Bradford's First Blowdown

By Sarah Mills

Yorkshire, UK-based Controlled Demolition Group showed the residents of Bradford how they have achieved their worldwide status as leading demolition experts when they carried out the city's first ever explosive demolition.

The company was awarded the contract to bring down eight-storey Provincial House, an office block constructed at the heart of the city centre by developer St James Securities Limited.

In preparation for the blow down, Controlled Demolition Group effectively minimized noise and traffic disruption whilst completing comprehensive pre-weakening, protection work to gas, electric and water mains just 20m away, and removing 1,000 individual glass panels.

The company's explosives experts inserted over 1,500 non-electric detonating charges and 90kg of explosives in preparing for the early morning blow down. A special blast mechanism was designed because of Provincial House's close proximity to other buildings - the nearest is just 17m away and the city's famous town hall 150m away.

Controlled Demolition Group managing director Darren Palin said: "To ensure the safe and successful demolition of Provincial House we devised a collapse mechanism that brought down the middle section of the structure first so that the outside walls were pulled inwards on the building's own footprint.

"The blast occurred relatively early in the morning - at 9am - so that traffic could get back to normal in time for Sunday workers, shoppers and other visitors to the city."

The demolition will make way for the construction of a new 55,000sq-ft leisure and terrace development. Designed by architects Panter Hudspith, the contemporary building will embrace Centenary Square and bring added life to Bradford's central piazza.

Provincial House was condemned for occupation in 1997 when a survey revealed a high level of asbestos and a redundant air conditioning system. Both the asbestos and the refrigeration plant have been carefully removed by Controlled Demolition Group ahead of the blow down.

The Centenary Square development is the first of many regeneration projects being promoted in support of Bradford's bid for the European Caption of Culture for 2008.

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