‘Monster muncher’ tears down last dilapidated Orchard Village tower

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Children from Newtons Primary School also came along to watch (Picture: Paul Bennett) - Credit: Archant

Demolition of the last tower block on a once crime-ridden Rainham estate started today.

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Children from Newtons Primary School also came along to watch (Picture: Paul Bennett) - Credit: Archant

Work on eradicating one of the final remnants of the old Mardyke Estate began around noon, with a so-called “monster muncher” ripping chunks from the 12-storey high-rise in front of residents, schoolchildren and Havering Council leader Cllr Roger Ramsey.

Built in the 60s to house Ford workers, the estate became notorious for crime and dilapidation as time went by and jobs were axed.

Now the whole area has been rebranded Orchard Village, a move aimed at shaking off the estate’s negative image.

Thursday’s demolition was a chance for residents – many of them rehoused on the revamped estate – to say goodbye and witness the spectacle of a tower block being torn down.

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Children from Newtons Primary School also came along to watch (Picture: Paul Bennett) - Credit: Archant


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There were no wrecking balls or explosions but, at the end of a huge arm, industrial pincers broke chunks from the top of the building before throwing the debris to the ground more than 100ft below.

Resident Lucy Turner moved in to a flat just yards from the now empty tower 14 years ago, aged 12.

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She said: “The estate has improved quite a lot since we moved here – there’s been a big change, it’s really nice now.

“My son has grown up here and made a lot of friends.

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Children from Newtons Primary School also came along to watch (Picture: Paul Bennett) - Credit: Archant

“If I ever had to move out of Orchard Village it would be quite upsetting.”

Doris Taylor, 77, used to live in Chantry House, the first block to come down. She has been rehoused on the estate, in Bramley Court.

She said: “I moved on to the estate in ‘68 and I think it’s good the final tower is going. It’s a bit sad but what they’re replacing them with is much better.

“My new neighbour even has exactly the same view I used to have from my flat.”

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Children from Newtons Primary School also came along to watch (Picture: Paul Bennett) - Credit: Archant

Rita Young, 36, who lives off the estate but nearby, said: “The demolition was pretty impressive. I liked it when the CCTV camera came down.

“I think it will smarten the area up a little bit, make it look a better.

“It’s a bit of a shame though because it was only built in the 60s.”

The £80million regeneration project, led by Circle Housing Old Ford, has already led to the construction of nearly 300 new homes and by completion in 2016 there will be 516 new builds plus 41 refurbished properties.

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Children from Newtons Primary School also came along to watch (Picture: Paul Bennett) - Credit: Archant

When the sixth and final tower has been razed to the ground it will be replaced by modern, low-rise homes, according to developers.

Circle Housing chief executive, Mark Rogers, said: “Today is an emotional day for our residents who have lived on the estate for many years, but it is also a celebration of what has already been achieved since the project began in 2008.”

Cllr Ramsey said: “Let us all remember what has been achieved. I am proud at how far we have come since we first started talking to local residents about how we could improve their estate, through securing the transfer of the estate, with overwhelming support from the residents, to our continuing commitment to working with residents and Circle Housing to ensure the best home possible for local people.”

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