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Rig ready for Battersea chimney demolition

4 Jul 14 Demolition is about to start on the first of Battersea Power Station’s four chimneys, ahead of its reconstruction.

The chimneys are being rebuilt
The chimneys are being rebuilt

The existing chimneys are not structurally safe but are such a fixture of the London skyline that they are being rebuilt as part of the £8bn redevelopment of the power station site.

Next week sees specialist contractor Beroa Bierrum start work demolishing the southwest chimney.

A circular rig that will carry workers and equipment has been built around the chimney. It will slowly climb to the top of the chimney next week. On its way up, Beroa Bierrum will record details of the chimney in its current form. The dismantling of the chimney by four hydraulic jaws attached to the rig is expected to begin in mid-July.

The chimney debris will be funnelled down a chute in the centre of the chimney, collected and recycled. Several different on-site uses for the material are being explored, including reuse as artwork.

Once the chimney has been fully dismantled, it will be rebuilt from the bottom using the same materials as the original. It will take approximately five months to dismantle, and about six months to fully rebuild the chimney to its height of approximately 50 metres.

Once the southwest chimney has been reconstructed back up to a height of 25 metres above the brick washtower, work will start simultaneously to dismantle and reconstruct the three remaining chimneys. All four chimneys are expected to be fully reconstructed by early 2016.

Paint scrapings have been taken to ensure that the new chimneys will be visually identical to the chimneys when they were first built. The developer says that the new chimneys will consist of the same materials as the originals, but with more modern steel reinforcements within the concrete to provide a more permanent solution to their conservation than simply refurbishing them. For each chimney approximately 600 tonnes of concrete will removed and a similar volume used in the rebuild.

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Battersea Power Station Development Company chief operating officer Philip Gullett said: “The four iconic chimneys are not only one of the most distinctive features of the London skyline; they are the very DNA of this historical building.  Today, we are a step closer to the start of this vital restoration work to safeguard the chimneys and the power station building itself for future generations.”

Justin Phillips, ‎partner and director of environment & infrastructure at Buro Happold Engineering, said: “For over 15 years we have tried various different ways of affecting repairs to the chimneys but if they are going to be safeguarded on the skyline for future generations it has become clear they need to be dismantled and rebuilt.  The process will be done sensitively using a circular rig which will gradually descend from the top as the chimney is dismantled, and then ascend shortly afterwards as the chimney is rebuilt.  The rebuilt chimney will be visibly identical but the pattern of the steel reinforcement and the composition of the concrete has been improved to make the new chimneys less vulnerable to corrosion.”

Pictured below in front of the demolition rig are Justin Phillips from Buro Happold, Timothy Jones from English Heritage, Philip Gullett of BPSDC and Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia.

Above: Artist's impression of the Battersea Power Station masterplan

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