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Going, going, gone... historic cement works chimney demolished in Barrington


By Mike Scialom


Demolition of the chimney at the old cement plant in Barrington. Picture: Keith Heppell
Demolition of the chimney at the old cement plant in Barrington. Picture: Keith Heppell

It look like the launch pad for a space rocket, but the demolition of the Barrington chimney was a take-down not a take-off.

The cement works at the site began life in 1918 as part of the Dreadnought Portland Cement Company. In the early 1920s it was acquired by a firm called Eastwoods, who produced the first cement there in 1926. The 185ft chimney was added - it was built on the site - in 1960. In 1963 Alfred Reddish of Rugby Cement acquired it. It was sold again in 2000 to RMC and again in 2005 to Cemex - Cement Mexico . The cement works has been inactive since 2009 and the site sold to Redrow who plan to build 220 homes and have lodged a reserved matters application with South Cambridgeshire District Council.

One of those at the demolition was John Drayton MBE, who was quarry manager for 20 year before retiring in 2015.

"There were 320 people working at the site when I started as a works carpenter in the 1970s," he said. "When I was a local lad in Harlton, everybody worked at 'The Dreadnought', as it was called. My grandfather worked there, and my son, my uncle... my father was a lorry driver for the local railway there. It was families involved.

"I went through the ranks, to foreman and then general manager, and ended up as quarry manager."

By the time the site was closed in 2009 there were 80 employees. The same year John was awarded his MBE for services to geology and the quarry industry.

"It was terrible to watch," he said of the demolition which was shown live on Cambridge Independent's Facebook page. "It was terrible to watch - I was in tears as I was watching it later on TV."

John Drayton MBE was presented with the old Rugby Cement sign to go with all the other objects he has collected over the years at the museum he has created for the Barrington cement works. Picture: Keith Heppell
John Drayton MBE was presented with the old Rugby Cement sign to go with all the other objects he has collected over the years at the museum he has created for the Barrington cement works. Picture: Keith Heppell

Demolition contractors Erith carried out the controlled detonation in the South Cambridgeshire village.

Andy Dyson, industrial demolition manager at Erith, commented: “Demolitions of this scale take careful strategic planning and we are pleased that everything went seamlessly this morning. It has been fantastic to be onsite co-ordinating the chimney demolition and wider programme of works with such a great team.”

Chris Gatland, head of planning at Redrow Eastern, said: “The demolition of the cement factory chimney today was an important milestone in bringing the site back into positive use. The site has been vacant for a number of years and presents a rare opportunity within South Cambridgeshire to restore previously developed land for future generations. We have worked closely with the local community and our partners to develop proposals that are sensitive to the surrounding village and also provide existing residents with the opportunity to access the site through a series of pedestrian and cycle routes.”

Local resident Kevin Stigwood pictured won the Friend of Barrington School raffle to push the demolition button.

Demolition works will continue into 2019, with Redrow’s application due to be determined early in the new year. The homes will be set within areas of public open space and include new parkland and pedestrian and cycle routes to Barrington village and Foxton station. Two-thirds of the site will be dedicated to formal and informal landscaping, opening up the site to Barrington residents for the first time.



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