DEMOLITION work on Blackburn’s landmark Thwaites tower has started – with locals describing it as a ‘sad moment for the town’.
Work to take down the nine-storey aluminium-clad structure, which has dominated the town’s skyline since the 1960s, started yesterday and is expected to last four weeks.
It will see specialist contractor PP O’Connor, who have been doing the preparation work for the demolition, bring down the tower brick-by-brick, from the top.
Work yesterday saw the the top corner of the building disappear as the slow process begun of demolishing it.
Demolition had been due to start earlier this year but it was delayed after a pair of peregrine falcons nested and hatched two chicks.
Passers-by watched on in the rain as the demolition work started, with rubble starting to fall from the building, and work having to be done slowly for safety reasons.
Many mourned the ‘passing’ of a building described as a ‘part of the fabric of the town’.
Paul Greenwood, 54, from Accrington said: “It’s a sad moment for the town to see such an iconic building go, which I’ve known all my life.
“I’ve never been in it but have always walked past - and it’s something you associate with Blackburn.”
Paul Kenyon, 58, from Little Harwood, said: “They’re taking all the history from Blackburn including the old market, bus station and now a historic brewery.”
Former Blackburn MP Jack Straw said it was sad to see the building go but that ‘progress has to be made’.
Mr Straw said: “It’s been a key landmark in the town for decades.
“But the demolition and the closure of the brewery in Blackburn was inevitable because of changes in people’s drinking habits.
“People don’t just drink mild and bitter now and Thwaites have a lovely new brewery now that’s opened in Samlesbury.
“It’s not an object of great beauty and was only built 55 years ago in 1964.
“Some people will miss it, but I’ll notice it’s not there but not miss it as it’s not an architectural icon.”
Blackburn with Darwen Council regeneration boss Cllr Phil Riley said that the council would work with Thwaites to come up with future options for the site.
He said: “The disappearance of a landmark that has been around since the 1960s will mean the skyline of the town will look very different.
“The council will work very closely with the brewery to come up with possible options for the site.”
A Thwaites spokesman added: “Cranes were put in place ready to demolish the tower on Wednesday. Demolition will take four weeks so it can be done in a specific way that ensure safety.”
The demolition of the tower comes after Thwaites ended 211 years of brewing in Blackburn last year, with the brewery moving to its new home at Sykes Holt in Mellor Brook in August 2018.
Thwaites decision to end brewing at its Penny Street base was brought forward after travellers laid siege to the site over the May Bank Holiday weekend last year, causing more than £300,000 worth of damage. It saw office buildings looted, televisions and computer equipment stolen, as well as alcohol and electrical copper wiring.
Thomas Ward, 44, and John Ward, 34, both from Leigh, were jailed for four years and three months and three years and nine months at Burnley Crown Court in February for their part in the damage.