Wivenhoe Engine Shed – Demolition Strategy
March, 10, 2023
At a Glance
Location: Wivenhoe, North Essex
Clients: B&M McHugh
Type of Project: Salvage of fire damaged building elements
Scope of Services: Civil Engineering
The reconstruction of a historic Essex rail engine shed devastated by fire has been made possible thanks to a reclamation strategy devised by VEDA. Attending the scene in Wivenhoe, near Colchester, days after the blaze, VEDA engineers found the building and its gable dangerously close to collapse. They devised a demolition sequence and an engineer remained onsite to ensure it was followed.
By the time the six to eight-week project ended, two thirds of the original brickwork and key structural elements of the Grade II listed building had been salvaged.
The salvage operation and subsequent labelling of materials was carried out so meticulously it will be possible to rebuild the structure with its elements in the same location they were in the original shed.
The shed’s original roofing had provided lateral restraint for its walls but decades later, much of the roof had deteriorated. As a fix, a large scaffold structure was installed around the building but, in the heat of the blaze, it had melted and was pulling the shed’s walls inwards.
Because conventional demolition techniques could destabilise the walls and cause the building to collapse, contractors used an excavator with a grab to lift off elements piece by piece. Firstly, its charred and damaged roof and scaffolding were removed down to the gable. Outer wall bricks were individually collected using a cherry picker before being labelled and shrink-wrapped.
The demolition took place under the watchful eyes of English Heritage, interested villagers and a local resident keen to refurbish the site as a community hub. VEDA and the contractors had to follow the demolition sequence while also meeting the requirements of English Heritage.
Upon completion VEDA ensured the safe storage of the salvaged elements and made safe the one wall of the engine shed that was still standing.