IT TOOK more than 30 kilograms of explosives and two weeks of preparation – but in six seconds this Newport city centre eyesore was gone.
This morning demolition workers destroyed the Capitol Car Park in an explosion that could be heard as far away as Pontypool and prompted gasps from a crowd of about 2000.
The demolition of the Capitol Car Park is the latest step to clear the city centre and make it ready for the £90 million Friars Walk shopping and leisure development.
It was to be a 13-year-old from Blackwood, Ellis Moore, who would trigger the detonation of 35 kg of explosives stored in 750 holes.
Despite conditions just above freezing onlookers gathered on the east bank of the River Usk and near the Riverfront Theatre from 7.30am while contractors Cuddy Group made their final preparations.
It was unclear until around 8.20am what time it would take place, when worker from Cuddy announced to workers at Newport Centre that the demolition would be at 8.30am.
A siren was set off, warning the crowd the detonation would take place within five minutes, before a further warning came in the form of a rocket.
After a countdown Ellis fired the detonator, triggering a crackle then a blast across the site, collapsing the multi-storey car park into a saggy heap.
The explosion produced a beige-coloured plume of smoke and dust which blew across the Kingsway like a thick fog, leading a small group gathered near Newport Centre to take shelter in doors as it blew over.
After the event several people got in touch with the Argus over Twitter to say they had heard the bang in Usk, Pontypool and parts of Cwmbran.
After the dust settled road sweepers came into to clean up the Kingsway before roads around the exclusion zone were re-opened to the public.
Ellis Moore, got involved after a friend of his father’s had offered him the chance to do it. “I was nervous,” he said, “but when it went off it was very exciting.”
A total of 35 kilograms of detonating chord explosives, set into 750 holes with 750 small charges placed over six floors of the car park, was set off over a one second period.
It was not originally intended for the site to be demolished with explosives – but Cuddy took the decision because of concerns over safety.
One worker told the Argus that it “was just not safe to put a human being in there”.
But Cuddy’s managing director Mike Cuddy told the Argus that time was also a big concern.
“We looked at all angles to try to speed the project up. The developer has been waiting a long time to get this development going,” he said.
Mr Cuddy said safety is paramount – but that their only concern was a massive gas pipe nearby.
Cuddy designed the collapse so the car park was pulled away from the remaining attached structure and the live gas main.
The company left alone a corner of the car park to ensure there was no damage to the pipe.
The director explained that workers had been preparing for two weeks: “It has gone exactly the way we wanted it to go.
“The rubble on site will be recycled and reused. I hope it will all be gone within the next four weeks.
He added that he hoped the “whole area demolished by the end of February.”
The Capitol Car Park, shops in John Frost Square and the old Newport bus station are being cleared as part of the first phase of demolition works.
Work is planned to begin on Friars Walk, which is being funded through £90 million of borrowed public sector cash, in March with the aim of having it open by the end of 2015.
Newport City Council agreed to borrow the money to loan on to developers Queensberry Real Estate at the tail end of last year.