Skyline transformed as demolition work nears completion on 1970s landmark block of flats

Final demolition stage of Westmorland Court, Hebburn
Final demolition stage of Westmorland Court, Hebburn

All four walls of a South Tyneside high-rise have finally come tumbling down – almost a year after demolition began.

Experts say the razing of Westmoreland Court, a landmark of Hebburn’s skyline since the 1970s, should be completed early next week.

Westmorland Court before demolition work began

Westmorland Court before demolition work began

It will end 10 months of work, which began in January, to fell the 13 storey, 133 flats complex.

Due to its 28m height, the demolition process was carried out floor-by-floor, and included the use of a high reach demolition excavator machine.

Developers say its introduction ensured a safe and controlled process which removed as much as possible risks to nearby properties.

By Christmas, the site, close to Hebburn town centre, will be cleared of rubble ahead of it being topsoiled and seeded early next year.

Coun Mark Walsh, Lead Member for Housing and Transport at South Tyneside Council, said: “The main demolition of Westmorland Court is substantially complete and the building is down.

“The tower block was a familiar landmark in Hebburn, however it was outdated and no longer sustainable.

“Its demolition marks a real milestone in the regeneration of the town centre.”

The pull-down process was carried out by Durham-based MGL Demolition, in partnership with the council.

Chris Little, MGL’s contract manager, said: “Our work has been undertaken in phases, beginning initially with asbestos removal and soft strip, followed by demolition.

“Now that the main demolition is done, this is a significant milestone achieved and we are now entering the final phase of works, which we hope to complete by Christmas.

“This includes site clearance, grubbing up the foundations to a 1m depth, import of topsoil and seeding and installation of knee rail fencing.

“This will leave the site clear and ready for any potential future development.”

Council bosses had considered renovating the building but were dissuaded by the multi-million-pound cost of bringing it up to Decent Homes standard.

Decent Homes is the minimum standards level of public housing the UK.

A single-storey section of Westmoreland Court which housed the concierge and security office was demolished first ahead of scaffolding being put up and work beginning on the main block.

The 126 tenants then living in the building were told in 2014 that they would be rehoused.