Northampton

Northampton Greyfriars demolition: Mouth of Hell faces 'blow-down'

View of Greyfriars bus station Image copyright Corrine West
Image caption An exclusion zone has been put in place around the Greyfriars bus station

A bus station that has dominated the Northampton skyline for nearly 40 years is set to collapse in seconds after a series of "sharp bangs".

The "Brutalist" Greyfriars building will be subjected to a "blow-down". Road closures and an exclusion zone have been in place from 06:00 GMT.

A total of 414 homes will also be temporarily evacuated for safety reasons when the building is destroyed.

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

The exact timing of the demolition has not been disclosed, but it is not a public event.

Image caption The demolition is not a public event and is best followed online, Northampton Borough Council said
Image caption Cecilia the rabbit is among the local residents being evacuated from their homes ahead of the blow-down

Billy Young, from DSM demolition, said the "series of sharp bangs" would follow the explosives being set off in a sequence of detonations.

The 175m (574ft) long, three-floor building, which includes a car park, will be flattened in about 10 seconds, he said.

Image caption Test blasts have been used to weaken part of the structure ahead of Sunday's 'blow-down'
Image copyright Jonathan Calder
Image caption The escalator once carried passengers to the main concourse of the bus station

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

Catherine Croft, director of the 20th Century Society, said: "Nobody will ever say Greyfriars is the best example of a building of the Brutalist period, but in years to come we might think it wasn't that bad."

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

Image caption People find a blow-down "cathartic and dramatic" said Catherine Croft

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

Mr Young added: "The exclusion zone is designed to keep people at a very safe distance from the demolition... so they are not impacted upon by the noise or the dust.

"We do not invite anybody to come along as this is not a public event."

Full coverage of the Greyfriars demolition will be available on BBC Radio Northampton from 06:00 on Sunday

Image copyright Northampton Central Library
Image caption Greyfriars was described by commentators at its opening as a "feat of engineering"

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