Going, going GONE!
PUBLISHED: 18:37 31 March 2010 | UPDATED: 11:36 23 August 2010
TOP Gear presenter Richard Hammond was among hundreds who watched the demolition of two chimneys that have dominated the skyline for 40 years. It took five-year-old competition winner Annabelle Church the mere press of a button to bring the 7,000 tonne L
TOP Gear presenter Richard Hammond was among hundreds who watched the demolition of two chimneys that have dominated the skyline for 40 years.
It took five-year-old competition winner Annabelle Church the mere press of a button to bring the 7,000 tonne Lafarge chimneys crashing down on Sunday.
And she was joined by the presenter nicknamed 'The Hamster' and a BBC film crew who recorded the end of almost 200 years of cement making on the site.
Hundreds of spectators flocked to take up prime viewing spots at 11am as controlled explosions reduced the 550 foot columns, thought to be the largest demolition in Europe, to rubble.
BBC bosses later confirmed the demolition will feature in the cult car show's summer programming after rumors circulated that Richard Hammond had been invited.
Proud dad Steve Church, 40, an engineer from Gravesend who won a text competition to blow up the towers, said: "It was quite an experience for her and she thoroughly enjoyed it. She was obviously very excited about it, so much so that she didn't sleep much the night before."
The text competition was held to raise money for EllenorLions Hospice and Kent Air Ambulance, generating about £3,500 for the two causes.
Paul Connell, 57, watched the explosion from West Kent Avenue, added: "The shock of it shook the house. It was quite an incredible sight."
He worked for Blue Circle, the company that previously ran the site, for 34 years following in the footsteps of his father Charlie, employed at the cement works for 33 years.
He said: "It is very weird now they are gone, it will take some getting used to. After 34 years with Blue Circle it was quite something to see them come down."
Pamela Clarke and her husband Peter, who joined crowds watching on Northfleet High Street, said: "There were tons and tons of people. As the second one came down it twisted and started to fall towards us, it was really amaz ing."
A spokesman for Lafarge said the chimneys were pre-weakened to ensure they would fall in a certain direction, and the explosives were placed at the base of the structures.
The chimneys were designed to take all of the gases produced in the cement kilns such as the exhaust gas from burning the coal.
They had a wide diameter to accommodate the flow and the height was to ensure that the plume of gases dispersed into the atmosphere and did not come back down to ground level in any weather conditions. Made of reinforced concrete with a outer brick lining, the rubble will now be crushed and reused in construction projects in the North Kent area.
Work will now begin on redeveloping the site as part of the multi million pound Thames Gateway regeneration scheme, with hundreds of homes, offices and leisure facilites planned.
Lynn Hyder from Kent Air Ambulance said: "It was a fantastic opportunity for the air ambulance to be involved in this very unique event.