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Sunday, 20 February, 2000, 15:39 GMT
Boom! Another net first

Barkway Court Barkway Court comes crashing down

The internet has seen another first with the demolition of a 19-storey tower block - live on the web.

It's not every day you get to remove an eyesore from the Hackney horizon
Tommy Walsh
Hackney Council recruited website developers Mediawave to come up with a site which broadcast the explosive moment whern Barkway Court, a typically brutal example of early 1970s architecture, was reduced to rubble.

But many users had difficulty connecting to the special site to witness the moment the 200ft block was destroyed. The plunger went down at midday when 70kg of explosives brought the 19-storey structure crashing down.

The event was repeated in slow motion at 1400 GMT and 1600 GMT.

Barkway Court Standing tall...but not for long
The honour of pushing the plunger went to Tommy Walsh, the builder from the BBC television series Groundforce.

"It's not every day you get to remove an eyesore from the Hackney horizon," said Mr Walsh, who lives locally.

The UK's first female explosives engineer, Holly Bennett, 20, was part of the team which carried out the demolition.

"Nothing can beat the buzz of seeing a huge building fall to the ground with inch-perfect precision - and knowing I played a part in it," she said.

Barkway Court is one of two tower blocks on the Kings Crescent Estate in Stoke Newington.

Both are being removed to be replaced by 900 high quality two-storey houses for older people as part of the Stoke Newington Capital Challenge project.

The contractors have spent three months stripping the tower of re-usable materials weakening the structure.


On Sunday morning 400 homes were evacuated as preparations began for the "blow down".

Visitors to the website can take part in an interactive quiz all about demolitions and explosives.

Hundreds of tower blocks were erected in cities all over the UK in the 1960s and 1970s as a quick fix to the chronic housing shortage.

But few have proved popular. Many residents suffer from social isolation and depression and many of the blocks were badly constructed and not designed to last more than about 30 years.

Scores of towers have been demolished with explosives in the last two decades and replaced with low-rise homes.

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