VIDEO MONTAGE: Layton’s tower blocks tumble

For many Blackpool residents it was like saying goodbye to old friends as the remaining three tower blocks tumbled down.

But it was a relationship which had come to a natural end as the 1960s high rise flats were flattened to make way for new family homes.

The Layton blocks come down

The Layton blocks come down

Hundreds gathered on the top of Sainsbury’s car park on Talbot Road to witness this latest chapter in Blackpool’s history.

Among them were Brunswick ward councillors Gary Coleman and Simon Blackburn.

Coun Blackburn, leader of Blackpool Council, said: “There are mixed emotions.

“Gary and I have represented Queens Park since 2007, nearly 10 years, and we have spent a lot of time campaigning there and working with lots of people.

It was always a constant battle trying to keep these properties in decent shape. So it was the right thing to do

Coun Simon Blackburn

“But most of that has been around the poor quality of the housing, people complaining about damp and noise.

“It was always a constant battle trying to keep these properties in decent shape.

“So it was the right thing to do, but looking across there it has dramatically changed the skyline.

“It has gone well today and we can get cracking now with buildings lots more family homes.”

Coun Coleman recalled the many people who had lived on the old estate.

He said: “It is bitter sweet really because we have known lots of characters who have lived there over the years.

“Folk have lived out their lives there, and at a moment like this you remember those people and everything that has happened there.”

Once the site has been cleared builders will move onto the land quickly to start constructing the second phase of the new estate.

The flats came straight down within about 20 seconds, leaving thousands of spectators with mixed feelings.

Phil Harrison, 49, from Blackpool, watching from Boothley Road, said the speed at which they fell to the ground was ‘eerie’.

He said: “One minute it’s all there, and within 19 seconds, three buildings disappeared.

“It was very eerie how quiet it was falling to the ground... crazy.”

Neil Fisher, 48, from Blackpool, added: “All you can see now is a massive pile of rubble behind everything.”

The demolition was due to take place at 10am, but was delayed by around half an hour, The Gazette understands, while the last residents in the exclusion zone were moved from the area.

A Klaxon sounded to mark 15 minutes before demolition, and a second gave a 30-second warning before the demolition.

The towers came down at the same time, with a short gap between the detonations in each of the towers.

Walter Robinson Court, Elizabeth Court and Churchill Court were reduced to rubble in a matter of seconds, with a large dust cloud enveloping spectators before dispersing quickly.

The clean-up operation began immediately, with work to reopen Devonshire Road the priority. In the coming days, workers from Lovells, which carried out the demolition, will continue clearing the site – and nearby residents will have their windows cleaned as well.

The demolition was the second phase of the Queens Park redevelopment programme.

The first phase was the dismantling of Ashworth Court and Charles Court – rather than a demolition, and the construction of 92 new homes.

The second phase is the demolition of the three remaining blocks and the maisonette blocks to the south of Stirling Road.

A further 99 new homes will then be constructed to hopefully complete the transformation of the Queens Park neighbourhood by Spring 2018.

n See tomorrow Gazette for your pictures of the Layton flats demolition