After three years and more than 250,000 man hours, the four chimneys at one of London’s most famous landmarks – Battersea Power Station – were successfully dismantled and removed using a self-climbing platform technique designed by Oldham-based working at height specialists, Delta International.
Established in 1977 as a steeplejack company, Delta has evolved through the years and is now well known for its expertise in providing tailored solutions for projects that require working at significant height and on complex schemes. Delta International was appointed by Battersea Power Station Development Company to carefully remove the four concrete chimney pots, which had suffered serious corrosion and decay since they were decommissioned in the early 1980s. The original chimneys have been replaced as part of the multi-million pound redevelopment of the site.
Delta’s Technical Director, Nigel Matthews, played an instrumental part in designing the bespoke self-climbing platform allowing engineers to dismantle and remove each of the four concrete chimneys with no lost timeaccidents or delays.
Delta International’s vast experience and knowledge was invaluable in putting forward engineering design solutions for a site that was not without significant challenges. Built in the 1930s and 1950s, the chimneys rise 51 metres from the ground and were in a significant state of disrepair, all of which had to be taken account of when proposing a viable solution. The main issues were not just access and height but also the efficient and swift removal of the severely corroded chimney stacks once dismantled. Delta also had to allow for the fact that there were people working directly underneath the Delta team throughout the project.
The tailored solution was to erect the self-climbing platform which slowly rose up to the top of the chimney while simultaneously installing a safety ladder providing a primary access route to the platform. Once it reached the summit of the chimney, a series of temporary beams were fixed to the top of the stack allowing the platform to reach the summit. At the top Delta’s engineers installed a scaffold across the chimney opening allowing for a platform to be suspended on the inside. This allowed for essential stabilisation work to be carried out on the internal tiles of the chimney (a reinforced wrap that would prevent any debris from falling during the deconstruction process).
Nigel explained: “As skilled and experienced engineers working at height on complex projects presents little difficulty for us but Battersea Power Station had on-site challenges that no-one could have predicted.
“One such challenge was discovering that each chimney was 40% thicker than original reports had stated. We had to come up with a solution quickly and one that would not cause any delays or increase costs on the project.”
The chimneys were removed using specialist equipment that could penetrate the concrete and dismantle it steadily. All debris was carefully removed using rubber chutes suspended below the self-climbing platform.
In addition, Delta’s painstaking removal of the chimney had to be undertaken with other teams working beneath them for the entire duration of the de-construction. Delta’s Operations Director, Paul Bentley, said: “Health and safety is always paramount, particularly when working at such heights but knowing that we had people working below us for whole duration of the project meant extra vigilance. And we achieved it. Over the three years it took to complete using 250,000 man hours, we had no lost time accidents – a major success for such a complex project.”
Delta International has more than 40 years of experience of working at height on complex projects. Nigel concluded: “This significant expertise proved invaluable on the Battersea Power Station project and we are proud to have been part of the restoration work for such an important London landmark.
“While the type of at height project has changed over the years, skills, expertise and experience remain a vital component. Currently we are using a similar bespoke climbing system to dismantle a chimney at Sellafield nuclear plant. We have recently removed and replaced an entire roof of a major industrial unit while work continued uninterrupted beneath us for the duration of the project.”
Key facts: · Health and safety stretched not just to workers on the deconstruction project but also a family of falcons nesting in Battersea Power Station structure. · As part of the dismantling process, Delta extricated a circular section of one of the chimneys which will be placed on display in the new development. · 500 small segments of the old chimneys were extracted, preserved and given to residents living in the local area · A total of 600 tonnes of concrete and 72 tonnes of lining tiles per chimney were removed swiftly and silently from the site Delta International is experienced and expert in the inspection, maintenance and demolition of tall industrial structures, including chimneys, cooling towers, flare stacks, silos and pipelines. Delta work predominantly in the European power and refining markets and have some of the largest companies in these sectors as clients.