, British Rail Property Board, that explosive demolition would the most effective demolition option.
Difficulties were soon to manifest themselves, in as much as the blue brickwork had in places badly perished, where the brickwork visually appeared to be sound externally, internally it had softened and failed. Explosives would become less effective in “soft” materials as the explosive, expanding breaking force would be absorbed by such soft materials. This turned a the viaduct demolition into more complex demolition that required specific explosive demolition knowledge. Eventually an agreed plan and sequence of drilling was incorporated into the works, the demolition programme was met, and demolition day arrived.
Very early on a cold, wet Sunday morning in March 2001, the area was secured, Police helicopter scanned the exclusion zone, then gave the “all clear”. The explosive engineer began his countdown. A series of loud explosions then followed and the once proud structure was proud no more; a smouldering pile of brick rubble lay along the route of the old railway line. Thoughts crossed my mind of the thousands of man hours, the manual skills that had gone into creating what was once such a magnificent structure that had now gone in seconds courtesy of our explosive demolition.
The company had continued to steadily develop and expand. It had outgrown the Stechford site needing somewhere larger to house the ever increasing and expanding scope of work. We searched for and found a six acre site on Shady Lane, Great Barr, Birmingham. The site, an old aluminium castings foundry, was purchased in 2002, in overcoming a series of objections from local residents, councillors and an M.P. we secured planning in 2004 for work to start on creating a new Depot, consisting of offices, workshops, parking for plant and transport and our innovative award winning “Urban Quarry” to be used for the manufacture of value added aggregates from reject materials that forms the backbone of our materials recovery and recycling operations.