St George’s Works was the last remaining part of James Williamsons also known as Lord Ashton’s Lune Mills linoleum manufacturing complex. Established in 1871 his factories ran the length of the Quayside specialising in linoleum production, leather cloth and other coated fabrics. In an article published in 1894 it was said that “the present undertaking constitute the largest manufacturing of it class in the world”. This sole company employed around 25% of Lancaster’s men and women with the busy cotton mills in the town. However two world wars, severe economic depression and foreign competition led the company to decline into the 50’s and 60’s then being ran under different names or owners until production ceased in the 90’s forever.
St George’s Works Mill located next to the west coast main line Carlisle Bridge is a prominent landmark on the Quay and was used in an advertising campaign promoting Lancaster as a heritage city with large posters of the mill on display at London Euston Station. Over the years the various structures once owned by Lord Ashton have been demolished for new housing estates and due to a fire in 2012 and being derelict for many years has left this last Mill of the Williamson legacy beyond repair.
I&R Demolition was awarded the contract by Eric Wright Construction to demolish St George’s Works Mill to make way for 419 student apartments. This project forms part of the Luneside East regeneration scheme in Lancaster. Due to a fire causing serious internal structural damage and the integrity of the building the chosen method of demolition was to use our high reach Komatsu PC490 excavator equipped with ProDem Processor.
The location of the building was directly on a busy main road which required a full road closure to enable demolition to be carried out in the safest possible way eliminating risk to public or motorists. However closing this road in the daytime would have meant the already congested one way system in Lancaster would have had to take all the additional traffic off the local industrial estates and train station bringing with it total gridlock and disruptions to the city’s road network. With this in mind we came up with the plan to demolish the building overnight between the 7pm and 5am which would eliminate the disruption to motorists while maintaining public safety. As this was a very unique demolition project it evolved working closely with Lancaster City Council planning and Lancashire County Council Highways department to ensure all safety measures were implemented and a strict demolition program adhered to.
The go ahead was given for demolition to commence on the 5th of November between the hours of 7pm – 5am and Tuesday – Thursday 5pm – 9pm reduced hours where the decibel limit could not exceed 50db at the site boundary at any time. To monitor this noise monitors where placed at the nearest boundary to a property with readings taken throughout the night. The total demolition of the Mill was completed in 11 hours over the 5th and 6th of November enabling the overnight road closure to be removed two days earlier than predicted. Following the demolition a 6 week site clearance program was implemented clearing the site of all demolition material, grubbing up foundations and slabs then crushing the hardcore to be removed off site. The project was completed on time and budget with a clean level site handed over to our client for Christmas ready for construction works to commence in the New Year.