Coventry chimney to be blown down

The 50m (164ft) chimney stack on the site of the former Courtaulds factory in Little Heath is set to disappear on Sunday 7 March when it will be blown down.

The 30m (98ft) water tower on the site will be blown down at the same time as the chimney stack at approximately 11am.

Contractor Lee Demolition is in the final stages of clearing the circa 40-acre former Little Heath Works in Old Church Road.

The factory, most of which has now been demolished, dated back to the 1920s but had been disused from 2007 onwards.

The works began life as part of Courtaulds and the Little Heath Works was an important manufacturing site, focusing on the production of acetate yarns.

At its height in the 1950s and 1960s, Little Heath Works employed circa 5,000 staff, many of whom were recruited from the surrounding area.

However, the factory’s fortunes waned in the 1980s and by the time it closed in 2007 the workforce had been reduced to about 130.

The decision to demolish the buildings on the site was taken following unsuccessful attempts by the current owner, Acetate Products Ltd (APL), to sell the site for redevelopment, because of the economic downturn.

Wayne Currie, special project director at APL, said: “The demolition of the chimney stack and water tower is an important event. This site has a lot of history and many local people have fond memories of working here.

“The chimney stack has been a prominent landmark for years and the skyline will look different without it but we are looking forward to seeing the redevelopment of this site in the future.”

Property consultants CB Richard Ellis have been appointed as planning consultants and development managers to advise on options for the site. Plans cannot be finalised, however, until the Coventry Core Strategy has been published. At this point APL will develop a masterplan for the site in consultation with Coventry City Council and the local community.

Odey Edmonds, a 96-year-old former Little Heath employee, will push the button to bring the chimney stack and the water tower down. Mr Edmonds, who now lives in Potters Green, began working at the factory in 1927 when he was 14-years-old.

Specialist decommissioning managers RVA Group have been working closely with Lee Demolition, explosives engineers PDC and Lee’s retained health and safety advisors C&D to meticulously plan the blowdown of the two structures.

The chimney stack at Little Heath

 

The chimney stack will be demolished using 20 small explosive charges. They will be placed in holes drilled into the wall around the front of the chimney’s base.

The detonation will be carried out by remote means using a radio link and the entire process will take no more than five to ten seconds.

The rubble pile left at the base of the chimney stack after the explosion will produce approximately 800 tonnes of hardcore for recycling.

The water tower will be demolished using 17 explosive charges approximately five seconds after the chimney stack.

For health and safety reasons, a number of households immediately adjacent to the site will be evacuated for the blowdown. This will affect approximately 200 people.

The water tower at Little Heath

The water tower at Little Heath

 

There will also be a number of road closures effective from 9am – 12pm. Old Church Road will be partially closed, along with part of Clinton Road (from the junction with Benthall Road) and Ivor Road. The canal towpath immediately adjacent to the site will also be off limits. A number of sentries, assisted by the police, will man these areas to prevent pedestrian and traffic access.

 ENDS

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