NORMALLY when explosives are about it’s best to take cover in the bunker – but not if it’s the bunker that’s about to blow!
The largest structure at Welbeck Colliery – a 100ft coal train-loading bunker – was taken down in spectacular style by a specialist team from Rotherham-based Ron Hull demolition.
Production at the century old North Nottinghamshire pit ended in May and the site is now being cleared.
Colliery manager Geoff Mountain, who is supervising the sealing of the mine and clean-up of the site, said: “The rapid-loading bunker was used to fill coal trains at high speed.
“It was capable of filling a train with around 1,700 tons in just two hours.
“Because of the height of the bunker, and the fact so much of the weight was in a series of hoppers in the top, it was decided the quickest and safest way of demolishing it was to use explosives.”
With colliery workers and demolition men watching from the tops of spoil tips outside the exclusion zone, the explosives team fired the charges to take down a giant lighting tower, followed a fraction of a second later by the main blast to bring down the bunker.
Ron Hull contracts director David Wall said: “It went down very gracefully and with remarkably little damage to the main structure. When the smoke cleared it was simply lying on its side. We can now get to work and dismantle it safely.”
David added: “The first phase of the demolition started in November and we have now taken down most of the buildings on the site including the main offices, which were thought to date back to the early days of the mine in 1911.
“The coal preparation plant, bunkers, and various ancillary buildings and workshops have also gone. The steelwork and metals are being removed to our recycling centre in Rotherham but all the brickwork and stone is being crushed on site and is to be used to fill the shafts.”
Geoff added: “The shafts at Welbeck are 760 metres deep, with sumps that go down another 60 or 70 metres, so close to half a mile in total.
“Around 9,000 tons of crushed brickwork will be used in the first stage of the fill, with colliery waste being used to complete the job before the final concrete cap is created.”
The operation to fill the shaft – a round-the-clock operation that is expected to take two weeks – is scheduled to start in mid-February.
The final stage of the site clearance will involve the removal of the mine’s two headgears, which again are to be taken down by explosive demolition.