Northampton

Northampton Greyfriars bus station demolished

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Media captionThe bus station, which had been standing for 40 years, was demolished in six seconds.

A Brutalist bus station dubbed the "mouth of hell" has taken its last gasp as explosives have reduced it to a pile of rubble.

The Greyfriars building, which dominated the Northampton skyline for nearly 40 years, was demolished at 09:40 GMT in about six seconds.

A total of 414 homes were evacuated for safety reasons while the building was destroyed.

Retail and leisure schemes are now being considered for the site.

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Media captionMore than 2,000 explosives were used to collapse Greyfriars

More than 2,000 individual explosive charges were used to bring down the 175m (574ft) long building. The exclusion zone has now been lifted and people returned to their homes by 10:30.

Work has already started on removing the materials, of which 95% will be recycled, Northampton Borough Council said.

Image copyright Corrine West
Image caption The "mouth of hell" was demolished in less than 10 seconds, a spectator said
Image copyright Corrine West
Image caption The bus station cost £7m to build in 1976, the equivalent of £44m in today's money

Corrine West, who photographed the demolition from a flat outside the exclusion zone, said: "In a weird way it was a bit emotional as I've got happy memories of hanging out in the bus station with mates when I was younger.

"It wasn't the greatest building, but it seems like a big part of the town has been lost. It was all a bit surreal - it must have gone in four or five seconds."

Image copyright Corrine West
Image caption The site is now being considered for retail and leisure facilities in the town
Image caption The building collapsed after a series of sharp bangs, signalling the detonators had been fired
Image caption Diggers moved onto the site to begin clearing the rubble within minutes of the explosion

The 1970s building was once described as "like a great big mouth of hell" by Channel 4 presenter and designer Kevin McCloud.

But Catherine Croft, director of the 20th Century Society, said it was too easy "not see the value of these buildings".

The group aims to safeguard the heritage of architecture and design in Britain from 1914 onwards.

"A 'blow-down is something people think is cathartic and dramatic. To me it adds to that myth Brutalist buildings are a monster out to get you, so we exert a mastery over them by blowing them down... it's one way to make absolutely sure it doesn't return."

Image copyright HiOptic Photography
Image caption Greyfriars opened in 1976 and was designed as a piece of Brutalist architecture. It was described by commentators at its opening as a "feat of engineering"

David Mackintosh, leader of Northampton Borough Council, said the demolition, which cost more than £4m, will "breathe new life into this under-used area of town".

He added: "The demolition has removed an expensive eyesore from Northampton.

"The next step will be to clear the site and continue the work started before Christmas to plan how we will redevelop the area."

Image copyright HiOptic Photography
Image caption Greyfriars was costing local taxpayers £500,000 a year to maintain and would have cost £30m to refurbish

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