Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Spot the difference

The last bit of the demolition was completed this afternoon when the contractors carefully cut through the flat concrete roof of the old toilet block on the end of the Mill building, before sending it tumbling to the ground.

Eventually a footpath, and the cycle parking for visitors to the Mill building, will sit on its footprint.

The brick pillar on the right hand side of the doorway is in better condition than we might have hoped, having been constructed completely independently of the toilet block.
The small 'stone' pillar at the end of the handrail in the top photo had to go though.  It was decorative only, and was sat on the roof of the toilet block!

A job for another day will be removing the render from the exposed wall and creating the openings for the two windows we have ready to be installed in the ground floor workshop.

Now that demolition is over we can focus on making sure all our planning conditions are signed off, and the special conditions for the bank loan have been complied with, so that Whittle Construction can start the main building contract by the beginning of July.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Last day of crushing tomorrow

For the last few days we have had a large crushing machine on site where terrace B is going to be.  It's an expensive bit of kit to hire, so the demolition contractors have been working hard to keep it constantly fed with concrete and brick.  It has a magnet to strip out metal for separate recycling and the whole time it is running someone has to stand over it pulling out wood, cables and anything else that shouldn't go through it.  We now have a huge pile of what is technically known as '6F2' crushed hardcore - ideal for building up levels on the site where needed.

Now that all the floor slab has been taken up, the contractors are going to spend a final day crushing the last remnants of concrete and brick from the buildings, before the crusher is taken off site.    
The exposed section in the last photo (the garage door is the entrance to Viper Imports) shows that the north side of the building was built onto the bedrock (bottom right).  But the south side is a different story, with deep stone foundations.  These need to be removed and replaced with compacted material so that when we come to put in our foundations we don't keep hitting the remains of old buildings. 
Next week's job will be digging up the stone foundations and drains, and demolishing the old toilet block at the west end of the Mill.  


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Picnic on site on Saturday 21st May: all welcome!

Lancaster Cohousing is getting under way! Come and celebrate Intentional Communities Day 2011 with us at Forge Bank, Halton, on Saturday 21 May.

We will be having a picnic, games and balsam-bashing* event from 1.30-4 pm on the land upstream of Forge Bank Weir** (or, if it's really wet, in the Centre @ Halton...)

All welcome! Bring any / all of the following: a picnic, a blanket, a ball, your gardening gloves!

More info from 07778 737681 or email


* We have a lot of Himalayan Balsam on site, an invasive weed which can be a major problem as it smothers other vegetation. Our main method of control is pulling or cutting the plants before they flower and set seed -- known as balsam bashing.

** From the metal bridge in Halton, follow Mill Lane past the new houses along to Halton Mill, follow the path alongside the river past Lancaster Cohousing building site, keep going past the weir, up the steps, along the path, and you’ll find us! There will be a trail of balloons to keep you on the right path.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A clear view across the Forge Bank site

Our site has been transformed over the last week as demolition contractors Pyes brought the walls of the redundant buildings down to ground level.  

The picture shows a new view of the site of Terrace A taken from the pedestrian street with the Mill (with it's new roof) in the background.

The contractors were able to remove the main timbers from the building and put them aside for recycling into wood chip before taking the walls down.  The site was buzzing with activity on Friday and Saturday with men picking through the rubble to remove more of the timber and steel for recycling.

Crushing is due to start on Monday to produce aggregate suitable for using in the foundations of our new homes.  We are hoping the wet weather continues as it will make it easier to control the dust.

Parts of the of the building that was Halton Mill garage were made of stone and this is being kept aside for filling gabion baskets for the retaining walls we will need on site.  

We'll be using some of the brick for gabions too and are busy trying to judge the right 
amount not to crush.    

The next job will be to remove the foundations of the old buildings, which will be less dramatic, but just as important, as we need to ensure that we have uniform ground conditions to build the new foundations and retaining walls on.  It's a shame we couldn't reuse some of these structures, but we have no way of assessing how strong they are so can't take that risk.

The floor level of Terrace A will be at about the same level of the floor slab of the old factory building and this photo, taken from ground level, shows how much higher than the boathouse this is.  The boathouse walls are due to be sandblasted and the roof replaced using reclaimed slate, but not until after we have moved in.
The demolition has opened up a view of the long thin building, imaginatively known as "building 2", which will be on the north side of the pedestrian street.  The section in the lefthand half of the picture will be refurbished to provide bicycle storage and a bicycle repair workshop whilst the more distant half will be transformed in to the play room, laundry and toilets of the Common House together with some guest rooms.

The final photograph shows the base of the old boiler house chimney, which is being removed to accommodate the lower ground floor of Terrace F, which will be built into the hillside.  The bricks from the chimney are the most suitable for re-use because of the effect the heat from the chimney has had on the mortar.  Some of the chimney will be kept in place for now as it is holding up the slope!   

We expect the demolition contractors to be on site for another couple of weeks.